On this day in 1862 (in the midst of the Civil War, though his death was unrelated to the fighting), legendary gunmaker Samuel Colt passed away. Also in the month of January (on the 4th), 15 years earlier in 1847, Colt sold his first revolver to the U.S. government. The American West would never be the same, as thousands of hardy pioneers and cowboys were armed with various versions of the famed Colt revolver.
Pictured here, the Peacemaker, was a famous gun used widely by soldiers, frontier lawmen and settlers, according to information compiled by the NRA National Firearms Museum under Director Jim Supica. This Peacemaker, a single-action Army revolver in "The American West" Gallery, is one of many historic Colt firearms under glass at the National Firearms Museum.
"In 1830-31, while the sixteen year-old Colt was serving as a seaman aboard the brig Corvo, he observed the ship's wheel and the relationship of the various spokes to the center hub. This inspired him to make a wooden model of a revolving pistol. Although others had already experimented with revolvers, Colt's design was the first to automatically rotate the cylinder when the gun was cocked," according to the National Firearms Museum's narrative of Colt's life.
The facts and legends surrounding many of the nearly 3,000 guns on display are available at the touch of a screen in the corridors of the nation's finest firearms museum.