Monday, August 16, 2010

"Vice Pioneers" : The Revolver

Beloved revolver

Industrialist Samuel Colt

James Puckle's early creation

The gun is a revered and loved item in our culture. And no gun is more popular than the revolver. The image of someone pulling a trigger is either thrilling or horrifying, but it is always captivating. Here is a little info on its history.

From Wikipedia: "The earliest example of a revolver is a revolving arquebus, produced by Hans Stopler in 1597. Another early specimen, now in the Tower of London armories, is dated to the middle 1600s and attributed to John Dafte of London. This example, a flintlock, uses a single lock, with a flash pan for each of the six chambers. The cylinder is rotated by hand, and locks in place for firing. This was still not perfected, however, as it was apparently destroyed by a misfire.

James Puckle patented a revolving chamber gun in 1718. This gun, which had a 1.25 inch bore (30 mm), was tripod mounted, and the 11-shot cylinder was operated by a hand crank. It is often cited as the first machine gun. By changing cylinders to reload (an early example of a speedloader), the gun was fired and reloaded to fire a total of 63 rounds in seven minutes. Elisha Collier patented a flintlock revolver in Britain in 1818, and significant numbers were being produced in London by 1822.

In 1836, Samuel Colt patented a revolver mechanism that led to the widespread use of the revolver. According to Samuel Colt, he came up with the idea for the revolver while at sea, inspired by the capstan winch, which had a ratchet and pawl mechanism on it, a version of which was used in his guns to rotate the cylinder. Revolvers proliferated largely due to Colt's ability as a salesman." Read more about the revolver here.