“God created people differently. Colonel Colt evened their chances, ”variants of this American proverb are known to almost everyone who is at least a little interested in US history, westerns or weapons ..
Such a brief description of the activities of Samuel Colt to a very small extent reflects the entire scale and results of his work and does not at all concern the character traits of the industrialist himself. Meanwhile, he was a very ambiguous personality, and under the Colt brand, products are still being produced that, with their lethality, far outstripped Coca-Cola, Pepsi and McDonalds, taken in place ... Not bad for a colonel who did not serve a day in the army!
The first steps of industrialist Sam Colt
The first attempts of a young entrepreneur come at the beginning (first decades) of the 19th century. It is unlikely that Samuel Colt can be considered a full-fledged embodiment of the “American dream” - he did not come from the social lower classes and, before he achieved real success, he repeatedly borrowed considerable funds for the development and production of models from his industrialist father and relatives, and later married a representative of a wealthy family.
What can not be taken away from Colt - failures did not prevent him from moving on. Designed revolvers and rifles exploded, shooters pinched their fingers with drums, Colt himself was often penniless and made a living traveling around the country with a set to demonstrate the properties of "laughing gas". But, the patents for the developed mechanisms of revolvers in the UK, France and the USA belonged to him and this was the main thing.
The entire history of the Colt brand is a history of litigation, not entirely transparent deals, government contracts involving well-motivated lobbyists, and other not-so-pleasant stories..
During the Mexican-American War (1846 - 1848), Samuel Colt finally received a large order (for 1000 revolvers)) for Texas volunteers and in 1848 was finally able to open another company - Colt's Patent Manufacturing Company in his "native" Hartford (pc. Connecticut). The heyday of production falls on the 50s.
In Hartford, the construction of production facilities, housing and places of cultural recreation for workers, transport infrastructure for the village of Coltsville for skilled migrants from Germany was underway. Colt's wife spent a lot of money on charity.
At the same time, working conditions in the workplace left much to be desired, the salaries of women barely allowed them to survive, and to put pressure on enemies, Colt did not hesitate to use the administrative resource - friendship with political leaders and controlled newspaper publishers. By the way, the rank of “Colonel”, or rather Leutenant Colonel, was awarded to him “out of friendship” by the then Governor of Connecticut, Thomas Seymour.
Colt considered himself entitled to intervene in all spheres of workers' lives - more than one left the plant for sympathy for President Lincoln. However, when the civil war broke out, this did not stop Colt from replenishing his income by supplying weapons to the Northern army. He acted like a real businessman - during the war, supplying weapons to both sides.
In a word, Colonel Colt was neither a bad - nor a good, typical industrialist - a product of his time, in many ways, even more liberal than his "colleagues".
Weapons and other projects
One of the main advantages of the new weapon was not only its multiple charges, but also the interchangeability of parts - the quality of parts was then too low everywhere. Each had to be adjusted manually. Once at an exhibition in England, Colt took apart ten samples, mixed the parts and assembled ten workable revolvers.
But his interests were not limited to small arms only. Samuel Colt put a lot of effort into the development of underwater mines and demonstrated them to representatives of the American leadership back in the 40s of the 19th century. Future US President and then politician John Quincy Adams rejected the project, calling it a dishonest means of warfare and "an unchristian contraption." Atomic and vacuum bombs, napalm and poison gases appeared in the American and world arsenals much later ...
In the forties, Colt worked closely with Morse, supplying waterproof cables for his equipment.
The most curious story involves a former Colt employee, Rollin White. As you know, the first Colt revolvers did not use a "unitary" cartridge (with a bullet, sleeve and primer all-in-one), instead, the drum was reloaded each time through the front holes of the chambers. White proposed breech-loading through drums, Colt was critical of the idea, relations did not work out, and a former employee with a patent for an invention went to seek his fortune around the world. Surely Colt and his heirs tore their hair after ... This design is used in revolvers to this day.
Then White sold the patent to Smith & Wesson. When the advantages of the new weapon became obvious to everyone, the Colt enterprise had to wait years until the patent expired - the industrialist himself had long been dead. It got ridiculous - Smith & Wesson bought Colt revolvers and reamed the drums, after which they resold the weapon.
Samuel Colt died in January 1864, having not lived up to the moment of the disaster for almost a month - in February there was a big fire at the plant, in addition to equipment, documentation, drawings, etc. were damaged.
In the post-war period, starting in 1865, the Colt company was mainly engaged in sewing and typewriters, bicycles, watches, etc.
Now the company is not going through the best years - however, it has withstood periods of recession, crises and is one of the leaders in the arms market.
On its historical account there are such legends as Colt Walker, Colt Peacemaker, the legendary M1911 pistol, the creation of which is directly related to John Browning himself.
Colt also produced automatic rifles M4, sung by Hollywood films, M16 and its "civilian" relative AR15 (although these models themselves were developed outside the company).
In 2002, Colt's Defense spun off from Colt's Manufacturing Company. The first one now produces “civilian” weapons, the second one fulfills defense orders, makes weapons for the police, etc.
Now the company is owned by one of the offspring of a family of Jewish bankers who have long and actively explored financial markets - from the Middle East to New York. In 1992, Colt's Manufacturing Company was acquired by Zilkha & Company of New York City for a measly $12 million. And now the owner is constantly struggling - with losses, lawsuits, anti-gun hysteria that has swept the United States after tragic shooting incidents. And even with fans of weapons - Colt is accused of a kind of "collaborationism", collusion with the anti-gun lobby and betraying the interests of buyers.
Colt in Russia
On the territory of Russia, Colt weapons are well known - revolvers and rifles were used by both sides in the Crimean War of 1853-56, later the weapons were bought by the military and civilians. It is known that the production of "clones" of popular revolvers was established in Russia almost from the moment they appeared on official sale in America. Some are like honest “copies”, others are like outright fakes with the corresponding inscriptions and logos.
In the revolutionary and post-revolutionary years, Colt products were also widely represented in the USSR - in the form of trophies of numerous wars, Lend-Lease samples and "grandfather's stash", carefully and illegally passed from generation to generation.
Today, most Russians can purchase either non-working “replicas” and MMGs of Colt products, or pneumatic and airsoft counterparts, at best, “civilian” long-barreled versions of weapons. Some people recommend visiting Abkhazia and Ossetia - they say that if you find a common language with the locals, you can “hold in your hands” samples of the Colt M16, inherited as trophies after the war with Georgia. There is still a certain number of copies that are still stored in Russian military warehouses and got there in different ways.
If there is no way to get hold of a real Colt, but you really want to, get a folding or awkward knife. Such products under the Colt brand are sold here quite legally, to everyone.