the hired inventor


The Winchester Wetmore-Wells single action revolver,

During the 19th century Winchester and Colt for the most part tried not to step on each other’s toes, Winchester manufacturing rifles and Colt manufacturing pistols.  In 1872 Winchester hired inventor William W. Wetmore to design a single action revolver.  By 1873, the design was completed and a number of prototypes produced.  The Whitmore Wells was chambered for a .50-38 cartridge and featured six shots.  The main feature of the revolver was an automatic ejection system.  When the hammer was cocked and extractor system incorporated into the loading gate which would extract empty cartridge casings.  In case the automatic extractor failed, a manual extractor was also installed in the form of a lever near the hammer.

The main problem with the Wetmore Wells was that both the automatic and manuals extraction systems tended to malfunction.  Without an ejector rod, it was difficult to remove empty casings.  In 1873 Colt began manufacturing the Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army, which became the most popular American revolver in the 19th century. The M1873 was much more reliable and was chambered in a popular cartridge (.44-40) which was the same cartridge used in the equally popular Winchester M1873 lever action rifle.  More importantly the Colt M1873 had a reliable extraction system consisting of a simple ejection rod.  Winchester would continue work on the Wetmore Wells design, abandoning it later in the decade.