Attached loading levers on Colt’s and other percussion revolvers would seem to be such an obvious advantage that many people assume that all percussion revolvers were made with loading levers. This is not correct. The first Colt Patterson revolvers did not have loading levers. They were sold with a separate lever that fitted into a slot in the cylinder pin and required that the barrel be removed for loading. There were also Storekeeper and Wells Fargo models that had short barrels so that they could be unobtrusively carried, but had insufficient barrel length for a loading lever.
In modern replicas, the full size percussion replicas of the 1873 Colt Peacemaker may have extraneous cartridge-extraction rods, but no loading levers. In addition, about a half-dozen old and new designs of percussion pistols are made sans loading levers. One recent design is Dixie’s .44-caliber Pietta-made Snubnose, which has birds’ head grips and a 2-inch barrel. I should be receiving one of these guns for testing later this Summer.
Advantages of using a separate cylinder-loading stand are that it is easier to load powder charges without spillage, elongate bullets may be loaded in the chambers that would not fit in the unmodified loading ports of the original guns, a longer lever arm is used which makes loading easier, alloy bullets may be used without danger of bending the loading lever on the gun, more uniform pressure can be applied to the loads which promotes accuracy and the detached cylinder makes it easier to apply a melted beeswax seal over the balls for better long-term stability of the load.
All of these advantages are significant to me as a hunter where I would consider myself fortunate to have one shot at a deer and may not see another deer for days. If I have well-sealed loads, I can clean a single chamber and the remainder of the gun, without having to shoot off the remaining rounds. Using this stand I can reload my cylinder prior to a hunt on my kitchen table, protect the uncapped cylinders it in two airtight plastic bags and put the cylinder in the gun before I walk out of camp for my hunt.
These needs have been recognized by the industry, and there are several designs of table-top revolver cylinder reloaders that are small enough to take to hunt camp. Unfortunately, these are mostly made for .44-caliber Colt and Remington revolvers of common Civil War patterns, such as the 1860 Army and 1858 Remington. If you want a cylinder loading stand for a Walker or Dragoon, you may well have to build it yourself, as I did for my Super Walker revolver. I made several YouTube videos of this process with the last in the series being “One and Two Station Revolver Loading Stands” that you may view at: .
In this video I describe the repair of a commercial loading stand to make it stronger that it was when it was new. On the same video I also show how I modified my Mark I loading stand so that I could load not only Walker and Dragoon cylinders, but added a second station for the Remington 1858 and similar-size Colt percussion revolvers. Although I had no immediate need, I could have added a third loading station for another size of revolver cylinder.