Samuel Colt

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Samuel Colt
BirthplaceHartford, Connecticut, United States
Inventor, industrialist, businessman

Colt, Samuel

Colt, Samuel, 1814–62, American inventor, b. Hartford, Conn. In 1835–36, he patented a revolving-breech pistol and founded at Paterson, N.J., the Patent Arms Company, which failed in 1842. An order for 1,000 revolvers from the U.S. government in 1847 in the Mexican War made possible the reestablishment of his business. He later built the Colt's Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company factory at Hartford. Colt also invented a submarine battery used in harbor defense and a submarine telegraph cable. His revolving-breech pistol became so popular that the word Colt was sometimes used as a generic term for the revolver.


See biography by W. B. Edwards (1953); J. Rasenberger, Sam Colt and the Six-Shooter That Changed America (2020).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Colt, Samuel


Born July 19, 1814, in Hartford, Conn.; died there Jan. 10, 1862. American gunsmith.

Colt founded a plant and a company for the production of small arms. Colt’s first revolver, invented in 1835, was an improved version of the previous systems of cylinder arms and revolvers. Colt introduced a system for turning the cylinder and locking it for firing. Subsequently Colt’s firm developed various models of small arms, such as an automatic pistol (1911) and a revolver (1917).


“Samuel’ Kol’t.” Artilleriiskii zhurnal, 1868, no. 1.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Colt, Samuel

(1814–62) inventor, manufacturer; born in Hartford, Conn. An indifferent student, he worked in his father's dye and bleaching establishment (1824–27, 1831–32) and was sent away to sea (1830–31). While at sea, he made a wooden model of an automatically revolving breech pistol and on returning to the U.S.A. he made metal models. To support his work he went on a tour as "Dr. Coult," lecturing on the marvels of chemistry. By 1836 he had patents on his pistol in England, France, and the U.S.A. and began to manufacture them in Paterson, N.J. His factory was one of the most innovative in its use of mass-production technique, and the Colt "six shooter" caught on with individuals—especially in the American West—but not with the U.S. Army. The company failed in 1842. Colt turned his attention to developing underwater mines and telegraph cable. When the Mexican War began (1846), the army placed an order for 1,000 revolvers; he had to subcontract the work to Eli Whitney's factory (in Whitneyville, Conn.) but by 1848 he was making the revolver in his own grand factory in Hartford, Conn. He directed Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company until his death.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.