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Samuel Colt's Paterson revolver was a decisive weapon during battles between Texas Rangers and Comanche Indians in the mid-1800s. Texas Ranger, Capt. Samuel Walker was so impressed by the role Colt's first production revolver performed in the tide-turning Battle of Bandera Pass that he met with Colt and worked with him to develop what would be the largest, heaviest black-powder revolver Colt ever produced - the .44-caliber 1847 Walker.
The original design was for a six-shot revolver in .44 or .45 caliber with sufficient power to take out both enemy soldiers and horses with one round. The Walker carried nearly twice the powder charge of other revolvers of the time, and its power requirements necessitated that it be made heavy. At 4-1/2 lbs., belt-holster carry was largely impractical, so the Walker was primarily carried in a saddle holster. Though its most effective range was 50 yards or less, there are accounts of Walkers taking out targets as far as 100 yds. away. It fired .454" round balls weighing approximately 140 grains at muzzle velocities in excess of 1,100 fps. From its introduction in 1847 until the invention of the .357 Magnum in the 1930s, the Colt .44 Walker was the most powerful revolver in the world.
The Walker's power came with a price. In addition to being cumbersome to wield, it took considerable time to load. Stout recoil occasionally caused the loading lever to drop from its stowed position. Cylinders sometimes exploded or ruptured, problems attributed to improper loading and inconsistent metallurgy in the production process. These bugs were worked out as production progressed. Apart from weight, modern reproductions do not exhibit these problems when used properly as specified in their instruction manuals.
The 1847 Walker has made a number of notable appearances in films on the big screen. In The Outlaw Josey Wales, Clint Eastwood carried two Walkers that were converted to shoot metallic cartridge blanks for safety reasons on the set. At more than 4 lbs. each, that was a lot of hardware for the actor to carry on his belt. Kim Darby shot a Walker revolver in her role as Mattie Ross in True Grit. Robert Duvall's character Gus in the miniseries Lonesome Dove carried a Walker.
It's estimated that 1,100 1847 Walkers were originally produced. An original Walker in good condition is extremely valuable to collectors. You can own a Walker replica from Cabela's for far less. It features a color case-hardened steel frame, brass trigger guard and 9" steel barrel. Overall length: 15-3/4". Weight: 4-1/2 lbs.
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