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In colonial America, the military used muskets, which were expensive, cumbersome, unreliable, and high-maintenance weapons with poor accuracy. Muskets had no sights and soldiers were taught not to aim since they relied on volleys on crowded masses.
It wasn't until the 1840s, when Samuel Colt began perfecting the handgun, that the military was able to increase accuracy. Colt made his name with the Model 1860 Army revolver, a muzzle-loaded cap and ball .44-caliber piece used during the American Civil War. Later, the U.S. Army ordered 1,000 Colt revolvers for use in the Mexican-American War, and the gun went on to cement its place in government conflicts the world over.
While the British armed forces were outfitting their men with Webley’s Mark models of top-break revolvers, Colt armed the U.S. military for the Spanish-American War with new Model 1898 six-shot revolvers chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge. Colt's New Service line was used until 1946 during World War I, World War II, and numerous other conflicts in between. Military revolvers in all their forms hold a special allure for collectors and are often found at auction.
In a 2014 Heritage Auction, an 1886 Italian Glisenti Brescia military double-action revolver with an octagonal barrel and walnut grip sold for a modest $812.50
In 2009, an iconic Serial No. 1 Colt single-action Army Peacemaker with a gold-tooled inscribed leather case custom made by Arno Werner Bookbinders sold at a Greg Martin Auctions event for $862,500
The first revolver produced by Samuel Colt, the 1836 Paterson revolver, sold at a 2011 Signature Arms & Armor Auction in Dallas for a whopping $977,500
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