Making Men Equal: The Legend Of Samuel Colt’s 200th Birthday

 

 

 

 

 

” It was in the winter of 1831 that Sam Colt saw a revolving pistol for the first time. This occasion was so important that he lied about it in later years. The gun shop he visited in Calcutta had a few examples of the Collier revolving flintlock pistol. Studying them gave Sam ideas for improving the revolver. The main fault of the Collier, Sam thought, was the method by which the cylinder was rotated. After each shot was fired, the shooter had to set the cylinder into a firing position by hand, always making sure that a loaded chamber was in line with the barrel. This had to be done each time the pistol was fired. Then, too, the Collier had too many parts; more than 40 separate pieces went into the lock, not including the lockplate, attaching screws, stock, cylinder and other essentials. His invention would cut down the number of parts, but, more important, he would devise a method of turning the cylinder automatically, not by hand.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

” With financial aid from his father, Christopher, Sam sought the services of Anson Chase, a gunsmith of Hartford, Connecticut. Chase agreed to produce the working models Colt needed and set himself to the task. He made a pistol, which closely followed Colt’s wooden pattern, then turned his efforts toward producing a revolving rifle. On December 30, 1831, using money he received as a Christmas gift, Colt paid Chase $15 on the account, but where or when he would get the balance lay in doubt.

  When he left his home in Ware, Massachusetts, the youth Samuel Colt was no more. In his place stood Dr. Coult, the celebrated lecturer and scientist of New York, London and Calcutta. The deception was magnificent and enabled Sam to collect fees for lecturing on natural philosophy and chemistry. After each lecture, he would delight his audience with a demonstration of laughing gas. Using a willing participant, Sam administered the gas, which induced a form of harmless intoxication.”

 

 

 

 

” When Sam arrived in Hartford in December 1833, Chase showed him another crude specimen fashioned from the original model. They were eager to test it, and the revolver was promptly loaded, placed in a vise and fired. Much to the dismay of the two men, the revolver burst apart. It was a disheartening thing to have happen, but it was the first hint of a trouble that would plague Colt for several years — re-flash. A front plate, which held the loose bullets from falling out, trapped the lateral flash at the breech end of the barrel. This pushed the hot particles of gunpowder into the adjoining chambers, setting off the other charges. When all the charges fired at once, they literally tore the barrel right off the gun. Sam was dejected over his gun’s failure, but, being a good showman, and needing more money for future experiments, he headed to Baltimore to continue his lectures.”

Read the entire history of Samuel Colt’s development of the “great equalizer” at Guns & Ammo