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I’ve decided on my third black powder gun

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Russell13, Jun 26, 2020.

  1. Russell13

    Russell13 Member

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    I’ve been wanting another revolver for my very small BP collection. I’ve decide to go right to the top and get a walker colt.
    The first time I ever heard of this gun when way back when I saw the movie Unforgiven for the first time and they mention someone using one and it blowing up in there hand. I did a lot of reading about them yesterday and they have such a great history.

    I do have a few questions of you guys feel like educating me.

    The colt walker came out before the colt Dragoon???
    What are the differences between these two guns?

    why did so many of them blow up ?
     
  2. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
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  3. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Yes, The Walker Colt came out in 1847. It was the second revolver Colt made. The first was the Paterson Colt. The Paterson Colt was quite different than the later Colts. Much smaller, with some major differences in the appearance.

    Basically, Colt went bankrupt after the Paterson Colt. He spent about 10 years doing several other things, but in 1847 he was approached by Captain Walker of the Texas Rangers. Walker wanted a very powerful revolver for his Rangers and he and Colt worked out the design for the new gun. It was huge, the cylinder chambers had a powder capacity or 60 grains of powder for each chamber. Stop and think for a moment that the later 45-70 cartridge used 70 grains of powder, and that will give you an idea of how large a powder charge the Walker could hold.

    There were only a grand total of 1100 Walker Colts manufactured. 1000 went to the Texas Rangers, the rest were sold commercially.

    Colt realized the Walker was just too big to be practical, so rather than make more, he went back to the drawing board and came up with the Dragoon series. Both were 44 caliber. The Walker weighed 4 1/2 pounds. Its barrel was 9 inches long. Too big and heavy to be worn in a belt holster, they were often referred to has horse pistols, carried in holsters slung from the saddle. The Dragoons were still big, heavy revolvers, but not quite as big as the Walker. The Dragoon barrel was 7 1/2" long, the cylinder chambers held about 50 grains of powder. The Dragoons used a new device to keep the loading lever snugged up under the barrel, a spring loaded latch under the muzzle. The Walker had a spring loaded latch near the loading lever pivot that did not work very well. Loading levers on the Walker often dropped down from recoil. The loading ram would enter a chamber at the bottom of the cylinder, effectively locking up thee gun until the lever was raised again. There were several different models of Dragoon produced up until 1860. They were still very heavy revolvers, they weighed about 4 pounds 4 ounces. I shot a borrowed pair once at a CAS match. Really heavy. Consider the Colt Single Action Army only weighs about 2 1/2 pounds.

    They tended to blow up for two reasons. The power capacity of the cylinder was just too much and metallurgy was not as advanced as it is today. Walker cylinders were made of iron, not steel. Often the iron was poorly made, with porosity in the metal. Combine that with the huge powder charges, and it is a recipe for cylinders to blow up. Also, in the field some troopers were loading a conical bullet backwards, which may have contributed to the problem by raising pressure.


    By the way, Colt continued using iron, not steel for frames and cylinders right up through the early Single Action Army production into the mid 1880s. But the powder charges were not so huge, and most of the iron cylinder SAAs survived just fine.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
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  4. expat_alaska

    expat_alaska Member

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    Russell13,

    Congrats on your choice! I like the looks of the Walker but not the weight or the load lever problems. Last year I decided to go instead with the Uberti 1848 Whitneyville Hartford Dragoon which has the Walker grip frame (wood/backstrap/trigger guard) but has the Dragoon sized cylinder (40 grains BP max) and a 7.5" barrel, and weighs in at 4 lbs.-2 oz. It is still a very large revolver.

    Comparison photo:

    Armi San Marco 1860 Army .44 BD/1994
    Uberti 1848 WH Dragoon .44 CU/2019
    Pietta 1851 Navy Second Model Belt Dragoon .36 CM/2014 (fantasy revolver of my own concoction)

    Uberti-Whitneyville-003.jpg

    Midway has them on sale now (believe it or not!) for $360 (normally $426). That is a smokin' deal!

    https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1002300991?pid=739564

    Regards,

    Jim
     
  5. Eyrie G. Dogg

    Eyrie G. Dogg Member

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    Whelp, I’ve finally changed my mind concerning a certain variety of question.

    Russell, Wikipedia can be your fren sometimes - but only if you choose to use it. They got pichers there, too.
     
  6. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    Them guns are nice and all...but way too big for my taste and comfort. Id get an 1861 navy :-D cant go wrong there
     
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  7. Russell13

    Russell13 Member

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    Yeah did some fancy book reading on it. I didn’t see anything about the dragoon. It makes sense though. Read lots about the walkers problem with the loading lever and cylinder blow out. It would make sense that a better version would replace it.
     
  8. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    Colt entered into contract with Eli Whitney Jr to build the Walker. Whitney was known to cut corners on contracts and with Colt he was no different. The cylinders blew up because the wrought iron was used was weaker than specified.


    However, even after Colt got his own factory up and running there were problems with cylinders. Dragoon cylinders were known to blow up and the early 1860, with full fluted cylinders, guess why they are not common these days?

    Kevin
     
  9. Jackrabbit1957

    Jackrabbit1957 Member

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    I own a ASM Walker, it has been tweaked and tuned and is an excellent shooter. Biggest issue is getting the arbor corrected, mine has actually destroyed the original wedge. Made a new one, re correctecd the arbor and good to go. So be sure the arbor bottoms in the barrel frame.
     
  10. Russell13

    Russell13 Member

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    F0111B54-2C54-42D0-86C7-CD1F51C58067.jpeg Wow this thing is massive. Definitely something I would in a saddle and not on my hip
     
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  11. sspierce8

    sspierce8 Member

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    Get it. I bought a Uberti. Pretty fun to shoot. Mine works great right out of the box. The loading lever has never dropped. I use 50 grains. Don’t worry about the weight. It’s not like you have to carry it around all day.
     
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  12. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Which is exactly why I have never been interested in a Walker or a Dragoon. In CAS we do carry them around all day. Two of them.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
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  13. Russell13

    Russell13 Member

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    I couldn’t imagine someone wearing this in a holster all day.
     
  14. Russell13

    Russell13 Member

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    AD6B994D-ED28-4410-89A8-7B9F1CE06523.jpeg Got my hands on some real black powder also. I’m excited to try it out
     
  15. Russell13

    Russell13 Member

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    I had to do a little work to smooth out the action. It wasn’t cocking right, there are a lot of sharp edges on it. Used an emery board and got it running pretty smooth. Took it out back and made sure it fired all the caps. Worked like a charm
     
  16. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    That is a pretty old can of Goex.

    Goex has not come in metal cans for a long time.

    pmQaEI2qj.jpg
     
  17. sspierce8

    sspierce8 Member

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    Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend one for that for sure. But for a novelty just to play with it’s alright. I would have to admit I like my ROA a lot better though.
     
  18. sspierce8

    sspierce8 Member

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    I’ve got 10lbs in cans like the one on the left. I bought a bunch of it in 1997.
     
  19. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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  20. Russell13

    Russell13 Member

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    Yeah the guy told me it was pretty old. I’ll look for a date on it. I opened it up and it looked good. No clumping or caking up. Is there a noticeable difference in the smoke and the smell from Pyrodex. Pyrodex is all I have shot so far.
     
  21. expat_alaska

    expat_alaska Member

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    If you can obtain a copy of Charlie Pate's The Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver (2018), on pp 20-21 there is a listing of pre-Civil War US Army contracts with Colt concerning dates from 1847 to May 1960 that address 1851 Navies and 1848 3rd Model Dragoons, with or without shoulder stocks. This was prior to the introduction of the 1860 Army revolver insofar as US Army contracts. The Navies are referred to as belt pistols and the Dragoons are referred to as holster pistols (as in saddle pommel holsters). The Dragoons (referred to by Pate as Old Model Armies/OMA) were replaced by Colt with 1860 Army (New Model Armies/NMA). The NMA was a belt pistol, based upon the 1851 Navy frame.

    Regards,

    Jim
     
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  22. Malachi Leviticus Blue

    Malachi Leviticus Blue Member

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    I also have an empty can identical to that one.
    It was the first can of Black Powder I ever bought.
    That was in '92 or '93
     
  23. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    I bought my first Black Powder revolver in 1968.

    An Uberti brass framed 44 caliber 'Navy'. No, I did not know back then that the 1851 Navy was never chambered for 44 caliber balls, only 36. Did not know that Colt never made any brass framed Cap & Ball revolvers either. All I knew was the price was right, somewhere around $40 if I recall correctly. 1968 dollars of course. Hmmm, an inflation calculator says that would be almost $300 today.

    Anyway, that would have been when I bought my first can of Goex. Don't really remember what it looked like, perhaps it looked like the can with the powder horn on it.

    po10HmLRj.jpg
     
  24. Malachi Leviticus Blue

    Malachi Leviticus Blue Member

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    My first C&B revolver was also a brass framed 44 caliber 'Navy', but mine was made by Armi San Marco. I did not know that the 1851 Navy was never chambered for 44 caliber either, and I'm sure I wouldn't have cared. I bought what I could afford at the time and it got me hooked.
    I still have it, and she still works just fine.
     
  25. Russell13

    Russell13 Member

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    I just found out some more cool information. I was looking up the different scrolling patterns on the colt revolvers and I found out that one of the main reasons they have ungracious g is to prevent people from selling fake ones. So if you saw the cylinder with the engravings you knew you had a real colt. Not sure how true that is but it seems logical.
     
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