Colt Paterson Revolver, Called the “Texas Colt”
.36-caliber, Patent Arms Company, 1839
The Colt Paterson revolver was the first practical revolving-cylinder handgun ever made. Invented by Samuel Colt in 1831 and patented in 1836, the Colt Paterson revolver became synonymous with Texas. The Republic of Texas served as its proving ground and was nearly the only market for Colt’s revolutionary product. In 1839, the Republic of Texas ordered 180 of the .36-caliber Holster model revolvers for the Texas Navy, but most significant were the revolvers issued to the early Texas Rangers. The Rangers, as a frontier force, found the repeating pistol extremely valuable in battles against American Indians, who could fire multiple arrows in the time it took to reload a single-shot pistol. The Colt Paterson gave Texans the firepower to defend themselves against attacks, as well as put native populations on the defensive. This Holster Model with a nine-inch barrel is known as the “Texas Colt” because it was the exact model carried by the Texas Rangers. The Texas military used these firearms in the Council House Fight at San Antonio (1840) and in the Texan-Santa Fe (1841) and Mier (1842) Expeditions.
One drawback of the weapon was a tricky trigger, which only extended when the hammer was cocked. There were numerous instances of the trigger getting jammed in the retracted state, rendering the gun useless in battle. Another major issue was a lack of firepower. The gun was not strong enough to inflict wounds sufficiently heavy to take an enemy combatant out of the fight. In response to these issues, Samuel Colt partnered with Captain Samuel H. Walker to create the Colt Walker revolver (also on display).