“God created men equal, Sam Colt made them equal.”Samuel Colt
Colt’s revolver reduced the cost and risk of settling the US. Before the revolver, Native Americans could shoot arrows faster than pioneers could reload muskets, making westward travel and settlement dangerous. The Colt revolver reversed the dynamics and is widely credited with winning “the Indian wars.” Colt extensively relied on standardized parts ー especially modern bullets ー to make reloading his guns faster and less expensive.
Colt had many false starts. Besides the weapon itself, historians argue it is a leap in standardized manufacturing, especially in the use of easy to load, inexpensive bullets. Collier had built and patented a multi-shot musket in 1813, that Colt likely saw while in the army. But the user was required to turn the barrel by hand to load the next bullet. Colt’s barrel automatically switched and locked into the next position (hence the name, revolver).
Colt’s gun wasn’t seen as especially useful until used, by the army, in a fight where they were vastly outnumbered by Native Americans. Whereas single-shot muskets were slow to reload, Colt revolvers ー quickly firing shot after shot ー decimated Indian tribes. A June 1844 battle led by Capt. Hayes where a small group of rangers killed a much larger group of Comanches. Colt’s weapon decisively won the battle and changed the opinion for Colt’s gun.
Colt was a strong marketer, creating popular slogans to build mythology about his guns that exists until today: “God created men equal, Col. Colt made them equal.” “There is more law in a Colt six-gun than in all the law books.”