Walker Colt

Walker Colt

Infobox Weapon
name=Walker Colt

caption= Walker Colt with powder flask, U-shaped nipple wrench and screwdriver, bullet mould, and conical bullets
service=1847-48 then evolved into subsequent designs
designer=Samuel Colt, Samuel Walker
design_date= 1847
manufacturer=Colt Firearms
number= 1,100
variants=Fluke Dragoons and Post Walker Transition
weight=4.5lb (1.9 kg)
length= 15.5 inch
part_length= 9 inch (229 mm)
caliber=.44 ball, revolver (.454 in., dia.)
action= single-action
velocity= 1,000-1200+ feet per second
range= 50 yards
feed= six-round cylinder
sights=blade front sight, hammer notch rear sight

The Walker Colt is the largest and most powerful black powder repeating handgun ever made. It was created in the mid-1840s in a collaboration between Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker (1815-47) and American firearms inventor Samuel Colt (1814-62), building upon the earlier Colt Paterson design. Walker wanted a handgun that was extremely powerful at close range, and that is precisely what he got. The Walker Colt holds a powder charge of 60 grains (3.9 g) in each chamber, more than twice what a typical black powder revolver holds. It weighs 4 1/2 pounds (1.9 kg) unloaded, has a 9-inch (229 mm) barrel, and fires a .44 caliber (0.454 in, 11.53 mm diameter) round ball.

Samuel Walker carried two of his namesake revolvers in the war with Mexico [http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/WW/fwa23.html The Handbook of Texas Online] "The Handbook of Texas Online entry for Samuel Hamilton Walker." Accessed on May 12, 2007.] . Unfortunately, big-bore handguns were not enough to save Walker from his fate; he was killed in battle the same year that his famous handgun was invented, 1847, shortly after he had received them. Only 1100 of these guns were originally made, which makes originals extremely difficult and expensive to obtain, going for US$150,000 or more at current estimates. On October 9, 2008, one specimen that had been handed down from it's original owner sold at auction for US$920,000.

The Walker Colt followed the first successful Colt Revolver, the Paterson model produced between 1836-42. The Republic of Texas was the major purchaser of the early revolver and Samuel Walker became familiar with it during his service as a Texas Ranger. In 1847, Walker was engaged in the Mexican-American War as a captain in the United States Mounted Rifles. He approached Samuel Colt requesting a large revolver to replace the single shot Aston Johnson holster pistols in use. The 44-.45 caliber revolver would be carried in saddle mounted holsters and would be large enough to dispatch horses as well as enemy soldiers. The Walker Colt was almost sixteen inches long and weighed 4 pounds nine ounces. The initial contract called for 1,000 of the revolvers and accouterments. Colt commissioned Eli Whitney Junior to fill the contract and produced an extra 100 revolvers for private sales and promotional gifts. The Walker Colt was used in the Mexican-American War and on the Texas frontier. Problems with the Walker included its very large size, ruptured cylinders attributed to primitive metallurgy or (more likely) loading the original picket bullets backwards into the chambers and, an inadequate loading lever catch that often allowed the loading lever to drop during recoil, preventing fast follow-up shots. Period-correct fixes for this often included placing a rawhide loop around both the barrel and loading lever, to prevent the loading lever from dropping under recoil and locking the action.

Subsequent contracts beginning in 1848 followed, for what is today known among collectors as the 1st Dragoon, 2nd Dragoon, and 3rd Colt Dragoon Revolver models that were all based on the Walker Colt, enabling a rapid evolution of the basic revolver design. These improvements included shorter chambers, typically loaded only to 50 grains instead of 60 grains, thereby reducing the occurrence of ruptured cylinders, and the addition of a positive catch at the end of the loading lever to prevent the dropping of the loading lever under recoil.

The Walker Colt was quite powerful, with modern replicas firing modern FFFg blackpowder producing energy levels in excess of 500 foot pounds with both picket bullets and 0.454 inch diameter (141 grain) round ball bullets. The black powder Walker Colt is regarded as the most powerful commercially-manufactured repeating handgun from 1847 until the introduction of the .357 Magnum in 1935, and has a muzzle energy nearly exactly the same as a 4-inch barreled handgun firing a .357 Magnum. The Walker Colt has long maintained a unique position and mystique among handgun users, and its name is often used as a common expression of any overly-large generic handgun example.

Medical officer, John "R.I.P" Ford took a special interest in the Walkers when they arrived at Vera Cruz. He obtained two examples for himself and is the primary source for information about their performance during the war and afterward. His observation that the revolver would carry as far and strike with the same or greater force than the 54 caliber Mississippi Rifle seems to have been based on a single observation of a Mexican soldier hit at a distance of well over one hundred yards. The Walker, like most succeeding martial pistols and revolvers was a practical weapon out to about fifty yards.

ee also

*Colt Paterson
*Colt's Manufacturing Company


Further reading

*"Percussion Pistols and Revolvers. History, Performance and Practical Use" by Johnny Bates and Mike Cumpston Lincoln, NE 68512, iUniverse, 2005 isbn-13-978-0-35796-3
*"The Colt Whitneyville Walker Pistol" by Lt. Col.Robert D. Whittington Hooks, Texas, Brownlee Books, 1984

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