1846-1849 (Age 32-35)
1846 – Age 32
Samuel Colt was at his lowest ebb with the failure of his Patent Arms Manufacturing Company, his submarine battery invention for fortifying harbours and rivers, his development of the waterproof cartridge and his telegraphic enterprise. He acknowledged that he was “as poor as a church mouse”. In desperation he tries to use his influence to have himself nominated as a Captain in the new regiment of Riflemen that was being formed to enable him to further his military inventions within the army.
Sam writes to Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker who had been a lieutenant colonel of the Texas Rangers asking him about the exploits of the Texas Rangers using his repeating firearms and how his revolver could be adopted by the military for the war against Mexico. Walker replied in late November, relating the incident in the summer of 1844 when Colonel J.C. Hays with fifteen men fought about eighty Comanche indians killing and wounding about half their number. He said “Without your Pistols we would not have had the confidence to have undertaken such daring adventures”. He then went on to say that “With improvements I think they can be rendered the most perfect weapon in the World for light mounted troops… The people throughout Texas are anxious to procure your pistols & I doubt not you would find sale for a large number at this time”.
This was music to the ears of Samuel Colt. He had been waiting to hear news like this for a long time. On the 7th December Walker informed Colt that the Ordnance Department had ordered one thousand of his new repeating pistols to be manufactured within three months with possible further orders if the first contract was completed on time.
1847 – Age 33
On 4th January the Colt-Walker contract between Samuel Colt and Samuel H. Walker, Captain U.S. Rifles and acting by authority of the Secretary of War was signed and then ratified on 6th January by the Secretary of War for the immediate construction of one thousand or a larger number if required of Colt’s Patent Repeating Pistols with nine inch rifled barrels, six-shot .44 caliber cylinder with black walnut stocks at an agreed price of $25 each. The first one hundred to be manufactured and inspected by Walker within three months and the balance with all the necessary accessories to be delivered within five or six months.
The Colt-Walker Dragoon weighed a hefty four pounds nine ounces with a cylinder capacity of fifty seven grains of black-powder which would push a one hundred and forty grain bullet at 1,500 feet per second. This was unequalled fire-power and would not be matched for many decades.
Colt immediately contracted Eli Whitney, Jr. and the Whitneyville Armoury to adapt or manufacture new machinery and tools to produce most of the component parts to make the one thousand revolvers.
By the 18th June, 1847 one hundred of the guns had been numbered to their respective companies A,B,C,D and E, inspected and ready to be issued to troops at the front.
By the 6th July, Colt had completed the one thousand revolver contract with all the improvements that Captain Walker had suggested. Alongside the military contract Samuel Colt manufactured another one hundred civilian revolvers to the same specifications that he numbered from 1001 to 1100. These he used for presentation purposes to influential persons in the political and military arena to promote his new product. Colt was never adverse to rewarding, bribing and influencing leading individuals to further his business.
With the contract completed in July, it took until November, before Colt received the machinery, tools and surplus revolver parts from Eli Whitney Jr. as per the contract and agreement that they made the previous January. Samuel Colt now had the machinery, tools and equipment and the added experience to start his new factory in Pearl Street, Hartford, Connecticut where he leased two buildings for $275 a year. In this year Colt also commenced manufacture of the Colt Baby Dragoon. It was 1847 and Sam had money in his pocket.
The “Walker” was followed by the Improved Holster pistol or Whitneyville-Hartford Dragoon which was numbered in the 1101-1340 serial range.
1848 – Age 34
The Second Contract, Fluck or Pre-First Model Dragoons were manufactured in a serial range from 2216-2515. From 1848 through to 1849 a total of almost 7,000 Colt First Model Dragoon revolvers were manufactured in the serial range from 1341 to 8,000.