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Firearm Tech of the West: A Means to an End

Shooting from the Hip through History

The rules of the American wild west are understood by people today to be simple. The quickest to the draw and the surest shot would win the day and everyone gets to ride into the sunset. The reality, however, was much more complicated. The west was fueled by expansion, innovation, and a grit to make something of oneself. It was won by the best firearm technology available and paved the way for a new future. This long lasting legacy is what Heritage firearms are built from. The same tenacity that spurred the west forward is what you will find in every revolver and carbine from Heritage Manufacturing, exemplifying the best firearm efficiency that the west delivered while taking it to the next level. But as the old saying goes, to know where you are going…you have to know where you’ve been.

The Engineering Marvel

It’s often said that the revolver is the gun that won the west. While you won’t find many arguments otherwise, the arrival of the revolver platform is more prominently a feat of American firearm engineering at a time when it was needed the most. There were new inventions and groundbreaking concepts being devised at a rapid pace to catch up with unprecedented demand and this is the one that just about topped them all. The results were etched into history and they continue to live on today, thanks in no small part to the firearms at Heritage.

Before we got to such a monumental achievement born of the west, the revolver quite unlike what we know today can be traced back to the 15th century. Its use in England, China, and many other places utilized variations that included both rotating barrels and rotating chambers. But it would be widely accepted to be perfected in the 1800’s and give the upper hand to any gunslinger smart enough to carry one. This story is well known, but the platform has more to the story that allowed it to reach the full potential of its own ingenuity.

Refinement is often a process, and this was as true as ever with firearms in the west. Because of the unreliability of certain mechanical parts, specifically the firing pins when riding, a tactic known as “cowboy loads” was commonly used. This required one less round in the cylinder giving the six shooters just five shots to allow one empty chamber in case the loose lead-pusher had a hammer that accidentally fires one off into who knows where. While some of these issues would be solved, it was part of a process of development that still continues. As we were all too quick to understand throughout history, the firearm advantage was often only just the beginning to gaining the upper hand. The prominence of technology in the guns of the west spread out in unimaginable ways that were outside of the firearm industry at the time, shifting American culture more profoundly than many might think in the process.

Everyone Needs a Hand

Inevitably, this shift inspired an even higher demand for innovation and accessibility in firearms. And for those learning how to shoot, it doesn’t take long to also learn that if you want to take shooting seriously, you’re going to need a holster, more effective ways of reloading, and any competitive edge that you can find. Equipment to hold weapons isn’t exactly new, but the rise of firearms usage also required some ingenuity to truly be proficient. The holster came a long way from a cut in a belt to sling the barrel through to the finely tuned leather carrier with quality craftsmanship we know now. There have been safety advancements like locking mechanisms and even plenty of gimmicks like the swivel holster, but the prominence of the revolver turned a good, reliable holster from a convenience to a necessity.

Things that would become conveniences for the platform like the swing out cylinders weren’t always available on the frontier either. With the earliest patent dating to 1865, it was all too common for reloading to be more often a one-by-one case that presented many, many other challenges. Going from individually reloaded percussion caps that needed gunpowder and a lead ball to speedloaders and auto-ejectors didn’t come overnight, and their arrival was spurred on through rising demand and quite a bit of trial and error. Because when matters weren’t as simple as the clock striking high noon and it came time to lay the law down, the time it took to get back in the action meant all the difference.

Firearm technology of the west wasn’t always something as simple as a dependable six shooter and a holster strung across your waist though. It was such a rapid age of development and invention that the technology even inspired a documentary series “Wild West Tech” on The History Channel that explored just about every facet of life on the frontier and how it progressed. The series was trivial but its existence still remained intriguing. It’s this all-encompassing flair that created the same sensationalized dime novels of the west, created the beloved golden age of western film, and lives on today. Through all of the technological marvels and timeless inventions, the one that changed everything was a simple one: information. The expanding ability to inform and inspire took the stories of the west and made legends of them all. Myth to be passed on from generation to generation.

New Tech for Today’s Shooter

The results of historical progress in revolvers and pistols can be seen perfected in the lineup of firearms from Heritage Manufacturing. Technology that not only changed the west with exemplary firearms featuring precision engineering, but also the importance of their story and what it means to pass it on. No one understands where we’ve come from quite like Heritage does, which makes their firearms the perfect next step in this American legacy.

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