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My uncle told me that Sam Colt did not invent the original revolving pistol in the 1830's but that he bought the idea from a couple of blacksmiths. He was the first to commercially produce the revolver, but the idea came from someone else. Is there any truth to this?
 

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Sam Colt did not invent the first revolving firearm. His company made the revolver popular and practical.

I've read he took the idea from a device that locked the steering wheel on sailing ships.
 

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There were other revolving firearms that simply weren't practical.
For instance, it's possible Colt saw a revolving flintlock rifle in a museum in London when he was a young sailor.

However, Colt's revolver was the first practical revolver that was something more than a one-of-a-kind failed oddity.

Colt himself was the prototypical Yankee inventor/engineer, and clearly a mechanical genius.

Starting in the 1830's there are Colt's patents and dated drawings and prototypes for revolving arms.
There are no such drawings or patents for revolvers during that time by anyone else.

Colt really did "invent" what we know as the revolver.
 

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I agree! You can see a picture of the original wooden model of the revolver 16 year old Samuel Colt carved while at sea on the ship Corvo 1830-31, in R.L. Wilson's book, Colt An American Legend. It's like saying Bell didn't invent the telephone. Blasphemy I tell you blasphemy!!
 
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