Samuel Colt’s iconic revolver works peaked during the Civil War while the inventor and founder himself passed away in 1862. This left his company behind to try and compete against other revolver makers (looking at you, Smith & Wesson) who were using Rollin White’s breech-loading cartridge wheel gun patents. Once White’s patent tanked in 1870, William Mason and Charles Brinckerhoff Richards at Colt filed patents for their own Model 1871-72 Open Top revolver.
This six-shot single action, chambered in the same .44 Rimfire cartridge used by the Henry lever-action rifles of the day, soon morphed into a chambering in Colt’s new centerfire black powder .45 cartridge and submitted for a new U.S. Army handgun contract to replace older cap-and-ball revolvers.
And the rest was history.
More in my column at Guns.com