Before there was a Colt six shooter, there was a Colt five shooter, back in 1835.
Samuel Colt couldn’t sell it to much of anyone, except for Captain John Coffee Hays and his Texas Rangers. They loved it. The Colt proved itself invaluable in fighting the Comanches, who were the most feared warriors on the Texas plains.
Colt’s weapon evened the playing field because the Comanches already had a rapid fire weapon of their own: a bow and arrow. A skilled warrior could pump four arrows into a Ranger before he could reload his old single shot rifle. And the Comanches could do it from horseback, at a gallop.
If there had been a MasterCard ad at that time it would have gone like this:
Fastest Quarter Horse: around 100 dollars.
Top of the line saddle: 40 dollars.
Two Colt revolvers: 60 dollars
Going up against 40 Comanches with seven fellow Texas Rangers, equally equipped: Priceless.
When Zachary Taylor was set to invade Mexico he asked the Rangers to come along. The Rangers said they would, but they would need Colt Revolvers. Taylor said okay, and ordered 1,000 of them – but Samuel Colt was bankrupt. He didn’t even have a Colt revolver left in his possession. He had to put an ad in the paper to get one back so he could copy it. Then he got Eli Whitney, of cotton gin fame, to help him produce them. The Texas Rangers saved the Colt pistol from extinction.
Once Monterrey, Mexico, was pacified, General Winfield Scott was ready to move against Santa Anna in Mexico City – yes, the same Santa Anna who got his butt kicked in Texas ten years before. General Scott, like Taylor, wanted the Rangers to scout for him. Since there was a little down time before the invasion, Texas Ranger Samuel Walker – who was no relation to “Walker: Texas Ranger,” played by Chuck Norris – had a quick visit with Samuel Colt. He told him that the five shooter should be made a six shooter for better balance. Thus the six shooter was born. And it was so heavy that Colt said it would take a “Texan to shoot it.”
This new pistol was called the Walker Colt. And Colt got the finest product placement/celebrity endorsement in marketing history: his guns were the official guns of Texas Rangers. Every soldier, wanted one. Every man in the West wanted one. A later version was called the Peacemaker, the gun that tamed the West.
As the saying went, God made some men big and some men small. Samuel Colt made equals of them all.