As the author of a forthcoming book Hunting with Percussion Revolvers which is No. 6 of my Muzzleloading Short Shots series of books on muzzleloading guns, I obviously needed to hunt with the most powerful percussion revolver that was available. This gun is the 1847 Colt Walker pistol designed for the U.S. Mounted Rifles. This is a huge handgun that is 14-inches long and weighs 4 pounds. It can take a service charge of 60 grains of FFg black powder and a round ball and has proven its effectiveness on smaller species of big game, although I had reservations about it. When writing about muzzleloading rifles, I had often stated that the usual energy requirements for deer guns were loads that developed about 500 ft./lbs. of energy, which the Walker could not muster with black-powder loads.
Correspondence with others and subsequent work with lesser guns, such as the Remington 1858 stainless steel Buffalo revolver that is made by Pietta and imported by Cabela’s, demonstrated to me that these guns could effectively be used on smallish deer and hogs with round ball and Triple7even Powder, which develops more energy than black powder. These experiences convinced me to try the Colt Walker platform again, but there were a series of issues about the gun that I needed to overcome.
Issue 1. Was the gun powerful enough to be used on big game? With the new Triple7even powder it appeared that this gun could be made at least as effective as a hot .44 Special cartridge load, particularly if loaded with new bullets such as were being made by Kaido Ojamaa.
Issue 2. The primitive notched hammer and front blade sights on the Walker often did not shoot to the point of aim. If I am going to seriously hunt with a gun, I want it to hit where I point it, not some six inches high and left.
Issue 3. Two previous Walkers that I had owned had the habit of dropping their loading levers with nearly every shot, making this effectively a single-shot pistol. If I am going to use a single-shot gun, I am going to use one that can shoot 100 grains of powder and a 370-grain MaxiBall from a similar-weight handgun.
Issue 4. Black powder and Triple7even are corrosive to gun steels and it would be nice to have a finish on the gun that was more corrosion resistant.
To solve issues 2, 3 and 4, I purchased a Uberti Walker kit from Dixie Gun Works. As I was going to have the gun refinished anyway, there was no reason to start with the more expensive blued pistol. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the interior action work was already done, and the pistol had a smooth action and excellent trigger pull out of the box. Master Gunsmith Dykes Reber of North Little Rock, Arkansas, had for years put Weaver sight rails on Walker pistols, modified the gun to take a design of loading lever retainer such as was used on Colt’s Dragoons and later pistols and enlarged the frame so that elongate bullets could be loaded. Although I had arrived at these needs independently, I was pleased to discover that Reber was already doing this modification and sent the gun to him. I did a video of the initial disassembly of the gun which you may see at: http://youtu.be/mS333R2CrQI. .
While Mr. Reber was working on the gun, I finished the rough cast brass trigger guard and also started to work on the grips. After the gun was returned, I finished work on the grips by sanding them to the gun’s frame which you may see in another video at: http://youtu.be/4OaJ-d6q4G8. .
When that step was completed, I completely disassembled the gun separated the springs out and sent the steel parts to H&M coatings of Akron, Ohio for a black matt nitride finish. When the gun was returned I reassembled it and did a third video that may be viewed at: http://youtu.be/5jP3MuvM-hM.
Now that the gun is completed, I will select appropriate optical sights for it and work up some effective round ball and conical bullet hunting loads over the Summer so that the Super Walker will be ready to hunt in the Fall. If you are interested in doing something similar the cost of the initial kit gun from Dixie is currently about $340, Reber’s gunsmithing work was $195 and the nitride surface treatment would run about $200 (You must disassemble the gun before sending it in and reassemble it when it is returned.)
My experiences with this gun will be published in 2014 in Book 6 of my Muzzleloading Short Shot series “Hunting with Muzzleloading Revolvers.”