Colt firearms have been around for over a century and a half, bringing the finest weapons to the American public. To many, the name Colt is even synonymous with the word firearms as they couldn't imagine carrying any other brand of weapon. Since the last half of the 1800s, the Colt revolver has been one of the best known firearm companies in American, as well as in Canada, Mexico and many European countries.
The Origins of the Colt Manufacturing Company
Prior to 1836, a shooter could only obtain a pistol with one or two barrel flintlocks. Then Sam Colt came on the firearm scene. In 1836, he requested a patent for his new firearm that was equipped with a revolving cylinder. It could contain five or six bullets and was an incredibly novel idea when it first appeared on the market. However, it took awhile for people to show interest in it since many people still preferred their traditional flintlock musket or pistol. Eventually, it certainly did catch on, as is evident by the fact that since 1836, more than 30 million revolvers, pistols and rifles have been produced using the Colt name. At the age of 22, in 1836, Sam built his first plant in Paterson, N.J. and became the firm's main salesman and new business promoter. His uncle helped him financially to start the company and he was soon on his way.
In 1845, some of the units of the U.S. Dragoon forces and the Texas Ranger used Colt firearms in their battle with the Indians in Texas. They said that they credited some of their success to the Colt weapons. Soon, Colt was producing thousands of newly designed revolvers for the U.S. Ordinance Department and was gaining popularity. By 1856, Sam's company was making 150 weapons a day and Colt was gaining a reputation for manufacturing firearms with great quality, workmanship and design.
When Sam Colt died, the company remained with his widow and her family until 1901. At that time, it was sold to a group of investors. Still, the Colt Company continued to achieve success even after it was sold. However, the company faced the same problems that any other firearms company faced - they needed to increase production and employment a great deal during war years and then figure out how to decrease production after a war was finished while still earning a profit. They also needed to learn to diversify their offerings to other items besides firearms. They managed to enter into fields of machinery, printing presses, ticket punches, plastics and dishwashing machines and their success in these fields helped them get through post-war periods. Then, in 1955, Colt management decided to merge with Penn-Texas Corporation, and Colt Firearms became a subsidiary of Penn-Texas.
The 60s and Beyond
In 1964, the parent company reorganized to call itself Colt Industries and the firearms subsidiary became known as Colt's Inc, Firearms Division. Throughout the 70s, Colt introduced many firearms including the Sharps Rifle, Sauer Rifle and more. In 1984, they introduced the Combat Government Model and the .380 Government Model automatic pistols.
A Bumpy Road in 1998
In 1998, Colt's CEO, Ron Stewart made a blunder while being interviewed for the Washington Post. He said that he would be in favor of federal permit systems with training and testing for gun ownership. This did not make gun owners happy, needless to say, and there was a massive boycott of Colt firearms products. Ron Stewart eventually resigned and, with time, the boycott faded.
Back in Demand
In 1990, the company was sold to private investors: the State of Connecticut and the union employees. In 1994, Colt won the contract to supply almost 19,000 of the new M-4 carbines to the U.S. Army and the Special Forces. Today, Colt continues to work hard to deliver the best firearms possible to its loyal customers.