Samuel Colt sold his first revolver pistol to the United States government on January 4, 1847. The guns were was mass-produced to be used in the Mexican War. Despite the genius behind his invention, it wasn’t immediately affordable for the common cowboy, but the purchase from the government popularized the weapon and decreased its cost. Approximately 2,000 handguns were ordered, and Colt received $10 for each one. The large order allowed Colt to restart his firearm business. After being handmade and expensive for so long, Colt was finally able to afford machinery to produce the weapons faster for less money.
The praised weapon carried on into the Civil War, as is shown in a number of Confederate records.
The revolver became a famous gun across the United States, particularly for gold rushers heading west. After hauling in a fine load of money, Colt spent some time making his six-shooters a little more intricate to use them for presentations. Only a few were made, such as this one ornamented by Gustave Young. This revolver, engraved with a golden bust of George Washington, is held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Colt is still a manufacturer of guns today and features modern and replica weapons. Although the original Colt revolver is not as deadly as modern firearms, many gun enthusiasts still enjoy the authentic handgun, and some have even made world records with current models of the weapon.
Search for more weapons used in the Civil War in the Civil War Service Records.