There are few names that invoke the American Frontier more than Samuel Colt, but before his revolvers helped win the West, Colt was a struggling gunmaker. On Jan. 4, 1847, Colt won a contract to supply the U.S. government with 1,000 newly designed .44-caliber revolvers to help arm U.S. troops in the Mexican-American War.
Over the past weekend, Colt Defense announced that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy; a move that signaled how dire the legendary gun company’s situation really was. Their latest setback was the loss of an Army contract in 2013 to FN Manufacturing for the production of the M4 carbine. But Colt’s problems began well before that, and Colt must restructure itself to fit in a changing gun industry.