Autry National Center

The Colt Revolver in the American West

The Colt Revolver in the American West

Firearms were a key tool in the settlement of the American West. Part of a larger technological revolution that transformed the United States from an isolated agricultural nation into the world's leading industrial and military power, firearms manufacturing and expertise came of age when Western expansion was at its peak. More than two million people flooded into the West in the last four decades of the nineteenth century, and almost all of them relied on firearms in one way or another. The two firearms that are commonly cited as "the gun that won the West" are the Winchester Model 1873 Rifle and the Colt Single Action Army Model Revolver.

The Colt revolver was the handgun of choice on the frontier because it was the first practical revolving firearm capable of firing more than one shot without having to be reloaded. It revolutionized the firearms industry and was the first truly global manufacturing export in American history. The Colt revolver had a dramatic impact around the world, but its greatest influence was in the American West in the second half of the nineteenth century. Even today, the Colt revolver remains extremely popular in the region. As a result of their shared history, the Colt revolver and the American West will forever be connected.



Author

Jeffrey Richardson
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Web Development

Gary Cannone

Electronic Cataloging and Imaging

Marilyn Kim, Vlasta Radan, Carmel France, Rebecca Menendez, David Benitez, Susan Eisenstein

Editor

Marlene Head

Special Thanks

Greg Martin, R. L. Wilson

4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027-1462 Phone: 323.667.2000

© 2014 Autry National Center of the American West. All rights reserved.