How Are Modern Colt Revolvers Made?

Samuel Colt may have invented the wheelgun, but for decades Colt stopped making them. They're back ... and here's how they do it.

posted on April 20, 2023

In 1830, a 16-year-old boy was lost in thought on the deck of a sailing ship. As he watched the ship's wheel turn to and fro, he wondered if that design could translate into a repeating handgun. As it turns out, the boy's name was Samuel Colt and the answer was, "Yes, and you are about to make American history." 

That's because the story of Colt is the story of America. Although the first Colts were handmade (like all other firearms of the era), Colt was among the first companies to make use of Eli Whitney, Jr.'s factory. It was 1846, and the U.S. Army had just requisitioned 1,000 Colt wheelguns for the Mexican-American War, and that Whitney factory was the only realistic way to get the order filled before the war was over.

Yes, Eli Whitney, Jr., was the son of the inventor of the cotton gin, and the 1,000 guns Colt made at his factory were the first mass-produced firearms in history. Ironically, 150 years later, Colt had focused on semi-automatic firearms to the almost complete exclusion of revolvers. 

"In the back of my mind, the grand idea was to bring back the heritage of revolvers that we had at Colt, and I remember distinctly, I was in a shop in Minnesota, I passed on a Python back in the mid-'90s and was kicking myself ever since," said Paul Spitale, executive vice president of commercial business at Colt. "When I came to Colt, part of it was, "How could we bring back the Colt revolver story?'"

This video from our friends at American Rifleman TV answers that question, and offers an insider's pass behind the pages of the Colt revolver story. To watch complete segments of past episodes of American Rifleman TV, go to For all-new episodes of ARTV, tune in Wednesday nights to Outdoor Channel 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. EST.




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