Walker Colt


August 19, 2003, 08:47 PM
A fellow on the history channel just now (didn't catch his name) claimed that a .44cal walker colt from 1846 had more "power" than a .44 magnum. What's he talking about? He saying a blackpower cap n' ball compares favorably to the .44 magnum? Am I missing something?

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August 19, 2003, 08:49 PM
looks like I finally beat that "new member" rap. :)

Dave Markowitz
August 19, 2003, 09:12 PM
I saw that too, and it's wrong.

A Walker will accept a load of 60 grains of black powder and a round ball. Powder charge will be reduced a bit if using a conical. The Walker will generate muzzle enegry comparable to a .357, if I remember correctly.

A .444 Magnum is considerably more powerful than a Walker Colt.

Standing Wolf
August 19, 2003, 09:53 PM
...compares favorably to the .44 magnum...

A .22 long rifle round "compares favorably" to the .44 magnum—or it can be "unfavorably compared," too. "Compares favorably" is a completely unquantifiable phrase.

August 19, 2003, 09:55 PM
You know I thought about rephrazing that to save someone the trouble of posting something like that... regardless I think the context supplies the meaning.

Wil Terry
August 19, 2003, 10:25 PM
Phillip Schreier, argueably the stupidest gun museum director in the history of the world. Every blinkin' time I see him on the tele I wonder what stupid thing he'll say now. He NEVER disappoints me either. His profoundly ignorant statements on firearms boggle my mind, guys! This comment on the Walker's power exceeding that of the 44 MAGNUM is one of the best examples I have ever seen of the man being as qualified to speak on the subject of firearms to the public as I am to go on the lecture tour speaking on flying the space shuttle.
This show and his comments were a repeat; the last time I heard him say this I wrote a letter to the TV show telling them to find someone, ANYONE, who knew at least something about firearms to interview as Mr. Schreier was an ignoramous of profound stature suffering from a severe case of rectal/cranial[sp] inversion.
Never got an answer...geesh, can you believe that, guys?

August 19, 2003, 11:13 PM
Actually, the Walker Colt is surprisingly powerful for a black-powder handgun. In the third edition of Marshall & Sanow, there's a very interesting article comparing the old BP revolvers to modern handguns in terms of power, energy, etc. The Walker, with a full 60gr. charge behind a round ball, came out right up there in .41 Magnum territory. Very impressive, considering the primitive metallurgy of the day...

August 19, 2003, 11:28 PM
I tried to look up the actual numbers but was disappointed to find that I can't find anything right off the bat. The Lyman Blackpowder Handbook doesn't list load data for the Walker, the hottest load they list is 36 grains in an 1860 Army.
I find a comparison to a .44 Mag to be very hard to swollow.
#1 The ball is not nearly as heavy as a .44 Mag bullet, even a 180 grain bullet.
#2 I can't see how you could generate .44 Mag velocities with blackpowder out of a handgun. If I am not mistaken, my .50 BP rifles generate about the same velocity as a .44 Mag handgun when using a maxi-ball.

Surely someone can give us real numbers on the Walker. This is something that is likely in the back of the Dixie Gun Works catalog.

I actually have a repo Walker Colt. I have never fired it. It was part of a multi-item trade and I put it in the safe and have never got around to playing with it. Massive revolver.

4v50 Gary
August 19, 2003, 11:32 PM
Who is this Schreier guy and why isn't one of us holding his job? Whose son is he that he should get that job. One of us should have it. Benefits? As curator, you get to "fondle" your collection. :p

August 20, 2003, 11:43 AM
I am not an expert, nor do I play one on tv.

It is laughable to compare a BP round ball load to a modern jacketed smokeless load, especially in a full house magnum cartridge.

However, Elmer Keith who burned more BP in old capnball sixguns than most of us have shot smokeless in any guns said the old RB in Colt sixguns had stopping power all out of proportion to it's size and weight. He especially said the .36 Navy was a big time killer on game. Mebbe that's why Bill Hickok stayed with it so long. The Walker was a good killer but being made of wrought iron, it could not contain pressures and was known to blow a cylinder from time to time.

August 25, 2003, 03:56 AM
I had one of the Uberti Walker replicas, and while I never chrono'd it, I expect it did 1100 fps or so with the 60 gr load and .433 round balls. No problem shooting 2-3" groups at 25 yards, either, the big Walker just hung there.

Of course, after the first cylinder the barrel was so badly leaded, it stopped shooting well.:D

I foolishly gave it to my brother, who was so mortified by the thing he sold it at the next gun show.:fire:

August 25, 2003, 03:03 PM
The point is there was NOT a pistol around that took a 60 grain charge.

Maybe the 357 was close, but thats a LOT of powder.

February 21, 2005, 07:40 AM
The Model 1847 Walker Magnum does indeed fire a 60 grain load. I own an Uberti copy and routinely fire 60 grain loads with a .457 dia round ball and a wonder wad. However, the gun shoots much more accrurately using a 50 grain charge.

If you wish I can demonstrate this via video. I use the gun extensively. Yes it is massive, far bigger than the 1860 Army 16 1/4" long with a 10" barrel and weighing in at 4 1/2 pounds.

"In 1846, Captain Samuel H. Walker, former Texas Ranger and captain of the United States Mounted Rifles, ordered 1,000 revolvers of an improved design from Samuel Colt. Tested on the battlefields of the Mexican War the formidable four pound, nine ounce Walker, with its .44-caliber bullet propelled by a heavy charge of black powder, remained the most powerful handgun until the introduction of the .357 Magnum in the 1930s." -from Uberti.com

A freind of mine chrono'd the .457 cal 90 grain roundball / 60 grain blackpowder load at 1200 fps. I personaly think 60 grains is a bit too hot so I shoot a 50 grains. I have used a 50 grain Pyrodex load with both the 90 grain roundball and the 180 grain conical which is as powerful as the blackpowder load, Pyrodex being somewhat more powerful. You should not use more than 50 grains of Pyrodex.

The weapon's Owner's Manual recommended these loads. This is in an Uberti copy... I would not reccomend even shooting an original. One sold at auction not long ago for $137,000.

February 21, 2005, 08:55 AM
The History Channel's Wild West Tech is a lot of fun but they get one or two things wildly wrong every week. Last week they showed WB Masterson lightening the trigger on his colt by filing away at the hammer spur.

My 60 goex fffg charges only do 1040s in a Uberti Walker while the same volume of pyrodex p gets into the low 1200s with a 140 grain ball.

February 23, 2005, 09:56 AM
OK See the attached thumbnail The gun in the picture is an original Company E number 39 and is one of the best examples of the hundred or so known walkers. Couldn't resist putting it in thepicture but we used a Uberti for the chronography.

We recently clocked it with 60 grains Goex FFFG and a .454 or .457 ball and got some wild velocity spreads. The highest reading was in the 1100s but it appeard that the gun wanted to put the balls out at about 1050. 55. grains was much more consistent and Pyrodex P is the only thing that approached the velocities usually reported for the gun. Even then the energy figures are closer to the reported numbers for the .45 colt than any atomic rocket magnums.

The chamber/barrel throat measurements on this revolver are .450" and it is getting plenty of compression. We recovered a couple of balls after shooting them through some hog meat and into rolled up carpet. They had expanded to .54 and 58 caliber.

In truth, we don't know what kind of performance they were getting from contemporary powder- though there are a lot of unsupported theories saying that old powders were better and just as many saying it was not as good.

I just got back from the local gun store. Looked at the Walker Data in the Lyman Bp book Interestingly the highest velocities theywere able to get with black powder were in the 900 fps range. Goex seemd a bit faster than Elephant black but this varied among the various revolvers they used. In all cases, they both performed pretty close to the same.

February 23, 2005, 02:34 PM
I missed that program, in which it was said that the Walker Colt rivaled the .44 Magnum in power.
It used to be said that the Walker Colt rivaled the .357 Magnum. Don't hear that so much anymore, but the script writer probably didn't know a Magnum from a marmot and figured they're the same.
I don't own a Colt Walker reproduction, but I'm surprised to read that it will take 60 grains. I had always believed that the limit was about 50 grains, perhaps 55.
Was this 60 grains actually measured on a scale, or thrown from a calibrated measure, or thrown from a measure merely marked 60 GRS?
Not long ago, I became curious as to what my flask spouts actually threw. I put them on a flask containing Goex FFFG black powder, measured 10 throws separately and averaged it out.
Flask spouts are fairly consistent, certainly consistent enough for use with black power in all but the most demanding target shooting.
Found out that my spout marked 40 GRS actually threw about 38 grains. Similarly, my 24 GRS spout threw about 23 grs. and so on.
Anyway, should you get bored some evening try weighing what your spouts throw. I think you'll be surprised.

February 23, 2005, 03:06 PM
Both. Thrown from calibrated measures and weighed. We check them and find them bang-on with goex fffg. The first few times we shot this revolver,it looked like there was no way that 60 grains would allow seating a ball. We chickened out. Then I asked around if anybody could really get 60 in the Walker and 50 in the Dragoons and got so many positive responses that we bit the bullet and tried it. Sure enough, it fit and it seemed like the balls had a good grip on the chamber walls. Over the chronograph though, the velocities reall spread out compared to what we were getting with 55 grains. It looks like the additional seating depth is needed for the right ball grip on the chamber walls. It looked like 60 grains was trying to go about 40 fps on the average, faster than 55.

With the Uberti Dragoon we were getting. 881 fps/ 19fps extreme spread with 45 grains of goex fffg and 890/37 with 45 grains. All this, of course, might change if we did it again and it would certainly change if we used a different gun.

In any case Gat, you need to get you a good third model dragoon. Not only are they pretty and have interesting historic connections but they hang very well out there on the end of your arm and turn in good target results.

February 23, 2005, 04:32 PM
Oh, I've thought of getting a Dragoon or Walker. Kitswee (Chinook jargon for "money") is kinda tight right now. Got some medical and dental bills to pay.
Besides, from what I hear of the Walker and Dragoons ... I'd have to get a trailer to haul it around .. a crane to raise that ponderous barrel to align the sights ... a hydraulic ball seater ... a brass garbage can for a powder measure ... sounds like a lot of bother just to leave a few cans lying label-down in the dust ... :D :neener:

February 24, 2005, 12:58 AM
Oh but it is HUGE fun to shoot! 4-5' of smoke and fire from the muzzle and what it does to gallon jugs of water or watermelons on the business end! Certainly statisfies one's more base intincts and er.. proclivities.

I use 90 grain .457 round ball. Shoots more accurartely than a conical. Besides, it is what those Rangers used in those days and a weird conical kinda shaped like a football. The .457 is a little egg shaped after you seat it. I have shot the thing with two 30 grain Pyrodex Pistol Pellets. Don't reccomend trying this, its a bit scary. 50 - 55 grains of Pyrodex P will do nicely.

The 44 mag was inspired by it, I have read, but the two are apples and oranges. Still, it hung at the top all alone for a very long time.

I missed a nice 120 + class buck two season's ago because I under-estimated the range. Had to wait for the smoke plume to clear to see if I got him or not. The 5" pine tree that was behind him will never be the same. Had to cut my shirtail on that one. My fault completely. Still like to hunt with it. It normaly does a superb job.

You can get a Uberti copy for about $320 + $350. Its dirty and a pain to care for and its slow, heavy and all that, but there's nothing else like it.

June 14, 2005, 08:14 PM
I just purchased a walker 1847 and I am having a hard time figuring out how to change out Cylinders. I dont have an owners guide.

June 15, 2005, 04:12 AM
Pound out the wedge pin with a soft-faced hammer, pull off the barrel, pull off the cylinder.

But since this old thread has been brought back from the grave, I think the only way a Walker Colt would have more power than a .44 magnum is if you load both with black powder. According to a thingie I have, the .44 magnum case capacity is 38.6 grains water.

June 15, 2005, 08:44 AM
Sounds to me like the Walker is past the point of diminishing returns. A Ruger Old Army has been known to make 1100 fps with a 457 round ball and 40 grains. The Walker seems to be able to reach a higher velocity, but not by much.

Today's black powder is definitely not the same as the stuff they had in the old days. This issue comes up with double barreled rifles using black powder cartridges. There generally is no load using modern black powder that will regulate (Get both barrels to shoot to the same point.) and one is forced to use smokeless for black powder loads. Some of these rifles were capable of very small groups with the original black powder loads. With Goex they will generally shoot wall eyed, a sign that the velocity is not up to par.

June 19, 2005, 10:29 AM
Since this string began, I've gotten hold of some Swiss fffg black powder. 60 grains of it puts a .454 ball out in the 1200 + fps range. Much better than goex or any reports I've heard about elephant or the other currently more or less available powders
Here's what that looks like:
Walker 60 Grains Swiss fffg 140 +or-1 grain ball
Velocity 1200 fps Energy 448 Foot pounds.

.357 Magnum 125 Grain JHP
Velocity 1450 Energy 584 foot pounds

.45 Colt 250 grain RNFP
Velocity 870 Energy 402 foot pounds

.45 Colt 250 Guessed-at but unknown black powder load performance
Velocity 900 Energy 450 fps.

This also mirrors the popular top end hunting loads for the .45 Colt. One writer has reported driving .45 Colts at almost 1000 fps using modern Black Powder.

The original Walkers were proof fired with fffg and a "Ball" although the term "Ball" seems to be used for the picket type bullets in common use. The powder ordered with the 1847 shipments was called " Rifle Powder" and may have been FFG ( or something else).

A lot of the Walker lore comes straight from the first shipments to arrive at Vera Cruz. Captain John (R.I.P.) Ford pronounced that the Walker - loaded with a bullet of unrecorded weight over a charge of possibly 35 grains of "Rifle Powder" would "hit as hard and carry as far" as the 1842 Carbine. Nice thought and great promotional material for Colt.

The rangers who received the first Walkers were unfamiliar with conical bullets. Many of them thought the pointy end was there to ease loading into the chambers and loaded the bullets upside down. This may have been an important factor in the blown cylinders. I suppose the wedge effect acted kind of like a shape charge.

Peter M. Eick
June 19, 2005, 01:48 PM
Yah know, the only thing this thread did was convince me when I get off this ship I am going to buy me a Walker and try it myself. I have been investigating and collecting information about BP revolvers and particularly the Walker for about a year now and after this much talk I have got to get one and try it out. Anything that can get up to 357 mag level of power out of a BP gun should be a kick to try out.

Oh well, 4 more weeks floating around the North Atlantic to think about it....

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