The Mason Revolver
During the 19th century, Winchester Repeating Arms Company and Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company frequently played with each other’s markets. One would manufacture double barrel shotguns another would then import double barrel shotguns. But Colt always had the revolver while Winchester had the lever.
But the cordial friendship went rocky when Colt bought the Andrew Burges Lever Action patent. This proved that Colt wanted to get into the lever action market, which was always Winchester’s market.
Winchester didn’t sit quietly but acted quickly. In 1883, the arms company hired a former Colt employee, William Mason. He was hired specifically to make a revolver that looked eerily similar to the single action that Colt was selling.
Pretty quickly, Colt and Winchester executives were sitting together in a room. The story goes after discussing normal business, one of the top executives at Winchester said, “hey, there’s one more thing. What do you think of this revolver that we’re working on?”
Shorty after the meeting, Colt stopped making their lever action rifles and Winchester never started building the revolver. Truly a gentleman’s agreement to stay out of each other’s way.
Museum Minute is a series co-produced with Wyoming Public Media (WPM). A new minute can be heard every Thursday morning at 7:30 a.m. on WPM.