Walker 44

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by PWC, Feb 23, 2021.

  1. PWC

    PWC Member

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    Was the black powder Walker 44, open frame called a horse pistol or a dragoon the most powerful handgun until the 45 Mag?
     
  2. skeeterfogger

    skeeterfogger Member

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    Have heard called a horse pistol because it can take a horse at 100 yards and or it takes a horse to carry it. Both sound right to me. I like shooting mine but don't think carrying it on my side would be comfortable at all.
     
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  3. no.5enfield

    no.5enfield Member

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    I believe it's been said it was top until the .357 mag was introduced. That's probably a dubious claim though, as there were quite a few custom hand cannons made in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Bland-Pryse was slow but heavy.
     
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  4. DR505

    DR505 Member

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    I remember years ago a friend of mine was an Assistant Chief Patrol Agent at a USBP Sector on the southern border and every now and then he would wear a Walker in a shoulder holster under a suit coat! He never left the USBP grounds so armed, but he would wear it around the Sector and Station to see what reaction he would get from the guys.
     
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  5. Buckeye63

    Buckeye63 Member

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  6. magyars4

    magyars4 Member

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    I always thought that they were called horse pistols because they were carried on the saddle horn of the horse. They were generally too big to carry on a belt. The Dragoon is slightly smaller and has a latch for the loading lever
     
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  7. Buckeye63

    Buckeye63 Member

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  8. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    Until 1935, the Model 1847 was consider the top of the heap, as to power. In 1935, S&W introduced the 357 Magnum as a factory load.


    Prior to that, folks were reloading the 38HD and the 44Special to levels that beat the Walker.


    Kevin
     
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  9. CraigC
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    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    Yep! They were called horse pistols because they were carried in pommel holsters. They weren't really considered belt guns.

    The Walker and Dragoons are nearly identical in size and proportion with two major exceptions. The Walker's barrel is 1.5" longer and the cylinder is about a quarter inch longer.

    IMG_2583b.jpg
     
  10. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    I'd imagine the most common reaction was, "How come youre walking all leaned over to the right? And what's wrong with your shoulder?" :rofl:
     
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  11. Dave T

    Dave T Member

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    Craig,

    That's the first cartridge conversion I've seen on a Dragoon. Did you buy it that way (i.e. is someone making them) or did you build it yourself? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Dave
     
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  12. magyars4

    magyars4 Member

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    this is my second model Dragoon converted to 45 colt...after a few cylinders, it get a little shaky IMG_20210218_074854.jpg
     
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  13. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    "Horse Pistol" was used to describe the size of the revolver in general use. The term more or less officially was "Army Model." The early large handguns were carried in holsters slung from the pommel of the saddle. these guns also were referred to as Dragoons. Dragoons were sort of mounted infantry, hence the U.S. Mounted Rifles corps. Generally frame size was designated "Horse Pistol" (Army or Dragoon), "Belt Model" (Navy) and "Pocket Model.

    Incidentally, the TO&E for a Dragoon soldier was two revolvers in saddle holsters, two in belt holsters, and one shoulder stock for the guns. One stock in each squad was to have a built-in coffee grinder.

    Bob Wright
     
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  14. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Member

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    Always figure this was the cause for the moniker:

    4zb106.jpg

    Todd.
     
  15. CraigC
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    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    That was a Christmas present from my wife, our first year of marriage. :)

    I sent it to Gary Barnes, aka "Hoof Hearted". He did an action job, installed the Kirst gated conversion and the brass Skinner dovetail front sight, which I have yet to reshape into something more graceful. Then I had Sack Peterson do the elk antler grips. It's a great shooting sixgun and I've always kinda thought I'd have it refinished, if not engraved. I made my very first holster for it and carried it quite a bit. Which also reminds me that I need to do another for it.
     
  16. BLACKHAWKNJ

    BLACKHAWKNJ Member

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    I read one of the specifications for the Walker was "50 round balls to the pound" which meant a 140 grain ball over 50 grains of BP as opposed to the 250 grain bullet of the 45 Long Colt over 40 grains of BP. So I would compare it more to the 38 Hi Speed, 38-44 that preceded the .357.
     
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  17. whughett

    whughett Member

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    Dragoon was mounted Calvary that dismounted to fight. Found thru out Europe, the name derived from the firearm the 17th century mounted Calvary carried . A wheel lock blunder buss often decorated at the muzzle in the likeness of a dragon, so referred to as a Dragon. Taken from Wikipedia.
    So it seems Sam Colt carried the name full circle naming his three improved Walker style revolvers Dragoon’s. The 1860 Army however was an upsized version of the 1851 Navy, with the 1861 Navy a downsized version of the 1860 Army. ;)
     
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  18. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    And here is a Ruger BH horse pistol

    6E75F83A-F55F-4BCC-B72D-931BF017BC36.jpeg
     
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  19. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    That weight comes from pure lead .454" round balls all weighing around 141 grains. It's based on the mass of lead and the purity of the alloy - pure lead versus lead+tin or lead+antimony. The maximum load for the Walker was 60 grains of FFg - only 10 grains less than the Government rifle specification (.45-70). With a muzzle velocity of 1,350fps at a full 60 grains it matches or slightly bests a .357 140gr. maximum loading (according to Lyman's 48th: 140gr. Speer JHP #4203, loaded with Hodgdon's H110 (start) 17.3gr 1287fps @ 31,600cup --> (max) 18.0gr., 1324fps @ 35,700cup). Realistically, a max-loaded Walker will match a max-loaded .357 magnum revolver (Lyman's tests were conducted with an un-vented 4" universal receiver).
     
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  20. DDDWho

    DDDWho Member

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    I’ve been interested in Walkers since I first heard of them. A couple of years ago an original sold at auction for $1.84 million, at the time the most ever paid for a gun at auction. There is only 37 originals known to exist, I’ve seen 2 of them. One at the Ranger Museum in Waco the other at the Winchester Museum in Cody, WY. I have an Uberti which I treasure. Check my avatar.
     
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  21. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    "Upsized" is not really the case. The 1860 Army was made on the same frame as the 1851 Navy and the innards were identical with the exception of the grip straps and mainspring. The cylinder of the Army model, made of improved steel not found in the earlier Dragoon models, was made of larger diameter toward the front to accommodate the .44 caliber bullets. The chambers were sort of tapered outward and held a slightly heavier powder charge. To accommodate the rebated cylinder, the front part of the Navy's frame was milled away. The new, and more svelte barrel and rammer and rammer assembly, along with the new grip profile, turned the Navy into an Army Model.

    Incidentally, purchase orders of the day enter the Dragoons as "Old Model Army" to differentiate between the "New Model Army" (the 1860). I have never seen period brochures using the term Dragoon. It's aways referred to as the Army Model.

    Bob Wright
     
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  22. BLACKHAWKNJ

    BLACKHAWKNJ Member

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    Dragoons were supposed to be able to fight either mounted or dismounted, cavalry mounted only. Then there was the Regiment of Mounted Rifles in the Mexican War. By the start of the Civil War, the US had only cavalry-which usually fought on foot, every 4th man being a horse-holder. Gettysburg started when Heth's division advancing on the town rani to Buford's cavalry, who were screening for the infantry. Their Spencer repeating carbines gave them a distinct advantage.
    The 45-70 was adopted in 1873 long after the Walkers had been retired from service. I read there were a lot of burst cylinders with the Walkers, and it didn't handle that well, hence the Dragoon models.
    I would say the Walker was the most powerful revolver before the .357, the British had their Howdah pistols, they were meant to stop wild animals at close range.
     
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  23. tark

    tark Member

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    In the Arsenal Museum, We have a storage room which contains over ten thousand artifacts. Everything that is not a firearm.....that we don't have room to display. We have Indian arrowheads and spear points, bayonets, uniforms, medals, Flags, Nazi artifacts, and ....holsters for just about every pistol ever used by the U.S. Military. Pictured are a pair original pommel holsters for Walker Colts. ( Well, one side at least. ) They appear to have seen rough service....but still Incredibly rare and valuable.

    oops, I duplicated the original!!
     

    Attached Files:

  24. CraigC
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    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    Technically, Dragoons were mounted infantry. As mobile as cavalry but cheaper, easier and quicker to train as they fought on foot. Cavalry was trained to fight on horseback, which was more involved, more expensive and took longer.
     
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  25. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    Greeen with envy! Yessir, I am GREEN with envy that you are free to "play" in that room. Please share more photos of those marvelous toys. :D
     
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