The Colt Walker and other Percussion Revolvers for Hunting Deer and Big Game

Can the Colt Walker or other black-powder revolvers be used to hunt big game?

Catalog pages from Guns Illustrated.

  As a gun writer who enjoys all aspects of hunting with black-powder guns, I had to try out the Colt Walker as a potential game-killing tool. Over the years I have owned two replica guns and shot them with a variety of bullets. Although the original guns were used in combat, I had problems with them as functional handguns. With my guns, and others that I have shot, the loading lever very commonly fell down and tied up the cylinder after every shot.

Not only this, but the rear sight on this pistol is only a notch in the hammer. This, and a very low bead on the barrel,  causes the Walker revolvers to shoot high. There is no means of adjusting the sights so that it will shoot to the point of aim. In the excitement of a hunt, you do not want to have to remember that you must aim a foot low and right to hit the vitals of an animal.

If the preceding were not damming enough, the cylinder length will only allow about 45-grains of FFg black powder to be loaded, and the weak attachment of the barrel to the frame with a wedge means that this gun cannot be stressed with anything more. This load with a round ball puts out 300 foot-pounds of muzzle energy – more about that later. This structural weakness also means that the gun cannot be used as a club; despite its size and weight.

For kids on their first hunts with muzzleloading rifles, the weakest rifle load that I recommend is 85 grains of FFg and a patched round ball which generates about 900 foot-pounds of energy.  With reasonable shot placement, this load will kill deer.  A load, like the Walker’s,  that generates only 300 foot pounds does not become a magical deer killer when fired from a pistol.

Deer and many domestic animals have been killed with the .22 L. R., which does not even generate 100 foot-pounds. This can happen with extremely precise shot placement. However, the crude sights and often not-very-good trigger pulls on the replica Colt revolvers preclude accurate shooting.  In a survival situation with nothing else available, I could kill game with it, but I would not take it out hunting except as a back-up gun for use at point-blank range to kill an injured animal.

Since this was written I have developed loads with Hodgdon’s TripleSeven powder that would reach 500 ft./bs. with the Ruger Old Army and the 12-inch barreled stainless 1858 Remington Pietta revolver and taken close-range deer with both guns. In the case of the Ruger I employed a new 240 grain bullet made by Kaido Ojamaa. The details of this are in later posts and also on Part 7 B of my series on percussion revolvers. These loads worked in these modern strongly-built guns. I do not recommend them for the weaker Colt-pattern pistols, although people have used, and will doubtless use them, to take big game. 


 Some single-shot percussion pistols can be loaded with 65-grains of FFg and heavier bullets, that in 10-inch and longer barrels, can work as back-up guns for the muzzleloading hunter.  I often refit these single-shots  with musket caps and use Hodgdon’s granulated Triple Seven powder to give these short-barreled guns an added boost to the 500 foot-pounds of energy level, which many consider the minimal for an ethical deer-hunting load.

A very few long-barreled single-shot pistols, such as the Thompson/Center Scout, Thompson/Center Encore, Traditions Buckhunter Pro, Traditions Vortex, Pedersoli Bounty and the longer-barreled versions of the Tingle can be used with loads of up to 100 grains of FFg and a 370-grain Maxi Ball for big game in the case of the Encore and lesser loads for the others. These are much more powerful than any presently available percussion revolver.  For details consult my book X-Treme Muzzleloading: Fur, fowl and dangerous game with muzzleloading rifles, smoothbores and pistols.  This book will be available in the Fall of 2012.

The Ruger Old Army that the author uses to kill alligators beside the boat.

I use a load in the now-discontinued Ruger Old Army revolver for alligator killing at a range of  about 2-inches from the top of the skull  and for squirrel hunting. This gun has my vote for the best percussion revolver yet made. It was offered very briefly in .36-caliber, but was mostly sold as .45-caliber revolvers that take .457 lubricated round balls. These are fine guns with adjustable sights that are much stronger than the Colt designs.

Remington-style revolvers with a top strap and adjustable sights are still available from importers. One of these all-steel guns with adjustable sights would be my selection as a percussion revolver to be used for investigating the technology of a percussion revolver, target shooting, for small-game hunting and hunting big game in thick cover. .

Percussion revolvers have their place as fun-to-shoot-guns, on the target range, for small game hunting and some of the stronger designs with Hodgen Triple Seven powder can be ethically used to kill big game at close range.

54 thoughts on “The Colt Walker and other Percussion Revolvers for Hunting Deer and Big Game

  1. I have often toyed with the concept of a real, real big three-shot revolver with a 3-inch cylinder and 14-inch barrel. However, I suspect that the world-wide demand for such a gun would be about three per year.

    The typical revolver hand and tooth system to turn the chambers into firing position would not work. A wind-up spring mechanism or electric drive could.


  2. The Percussion Revolver IS Capable of Ethically quickly killing big and dangerous game. Hand Gun hunter Pioneer, the late Al Georg, used a Remington 1858 style Percussion Revolver with a scope he mounted t kill Black Bears! The 44/45 percussion Revolver was intended to kill a Horse the tests done by the US Army Ordanance Dept required at least Five Inches of pine board penetration this was considered enough power to kill a horse. The testing of the 1860 Army proved even deeper penetration. A 1858 Remington (Forged Framed Uberti replica) tests concluded at 100 Yards that 40 grains plus a 200 grain LEE Bullet penetrated over 7 inches of Pine boards. Deer, Wilid Boar, and Bears both Black and Grizzly have been killed with Percussion revolvers you can Google and find a lot of documention reguarding this.The State of Maryland requires hunters who hunt big game to use 40 grains of powder in their Percussion Revolvers, such a load with good powder and projectile is quite adaquate to quickly stop a deer. For those wanting extra power, Master Gun Smith Charles David Clements makes a conversion for the Ruger Old Army in to a 50 Caliber revolver Cost is not cheap $1000 with gun.

    • I know Al’s work. I stand by my comments that although it is possible to kill deer and such game with percussion revolvers, they are not the appropriate tools to ethically use. A horse might be killed with a shot through the brain (I kill gators that way), and a horse shot with a .44 revolver in the body would ultimately die; but these are not the guns to use to hunt deer much less horse-sized animals.

      I also know another well known gunwriter in California who was chased into the trees after he attempted to take on some wild boars with his .44 Army percussion revolver. Use some more gun, shoot carefully, and you will have a better result. Better one powerful well-placed shot than a cylinder full of puny loads shot from an ill-sighted revolver.

      Hovey Smith

      • I Totaly Disagree with you. The repeated accounts of People from the 19 to the 20 and now the 21st Centuries show you are wrong. My Friend Greg Nelson of the yahoo percussion Revolver group has done extensive testing of Percussion Revolvers ESP The Uberti 1858 NMA gave Magnum performance Using a Ball or Conical with 35+ grains of hot powder like Swiss Black Powder or Tripple Seven generates appropriate killing power on Big Game animals. Using 35 and up of high performance powder is recognized big game killing power ( Again the Maryland standard, 40 grains) I will be posting the many more accounts of Hunters etc who used these guns to kill game. Documented Historical accounts prove me correct.

      • Your statement says Deer AL Georg Killed Black Bear, usualy a harder animal to kill than Deer! It sounds like the fellow in California was one of these guys who feels he has to use 25 grains of powder and lots of Corn Meal Filler. When loaded with 35+ 40 Grains of Powder and a Bullet like the LEE 200 or 220 grain bullets he would have had different results;Lots of Bacon to take home! Our Testing has shown that a Percussion revolver loaded with 35,40, 45, 50 grains of powder is a WHOLE Different Animal than the corn meal specials that many a “Target Shooter uses and Yes Percussion Revolvers can be with the right combo load powder and projectile the right tool for the job!

  3. Be very careful fellows with loads of Tripple Seven
    in Colt-pattern revolvers – particularly the brass-framed ones. This powder is not as forgiving as black powder. I have used it in double and single-shot percussion pistols and changed out the no. 11s with musket caps. If you are determined to try these revolvers on deer and hogs yourself, stay with smaller animals and have a trailing dog handy.

    I think that you will find the Colt-pattern revolvers miserable things to try to hunt with and get accurate shot placement on game animals in the excitment of a hunt. The Ruger Old Army is much better, as are the Italian replicas with adjustable sights.

    When you have done it a few times, let me know if you are satisfied with your results. If so, why so; and if not, why not.

    Fair enouth?

    I have killed a 200 lb. running hog with a .22 short single-shot pistol. This happened after an aunt of mine ran over one in a field, and I had to run it down and kill it. I finally got a bullet in the back of the skull when I caught up with it somewhat and had stopped for a shot. It took four or five chases and shots, before I finally nailed it. This does not mean that I recommend the cartridge.

  4. You Are Correct. Brass Framed Percussion revolvers are JUNK TO BE AVOIDED. I Urge all reading this to; Only Buy Steel Framed Revolvers, The Brass framed revolvers loosen up and are not historically correct (Execpt Confederate models) With the Open Top Colts The Arbor pins sometimes get loose and Wedges can get worn out with frequent Hot Loads. Occasionaly Shooting 40 grains in an 1860 Colt Steel framed Army is ok. This usualy does not happen with a Uberti 3rd Model Dragoon.I myself find the Fixed Sighted Remington NMA The Best, The Rodgers&Spenser is good too, The Ruger Old Army Excellent. Note: Clements custom gun works will remove extra metal out of the cylinders of the Ruger Old Army thus giving you about 5 to 10 grains more powder capacity this will NOT effect the structural integraty of the cylinder.David Clements charges $50.00 per cylinder. Also Classic Ball Six makes an extra cylinder for the Old Army that has about 10 grains more capacity than the factory cylinder.

  5. Tripple Seven is Powerful,Similar to the Civil War issue Hazard Powder, right below Swiss Black Powder Todays STEEL FRAMED Replicas can take a diet of these just not the max loads all the time. On Colt open top framed percussion revolvers It can loosen the Arbor pins and wedges. The Arbor pins can be repinned by stripping down the receiver and repinning and or welding in place the arbor pin. This usualy does not happen as frequently with a Colt Dragoon Revolver as it would an 1860 Army so every now and than shooting 40 grains of powder in a Colt style 1860 is ok, not all the time though. Bellow are some postings of the abilities of Percussion Revolvers.

    (ID Info removed from following posts.)

    OK i will come in on this one.
    I shot my first white tail in ks with my 58 rem, 35 grns
    of 3f real bp and a 454 rb at 20 feet, it went down like
    a sack of spuds, if you hit in the right place most will go
    down, so yes you can take game with a revolver.

    The round ball from Colt .44 molds ran about .458″ and weighed 144 grains; the conical bullet cavity from the same mold cast a 220 grain conical. Some later Colt Dragoon molds cast a 258 grain conical.
    The Dragoon with 220 grain conical and 40 grains of FFFg black powder will do considerably more damage as it punches through five 2 x 4’s.

    My wife bought me an Euroarms Remington 1858 for Father’s Day one year. My flask has a 27 grain spout and with .454 balls, first ball went right through the X at 25 yards. I also bought a 30 grain spout which works nicely. Lee make a mold for a 200 grain conical for the Remington that shoot good. I normally use FFFg Goex, but found that Pyrodex P works just as good. A friend of mine even took a wild boar with his 1858 using .454 round balls. They are a good, strong revolver.

  6. There is some good information in these posts, and I appreciate it. Downing an animal like a big bear that has been hit several times with something else takes precision shooting through the brain or spine (or very much luck).
    What would be useful here is the measure of penetration in a game animal, along with the bullet weights and loads used. As well as the result of the shot.
    The concept of using a Ruger Old Army with an bored-out chamber to hold more powder has merit in making this an effective hunting revolver. If someone wants to send me such a cylinder, I will test it, hunt with it and give it a write up in the Gun Digest (I am the black powder Editor.) as a useful custom modification of the revolver.

    • The articles have been done, that is how I found out about it, I looked into a more powerfull 50 caliber Revolver and saw the article and several postings they mentioned that David Clements also Back Bores out the cylinders, I also found out people are and have been doing so with Italian Replicas mainly Remingtons as well. In the past I have written Italian Gun makers Piettia and Uberti requesting them to make a 50 caliber Remington. Maybe in the future. I have also recently made a new designed bullet for the Clements 50 Caliber, I call it the VKV BG 490 and am testing it now. Bellow are Some postings about Back boring a Ruger Old Army.

      (ID Info removed from following post)

      If you just got to have one,,,have a BIG one!!

      Hey Kanook, I’m not familiar with that expression,,,’backbore the cylinder’.

      What does it consist of and what advantage do you derive from it?


      Clements takes a “true to size” bit and bores the cylinder hole deeper.

      Taking material from the inside of the cylinder (back boring) to make it deeper to allow more powder in the cylinder hole gives about 5 to 10grains per hole. Gives it more ooomph.


      I have killed several deer with mine. I use 41 gr’s of Swiss FFFG for 1102 fps with a round ball. It does them in FAST.


      I played with one for a while. I had Dave Clements back bore the cylinder holes so it would hold about 7 more grains of powder and could easily get over 900 fps with a 240 grain bullet. I had Mountain Molds make me wfn and a swc molds for them at 230 and 240 grain. I designed the bullet to hold a good quantity of lube and with no crimp grove and sized properly for my gun. Sad to say I never did have much luck with accuaracy with them though. I should have had them made as bevel based bullets as they were about impossible to seat straight. I experimented with running just the bases in a Lee 451 die and that helped but still didn’t really give me the accuracy I wanted for hunting. 44man probably has it right. If I was to fool with another I would just stick to round balls. They shot well out of my gun.

      • I just received my .50 Cal ROA from Dave Clements. It is a beautiful piece and the workmanship is fantastic. Dave modified my stainless steel .45 cal ROA by removing the barrel and cylinder, installing a new machined .50 cal octagon barrel, and 5 round cylinder, he line bored the barrel, cylinder and spare cylinder, deep bored the new cylinders, installed a new tall fiber optic front sight and preformed and modified the action. Ballistics are near to my .44 Dan Wesson .44 Mag. The .50 cal Clements ROA will shoot a 170 gr., .490 ball with 50 gr. Hodgdon 777 @ 1250 fps and a 250 gr., .488 conical with 50 gr. Hodgdon 777 @ 1150 fps. both using #11 caps and a wonder wad. I will use the 170 ball for deer and the 250 gr. conical for black bear and elk. He supplied me with the conical bullet mold.

      • That is excellent news about the Clements conversion. I would caution about using the Wonder Wad if the charge is going to be loaded for more than a few minutes. With longer times the lube will spoil and weaken the powder and change the point of aim. Use a Styrofoam wad cut from egg crate, plastic plates or something similar and seal, lube the ball with a hard-setting beeswax mix over the ball for best results. There is no problem with that foam wad leaving anything nasty in the barrel, at least nothing more than usual for black-powder revolvers.

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  8. I continue to marvel at the use of arms such as the Colt Walker in the Frontier & Civil War. Reloading one, esp.on horseback is almost unimaginable! How did they do it? How did they survive such tests?
    Many didn’t, I guess, but it is surprising what one can do when they have no other choice!
    Just Keep Your Powder Dry!

  9. In service few, if any, would try to reload a percussion revolver on a moving horse. With Dragoons, muzzleloading pistols were issued in pairs and after these were shot, and if you were still in the thick of things, you had to fall back on your sword. Having preloaded cylinders did little good with Colt-style revolvers because if you lost the barrel pin you were up the creek. In the Navy some single-shot pistols were issued with no ramrods. These were meant to be used once and then employed as clubs as no one had room on deck during a fight to reload. It was best to defend yourself with a fresh gun, club or edged weapon than be distracted while reloading.

    • Very True about the Pairs of Dragoon Revolvers in saddle Promal Holsters. The Walker was also said to be issued in pairs as well. With the Advent of Combustable Paper Cartridges for Percussion Revolvers Loading a percussion revolver on horseback was now possible. Colt and the British started to test Foil Cartridges,The idea is to be able to quicker load a Percussion revolver. The Metal, Tin material proved to be a failure. Latter in the mid 1850’s Colt found a new material to apply that excellent idea,”Paper” was used insted of tin Foil. Nitrates were put on the paper to combuste it.These paper cartridges were usualy loaded with Conical Bullets Not Round Balls. The bullets were glued to the paper with sodium silacate, they were sold and issued to military personel widely during the civil war. Paper cartridges were sold in small boxes of 6 rounds per box. Propellents (Powders) were developed to give more power than before. Hazard Powder Company had avery powerfull powder, many believe it was FFFFG Grain.

      • There was also another significant problem. That was getting the tiny no. 11 (or no. 10) percussion caps on the nipples. I have a hard enough time doing it on the shooting bench, and I can’t remember all of the times I have opened a tin of caps to have them scatter everywhere because the lids were so tight-fitting in an attempt to keep out moisture. I just cannot imagine doing this in a combat situation in the midst of a firefight on horse. Get another gun if you can (Confederate officers often carried as many pistols as they could manage without shooting themselves or their horse in the process.), use your blade or get the hell out of there were your options.

  10. Having read all the above with great interest, I have decided to put my Walker & 1860 Army revolvers on the wall for a history display and look for a Ruger BP revolver, or a good single shot long barrel pistol, as advised for any possible hunting. I love the history of the old guns, even the replicas, but hunting & shooting is a far more serious event when all the factors are considered. I guess I’m rather lucky that I did not have a serious mishap when I got about 1200fps on the Chrony out of my Uberti Walker using 15grFFF+one 30gr Pyrodex pellet,pushing a 120gr 45cal Devastator bullet!
    Thanks for all the good info.above!

    • Your Walker and 1860 Army are fine Guns more than Capable of Quickly Killing Big Game. It you have the skill, right Powder and ammount of Powder, Projectile and Caps. Email me for data. I have quiet a lot. An
      8 Point White Tail Deer was quickly harvested with an 1860 Army. I have the account with photos I down loaded. I also have a Custom Bullet I designed for Hunting Big Game that I offer. Walkers, Dragoons, 1860 Army and Remingtons etc have been maligned and greatly underestimated, They have been used to take Big Game in North America time and time again. I Suggjest you join a group I beling to that studies this, the Yahoo Percussion Revolver Group. Good Luck and Safe Hunting.

  11. Traditions has a Vortex pistol that looks like a reasonable single-shot. These things have such very low demand that they go in and out of production in a hurry. I have not tested one yet, but have no reason to suppose that they will not do well. Although much, much more expensive, and now not even available from Fox Ridge, the T/C Encore 209X.50 has been the best production muzzleloading pistol for hunting that has come down the pike yet. T/C is moving to Springfield and it will be more closely incorporated in the Smith and Wesson business structure. There is said to be three new guns in the pipeline for release next year. Any muzzleloading handguns? Don’t know, but don’t hold your breath. S&W is a much more conservative organization than T/C was. I would love to see a muzzleloading revolver built on the S&W Governor’s frame.

    • I stand by my statements and the documentation that percussion revolvers are more than capable with the right skill, powder loads and projectiles and cap of ethicly quickly taking big game. I am also open minded and have been an advocate for a larger super sized percussion Revolver, I have written manufactures in Italy Piettia,Uberti in the distant past. I feel if we combine our writing efforts and get a campaign going we would have more chance for sucess. Let us write Cabelas product services division and ask them to request Piettia, Uberti etc to make a larger percussion revolver. We could go many ways on this.The Muzzleloader shop in Little Rock Ark, has mentioned that years ago Piettia had Colt 3rd Model Dragoon prototypes in 50 caliber. We could request that the cylinders on the Remington be a quarter to half inch longer than now and one version in 50 caliber. In 1848 Colt developed a Top Starpped Experimental 2nd Model Dragoon Revolver, (similar hinge frame like a Star revolver) Photo of this is on Flicker via the Museum Of Conneticut. We could ask to improve this design(I will be making a trip to that museum as Colt had several Top Strapped experimental models that were never produced) We could also ask that a longer version of the peacemaker with a attached loading lever in percussion be made. Again Cylinder a quarter to one half invh longer than currently. It would be interesting to see the answers to letters, written by all who read this. I urge all interested peopele to write Cabelas, Piettia, Uberti, Ruger, Taurus and other manufactures. Ask them to make a larger percussion revolver with a cylinder at least a quarter longer to half inch longer deeper chambers in 453 bore diamiter= 45 caliber and possibly a 50 caliber version. Maybe we can just get such made if many people request it.

  12. With combustable paper cartridges showing up in the 1850’s There was also was avaialabe a Capping device, a Capper, Thus a percussion Revolver like Walker or Dragoon could be relaoded on horseback fairly quickly.

  13. There were period cappers including some as far back as the Colt Patterson. This would/did/does make on-horse reloading possible, but still distracting and time consuming – a task best done after the fight was over.

    There is some pressure for makers, even those who deal in replica firearms, to come out with something that they can call new every year. Historical guns have the edge here. Handgun hunting in general is not allowed in most of Europe, muzzleloading hunting is not allowed in many countries (or restricted to replicas of historic guns) and that cuts out a lot of potential market. Only in the U.S. is there even a reasonable number of handgun hunters and only a small fraction of those are interested in taking game with black-powder handguns of any sort and even fewer of those who want to go through the trouble of cleaning a big-bore revolver.

    The production of such a gun, unless it was an easy modification of something already being made, would very likely never pay for the cost of design, set up, advertising and so on. Even the Ruger Old Army was a net loss for decades, and only the personal attention given it by Bill Ruger kept it in production for so long; despite being the best percussion revolver ever.

    In this economy, replica gun makers are struggling to keep their black-powder lines alive. There is hope that the 150th of the American Civil War will give them a needed boost.

    As much as I would like to see it, I don’t see much potential for the sales of more than a few dozen hunting revolver pieces a year, and this is not sufficient for production except for a tiny shop making custom guns at very high prices. Even for them, this would work only if they have very deep pockets and need a tax write-off.

    Would you buy such a gun,be willing to pay $700 to $1,500 for it and have a two-year delivery lag? Hi-Standard got killed attempting to bring out a .44 Mag. revolver. They did ultimately make and ship some, but the company folded after that and has since been revived. Their Crusader .44 is now nowhere to be found. Even after development, no one would pick it up.

    • Your comments fit with your Negativity towards Percussion revolvers and their capability. Soldiers,Marines of that peroid were well capable of loading and caping percussion revolvers on horseback.
      The late Elmer Keith, recounds about how an 80+ year old Civil War Veteran,mounted a horse andcharged, shooting a Target with a percussion revolver and hitting it with every bullet. You greatly underestimate the skil and Abilities of the pistoleers of that era. You are correct are Europe in General, Coming from a background in Europe and having lived,worked, hunted and shot Percussion revolvers in Europe you are generaly correct. Although there are hunters and people there that have secretly harvested game with percussion revolvers. Having hunted in Germany and other countries, hunters do cary Handguns to foillow up with a wounded animal. Hunting with percussion revolvers also goes on in the Americas, Asia, Africa etc. True Most handgun hunters are from America. Thank the Lord for our laws that allow this! A very small number of them engauge in Black Powder revolver/Pistol Hunting. Clements custom Guns offers to bore out (Only) Ruger Old Army Cylinders and convert the Old Army to 50 Caliber. The hsitory of gun manfacturing shows what you say to stand generaly true. That is why I say why not just make a remington, 1858 NMA with a longer cylinder 1/4 to /1/2 inch longer in 45 or ask for a 50 caliber version. The Gentleman from the muzzleloading shop told me the Rep who showed him the 50 Caliber 3rd model Dragoon. That would also be a good move. Boring out extra metal in the cylinders of, Remingtons, Rodgers& Spenser, 1860 Army,Dragoon, Walker etc.This is the way to go to increase the powder charge with out making a new model revolver. Many people are doing just that already!

      • I have been watching the hits on our conversation. These have not been very impressive and only 2-5 people are at least occasionally following it. Are more people following this percussion-revolver-hunting topic elswhere?
        I do have a platform in having had access to the publication of regular articles on black powder guns/hunting in the Gun Digest Annual. This may or may not continue at the pleasure of the editor – a condition that always exists in the freelance magazine market. In this article I feature a different class of muzzleloading guns each year. One year it was hunting handguns, another smoothbores, another drop-barreled muzzleloaders, etc. Next year I plan to do one on muzzleloading revolvers.
        I will have my Ruger Old Army’s clyinder capacity increased and see how this does on deer. If you have it handy, please send me the contact info. to get this done.

  14. Sir as a Writer you need to be Factual.
    Your Comments and statements about the possibilities of effectivly havesting game big, medium and small with Black Powder Percussion Revolvers are not based upon facts. They are based upon Falsities. When one properly loads a Percussion revolver, 30/35/40/50+ grains of powder(Right type) projectile, cap combined with the shooters knowledge and skill/ability) you have an entriely different animal than a,”Corn Meal Filler” Special”. I have sent you much documentation about this. You can take this knowledge and constructive critism and learn or not accept when you are wrong.The choise it yours. hek it is doicomented from White Tail Deer, Wild Boar, Black/Grizzley Bears all have been taken with Percussion Revolvers.
    I do not mean or wish you any malice or any thing bad.

    Good luck and Best Wishes

    Below is Charles David Clements contact information

    Clements Custom Guns
    2766 Mt. Zion Rd.
    Woodlawn,Va 24381
    Phone: 276-238-8761

  15. RE: Hunting with Percussion Revolvers:

    Yes More people are following it, Go join our Research Group, on Yahoo, The Percussion Revolver. Secondly Google, Hunting with a Black Powder revolver or 1858 Remington, Ruger Old Army etc and see what pops up. Many accounts of people who have hunted with them. There are many boards and postings concerning this subject. Also go to Cabelas Customer Comments on the various Percussion revolver moedls they sell. Customers have mase comments in reguards to this.

  16. Gentlemen, I have taken several large wild boars with my Pietta stainless 1858 revolver with a 12 inch barrel. My load is 35 – 37gr. of 777 and a 141gr .454 ball. This combo has proven itself in the field time and time again. I have chronographed this load at over 1200fps and 450ft lbs. The soft lead ball creates devastating wounds as it expands and tears its way thru the game animal. Far more devastating wound channel than any 357 mag, 45acp, 44-40 or 45lc that I have ever used. Elmer Keith stated in his book “Six Guns” that the cap and ball revolver driver at about 1000fps has a killing power way out of proportion than previously thought.

    • I have been seeing these guns for some time, but have never tried one. I would consider them a step up above the open-top Colt designes in both strength and shootability.
      Adjustable sights?
      What percussion cap did you use?
      How big are your “large” hogs in pounds?
      What was your shot placement and penetration?
      I would much like to see a photo if you have a digital one that you could send. I don’t doubt your story, I would just like to see a photo of the animal and where you shot it.

      • hoveysmith, My Pietta has fully adjustable sights, a trigger job and ampco nipples. My caps are #11 Remington magnum caps or Winchester if I can’t find Remington. Hunting experience does not change the fact that me and my hunting party has done real good with cap and ball revolvers and pistols. I will post some pics after I have someone scan them as I do not own a scanner. Smallest hog was 65 lbs and the largest that I have taken was 171 lbs. My father-in- law has shot them in the mid-200 lb class and my brother-in-law has shot one slightly over 300. They have larger ones roaming, but it makes not sense to kill then too big because they don’t taste good if they are too big. Shot placement is to the side of the head near the ear if possible. If not there we go for the lung/heart shot. These animal’s vitals are placed more forward than a deer so don’t try the “right behind the front leg shot” as you would if deer hunting or you will miss all vitals and have a pissed off hog that will either charge or run away to die a slow and painful death.

    • I have used FFFFG black powder in my Walker replica and single shots. WARNING WARNING this is the most powerful load and there are some do’s and don’ts.

      (I edited out the details in this post because this load is so very near the edge for this weak design, that I do not want to be in any way associated with it. Using FFFFg as the propellent charge in any large caliber black-powder pistol load is not recommended. I do use it for .22 revolvers and for priming charges in flintlocks. I do not like the open-top Colt design anyway, and most particularly when shot with anything beyond service loads. Can you maybe get away with it a few times? Some, like this writer, will tell you that you can. I usually stick with FFg, Pyrodex, Pyrodex pellets or Triple-7 pellets.) WHS.

  17. Hovey Smith,

    I see my posting spilling the Truth as to why the use of Percussion Revolvers in Hunting is supressed and marginalized has been Removed by You. Amazing how I indictaed how the Industry(Which you are a part of) wants this supressed and Marginalized. It Just shows what I stated is true.

    • Sir,

      Some times we have to experience things in life for ourselves, as is the case for you with these percussion revolvers. I salute you for giving it a try. The key here is a good in-tune steel-framed revolver, with good nipples, quality powder (Hodgdon’s TripleSeven/Swiss BP/ KIK BP/ Goex Express BP etc.) and the right projectile. A round ball is devistating under 30 yards/meters. For longer shots a Conical Bullet (Like the Lee BPR Series,Lee Real, My own custom, The VKV BG 456, Hornady Swaged series, Buffalo Bullet BallEts or Big Lube series, DDROA2/EPPUG). These are all good conical bullets for hunting. If you cast your own you can make them a little harder than pure lead, which is# 5on the BHN scale. Testing has shown that 11/12 BHN, gives better penetration and comes out of the mold better than 5 BHN and still has the same effect in a target as 5 BHN with more penetration(for thick boned/cartlidge/skined dangerous animals).Good quality percussion caps like Remington or RWS are also essential. Most important is that you, the hunter-shooter have the skill and ability to develop (good loads and techniques) and to know your abilities and limitations.

      I look forward to see your postings on any future percussion revolver hunt of yours reguarding this subject. Good luck and I wish you a productive and safe time. (Edited comment)

  18. September 2011. I Just read through this series of comments on percussion revolvers. I have had a few and enjoyed shooting so here goes. My son has a Uberti Walker and shoots it often using full cylinder loads (65 grains) of Goex 5FA powder – that powder is a fireworks grade about 10% better than FFFG – very close to Swiss. This is a load with considerable steam – at least as effective on paper as a heavy 357 Mag. and due to the much greater cross section, more effective on most game (148grain ball @1300FPS).
    I shoot a 1851 navy by Armi San Marco — damn nice pistol! I use 35 grains of 5FA. It will stay in the nine ring all day off a rest. It has been shot a lot and still works good. I reckon its at least equivalent to a high end 38 Spl. load in effect at closer ranges. Both these guns have been used seriously and still function fine .
    For fun I have a little 36 cal 5 shot (these are really a 38 = .375 diameter ball) 25 grains of powder and that little ball comes scootin out pretty quick too. Junior has a 1860 Army that has a problem – the gear under the barrel where the creeping load lever engages has worn (he bought this one second hand). I had a Remington 1858 for a while – the Colts just feel so much nicer in the hand. Buy a steel frame gun not brass. Nobody is gonna wear one of those out hunting. All these pistols, if loaded properly, send a decent weight pill out at velocities in the top end of normal pistol range. If Mr. Hovey is going to eliminate them from hunting he must also take out all but the heavy magnum cartridge handguns. That’s another debate.

    Written from downunder by the Greyhawk.

  19. I just stumbled across this article and found it and the replies to be quite interesting. I have owned an Uberti Colt Walker for about 12 years and have used it on occasion for hunting javelina, otherwise known as collared peccary. For those not familiar with this animal, it is similar in size to a small pig. I generally load my Walker with FF Goex, as full as I can get the chambers and still be able to seat a .454 round ball. I don’t know how many grains it is, but it is usually maxed out.

    I agree with the author that the sights on the Walker are such that aiming with precision can be difficult, but with frequent practice, I can get to a point where I’m pretty consistent at hitting what I shoot at, even at great distance. I would definitely recommend that anyone planning to hunt with this revolver spend a lot of time familiarizing themselves with where the bullet is impacting at various ranges and I certainly would not attempt any long shots on game. At close range (probably 30 yards or less), I have had good results on javelina. The Walker will cleanly kill them with a well placed shot. However, despite the fact that I have killed numerous javelina with the Walker over the years, there have been times when it required more than one shot to take them down and I have sometimes been disappointed by the depth of penetration. On small animals like this, I would say its reasonable to use the Walker for hunting. On the other hand, I would be quite reluctant to take it deer hunting. I think that it would certainly kill a deer with a well placed shot at close range, but I think there is also a fairly good chance that the animal would not go down if you hit a shoulder blade. Otherwise, I would predict that a well placed shot, with a heavy powder charge at close range would easily drop a deer. For deer hunting, I would probably want to use a rifle, but if the situation were such that I had a great opportunity at close range and had nothing but my Walker available at that moment, I’m pretty sure I could make a kill on a deer. I’ve not ever used conical bullets in my Walker, but I think I will give them a try and see if they might offer some better results.

    • I use an 1858 stainless buffalo revolver and load it with 37-40gr of 3fg 777, a wad and a .454 ball. I get over 1200fps and a bit over 450ft lbs. I have taken many wild boars and deer with this gun up to 50 yards and it drops them like a bad habit. Hovey has killed deer with this combo and with the Ruger old army and Kaido’s 240gr bullet. These guns will produce over 500lbs of energy if used with 3fg 777 or Swiss powder. Your walker with 50 to 55gr of 3fg 777 wi easily get into the mid 600ftlbs of energy which is in tbe 41 to 44 mag realm. If loaded rigbt and proper shot placement is used you can take any big game species in North America cleanly up to 50 yards with the ball and farther with the conical. Regular blackpowder with tbe exception of Swiss will not produce these high energy levels.

  20. Just a couple more comments about the Walker. The author mentions the common problem with the loading lever falling from its spring/retainer following each shot. I experienced the same problem with mine, so I took a chance and decided to tweak the lever a bit to see if I could get a tighter fit. It took several failed attempts before I finally got it bent just right so that it held a little tighter in the retainer. I put it in a vise, heated it with a rosebud tip, and tapped on it with a hammer. I had to install it and check the fit several times, re-heating and bending again after each attempt, until I found a spot where it fit the tightest. I think that lever it case hardened and I probably changed the temper of the steel by doing this, but it does fit better and won’t fall near as often. However, I also had to buff and polish it afterwards, so it is now shiny steel. It was worth the trade-off for me because I’m more interested in having a functional revolver than a pretty revolver.

    Another issue I’ve had with this gun is that it really needs to be totally disassembled and thoroughly cleaned after use. I went through two mainsprings before I realized that LOTS of powder fouling makes its way through every piece of this gun. I’ve found that I must remove every screw and every part of this gun and clean them or else it gets completely gunked up with powder residue. The mainspring seems especially susceptible to breakage resulting from corrosion if it is not cleaned of this residue. I’m mostly into modern firearms and only have a couple of black powder guns that I play with from time to time and the Walker has certainly been a learning experience on black powder fouling. Its a lot of work to clean them up after shooting, but total disassembly is a must, in my opinion, if you want the gun to continue functioning without trouble.

    • I am not shocked at what you found. In fact, I now field strip and clean my revolvers after most shooting eventsunless I am going to hunt the next day. Then I only do the fired chamber and barrel. You can get away with this if the weather is dry, and the gun did not get damp during the hunt and you are going to completely clean it within two-three days. If you try this for a longer period, you will start to have corrosionon the interior parts, as I found with thestainless steel Pietta1858 Remington. The bottom line is, S.O.B. asit is, your have to clean them to keep them shootingfrom one year to the next.

  21. The Colt Walker will hold 60 grains of blackpowder and a round ball. Muzzle energy is over 500 foot pounds. Put a taller front sight on to lower impact.

  22. You should update this document. You have successfully documented over 500ftlbs out of two percussion revolvers and have taken deer with them. They are quite capable of taking big game if loaded properly and shot placement is good. Please update to match your current findins. Thanks Hovey.

  23. I have to wonder about the minimum 85 grain powder load suggested for a beginning deer hunter.
    I have a 50 caliber flintlock that I have used for deer for 30 years and my max load is 55 grains of 3F behind a round ball. I can’t even count off the top of my head how many deer I have killed with this load. I’ve never had to shoot one more than once and have only had two that ran anything over 5 or 10 yards before dropping. When you consider how many tens of thousands of deer were killed with the 44-40 and the 38-40 winchester it makes me wonder if we have all developed magnumititis. That’s 40 grains of powder and they were THE deer rifle of their time and worked quite well. Deer just aren’t that hard to kill. I’ve never lost a wounded one and have killed every one I have shot with one shot. I also use a .40 caliber flinter with 50 grains of 3F and it has done as good of a job as the 50 caliber.
    I think the colt dragoon would be plenty of gun for deer provided you could overcome the poor sights on that particular model.

    • Dear Dave,

      Lesser loads than the 85-grain minimum that I recommend can kill deer, provided that the range is close, the shot placement is good or if you can shoot often enough. Many states have or do set minimum energy standards for a big-game-hunting load that have historically been about 500 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy. As a writer for a national audience, I have to consider people who are going to shoot large northern deer, try for things at longer ranges than the less than 70 yards where the round ball really shines and may not have the best shot placement. With short-barreled .45-caliber round-ball rifles, I have taken a number of small close-range deer with 70 gr. of FFg. and once even ran down and killed a vehicle-struck hog with a .22 short pistol, but it is not something that I can recommend. I have also taken multiple shots with a .45-70 rifle 1886 Winchester to get a deer killed with black-powder lead-bullet 300-grain loads because of poor placement of the first shot on a running deer.

      I want that young hunter to KILL his first deer. The 85-grain FFg round ball .50-caliber load will do that, assuming correct shot placement and reasonable range. That is why I recommend that load.

      About the 1873 Winchester and .44-40 and .38-40, the usual advice given during the day was to, “Aim for the biggest part of the animal and keep shooting until it is dead.” With muzzleloading you have only one shot, and I had rather the young hunter start off deer hunting with a more potent load and use the .40-grain loads for targets, small game and turkeys.

  24. Hoveysmith,

    Thanks for the well-written article and to all replies from those that followed.

    From my own personal experience with these firearms is that I have no doubt that they will easily dispatch deer sized game with the proper shot placement within realistic ranges, especially the Walker Colt. I’ve seen some real terrible archers in my time and their aftermath.

    On reloading while on horseback, it is well documented that during the civil war that many Cavalry soldiers would carry more than one pistol. Bushwacker Bloody Bill Anderson was shot down carrying several pistols during his last engagement with Union Troops .

    The Colt Walker holds a powder charge of 60 grains (3.9 g) in each chamber, almost twice what a typical black powder revolver holds. The black powder Colt Walker is most often regarded as the most powerful commercially manufactured repeating handgun from 1847 until the introduction of the .357 Magnum in 1935, having a muzzle energy nearly exactly the same as a 4-inch-barreled handgun firing a .357 Magnum.

    While the Colt styles have great balance and fit the hand well, I do like the ease of breakdown of the 1858 Remington handgun for easy cleaning and cylinder changes. I put well over two hundred rounds form a Pietta 1858 New Army loaded with Pyrodoex P in one sitting and it didn’t take that long. No problems with fouling with this paticular example.

    Today’s 500 Smith Wesson Magnum is yesterdays .357.

    • I would like the Walker better if it were not so ill-designed and badly sighted. In the guns that I have tried the loading lever had to be taped or tied to the barrel and the guns shot impossibly high for precision sight placement. I can now get Walker velocities with the long-barreled stainless Pietta Buffalo revolver and Ruger Old Army using Hodgdon’s TripleSeven. The stainless Buffalo and Old Armies have adjustable sights which allow much better shot placement. On the last outing with the Cabela’s Buffalo I killed tree hogs (150 lbs. and smaller) with four shots, and two smallish deer with the Ruger with three shots. These shots ranged out to about 40 yards and were taken from solid sitting positions on the ground or tree stands. My Buffalo now has a matt nitride finish from H&M Metal Processing of Akron, Ohio, which solved the problem of the stainless gun’s mirror-bright finish. I am not a fan of the .357 Mag./.44 Spl./.44-40 as game-killing revolver loads. I much prefer the .44 Rem. Mag. in long-barreled heavy guns like the T/C Encore with a 14-inch barrel or heavier 295-370 grain bullets from black-powder single shots pushed by 100 grains of powder in pistols that can take that load like the Encore, Optima and Vortek.

      Can the Walker work on close-range shots on smallish deer and hogs provided that the shooter is in a position to remember to hold off appropriately so that the ball will hit the chest cavity of the game? It can and has, but there are better tools for the job. In the mud, blood and excitment of a foot hunt for hogs I prefer guns that are not only powerful, but hit were you aim and hang together from shot to shot.

      I shoot the S&W .460 and .500 every year from the heaviest revolvers that the company makes. These are potent loads, and I would like them even better from a T/C’s 14-inch barrel. I don’t own one because I haven’t found the need. The .44 Rem. Mag. does very well on my deer and hogs for comparatively close-range shots here in the Southeast on occasions when weather prevents my hunting with black-powder pistols.

  25. You don’t know what your talking about the ruger don’t use 451 round balls it would just roll into the cylinder

      • The Ruger Old Army was and is a really well, i.e. strong, built weapon. The Kaido bullets suck!!! The best bullet weight for my Uberti target carbine and my stainless steel Buffalo is a 210 grain lead fprn bullet. Out of the Buffalo with about 37-38 grains of 777 is about 600 ft. lbs. With the Target Carbine and about 41-42 grains of 777 is high 700 ft. lbs. I tried the Kaidos aand just was not happy. The Kaido bullet is too heavy and are more suitable for the ROA and Walker…………..

    • The replica Walkers that I have owned would take .454 bullets, or so. Some chambers in some guns are tighter than others depending on the wear on the reamer. Kaido Ojamaa’s 220 grain cast bullet works well in mine. The 255 grainers are more like .457 for the Ruger Old Army. He also offers a 240 grain bullet that would also work, but I like the 220 better.

      • where do I get a Kaido ojamaa mold at or the 220 bullets by Kaido. I am looking a mold by I believe it is a lyman mold #RCBS.45-225 cav552 382081 33 it is 225 grain flat nose dia 454, Thanks for responding.

  26. I have a San Marco 3rd Model Dragoon in .50 caliber made in 1995 . I also converted another Dragoon into smokeless my milling the cylinder the same way they did in the 1800s. Anyone like to comment on this? .

    • Dear Steve,

      I do not know the San Marco 3rd. In regards to the conversion. I assume that the conversion is to a .45 caliber cartridge – the .45 L.C. or Schofield? Please elaborate with your experiences with both guns.

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