Birth of an Industry
The weapons carried by the marksmen at King's Mountain, indeed by all Americans, were a hodgepodge of smoothbore muskets and graceful but deadly handmade flintlock rifles built "lock, stock and barrel" to supply the ever increasing demands of America's frontiers. As yet there was no American gun industry. That was to change a brief half century later when a young industrialist-to-be, Samuel Colt, showed the world how to mass-produce firearms. Except for a few generally misguided attempts to manufacture rifles, Colt did not make deer rifles. What he did do was establish that guns, and other utensils, could be cheaply and efficiently mass-produced and that a fortune could be made doing so. This was precisely the encouragement an equally ambitious entrepreneur needed to seek his fortune in the world of guns. His name was Oliver Fisher Winchester. If you'd met Oliver Winchester you probably wouldn't have liked him very much. Though his name is arguably the most recognizable in all the shooting world, he was not what we'd call a "gun guy." And it's doubtful he ever hunted deer, seeing as he preferred the company of investors, politicians and his balance sheets. But Winchester knew a good thing when he saw it. America was moving West. There were game animals to kill, Indians to fight and homesteads to be protected-meaning there was money to be made in the gun business.