A Ltttle Firearms History

MArooned has a Jeep commercial posted, venting on the use of fine old music to sell products. This is an evil that is not limited to commercials for Jeeps, Chevrolet and Michelob have ruined other great songs with the same technique. I agree with him that this trend needs to be condemned. Anyway, I watched the commercial, and was surprised when the voice over says, starting at 17 seconds, “Colt revolvers, Jeep 4x4s, these things make us who we are…”

A positive reference to firearms in a mainstream commercial! But what exactly are they referencing? Colt made his first revolver in the 1830s. Known as the Colt Paterson because the factory was in Paterson, New Jersey. They were finicky, difficult to reload, and underpowered. He went bankrupt and lost everything.

A couple of hundred of the Paterson pistols made it to Texas where a Captain Walker of the early Texas Rangers used them with great effect against the finest mounted riders on the continent, the Commanches. Captain Walker had some ideas to improve the design, not the least of which was to make it more powerful. He contacted Sam Colt.

In the end, Capt. Walker and Sam Colt collaborated on a design. Colt had to get someone to built the guns because he had no factory. He let a contract to Eli Whitney to do the machine work. It saved Sam Colt from obscurity and gave him the capital to build a new factory and begin design development and improvements on firearms.

With a loading lever, chambered in .44 caliber and weighing four and a half pounds, it was the most powerful production handgun until the introduction of the .357 Magnum in the 1930s. It could used effectively up to 100 yards. Texas ordered a thousand of them. It was the beginning. A subsequent gun based on the same design was issued to U.S. troops in the 1850s. A direct line can be drawn from those Walker Colts to modern revolvers.

Two years’ experience in Mexico enables me to speak with confidence of the value of Colt’s revolvers. Those who had them there could not be induced to part with them at any price.
–Lt. Col. George A. Caldwell