Colt: An American Classic(txt+pdf+epub+mobi电子书下载)

发布时间:2021-08-03 06:30:29


作者:Michael E Haskew

出版社:Amber Books Ltd


Colt: An American Classic

Colt: An American Classic试读:


Samuel Colt was familiar with failure, but he never grew accustomed to it. Colt was an inventor, a salesman, a showman, a man of vision. He conceived the idea of the revolver, a handgun that could be fired multiple times without reloading, and through tireless perseverance made it a reality.The year 2015 marks the 180th anniversary of Colt’s first patent for a firearm with a revolving cylinder and the 160th anniversary of the enterprise originally named Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company. During that time, Colt and the succession of firms that continue to bear his name have produced iconic revolvers and rifles that have done nothing less than shape the course of history. Among these are the first Colt Paterson revolver in 1836, the Colt Single Action Army of 1873, popularly known as the Peacemaker and the “Gun that won the West,” the Model 1911 pistol, and the M16 assault rifle, emblematic of the American military experience in Vietnam.Through prosperous times and periods of economic adversity, Colt has endured—and it all began with the inquisitive mind of a young man driven to succeed. Samuel Colt was born in Hartford, Connecticut, on July 19, 1814, the son of Christopher Colt, a farmer who later owned a small textile manufacturing facility, and Sarah Caldwell Colt, who died of tuberculosis when he was only six years old. Three other siblings died young, and the Colt children were cared for by Samuel’s aunt, Lucretia Colt Price, and later his stepmother, Olivia Sargeant, with whom Christopher Colt fathered three more children.From his earliest childhood, Sam Colt possessed a natural curiosity. He was said to have taken small machinery apart to peer at the internal workings, while the legend that surrounds his extraordinary life asserts that a book, The Compendium of Knowledge, fired his imagination as he read stories of scientists and inventors whose discoveries and contributions to advancing technology changed the world.This early advertisement for the Colt Patent Repeating Pistol is lavishly illustrated with period scenes of the revolver in action and a description of the ease with which it could be maintained.Sam attended school regularly, and at the age of 11 he went to work for a farmer in Glastonbury, Connecticut. He also worked in his father’s textile factory. By the time he was 16, his father had enrolled him at Amherst Academy in Massachusetts, where he learned navigation and tinkered with fireworks and explosives. Apparently, an ill-conceived demonstration of the latter resulted in his expulsion in the summer of 1830.Although some of the tales of Colt’s early years may be apocryphal or embellished, they remain entertaining. His maternal grandfather, Major John Caldwell, had served in the Continental Army, and the officer’s flintlock pistol was passed down to young Sam. Not only was he fascinated by the firearm’s mechanics, he is reported to have listened to the stories of old soldiers who lamented the fact that they did not possess a gun that could be fired multiple times without reloading.Late in 1830, Sam signed on as a seaman aboard the brig Corvo, which set sail from Boston for Calcutta, India. The idea of the multi-shot firearm was never far from his mind, and the story goes that the young inventor was inspired to create the revolver by watching the ship’s wheel spin and noting that it could be locked into a stationary position with a clutch. Another version of the legend says that it was the operation of the ship’s capstan that spawned the idea, while a third asserts that Colt became familiar with the Collier flintlock revolver after the Corvo docked at Liverpool. While at sea, Colt carved a working model of a pepperbox revolver from scrap wood.The Colt manufacturing facility in Hartford, Connecticut, was easily recognized by its distinctive onion dome, painted a rich blue with gold stars. The original Colt facility, constructed in 1855, was destroyed by fire in 1864 and rebuilt three years later.Fledgling RevolverChristopher Colt was willing to finance the fledgling revolver operation only to the extent that a rifle and a handgun could be produced. Although the handgun was a spectacular failure, blowing up when fired, the rifle was at least satisfactory. However, the financial obstacle required Sam to become inventive in another way. After experimenting with nitrous oxide gas, he styled himself the “Celebrated Dr. Coult of New York, London and Calcutta,” traveling around North America entertaining audiences with demonstrations of the “laughing gas.” He also staged elaborate shows about archetypal topics such as redemption, heaven, and hell and became a dynamic public speaker.In 1835, Colt secured a British patent for his revolver design, and a U.S. patent followed a year later. In 1836, he opened the Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in Paterson, New Jersey, amid the manufacturing boom of the burgeoning Industrial Revolution in New England. Colt was only 22 years old, and an uncle assisted in the formation of the enterprise. After six years of operation and the production of more than 2,300 revolving handguns, nearly 1,500 revolving rifles and carbines, and approximately 460 revolving shotguns the company became insolvent, closing its doors in 1842.After the Paterson setback, Sam Colt turned his attention to U.S. government contracts for waterproof ammunition cartridges fashioned of thin tin foil rather than paper. He also tried to interest the government in underwater mines for harbor defense and worked with Samuel F.B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph. Colt devised a waterproof cable of copper coated with tar that allowed Morse to place telegraph lines beneath bodies of water.This early photograph of an unidentified Civil War-era Union soldier prominently features the Colt Army Model 1860 revolver. On the eve of the Civil War, Colt ended the sale of firearms to the Southern states.Although the contract for the underwater mine was derailed due to political infighting, Colt was somewhat successful in these endeavors and utilized the revenue to revive his revolving firearms initiative. Meanwhile, a turning point in his personal life and that of the revolver occurred during the Second Seminole War as U.S. dragoons and Texas Rangers fielded the weapon. Captain Samuel Walker and his detachment of 15 Texas Rangers experienced the firepower of the revolver firsthand, reportedly holding off 70 enemy warriors while firing Colt’s Paterson.Women work on the floor of the Colt Patent Fire Arms Plant in Hartford, Connecticut, during World War I. These workers are busy grinding barrels for the famed Model 1911 .45-caliber pistol that became prominent early in the 20th century.With the outbreak of the Mexican War, Walker traveled to New York to find Colt and collaborated on an improved revolver, while the U.S. Ordnance Department placed an order for 1,000 handguns. Suddenly, Colt was faced with another challenge. He had no factory. Turning to Eli Whitney, Jr., the son of the famed inventor of the cotton gin, Colt filled the order in mid-1847 via Whitney’s manufacturing facility in Connecticut.New MarketsBy 1851, Colt was capitalizing on his notoriety and the profit from sales to the U.S. military. He recognized the potential of foreign markets and opened a manufacturing facility in England while also acquiring numerous tracts of land along the Connecticut River in the state’s capital city of Hartford, where he built a state-of-the-art factory. He championed the economic value of interchangeable parts and the assembly line technique, and the Hartford factory turned out as many as 5,000 guns in its first year of operation. In 1855, he established a corporation, Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Mfg. Co.The popularity of Colt’s revolvers grew exponentially, and he became one of the wealthiest men in America. A pioneer in marketing and advertising, he often presented lavishly embellished revolvers to heads of state and government officials around the world while quietly whispering that rival governments and military forces were purchasing his weapons. Unwilling to alter his basic design to British military specifications, Colt closed his London factory in 1856. Nevertheless, the popularity of Colt revolvers continued. On the eve of the American Civil War the company was selling weapons North and South.Although a relatively young man, Colt’s health was visibly failing. He died of complications of gout at the age of 47 on January 10, 1862, having amassed a great fortune. Afterward, his wife, Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt, assumed control of the company, successfully expanding the business along with her brother, Richard Jarvis, and rebuilding the Hartford facility after it was destroyed by a devastating fire in 1864.In 1872, the Colt company began manufacturing its first breechloading revolver with metallic cartridges, the Single Action Army Model 1873.Sale and ReorganizationIn 1901, the Colt Firearms Company was sold to a group of outside investors, and the enterprise continued to produce outstanding weapons, including the Model 1911 semiautomatic pistol, introduced prior to World War I and becoming standard issue in the U.S. military for decades. By the end of World War II, the company was operating at a deficit and suffering from breakdowns in production efficiency. Sold to the Penn-Texas Corporation and subsequently to another group of investors, it nevertheless introduced the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle in 1960, the forerunner of the M16 automatic rifle of the Vietnam era.Reorganization took place in 1964 and resulted in the creation of the subsidiary Colt’s Inc., Firearms Division. Plagued by labor strikes and the loss of government contracts for the Model 1911 and the M16, the newly named Colt Manufacturing Company entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1992. Two years later, the company emerged from bankruptcy and was purchased by investors Donald Zilkha and John Rigas.Subsequently, Colt returned to financial health and robust production with the securing of new firearms contracts from the U.S. government. In 2002, Colt Defense LLC was created to serve the military and law enforcement communities, while Colt Manufacturing Co., continues to produce commercial firearms.The colorful history of Colt is also one of innovation, financial success, and overcoming adversity. The Colt brand is recognized the world over, and the legacy of Samuel Colt lives on.Deployed to Afghanistan in the autumn of 2011, soldiers of the 1st Armored Division qualify with their assigned weapons—in this case the M4 Carbine—at the Swanson Small Arms Range in Logar Province.During the End of Trail Wild West Jubilee in Edgewood, New Mexico, a cowboy on horseback fires his revolver during a mounted shooting competition. Colt firearms are popular among competitive shooting enthusiasts and are well known for their accuracy.

Percussion Revolvers, 1830–1905

The reliable percussion method of priming a gun to fire came into being in the 1820s with the invention of the percussion cap. Other methods of percussion ignition followed, allowing firearms to operate reliably in virtually any weather conditions and supplanting the earlier spark ignition of flint on steel.At the time Samuel Colt established the Patent Arms Manufacturing Company in Paterson, New Jersey, his revolver concept was state of the art. Just a few years had passed since the invention of percussion ignition, and the two were put together in Colt’s first operational firearms. Colt produced three revolving handguns, the pocket, belt, and holster models, and a pair of long armor rifles, one cocked with a finger lever and the other with a hammer. These percussion-operated weapons were fired when the bullet and gunpowder were placed into a cylinder and the primer, probably a mixture of fulminate of mercury, was inserted into a nipple adjacent to the cylinder. With the pull of the trigger, the nipple was struck by a hammer, igniting the primer and firing the gun.Colt PatersonThe three early revolving handguns that Colt developed derived their names from the preferred method of carry, their individual sizes, and the city in which they were manufactured. Collectively known to the general public as the Colt Paterson, they were made available initially in .28 caliber in 1836 and in .36 caliber the following year. The Paterson entered production shortly after Samuel Colt secured patents in Great Britain and the United States. Probably the best known of the Patersons is the Number 5 Holster, also known as the Texas pattern, of which about 1,000 were manufactured in .36 caliber between 1837 and 1842, the year Colt’s Paterson manufacturing facility was closed.COLT PATERSONDATE:1836CALIBER:.28in or .36inWEIGHT:2.75lb (1.2kg)OVERALL LENGTH:13.75in (349mm)BARREL LENGTH:7.5in (190mm)FEED/MAGAZINE:five-round cylinderEFFECTIVE RANGE:65yds (59m)The Paterson was the first handgun to employ a revolving, multi-chambered cylinder that aligned with a single fixed barrel. It was a complicated firearm to operate. The single action design allowed the trigger only to fire the chambered round, and to fire a subsequent shot the hammer had to be cocked by hand. No loading lever was included in the design, and the operator was required to partially disassemble the gun to reload it. Obviously, this was problematic—particularly while in heated action. On horseback, it was all but impossible. Three years into its manufacture this shortcoming was corrected with the inclusion of a loading lever and priming window that facilitated reloading without disassembly, and many of the Patersons manufactured prior to these improvements were retrofitted.Often those who carried the Paterson would maintain the hammer in a half cocked position or lowered the hammer to rest on a chamber that was capped and ready to fire. These methods were extremely hazardous, as a sudden jolt or impact could discharge the revolver. Other carry methods were slightly safer and included lowering the hammer between two of the loaded cylinders. In time, Colt added an important feature, an intermediate safety pin on which the hammer was allowed to rest at the back of the chamber between loaded cylinders.The shooter typically pulled the Paterson hammer back with the thumb, causing the rotation of a chamber in line with the barrel and locking it in place and the folding trigger to move downward into position. Samuel Colt was a stickler for accuracy, and the Paterson delivered even though it was somewhat unwieldy compared to later Colt revolvers with its bell-shaped grip and prominent trigger. The Paterson aims well with a blade front sight and hammer notch rear sight. For the most part, its effective firing range was limited to about 65 yards (59m).Although Colt sold a number of Paterson revolvers and carbines to the United States government, the advantage gained by soldiers during the Second Seminole War was negated in the later assessment of the weapons due to its propensity to malfunction and a developed reputation as a somewhat fragile firearm unable to stand up to the rigors of field service. Nevertheless, the Republic of Texas became a customer and purchased approximately 360 revolving handguns, rifles, and shotguns. These saw service with the Texas Navy and in action against the Mexican Army during the 1836 revolution.This fanciful artist’s rendering depicts U.S. soldiers storming the fortress of Chapultepec during the Mexican War. Samuel Colt’s business increased dramatically when the Texas Rangers ordered 1,000 revolvers at the height of the war in 1847.COLT WALKERDATE:1847CALIBER:.44inWEIGHT:4.54lb (2.06kg)OVERALL LENGTH:15.75in (400mm)BARREL LENGTH:9.02in (229mm)FEED/MAGAZINE:six-round cylinderEFFECTIVE RANGE:100yds (91m)Sam Houston, president of the Republic of Texas, disbanded the navy in 1843, and the surplus stock of Paterson revolvers was then delivered to a company of Texas Rangers under the command of Captain John Hays. Captain Samuel Walker, who served with both the Texas Rangers and the U.S. Mounted Rifles, also became an advocate for the Paterson after seeing it in action. Walker later journeyed to New York, reportedly with instructions from General Zachary Taylor, to find Samuel Colt and ask that certain modifications be made to the Paterson.For more than 20 years, Texans and American Indians fought one another during the early days of westward expansion. At the Battle of Bandera Pass in 1841, Colt’s Paterson revolver gained the admiration of its users, approximately 50 Texas Rangers under Hays’s command, well outnumbered by attacking Comanche warriors. The Rangers held their ground with the Paterson for hours against several hundred Comanche and lost five men killed in action. The Paterson revolver came as a rude surprise to the Comanche and made believers of the soldiers who fired it.Walker Weighs InWhen Captain Samuel Walker traveled to New York in search of Samuel Colt, he had his own ideas, along with those of several others, for the improvement of the Paterson revolver. Although more than 170 years have passed and legend has blended with fact, it is almost certain that Walker’s influence on Colt’s updated design was significant.Walker was a native of Maryland and journeyed to Texas by 1842. Two years later, he joined the Texas Rangers and participated in a number of actions, eventually rising to the rank of captain and commanding a company. Some versions of his association with Colt assert that his adventure in New York was funded from his own pocket for the benefit of his men and not by the U.S. government.Designed primarily in 1846, the Colt Walker made its debut the following year. Captain Walker had specified several key enhancements to the original Paterson design, specifically the Number 5 Holster model. Among the improvements were the addition of a six-shot cylinder and an increase in firepower to .44 caliber, as Walker wanted a revolver that was deadly both at greater distance and in close combat. The heavier handgun required a charge of 60 grains of black powder, more than double that of other revolvers.About 1,100 Colt Walker revolvers were completed with the intent that they would be holstered in the saddle and capable of dispatching either a man or a horse with equal lethality. Since Colt was without a manufacturing facility at the time, he commissioned his friend, Eli Whitney, Jr., to fill the order at his Whitneyville, Connecticut, factory. Walker personally received two of the new revolvers shortly before he was killed in action against enemy forces during the Mexican War at the Battle of Huamantla on October 9, 1847.Although some of the Walkers experienced catastrophic failures with exploding chambers, the revolvers were quite effective. John “RIP” Ford, serving as a doctor with the U.S. troops witnessed the firepower of the Walker as it felled a Mexican soldier at a distance substantially greater than 100 yards (91m). Ford recorded his observations and noted that the Walker revolver was as effective as the prominent .54-caliber Mississippi Rifle in the hands of a qualified operator.Due to the relatively small number of Colt Walker revolvers produced, original examples are highly sought after by collectors. In 2008, one that included provenance





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