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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

how the revolver changed the world

In the mid-1840s, Captain John Coffe Hays of the Texas Rangers introduced a new firearm to this special force of agents of the authority of the aforementioned state, a weapon that would become an icon of the conquest of the West and of the rangers themselves. : The revolver. Much more than a pistol, it was capable of firing five times without reloading the drum compared to the single-shot weapons of the Indians, the revolver, and the Mexicans, muzzle-loading pistols and rifles in which both the projectile and the gunpowder are loaded through the mouth of the barrel, a weapon that makes it easier for authorities to protect and expand the US border. The weapon had been designed by Samuel Colt, possibly inspired by the flintlock revolver invented by Elisha Collier around 1818 and which he had the opportunity to see in the Tower of London while playing his role as a cabin boy aboard the Corvo on his voyage to India.

After returning home he built a prototype and at the age of twenty-three he bought the patent with the help of his father, both in England (1835) and in the United States (1836).. Colt creates the Paterson Arms Manufacturing Company in New Jersey and produces rifles, shotguns and rotary drum pistols, that is, 36-caliber five-shot revolvers, manually produced, the Colt Paterson. This weapon arrived at a key moment in the American expansion over the territories of the newly independent Mexico, a regulation by the American authorities had allowed the settlers, mainly Scots, who settled north of the Rio Grande in the Texas area. This territory was populated by different native Indian tribes, Comanches, Kiowas, Jumanos, among other peoples, who see in the settlers’ ranches an opportunity for survival by stealing heads of cattle and horses. The lack of effectiveness of the Mexican army in the fight against the Indians, together with the dispersion of the ranches, motivated the formation of a militia recruited among the ranchers who provided their services to protect the community unless they could be exonerated by payment.

The soldiers of this militia were called rangers, a Scottish term that refers to the groups of individuals who scoured the terrain in search of criminals, cattle thieves and enemies. These soldiers participated in the war against Mexico after the Texas Revolution, carrying out actions as significant as the defense of the Alamo. But the independence of Texas in 1836 did not bring peace, ten years later the war between the United States and Mexico began, the rangers participated in the fight, highlighting San Walker who improved the original model of the revolver with a six-shot drum used by American forces. Only an initial batch of 1,100 copies was produced, which makes this revolver a collector’s item. Starting in 1847, the design of the Colt Paterson was improved, preserving the Walker’s six-bullet drum, with great shooting accuracy, 28 centimeters long and 45 caliber, the same as the Winchester M1873, this revolver was known as the Single Action Army, produced in Connecticut and for a time in London where Colt was the first to market interchangeable parts and was a leader in mass production on both sides of the Atlantic. Colt’s presence in London caused years of acrimony and disputes with British manufacturers who doubted the quality of mass-produced weapons.

In 1854 and the following years, the British Army ordered some 20,000 weapons from it, but it was not able to convince the British to make it the main weapon of its army, something that did happen in the United States, being adopted by the army as its main weapon in 1873. However, However, its popularity is not limited to the military field, in a few years a large number of southern citizens took control of one of the weapons manufactured by Colt, being called a “peacemaker”, an accessible and permitted weapon based on the second amendment of the American constitution which grants all men the right to bear arms. The shootings were continuous, the small newly founded towns were subject to multiple robberies, not only by Indians who did not abandon their lands but also by outlaws and gunmen who imposed the law. pulling the trigger of the revolver. Billy the Kid, Wyatt Erp, Clay Allison made this revolver an icon of the American West.

In the 20th century, the film industry served to elevate the “peacemaker” to the category of myth, as it was a revolver associated with the great stars of the screen such as John Wayne in “Fort Apache” (1948) or “Desert Centaurs” (1956), or as James Stewart in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962), all directed by John Ford. In the 90s the series “Walker, Texas Ranger” starring Chuck Norris popularized the story of the Texas Rangers and their Colt six-shooter. Colt’s legacy continues today, with Colt’s Manufacturing Company focusing on the production of weapons for the civilian and law enforcement markets.

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