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Old September 3, 2011, 09:38 AM   #1
rodwhaincamo
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Sam Walker 44 Colt

I am intrigued by these awesome revolvers! But I have a few ?s I could not find answers for.
I see the caliber is anywhere from .454" to .457". Can .452 caliber 255 grn lead hardcast flat nose bullets for, say a 45 Colt, be used?
If not are there sabots that will utilize 44 Mag hardcasts?
And do the black powder substitute powders yield the huge puff of smoke as the traditional black powders do?
Sorry for my ignorance of black powder firearms.
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Old September 3, 2011, 10:28 AM   #2
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I do not know how you would know the chamber mouth size until you had the Walker Colt in your hands.

Black powder pistols use bullets greater than the chamber mouth. This ensures that the bullet is a friction fit to the chamber. You do not want to be firing one of these things and have the bullet roll out. It will jam the cylinder, or worse case, a spark will get by any gap between bullet and cylinder and ignite the other chambers.

This is a real phenoma, goes back to Sam Colt's time, a common term is chain firing. http://www.geojohn.org/BlackPowder/bps2.html The author has had chain fires, assumes that they will always be injury free, I would not make that assumption.

From another site:

http://www.shootingworld.com/bbs/vie...php?f=9&t=1225

Quote:
When a blackpowder gun fires, hot and sometimes still burning powder particles exit the gap between the cylinder and the barrel. Those particles can then land in the neighboring chambers and ignites the powder residue on the sides which then can travel to the main charge setting it off. What the happens is anybody's guess. I've seen from one to five chambers opened up to the front part of the frame and barrel get torn off. Injuries ranged from minor to severe. The best means of prevention is to use a felt spacer between the paoder and the ball (expensive and a bother) or to fill completely the remainder of the cylinder with grease (Crisco shortening works well for me and it is cheap) after the chamber is charged. I also only load 5 chambers and keep the hammer down on the empty one if I am going to carry it for any reason. This is the only safety these guns came with, a loaded cylinder under the hammer is an accident over due to happen.
I only used soft lead round balls in my blackpowder pistols. It takes a good shove on the rammer to start an oversized soft lead ball. I expect the ramming pressure for an alloyed bullet would be excessive.

My recommendation is to use soft lead round balls, and I have had very positive experiences with Ox Yoke wads under the balls. That Ox Yoke wad really removes the fouling during firing. Might help prevent chain firing also.
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Old September 3, 2011, 01:51 PM   #3
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Pretty much agree with Slamfire. There are conicals sold for C&B revolvers, same as there were conicals used 150 years ago, but they tend to be more expensive than RB. Still, make sure you either grease over the chambers or use an overpowder wad.

If cost is an issue, pure lead round balls work well. If terminal ballistics is a concern, try conicals.

If accuracy is important to you, check to make sure your chamber mouths are same size or .001" larger than your bore. If not, have them reamed to the proper size. Remember that the chamber mouths size the ball/conical when loading. There are a lot of C&B revolvers that have undersized chambers, making your slugs undersized for the bore and contributing to poor accuracy.
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Old September 3, 2011, 05:37 PM   #4
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Ball size is usually specified by the manufacturer in the owners manual. When ya seat a ball , a thin ring of lead should be shaved from the ball. Grease over the balls prevents chain firing , lubes ball and keeps fouling soft. There are several commercial greases for this , but good old Crisco works just fine.

Pyrodex P is OK (can be hard to ignite) , but I prefer genuine BP.
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Old September 3, 2011, 06:29 PM   #5
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As a general rule, Pyrodex needs to be compressed more than black powder to get good uniform ignition,
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Old September 3, 2011, 06:46 PM   #6
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Don't believe I'd be cramming cast SWC's in a Walker. You'll likely break loading levers, assuming you can seat them at all, and it'll take a lot more pressure to start them down the bore.

Sooner or later, something will give and you won't enjoy being on the handle when it does.
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Old September 3, 2011, 11:10 PM   #7
rodwhaincamo
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My biggest concerns were metallurgy and pressure.
I read that Mr Walker wanted powerful big bore revolvers for putting down horses as well. I, too, like powerful big bore, but for rowdy bear and hog medicine.
I noticed the balls and conicals are roughly 150 grns or so. That doesn't seem to add up to something I'd think would be a good penetrator, even at fairly close range.
I assumed that the chamber dimensions would all be fairly uniform much like modern firearms, and that being slightly larger than 45 Colt lead bullets.
I take it that softer LSWC wouldn't be a good idea either just to bring sectional density up?
Thanks for the replies fellows!
And again, sorry for the ignorance.
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Old September 4, 2011, 06:50 AM   #8
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Use only dead soft lead bullets in your cap and ball revolver. Hard cast well damage the loading lever. The current Uberti Walker uses a .457 round ball. It well have a chamber that's .451. You want a round ball that's .006 larger than the chamber so you shave a .003 ring when you swedge the ball into the chamber. This is what seals the chamber from a chain fire. Most chain fires are from poor fitting caps.

The Walker can be loaded with up to 60grs of black powder, even T7, these max loads well accelerate wear but the cylinder well not explode like the originals.

Colt Walker, 2nd Gen. I removed the bluing to match the original Walkers. Colt did not blue the cylinders as he was unsure if it weakened the steel or not.


Not as large as the Walker, this Whitneyville Dragoon uses the same grip frame as the Walker with the shorter Dragoon cylinder and barrel.
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Old September 4, 2011, 12:34 PM   #9
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Mr. Madcrate:
Nice looking revolver! I'm curious as to its power vs that of the Walker, as well as its barrel length and weight.
I'm curious as to whether or not a semi-conical bullet mold can be made and utilized to A) increase the weight, B) give it a flat semiwadcutter type nose so as to increase its terminal performance (and mass/weight), and C) if it's possible to strengthen (harden) lead a little (not quite hard cast) so as to increase penetration qualities. Is it an absolute must to use soft, pure lead? Wheel weights?
Please don't take my responses as bull-headed stupidity, though that could be argued depending on who you talk to
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Old September 4, 2011, 12:49 PM   #10
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I'm curious as to what you guys do with your larger cal bp revolvers. History, fun, or do you actually use it in the field?
What's the largest critter you would feel comfy shooting with it? The Walker, even with the higher velocity seems a bit weak to use on anything fairly large or sturdy out to 25 yds.
My intentions are to have a sidearm during primitive hunting season if I have to track a wounded hog that will handle an aggressive bear (most likely black in either Rockies fro CO on south or Appalachian Mtns) if need be.
Would you trust a round ball backed by 55 grns (I don't like pushing limits) with a wounded/aggressive/starving 300-500 lb above mentioned critter?
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Old September 4, 2011, 04:32 PM   #11
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Rod, if you're truly interested in the practical use of these guns, you owe it to yourself to read this book.



http://www.gunblast.com/Bates-Cumpston_Percussion.htm

Cumpston is someone I consider a friend but more than that, he's a knowledgeable longtime shooter, an excellent writer- and one who don't turn out 'company line' crap for anybody. If Mike writes it- you can take it to the bank.
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Old September 4, 2011, 04:54 PM   #12
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Thanks Sarge! I will give it a read.
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Old September 4, 2011, 06:04 PM   #13
mkk41
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Not too long ago , one of the gun magazines did a hog hunt with Ruger Old Army cap & ball revolvers. They took some good sized hogs and got complete penetration. I popped quite a few groundhogs way back when with my Old Army. I recall an old Black Powder Digest article where they took a couple Navy Arms Walkers deer hunting.

A 146gr .44cal soft lead ball at 1100fps is quite a formidable stopper.

Up until the introduction of the .357 Magnum , the .44 Walker when loaded with 60grs of BP and a round ball , was the world's most powerful handgun.
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Old September 4, 2011, 10:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
A 146gr .44cal soft lead ball at 1100fps is quite a formidable stopper.

Up until the introduction of the .357 Magnum , the .44 Walker when loaded with 60grs of BP and a round ball , was the world's most powerful handgun.
While I like a Walker as much as the next guy, that statement is nowhere near accurate.

A 44 cal 146 gr RB at 1100 fps generates about 395 ft-lbs of energy.
A 45 caliber 255 gr slug at 900 fps generates about 450 ft-lbs of energy.
A 30 cal 120 gr jacketed bullet at 1400 fps generates about 490 ft-lbs of energy.

45 Colt had a well-earned reputation as a powerful round, it was the Magnum of the black powder days, and is not bad even compared to the 357 S&W Magnum. 30 Mauser was the fastest round available before the introduction of the 357 S&W Magnum.
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Old September 5, 2011, 07:27 AM   #15
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rodwhaincamo, the Dragoon has a 7.5 barrel and weighs in at 66ozs. The Walker has a 9" barrel and pushes 73oz. Both are built on the same size frame with the Dragoon having a better balance with it's shorter barrel and cylinder. You can get about 50grs of 3f in the Dragoon chamber and makes a pretty stout load. More than adequate for a backup during a primitive hunt.
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Old September 5, 2011, 04:10 PM   #16
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Don't have a chrono so I low-balled it , but I've seen the velocity quoted as high as 1300fps.
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Old September 5, 2011, 06:31 PM   #17
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Coating the openings of the loaded chambers with grease-I use store brand shortening-always prevented chain fires for me. Easy enough to wipe down.
My Walker is strictly a fun item. Remember it is a 2nd Generation revolver, Sam Colt and Sam Walker and everybody else involved were still trying to figure out how use this thing. Also remember the Walker's sights are pretty crude by our standards-a brass "bump" in front, a v notch in the hammer. I do not know what criteria they used for sighting back, but my Walker-and Dragoon-seemed to be sighted in for 75 yards and shoot high at closer ranges.
I have found the Dragoon a much better shooter, better balanced, simply feels better in my hand and the load lever latch answers a problem encountered with the Walker.
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Old September 5, 2011, 08:29 PM   #18
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My favorite among the Dragoons is the Third Model. Don't have one at the moment but I'll correct that when opportunity and resources cross paths again.

When I started shooting BP revolvers, I was 14 and long on enthusiasm- but short on coaching. Just FWIW I survived 2-3 chainfires before I learned the grease trick. No casualties or wrecked guns resulted. Gun was a brass framed .44 Griswold & Gunnison copy.
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Old September 5, 2011, 10:12 PM   #19
rodwhaincamo
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I'm thinking that I like the Dragoon much better as well. It's a little handier sized, lighter, and designed better.
7 1/2" is still a bit long. Is there any reason why a competent gunsmith couldn't shorten the lever and move the lever latch and sight back so as to shorten the barrel to 5-6" long?
Can the Walker's loading lever still drop from recoil?
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Old September 6, 2011, 04:54 AM   #20
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Good morning
A properly fitted round ball is the forward combustion seal for the firing process. The grease over the ball is for lubricating the ball as it passes down the barrel. No lube & you will get a good leason in lead mining. Lube will reduce the possibility of a chain fire in a loose fitting ball but if the ball fits the cylinder mouth tight there is no room for a spark to enter. Whether firing a loose or tight ball you still need lube for that lead ball as it scoots down the barrel.
Some chain fires happen due to loose fitted caps. Any place a spark can enter a cylinder it may. The idea is a well fitted combustion system that is effiecient & safe.
Mike in Peru
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Old September 6, 2011, 06:24 AM   #21
Sarge
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rod
I'm thinking that I like the Dragoon much better as well. It's a little handier sized, lighter, and designed better.
7 1/2" is still a bit long. Is there any reason why a competent gunsmith couldn't shorten the lever and move the lever latch and sight back so as to shorten the barrel to 5-6" long?
Can the Walker's loading lever still drop from recoil?
Somebody competent in metalwork should be able to pull your barrel-shortening job, along with remounting the lever-latch. About the only negative I can think of is that you'd reduce the leverage available to seat the ball. On a positive note, you could have the barrel dovetailed for a front sight and build-in windage and elevation in the process.

All the Walkers I have shot have managed to drop their loading lever at least once per cylinder.

Earlier in this thread, the speculation of using a comparatively-heavy SWC was raised. It is, to the best of my knowledge, possible to safely use a swaged bullet of this type in only one custom BP revolver; the Clements 50 Old Army.
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Old September 6, 2011, 08:57 AM   #22
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Walkers and Dragoons

Sarge



I'm a big Walker Fan and of course appreciate the upgrades that came with the Dragoons that followed. Johnny Bates and Mike Cumpston wrote an excellent book. I added it to my library years ago. Their range reports and observations are well worth reading.

I had the good fortune to run into a used Uberti Colt Walker 1847 and shortly afterwards a Uberti 1849 Colt Dragoon 3rd Model. Both are in in excellent shape and a hoot to shoot.

Interesting comments regarding shooting and modifications. I keep mine lubed and use only round balls. I'd never modify either.
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Old September 6, 2011, 09:58 AM   #23
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Quote:
A properly fitted round ball is the forward combustion seal for the firing process. The grease over the ball is for lubricating the ball as it passes down the barrel. No lube & you will get a good leason in lead mining. Lube will reduce the possibility of a chain fire in a loose fitting ball but if the ball fits the cylinder mouth tight there is no room for a spark to enter. Whether firing a loose or tight ball you still need lube for that lead ball as it scoots down the barrel.
Some chain fires happen due to loose fitted caps. Any place a spark can enter a cylinder it may. The idea is a well fitted combustion system that is effiecient & safe.
Mike in Peru
Correct info from Mike.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SIGSHR
Also remember the Walker's sights are pretty crude by our standards-a brass "bump" in front, a v notch in the hammer. I do not know what criteria they used for sighting back, but my Walker-and Dragoon-seemed to be sighted in for 75 yards and shoot high at closer ranges.
A 75 yard zero was the standard then. The Walker had a steel front blade in a dovetail, the Dragoon a steel blade in a slot, no windage adjustment. On the 2nd and 3rd gens these blades are German silver plated. The normal method for adjusting was working the notch in the hammer.
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Old October 2, 2011, 04:12 PM   #24
rodwhaincamo
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Anybody ever had a loading lever catch attached? Do you just tie it up with leather as they used to? Or do you deal with it? From what I read, at least way back in the day, the lever dropped and jammed the revolver about once in the six shots. I'm guessing that still holds true with the reproductions?

Last edited by rodwhaincamo; October 2, 2011 at 07:51 PM.
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Old October 2, 2011, 05:05 PM   #25
SIGSHR
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Yes, the loading lever drops on the reproductions.
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