Colt – From Passionate Origins to Hollow Corporate Shell

In the last few years, we have seen tumultous times for Colt. The prancing pony company has been in and out of bakrupty twice in as many decades, driven there by a variety of factors including no new products, lack of internal manufacturing (much is outsourced and only assembled by Colt), draining of the coffers by corporate entities, etc, etc… Colt today does not even own their iconic building, instead selling it and renting it from another entity.

The nearly two hundred year old company was not always this way. In fact, when it was founded, it was the beacon of innovation that young companies are copying today. Driven by Lt. Col. Samuel Colt and a list of worthy successors, the early company went from revolvers, to hunting rifles, to semi-autos, being one of the few one-stop-shops of the early twentieth century. In its hey dey, Colt was only rivaled by government armories.

Early Colt stood for innovation, always pushing ahead with both internally designed firearms and looking to source innovative designs from outside the company. It was the forge and birthing house for many other conglomerates we know today including Pratt and Whitney.

To hear the full history, Ian at Forgotten Weapons is perhaps reviewing a bit of forgotten history. His latest video goes through Samuel Colt’s early designs, failures, and later stunning successes.





Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Reality

    That is what happens when you get 0,001% innovative.

  • Stephen Paraski

    As usual a great video from Forgotten Weapons. My son has my old Combat Commander that saved my life twice on streets of Detroit.

    • Moonman45

      +3 dmg against orks

  • PortSide

    I f you aren’t going to innovate, then what are you? I was at the NRA Show/Convention in Nashville a couple of years ago – The Colt Booth = A bunch on 1911s. Period. The only thing that drew my attention at that booth was the Reproduciton/New Production 1903 pistols and those aren’t even made by Colt.

  • Vitor Roma

    Ian hair looking fabolous <3

    • Juggernaut

      He uses Mane ‘N Tail like Chazz Michael Michaels.

  • baserock love

    IT’s really sad. I can’t be more impressed however with my colt 6920. It was pretty much the only thing besides bcm people recommended i get with a budget of under 1k for my first ar15 and it’s exceeded every high expectation i had based on the sheer volume of recommendations. Two friends went different routes with their first ar15’s and got some nice guns but my colt seems to shoot circles around their rifles accuracy wise, even without free float furniture.

    I don’t know if i just got lucky and managed to land a random sub moa colt or if that’s just what to expect with one in reasonably skilled hands but I sure didn’t expect it.

    It is truly baffling how a company can be mismanaged so bad that they can have such massive government contracts and still be unable to turn a profit.

  • baserock love

    Maybe some retardts read it and got offended lol

    • Ranger Rick

      Or a “Snowflake” ?

    • DanGoodShot

      Lol. I didn’t think anyone would actually catch that. Yeah… I’m retardted ;D

  • Mystick

    That’s sofa king, we-todd-ed.

    • Wow!

      I feel ashamed that I stared at your comment for a good while before I got it when I said it aloud.

  • Mystick

    Make something people (not governments) want to buy.

  • Juggernaut

    Ian really looks like Jesus in this video.

    • Wolfgar

      I was thinking more Buffalo Bill.

      • LGonDISQUS

        Have you ever seen both in the same room? Just sayin’…

        • autofull– kevin horning

          well done and accurate video. kevin, autofull. i know he is accurate, im old.

  • Juggernaut

    Corporate America is not about innovation any more- it is about corporate raiders, venture(vulture) capitalists(Bain Capital) and stock buybacks. It is all about (((Wall St))) and not Main St.

    • DanGoodShot

      It was more of a “imagine if…” or “wouldn’t it be nice…” type of comment as implied by the “doubt it” at the end. But stranger things have happened! Take Harley Davidson. It would be real cool if what happened to Harley Davidson at the end of the 70s beginning of the 80s happened at Colt! The employees by out the corporate bigwigs and take the company back and restore it to its former glory!!!

      • Joshua

        Savage arms did it, Massey-Ferguson has mostly done it,it’s not the unreasonable a feat, what it requires is employees who are passionate about their company, and who can put together a large sum of cash, the only good thing about these Vulture Capitalists is that they are predictable, offer them a profit in buggering off and they will chase the profit. Colt has an extra hurdle over most in that it’s actually two companies now, one owns the manufacturing, and the other owns the IP, that is a major obstacle.

        • carlcasino

          and just happens to reside in a state that is becoming more anti 2nd A every day. another fear is with a Pro 2nd A POTUS I expect the buying frenzy of the last 8 years to diminish greatly, I have more guns than I can even carry to the range in a pickup so I will be concentrating on ammo since that is the easiest for the gun grabbers to affect-i.e. higher taxes.

    • RealitiCzech

      The stockholders are all about maximizing profits in the short term, not solid long-term investments. It ends up with companies adopting a parasitical attitude – towards everything.

    • tts

      If you want to get super depressed on this subject google financialization and read some of Taibbi’s books and articles. Especially the stuff involving infrastructure and predatory debt scams targeting municipalities and such.

      Its just awful what Wall St and the banks are doing these days but you hardly hear a thing about it on most any news.

      • Kurt Ingalls

        I say this but it can be easily misunderstood……this is why our ruling class and main stream media do not want what we have elected………..it is in and of itself a threat to exactly what you are saying……..crony-ism and the “feeding trough” have become the “status quo”……..quick money on Wall street has become “quick money” for lobbyists and Washington insiders….if this is not true, why did what was left of the “old guard’ at Colt put all their future on “Government contracts”????????….Hmmmmmmm???????…..thats what i thought…..Goodbye, Colt…..hello who pays the ruling class the most money……… 🙁

        • tts

          The current admin and the party in control of Congress is looking to gut stuff like the CFPB and Dodd-Frank which while flawed actually do something to rein in the worst of the monied interests.

          The news people have essentially reverted back to what they were in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s and just sensationalize everything to get the most views/clicks. They don’t care about anything at all really so long as they get their “F— You” money.

    • Wow!

      Corporations aren’t really the problem. They are the defensive mechanisms in response to lawsuits, labor unions, and inflation from government spending etc. They are just a business union.

      The solution to this kind of problem isn’t to complain about corporations and banks like wall street protesters, but to make your own company or to buy from companies who do make products that you like. The vote of the dollar does make a difference without government intervention as is seen with Ruger and S&W’s change in product lineup the past decade.

      • grifhunter

        Best post, thank you!!

  • Wolfgar

    Excellent video, Colt like Pro athletic teams are kind of pointless to have any loyalty for these days. In the end, investment management killed Colt for quick profits instead of love of design innovation, market adaptation and growth, sounds like our national policy these last few decades.

  • Pumpkin King XXIII

    Maybe Remington will buy the trademark out of bankruptcy as they have been picking up everything else

    • Joshua

      God I hope not, I want to be able to buy a colt again, if “Lemming-ton” ends up with them….
      *Shudder*

    • Humpy

      Quality obviously would suffer even more than it has if Remington bought it.
      The only decent thing Remington makes anymore is a 1911, and that’s only because they are using leftover para ordinance machinery, and some of its employees.

  • Ranger Rick

    Because it’s a Colt. But not to worry, the one at SHOT will be the only one ever made…

  • Badwolf

    That was depressing…

  • Treyh007

    Awesome history lesson, hope he continues this with the other older manufacturers. Savage, S&W, Beretta, FN, Sig, Winchester, Remington, etc, etc.

  • AC412

    Why is that sword blade down instead of blade up?

  • S. Cautela

    I think the only commercially viable product they could produce at this point would be prancing poney AR-15 stripped lower receivers with 60’s/70’s period correct receiver markings… A lot of people would like to start builds on them.

  • Baggy270

    Build a new Python….I’d pay $3000 but then I’d be divorced….

  • David Bickenson

    Colt really need to come up with something NEW. They have been riding on the back of the 1911 for years while Glock, Sig et al have been innovating. You reap what you sow.

    • Tinkerer

      Google Colt All American 2000

      • Bill

        No! Don’t! You’ll go blind from the ugly!

  • Bob

    that’s what happens to companies that get bought out and “spun off”.
    I worked as a tool designer, manufacturing and process Engineer for 32 years. In those 32 years I saw 26 companies get bought, sold, moved, closed, etc.
    The big shots road off in their rolls royce and you the employee that “MADE” the company didn’t even get your promised “bonus” for hanging in there until it closed.!
    I’ve pretty much seen it all. I thank God everyday now in my retirement. WE were lucky enough to see the WRITING ON THE WALL when WE BOTH got laid off while on vacation, and invested in residential rental properties. I have to say, my WIFE was the brains of the real estate part!!

  • Hossi Blumengaarten

    Colt and Atari are the same company just in different industries. they just wont die

  • Guido FL

    Corporate raiders have done in Colt again & again picking it’s bones. I watched this happen at Chrysler after it was bought out by Daimler.

  • William Taylor

    There is a story from years ago that Colt’s lever action rifle experiment was brought to a screeching halt when Winchester displayed some prototype revolvers – handgun revolvers, not rifles – and made it clearly known it did NOT want competition in its bread and butter lever action rifle area. Colt got the message and decided it didn’t want to argue with the Big W, a real powerhouse at the time, ergo kaputski Colt lever action rifles. Winchester may have used the same argument to entice Colt to kill the pump rifles, too, although that is conjecture on my part.

  • Colonel K

    If anyone buys out the company, they would be well advised to consider relocating it to a gun friendly state such as Texas, Florida, or Montana. That won’t solve their problems, but as my lawyer brother is fond of saying when asked what one calls a busload of attorneys going over a cliff, it’s a good start.