More than 160 years after Sam Colt invented the revolver, the company that bears his name is getting out of the consumer handgun business in response to an increase in gun-related lawsuits, Newsweek reported today.

By the end of October, Colt's Manufacturing Co. would virtually withdraw from the consumer handgun business, lay off 300 of the 700 union workers at its Connecticut plant and focus on manufacturing military and collectible guns, the magazine said.

"We have to focus on what we know we can make money on, without taking that risk," a Colt executive said. "It's extremely painful when you have to withdraw from a business for irrational reasons."

Colt is the biggest victim so far in the budding legal war on gun manufacturers resulting from lawsuits brought by victims of crime and municipalities suing to force gunmakers to pay the cost of gun-related crimes. So far, 29 U.S. cities have filed suit against the industry.

Colt decided to pull out of the handgun business because it was having trouble paying its vendors and does not want to face possible costly lawsuits, Newsweek said. Colt was among eight firms named in a suit filed last month by the city of Wilmington, Del.