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Walker vs. 1858 Rem

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by brewer12345, Apr 2, 2020.

  1. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    I go back and forth on black powder revolvers since I do not own one. Seems like a lot of hassle and mess vs. a 38 special. OTOH, I have gotten bit by the black powder bug bad and even too last year's doe with a BP rifle shooting round ball. I also cast, so that makes things easier. So if I fool with a revolver it is likely to be either an 1858 or a walker.

    1858 seems more practical, but a walker seems more interesting. I went to the trouble of getting a 54 bored out to a 58 just to have a more fun option with more wow factor (yes, I am easily amused). So what is there about a walker I should know before I swing thet way? I know they are big and heacy. Anything else?
     
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  2. Malachi Leviticus Blue

    Malachi Leviticus Blue Member

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    I'm predicting most will agree that it hardly matters which of those two you start with, you will end up with both and more before you know it.
    Just buy them both and save on shipping!
     
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  3. BullRunBear

    BullRunBear Member

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    The Walker has a couple of features that might matter. It's big and weighs a ton. Unless you want all the extra power that size allows, it is a lot of iron. Not something to wear on a belt. Also, the loading lever is unsupported and can fall down blocking the cylinder after each shot. Many owners tie it up to prevent that. I think the Remington 1858-size guns are more practical. The 'hassle' of cleaning, etc., is the same for both guns. I don't mind the extra care BP guns require and I like the slower pace of using them.

    BTW, I prefer the Colt 1860 to the Remington 1858. The larger grips are more comfortable for me and it points better in my hand. Just FYI.

    Jeff
     
  4. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    I have a couple of 1858s. I have a couple of 1860 Colts. I would consider buying an 1851 Navy.

    I have never even considered buying a Walker. Or a Dragoon either for that matter. Just way too big and heavy. I shot a pair of Dragoons at a CAS match once just for fun. Pretty much confirmed what I thought. Way too big and heavy to carry or shoot much.

    There is a reason that Colt kept downsizing his revolvers over the years after building the Walkers. He recognized they were way too big to be practical.
     
  5. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    brewer1234, you mention hunting so I would say that of all the B.P. revolvers that I have set up for handgun hunting they have mostly been Walkers. Primarily because of the powder charge combined with the 9" barrel. I believe a few have been 1860 Armys but none have been Remington's. One of my customers is a retired Military ballistician and he thinks the Walker is by far the best for deer hunting. He uses full charges with a round ball. Hovey Smith uses a Walker with Max charges of Triple 7 with a conical by Kaido. Not that you couldn't use a Remington, it's just choosing the "right tool for the job". The Walker is just a more powerful Revolver with a more robust build.

    If you're just looking for a " fun gun", take your pick, they're both excellent revolvers.

    Mike
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
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  6. rodwha

    rodwha Member

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    Well, the way I see it is my NMA likes 30 grns of 3F (weighs 33 grns) Olde Eynsford and 195 grn WFN bullet puts it about on par with the .45 Schofield load and that’s what Colt copied with the .45 ACP. And my load has excess space which I intend to fill with lead after I make sure it will also work in my Ruger. That’s a good amount of power really. From what little chronographed data using similar powders and projectiles I’m likely getting 350-425 ft/lbs of energy. I’d like a little more speed but I doubt deepening the chambers would add to powder capacity. Both guns just have a preferred powder charge (I began at 25 grns thinking this should be on par with a .44 Spl and that felt minimum to me) that doesn’t change with projectile. Harmonics maybe?

    My 5.5” NMA weighs about as much as a cartridge steel frame, which really isn’t too bad. It’s a fairly handy size unlike the Walker. So as a sidearm the NMA wins hands down.

    But if one were considering it as a primary hunting weapon to utilize that raw power and 9” barrel, well, I have this monster on my list, however it falls low on it. And that’s despite loving the history of the gun and Colt. This pistol alone brought him back into the gun business. Most range days I get questions when shooting my pistols. It’s a nice low boom so everyone knows it’s different, almost threatening. And then there’s the smoke and fireball (if it’s shady enough). How much more awe would this bring forth?!?!

    The Walker just isn’t all that practical. But I’ve contemplated an additional barrel between 4-6” to convert it from primary weapon to secondary such as were I to nail a hog and need to track it. Not sure if it would still be just too much though. I’m not a big guy at 5’8”. But then wasn’t RIP about that tall?
     
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  7. rodwha

    rodwha Member

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    Were I to recommend one pistol it would be the Ruger Old Army. It holds slightly more powder, has better sights (unless you get a target model), it’s better built, and out of the box it’s pretty much ready to go. Mine is more accurate than my NMA.

    Whereas my NMA likes 30 grns my ROA likes 35 grns (weighs 38 grns), and also has excess space with my 195” grn WFN bullet (it’s merely .460” long) that I intend to fill with lead. It’s estimated at producing about 450-525 ft/lbs with my load. That’s .45 ACP+P performance there, and in a barely larger/heavier package. In essence it’s a dwarf Dragoon.
     
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  8. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    I cant speak for the Walker or Dragoons. I can say that my 1858s are some of the most enjoyable handguns that I own. I highly recommend one.
    20190430_095715.jpg
    The full sized gun is easier to load with the full loading lever.
     
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  9. skeeterfogger

    skeeterfogger Member

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    For the best in sights and capable accuracy I recommend the 1858 target model.
    The Walker is powerful but you have to weigh the power to the average range you would be shooting. Yes it was designed to be effective on a target at 100 yards. But placement success at 100 quite a bit more difficult at 100 vs 50. It's a lot of pistol to carry.
    The Dragoon can hold about a 50g load and too can be effective at 100 plus is lighter to carry. But both those do not have the better odds of accurate aiming compared to the 1858 target. Personally regardless of which I used I would consider the 50 yard mark to be my limit and given the 1858 accuracy capability would feel confident with it at that range. The conicals would deliver bit mire impact over a ball but a ball if placement is maintained will do the job.
    My pair if 1858s will hit inside 2 inch bull at 25 yards all day just plinking fun shooting. It is just as good at 50 when serious shooting.
    There are times I wished someone would start making an 1858 target in a 50 5 shot.
     
  10. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    Nobody is relying on a Walker or 1858 for combat or self defense. if they are, well, bad decision. So, if you are interested in precision target shooting, an 1858, preferably with target sights would be the better choice and, as an entry to the Dark Side, might be a better gateway.

    But for pure hoots and giggles fun and devastating amusement, nothing beats a Walker. Except two.

    Whatever you decide, enjoy!
     
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  11. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Don't forget, Colt only made 1100 Walkers. 1000 went to the Texas Rangers, the other 100 were sold on the civilian market. If it was a great gun, Colt would have made more. Instead he went back to the drawing board and came up with the Dragoon. Slightly lighter in weight, slightly less powder capacity, slightly shorter barrel, and a latch up front to keep the loading lever from falling down after every shot. Something just under 11,000 Dragoons were produced over several models. And a lot of Walkers blew up from that heavy powder charge in their iron, yes iron, cylinders.
     
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  12. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Percussion revolvers are not practical. They certainly are interesting, though. If one interests you more than another, then that is the one to start with.

    The only other things to know are that the loading lever will typically drop upon firing, and that the sights will be the worst you've ever seen.

    Enjoy!
     
  13. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    Well holy cow DJ, You can't help having to use the available materials to manufacture a product! Sam should have used S.S.! Lol You have to remember, revolvers were still in the infant stage. Even Sam Colt understood to "quit digging . . . " So, "pairing down" the Walker design (and using better steel as it became available), the 13 year run of Dragoons proved a rather successful design as well as the test bed for improvements. The flat mainspring used in all other models, rectangular locking notches along with the approach cuts, slotted hammer nose and safety pin, the loading lever latch, hammer roll, attachable shoulder stock, oval trigger guard . . . derived from the Dragoon. The 3rd Mod. Dragoon was the best selling large caliber revolver in America (at the time) . . . I guess folks figured out a way to carry them, big and heavy as they were . . .
    I understand everybody's preferences and the OP even mentioned that he understands that the Walker is "big and heavy " but that was mentioned in almost all the responses. I can't believe the "ease of swapping cyls" for the Remington hasn't been mentioned yet (I'm honored to be the first!!), historic or not, it is definitely easier.
    I'll just add that overall, the open top revolvers are by far the most popular with Walkers and Dragoons having pretty good representation! The Remington pattern is popular as well and it's because of my own fondness of it that I spent the time to figure out a coil action for it.

    So, for the OP, you won't go wrong with either pattern. One's a boomer!! The other is a BOOMER!!

    Mike

    Oh yeah, Colt may have only made 1100 Walkers but Uberti and others have made 100s of thousands over the decades!! (Shows ya what "good material" will do for ya!!)
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
  14. skeeterfogger

    skeeterfogger Member

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    Cure for Walker rod drop.
    15470081427202118571914.jpg
    1547008077218-692348838.jpg
    First build. Working on more esthetic version.
    Even my Dragoon rod would drop on 3rd-4th shot. Removed latch spring and put a spacer under it to gain full strength of the spring and now it stays up.
     
  15. Jackrabbit1957

    Jackrabbit1957 Member

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    As to how heavy the Walker is I agree it's a bit heavier than the average pistol, but if you carry it for a few days and get used to it it's not so bad. I wouldn't hesitate to carry mine and have, on a hunt or at a shoot. It's all what you get used to.
     
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  16. Clayguy

    Clayguy Member

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    I bought my Walker because it's big and heavy and is historically significant.
     
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  17. whughett

    whughett Member

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    Swapping cylinders on the NMA. If you do it frequently, try to get too many cylinders full and it become increasingly difficult. My NMA, an ASM needs light hammer taps after just two cylinders of firing 30 grain charges. Could be my gun but on the other hand a 36 cal Navy Arms by Uberti is pretty much the same if not more difficult.
     
  18. skeeterfogger

    skeeterfogger Member

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    A friend shot heavy load in his 1858 and was always having issues getting the pin out no matter the lube. I was shooting a Rogers and Spencer and had some issues until I worked up to the load that provided accuracy. Ended up at 22g and low and behold my pin problem stopped. My friend did same and his pin problem went away. Point is boom and smoke is neat but just enough to get accuracy can solve a few issues.
     
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  19. whughett

    whughett Member

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    In contrast I deliberately tried to freeze the cylinder of a Colt open top, 1860 Army. After 48 shots there was some resistance to the cylinder advancing after 54 I started assisting cylinder turn with thumb and forefinger of the left hand after 60 I stopped not wishing to stress the gun.
    Today it’s of little consequence, in a civil war battle the solider with a Colt and paper cartridges would have had an advantage over the guy with the NMA.
    I guess the folks shooting competition with NMA’s must have a work around to the design flaw that pumps soot directly into the base pin.
    Any way my preference leans to the Colts, not necessarily the Walker although I own one.
     
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  20. Rebel Dave

    Rebel Dave Member

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    The Walker is a big clumsy revolver, thats why I sold mine years ago. My preferance is the 1851 style Colts Navies, and the 1860 Colt Armies. I have 1858 Remingtons also, and shoot them all.
    Rebel Dave
     
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  21. expat_alaska

    expat_alaska Member

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    I agree. I bought an Uberti 1848 Whitneyville Hartford back in September just to have one. It is a huge piece of iron. I don't shoot it, just admire it for what it is. I much prefer the 1851 Navies and the 1860 Armies for use in the hand.

    Uberti-Whitneyville-003.jpg

    Regards,

    Jim
     
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  22. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    The easy way to look at it: the 58 is a real, working serious firearm, even today. I have gotten 147gr balls about 1000FPS with pyrodex, without pushing the limits. The Walker is a goofy novelty. Thats exactly what they are, and what they have been since the 1860's. Now are you looking for a real firearm that happens to be black powder? Like you said, "boring" but excellent. Or a silly hand cannon? Fun, but impractical. .... edit to add, this is not intended at all to be an insult to either.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2020
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  23. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    The Walker was carried on the horse!. There were two holsters on a leather strap. The middle of the leather strap fit over the saddle horn so the holsters were on each side of the saddle. It takes a huge amount of powder, almost as much as a musket, so I think Capt Walker and Sam Colt were looking for something that equaled a cavalry carbine in power and range. And, this has sort of been forgotten, the old horse pistols were reversed and used as clubs in close combat! The Walker would sure put a dent in a head if used as a club.

    I have a third model Dragoon and it is a monster!. I wanted a Walker but the problem with the loading lever dropping down, and the weight of the thing, just kept me from buying, even when the price was right.

    I do have a 1858 Rem made by Uberti. I am much happier with that pistol than any other black powder pistol The front sight was tall and I was able for file it down to center at 25 yards. Also, the front sight is drift adjustable, which means I now have a black powder which shoots to point of aim.

    None of the open top Colt replica's I have owned shoot any where near point of aim, often the front sight is off center, and the elevation is too high. It really up sets me to see a front sight at 1 OC, it is obvious that the makers don't expect that buyers shoot the things to hit anything.
     
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  24. OrangePwrx9

    OrangePwrx9 Member

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    If you're 18 or 19, get the Walker. Once you learn to use it, you'll be "the Man" and you can carry it through your twenties. If you keep it 'til you're 50 you can look at it and say "I used to hunt with THAT?" And it'll be a great source of amusement. Of course, hearing the old girl roar again will bring back some youthful memories.

    If you're in your 30s or older, get the NMA. It's reduced size and added refinements make it lots easier to live with long term.
     
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  25. woodnbow
    • Contributing Member

    woodnbow Contributing Member

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    If I purchased a revolver and it showed up with the front sight at 1 o’clock it’ll go right back. Toot sweet! Ain’t go time for that nonsense.
     
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