Samuel Coltperfected the mass production of firearms. An honour he have to share with Eli Whitney.  The French never really succeded in their efforts to produce standarised ( military) weapons in large numbers.  But both Colt and Whitney realised themselves that parts which would  interchange  from gun to gun with minimal  or none handwork will make it possible to produce these guns in large numbers. 

Samuel Colt was born in 1814  and start making fire arms in Hartford and Baltimore from 1832 til 1835.  Most of them were long arms.  This encouraged hem to seek  the English patent 6909  granted in 1835  ( Collier) and the US patent 136  of 1836   Each claiming the connection of the hammer to the cylinder rotating pawl.  These patents  made it possible for Colt to start the making of his own revolving handgun. 

A factory was founded in Paterson, New Jersey .  But it had to be closed in 1842 .    The Paterson Colt revolvers saw service in the Mexican war that started in 1846.               General Zachary Taylor and his men were impressed by those weapons. Among those men was Samuel H. Walker  with who Colt refined the Paterson Colt into an arm that could be used in battle..

The result was a 1000 gun contract   for the government in january 1847.  For Colt  a small problem  because he had no longer facilities to produce those guns.   So he subcontracted this order to the factory of Eli Whitney in Whitneyville, Connecticut.     The 1847 Walker Colt were more then 15 inch long  ( 37,5 cm) and  weighed more than 2,2 Kg. A cumbersome piece of arm. But six shots  of .44 calibre in stock.  They showed to be so effective that Colt was to receive a new order. 

Colt went into business and  started a new factory in Hartford Connecticut  in 1848.At this factory he started the production  model 1848 Colt Dragoon. This was a success.  More than 20 000 were made between 1849 and 1855.   9380 of those where purchased by the US Army.  The success of the Colt Dragoon inspired him to the introduction of the                Baby Dragoon  a five shot .31      15 000 of these were made from 1848 till 1850.

The Baby Dragoon  was replaced by the Colt Pocket, (A) the model 1849.  It came in different models.  Barrels from 3 till 6 inch  for Welch Fargo a model without a rammer, and many other configurations .   Those guns were made until 1873 and it was a great commercial success for Colt.   314 000 of these guns were made in Hartford and about another 11 000 in London.    

Samuel Colt died in 1862 unexpected at the age of   48 years

 But as with all things that are a commercial success other producers of fire arms started to make their own copy of the Colt 1849.



A   few of those copyists are:         

(B) Manhattan Firearms  Company   from Newark, New Jersey.  They added there own patent to their Colt copy. That one include the safety notches on the cylinder ( between the cylinder stop notches there are notches to set the cylinder on, so the hammer is not resting on a cap).            Manhattan made about a 5000 .31 and 80 000  .36 firearms until  1864  when they lost all lawsuits. Then they started to copy Smith & Wesson  fire arms.                                    When Smith & Wesson  won their lawsuits the Manhattan Fire Arms Company was succeeded in 1870 by the American Standard Tool Company.

 (D) Bacon Manufacturing Company  from Norwich, Connecticut   It is hard to say if Thomas Bacon was copying Colt or Manhattan guns. for he was first an employee of Manhattan Firearms  Thomas Bacon founded  his company in 1858   Bacon sold his business in 1867 to Hopkins & Allen

 (C)Cooper revolvers were almost similar to the .36 Colts.  But James Cooper had  2 patents for the double action lock he used on his guns.  These patens are  US no 29.684 ( 4 September 1860) and   patent US no 40.021 ( 22 September 1863)    James Cooper started his business in Pittsburgh but after the first production he moved to Philadelphia.  Cooper revolvers can be recognized by the larger trigger guard and the trigger that is placed in the front part of the guard


Others were:   

Nepperhan Fire Arms Company of Yonkers, New York.                                        Metropolitan Fire Arms Company  new York City

are among other Colt Copyist.   

About 1900 in Belgium some manufacturers started to make Colt Copy's. On the barrel there was most of the cases a misleading text that suggested it was made by the system of Colt.  (E)   Names on the guns say's Brevette or Clements.  These guns can be recognized by a longer cylinder, and the poor quality.

 This and more about these arms and their history can be found in


The Guns that won the west   by John Walter                    Greenhill Books London   Dictonary of Guns and Gunmakers   by  John Walter        Greenhill Books London        Guns of the Old West  by  Dean K. Boorman               Salamander  

The Peacemakers   by R.L. Wilson                                   Chartwell books inc.