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Title: United States Patent Office Application—Improvement in Fire-Arms - and in the Apparatus Used Therewith
Author: Colt, Samuel
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Transcriber's Note: The ^ character is used to signify a superscripted




_S. Colt._

_Imp-t in Fire Arms._

    _No 1304._       _Patented Aug 29. 1839._

Figs. 1-10]




_S. Colt._

_Imp-t in Fire Arms._

    _No 1,304._       _Patented Aug 29. 1839._

Figs. 11-18]




_S. Colt._

_Imp-t in Fire Arms._

    _No 1304._       _Patented Aug 29. 1839._

Figs. 19-26]




Specification forming part of Letters Patent No. 1,304, dated August
29, 1839.

_To all whom it may concern:_

Be it known that I, _Samuel Colt_, of Paterson, in the county of
Passaic and State of New Jersey, did obtain Letters Patent of the
United States for an Improvement in Fire-Arms, which Letters Patent
bear date on the 25th day of February, in the year 1836, and that
I have made certain improvements in the construction of the said
fire-arms, and also in the apparatus for loading and priming the
same; and I do hereby declare that the following is a full and exact
description of my said improvements.

My first improvements appertain to rifles, guns, and pistols; my second
to the construction of a cap-primer for containing the percussion-caps
and placing the same upon the nipples, and my third to a flask and
other apparatus for loading the rifle or gun.

For the general construction of my fire-arms, as originally patented I
refer to the Letters Patent first above named, the same being necessary
to a perfect understanding of the improvements thereon, which I am now
about to describe.

Figure 1 in the accompanying drawings represents a section through
the lock and breech of my rifle or gun and two of the chambers of
the revolving receiver, B being a part of the barrel of the gun. The
mouths of the chambers and the end of the barrel have their edges
chamfered or beveled, as shown at _a a_ in the drawings. In all guns of
this description there is necessarily a lateral discharge between the
receiver and the barrel, and this lateral discharge may endanger the
ignition of the powder in the loaded chambers not in contact with the
barrel; but the ignited matter, by coming into contact with the beveled
edge as it crosses said chamber, is effectually reflected off, and does
not enter them. The beveling of the end of the barrel is not a thing of
importance, it being intended merely to prevent its scraping or cutting
the ball in its passage from the chamber.

Fig. 2 shows a part of the arbor upon which the receiver turns. _b_
is the portion thereof which is immediately below the chamber in
contact with the barrel, and in this part a channel or groove is made
descending from the point _b_ in both directions, so as to form two
inclined planes meeting at the point _b_. These planes or sections of
the grooves may form an angle at forty-five degrees with each other.
This groove or channel serves as a chimney to conduct off the smoke
of the lateral discharge, so that it shall pass directly between the
receiver and the barrel and prevent its spreading, so as to pass in
between the receiver and the arbor and the barrel and the arbor, and
consequently from condensing there and rendering them foul. The barrel
is connected with the receiver and with the stock of the gun by the aid
of the arbor which at the rear end, is a solid piece with the shield
or solid piece of metal which receives the recoil and constitutes a
component part of the metallic frame-work or foundation of the lock and
its appendages. The part C of the arbor is that upon which the receiver
revolves, and the part C′ enters a cylindrical cavity in a mass of
iron, D D, to which the barrel is brazed or otherwise attached.

Fig. 3 shows the piece of iron D D and a part of the barrel B which
is attached to it. The dotted lines in this represent the cylindrical
cavity which receives the outer end of the arbor C′. The two are keyed
together by the passing of a suitable key through a mortise in the
piece D D and a corresponding one in the arbor.

_c_, Figs. 1, 3, 4, and 5, represents the key. Fig. 4 shows its upper
and Fig. 5 its under side, _d d_ are two fluted channels along its
upper side to receive the heads of two screws which are screwed into
the piece D D close to the mortise and on the side opposite to that
shown in Fig. 3. The heads of these screws lap a little over the
mortise and are received into the fluted channels _d d_. These heads
prevent the key from falling out and check it in either direction, and
must be withdrawn in order to remove the key. As the key _c_ is to act
laterally as a wedge to draw the receiver and the barrel into proper
contact, it is of importance that it should be checked when forced
sufficiently far in, or the receiver might be wedged up and prevented
from turning. For this purpose I insert a screw, _e_, Fig. 3, into the
steel button _f_, which is attached to D D, to strengthen the end of
the mortise and prevent the bruising of it by the recoil. The head of
this screw, overlapping the end of the mortise, receives the wedge
and checks it. By turning this screw the force of the wedge may be
tempered. In Fig. 5, _g_ is a spring-latch on the under side of the
key, which catches upon D when the key is forced in and prevents its
accidental removal.

Fig. 6 represents a percussion tube or nipple, through which the fire
from the percussion-cap is to be conducted to the chamber. Fig. 7
represents the same in section. The outer end, _h_, of the tube has the
opening made as large as convenience will allow, and it goes tapering
or conical until at the inner end, _i_, it is as small as a proper
entrance of the flame from the percussion-powder will warrant. By
giving the conical or funnel-formed opening to the tube the effect of
the percussion-powder is greatly increased.

E, Figs. 1 and 8, is a bolt for locking the receiver when a loaded
chamber is brought to coincide with the barrel, the rounded end _j_
being forced into a hole in the receiver by the action of a spring on
its outer end _k_. This bolt is drawn back by the hammer F in the act
of cocking.

_l_, Figs. 1 and 9, is a spring-cam, which is screwed to the hammer at
_m_. It is made of spring-steel, so that its cam end _n_ may recede
from or approach the hammer F. The cam _n_ bears against the projection
_o_ on the bolt E on the side which lies against the hammer, and as the
hammer is drawn back causes the bolt to recede. The bolt is notched to
enable it to be withdrawn without interfering with the joint-pin _q_ of
the hammer. The lateral springing of the cam-piece _l_ is necessary to
admit of its passing by the projection _o_ of the bolt when the hammer
is made to strike upon a percussion-cap. To enable the spring-cam
to pass the bolt E, the lower end of it, _n_, is made wedge-shaped,
diminishing to a point or edge at its extremity, and as it is made to
spring laterally it is received into a recess in the hammer as the
latter passes the bolt in making the discharge.

Fig. 10 shows the ratchet-wheel and hand or pawl by which the receiver
is made to revolve to the distance from one chamber to another in the
act of cocking. The cylindrical periphery _q_ of the ratchet-wheel
fits into a corresponding cavity on the back end of the receiver, as
shown at _q q_, Fig. 1. _r_ is a projection to prevent its turning
round, this being adapted to a notch made to receive it. S is a hand
or pawl, which falls into the teeth of the ratchet-wheel, said pawl
being forced forward by the spring S′. The arbor _t_ on which the hand
turns is received into the opening _t_. In the hammer, Fig. 1, the hand
itself being on the opposite side of said hammer from that shown, its
position is shown by the dotted lines surrounding its arbor _t_. The
cocking of the gun causes it to act upon the ratchet-wheel, and when
turned to the proper distance the bolt E is forced by its spring into
the proper opening in the receiver. The mainspring is connected to the
lock-plate at _u_, and to the hammer by a stirrup at V. The trigger
is shown at _w_. These parts, not differing in their construction and
operation from analogous parts in other gun-locks, need no particular
description, and from the description above given of the structure and
operation of those parts of the rifle or gun which are new, the action
of the whole will, it is believed, be clearly understood.

Fig. 11 is a sectional view of a pistol, the general construction of
which is the same with that of the rifle or gun already described, such
modifications only being made as are rendered necessary by its size
and other considerations. F is the hammer carrying the hand or pawl S,
which operates on the ratchet-wheel, which wheel and hand are arranged
in the same way with the same parts in the rifle; but the hand is as
here represented on the reverse side. The bolt which holds the receiver
is, however, differently constructed to enable it to act in the space
which it must occupy.

Fig. 12 is a view of the hammer on the side the reverse of that shown
in Fig. 11; and E, Fig. 13, is the bolt adapted thereto. _j_ is the
pin on the bolt, which holds the receiver by falling into openings on
its periphery instead of in its end. The pin _j_ is shown in place in
Fig. 11. The bolt E vibrates on a joint-pin at _x_, which is nearly
in the same line with the joint-pin _y_ on the trigger, Figs. 11 and
15, by which it is hidden in those figures. _z_ is a cam formed in a
recess in the hammer, Fig. 12, which cam is to act upon the bolt E and
to disengage it from the receiver. The ends _a′ a^2_ of this bolt
are capable of receding from or approaching toward each other, as they
constitute two spring-cheeks formed by splitting or forking the bolts,
as shown in the drawings. The end _a^2_ lies above the cam _z_ on the
hammer when the pistol is not cocked, and the lower end of _a^2_,
as well as the upper end of _z_, being flat, the bolt E is lifted in
the act of cocking until the pin _j_ is disengaged, and the ends of
_a^2_ and _z_ then pass each other. The cam _z_ is made wedge shape
by sloping from its upper to its lower end, and the end _a^2_ of the
bolt is similarly formed, but in the reverse direction, so that when
the piece is discharged the end _a^2_ will be made to spring in,
allowing the hammer to pass readily, when the end _a^2_ again rests
upon _z_ as before.

Fig. 14 shows the hammer with the hand S and ratchet _q_, which need no
further description.

Fig. 15 shows the trigger and its appendages, which are formed in a
way not presenting any claim to novelty. _u_ is the attachment of the
mainspring to the lock-plate, and _v_ its attachment to the stirrup and

Fig. 16 shows the apparatus which I employ for forcing the balls into
the chambers. _b^2 b^2_ are two of the chambers, shown in section;
and C, the arbor by which the barrel is attached to the stock and upon
which the receiver turns, as already explained. G is a lever carrying
a rammer, H, by which the balls are to be forced into the chambers.
The forward end of the lever H passes into the mortise _c^2_, which
receives the key by which the barrel is attached. The operation of the
rammer H upon the ball _d′_ will be apparent. In using this lever the
receiver is to be turned upon the arbor, and the chambers brought in
succession under the rammer. This lever, at its end _e′_, constitutes
a wrench for screwing and unscrewing the percussion-tubes, and also
contains a picker attached to a screw-cap, _f′_. A fulcrum for the
lever H may be formed on the barrel or otherwise, instead of using the
mortise _c^2_, if preferred.

Figs. 17 and 18 are a top and sectional view of my improved cap-primer,
which differs in some important particulars from the English and other
cap-primers now in use. I make a spiral groove, _a a a_, in a plate of
brass or other metal, which groove is of such depth and width as to
receive the percussion-caps, and to allow them to move freely therein.
_b b b_ are caps within said groove. In the center of the primer,
under the plate _c c_, is a spiral spring, _d d_, operating like the
mainspring of a watch upon its barrels and turning the plate _c c_.
This plate has a groove across it which carries a sliding arm, _e e′_,
having under its end _e′_ a projecting piece which enters the groove,
draws the arm out, and presses upon the row of caps. At the mouth of
the spiral groove, where the the cap _b′_ is seen, a steel spring, _f_,
checks the cap and counteracts the pressure of the spiral spring _d
d_; but when the cap _b′_ is placed upon the tube or nipple the spring
_f_ will recede by the withdrawal of the cap, and a new one will be
made to occupy its place, and so on until the whole are exhausted.
The cover _g_, which in Fig. 17 is shown as raised, is held down by a
spring-catch at _h_. There is a spring-catch at _i_, which holds the
sliding arm _e_ at its end _e′_, when it is brought round to the inner
end of the spiral groove, its use being to detain the arm while the
groove is being filled with caps, when it is to be raised, and the
arm left at liberty to operate. The spring _d d_ may be wound up by a
small key, _k_, or by inserting a screw driver in a notch made for that
purpose, or simply by forcing the arm _e e_ round until it is caught by
the catch _i_.

Fig. 19 is a representation of my ammunition-flask, by means of which
all the chambers in my receiver may be simultaneously charged with
powder and with balls. It consists of two separate chambers, one of
which is a powder and the other a bullet magazine, _a_ being the former
and _b_ the latter, the two being connected together by a bayonet-joint
at _c_. _d d d_ are charging-tubes adapted in number and position to
the mouths of the chambers of the receiver which they are to enter.

Fig. 21 shows the closed top of the powder-magazine, with a valve or
turn cover, _e_, which closes a hole through which the magazine is to
be filled. This magazine occupies the space from _f_ to _g_, Fig. 19,
where the powder is contained in bulk. The space from _g_ to _h_ is a
receptacle which is divided by partitions into separate chambers, the
same in number with the tubes _d d_, each of which chambers contains
the quantity of powder required for the charge of a single chamber,
_i i_ is the rim of this chambered receptacle, which is capable of
being turned round to a short distance by the thumb and finger for
the purpose of charging the chambers with powder. This turning round
brings openings _u u_, Fig. 20, in the lower end of the chambered box
to coincide with the openings in the tubes _d d_, so that the powder
contained in the chambers in _i i_ may pass out therefrom into the
chambers of the receiver. There are openings also in the upper plate or
top of the receptacle _i i_ corresponding with openings in the bottom
of the magazine _a_, which are closed by turning the rim _i i_, so as
to prevent powder from falling through from the magazine while the
receiver is being filled.

Fig. 27 is a section through the middle of the chambered receptacle
_i i_, the circles _r r_ representing the chambers for containing the
powder. _s s_ are the openings in the top plate of these chambers,
through which the powder is admitted into them from the magazine _a_.
The dotted lines _t t_ show the plan of the openings in the bottom
plate of the chamber _a_, the chambered receiver being shown in the
position in which those openings are covered.

In Fig. 28 the same parts are represented; but the chambered receiver
is supposed to be turned round or standing in its ordinary position,
so that the openings S S and _t t_ coincide. The chambered receptacle
is restored to its place by means of a spring of any suitable form.
The whole operation of this part will be more clearly made known by
the sectional representation of the magazine for balls, which I am now
about to describe.

The end of the flask, Fig. 19, is, I have said, the magazine for
balls. Fig. 22 is an end view of this magazine, and Fig. 23 a section
along its axis. The portion from _f_ to _j_, Figs. 19, 23, and 24, is
divided into as many tubular chambers as there are chambers in the
receiver--say five. These are open at top and are to be filled with
balls, as shown at _k k_ in the section Fig. 23. These tubes are also
open at their lower ends, so that the balls may pass from them into a
chambered receptacle, _l l_, similar to that for the powder. From this
chambered receptacle they are to fall into the chambers of the receiver
when the lower end of the flask, Fig. 22, is applied thereto for that
purpose, the openings _m m_ in the lower end of the flask being adapted
thereto. The rim of the chambered receiver _l l_ is to be turned round
to allow the balls to escape through _m m_, as already described in the
charging with powder. In Fig. 22, _n n_ are the divisions between the
chambers of the chambered receiver, and which retain one set or tier
of balls until the rim is turned around so as to cause the chambers to
coincide with the openings _m m_. The balls will then pass through. The
same motion of the chambered receiver causes the divisions between the
tubes and the chambered receiver to pass under and sustain the balls
in the magazine. In the case of the powder-magazine the action is the
same; but the powder being in fine particles, the apertures at one end
of the receptacles must be perfectly closed before those at the other
begin to be opened, which is not necessary with the balls. In Fig. 24
a portion of the exterior of the magazine is removed to show how a
spring, _o o_, may be placed within it so as to act upon _l l_; but
spiral or other springs may be placed in many ways to answer the same
purpose. The central part of both the magazines is tubular, as shown at
_p p_, said tube fitting onto the arbor C′, Fig. 16, when the barrel is
removed therefrom, and the receiver left on for the purpose of being
charged, which operation does not require to be further explained. Upon
the barrel of this tubular part the chambered receptacles are received
and revolve.

Figs. 25 and 26 represent a top view and a side view of a part of an
improved bullet-mold, which I describe without intending to make any
claim thereto, but merely for the purpose of showing the whole of the
apparatus employed in a complete and connected series. _a a_ are the
two handles of the mold, and _b_ the handle of the knife by which the
sprue is cut off. _c_ is one-half of the mold, of which _d d_ is the
hinge-joint. _e_ is a plate of steel, through which there is a hole,
_f_, for pouring in the lead, the lower edges of which constitute a
knife by which the sprue is cut off and the ball left perfect. This
knife turns on the joint-pin _g_.

Having thus fully described the manner in which I construct and use
my improved fire-arms, and the respective articles of apparatus
appertaining thereto, it has been necessary in so doing to mention many
parts which I do not claim as new, the same being similar to what has
been before used and patented by me, or which are common property. I
do hereby declare, therefore, that I limit my claim to the following

I claim--

1. The making of a groove or channel on the arbor, as represented at
_b_, Fig. 2, for the purpose of conducting off the smoke from the
lateral discharge, and thus preserving the arbor clean within the
receiver, and the tube by which the barrel is connected.

2. The particular manner of forming and governing the key by which
the barrel is attached to the stock by making the same with grooves
in which the heads of overlapping screw-heads are received, and with
a tempering-screw to check and regulate its action as a wedge, as set

3. The making the aperture through the tubes or nipples (which receive
the percussion-caps) conical or funnel-shaped, for the purpose of
freely admitting the fire from the percussion-cap and concentrating it
as it enters the chamber.

4. The manner of arranging the bolt E of the rifle and its spring
cam _l n_ for locking and unlocking the receiver, the same being
constructed and operating as herein described.

5. The manner of constructing and arranging the bolt E and its
spring-cam, operated upon by the cam or projecting piece _z_ under that
modification thereof adopted in the pistol, and herein fully made known.

6. The improved manner of arranging the ratchet-wheel and band, as
set forth, by which the hinge-joint to allow of the lateral motion of
this band, as described by me in my former patent, is dispensed with
in consequence of the placing of the ratchet-teeth on the face instead
of on the side of the wheel, and operating the same in the manner
described, as applied to the rifle and to the pistol.

7. The combination of the lever with its rammer for forcing the balls
into the chambers of the receiver, as described.

8. In the improved cap-primer, the making thereof with a spiral groove
to receive the caps, and with the sliding arm acted upon by the spiral
spring elongating itself and forcing the percussion-caps forward in the
manner set forth.

9. The manner of constructing and arranging the respective parts of
the magazines for powder and balls, in the flask, by means of which
the powder and the balls are in turn supplied to all the chambers in
the receiver at the same time, the whole being made with the chambered
receptacles and other parts, as set forth.

                                                       SAML. COLT.

        THOS. B. JONES,
        GEORGE WEST.

Disclaimer forming part of Letters Patent No. 1,304, dated August 29,

_To the Honorable Commissioner of Patents:_

The petition of SAMUEL COLT, of Hartford, in the State of Connecticut,
respectfully represents that he is the sole patentee and owner of
Letters Patent granted to him on the 29th day of August, 1839, for an
improvement in fire-arms and in the apparatus used therewith; that
he has reason to believe that through inadvertence and mistake the
claim made in the specification of said Letters Patent is too broad,
including that of which the said patentee was not the first inventor,
although he avers that he was an original inventor thereof, and had no
knowledge when he applied for Letters Patent therefor that any other
person had ever used the said improvement before that time.

Your petitioner therefore hereby enters his disclaimer to that part
of the claim in the before-mentioned specification which is in the
following words, viz:

“I claim making the aperture through the tubes or nipples (which
receive the percussion-caps) conical or funnel shaped, for the purpose
of freely admitting the fire from the percussion-cap and concentrating
it as it enters the chamber,” which disclaimer is to operate to
the extent of the interest in said Letters Patent vested in your
petitioner, the same being the whole right, title, and interest thereby
granted to him, as aforesaid, he having paid ten dollars into the
Treasury of the United States agreeably to the provisions of the act of
Congress in that case made and provided.

Dated at Hartford this 5th day of August, A. D. 1853.

                                                          SAM. COLT.

    In presence of--
        L. P. SARGEANT.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Page 1, “delare” changed to “declare” (I do hereby declare)

Page 1, “guus” changed to “guns” (guns, and pistols)

Page 3, “repreresenting” changed to “representing” (the circles _r r_

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