STOLEN 15 DECEMBER 2005 - click here for details
(PARTIALLY) RECOVERED 22 MARCH 2006 - click here for details
This thing is huge. Click here for a size comparison with my other percussion revolvers. See the December 2003 section of my weblog for a detailed description.
I haven't actually done anything about it yet but I'm considering doing re-enactment of the War Between the States. Or at least assembling a cool Confederate uniform as a Hallowe'en costume to tick off "liberals".
The 1847 Walker Dragoon, co-designed by Texas Ranger legend Sam Walker (the real one), was according to my books made only in 1847 and reached 1,100 in number. Most went to the Texas Rangers, and including the last civilian production run of 100 and a transitional model of 240 in 1848, only 183 are known to have survived. So the Walker would be too rare and yet too well-known as a Texan item to be believable for use by my putative Virginian persona.
The 1st Model Dragoon, an improvement, was made from 1848 to 1850, reaching about 7,000, but it wasn't that much of an improvement. The 2nd Model, a further improvement, was made from 1850 to 1851 but reached only about 2,500, again too rare for just anybody to lay hands on. The 3rd Model here, though, was made from 1851 to 1860 or '61, with production described as over 10,500. This I can use!
The Dragoon revolvers throw the same size bullet as the "1858" (1863) Remington, but can use roughly half-again as much powder. After the Walker itself, this was one of the most powerful repeating handguns in the world until the development of the .357 Magnum nearly ninety years later. Fifteen or twenty years ago, some writer for some gun magazine stalked and slew a whitetail deer with a reproduction 1847 Walker.
Beyond the historically obvious, my interest in this particular piece is, once again, Clint Eastwood's fault. In his film, The Outlaw Josie Wales, he used two Colt Dragoons (though I need a good close look at the DVD version in freeze-frame to finally determine which model). In the trading post scene, he (or a professional exhibition gun handler) performed the difficult and dangerous "Mexican Roll" with both of them at once. It's a trick that can be done with 19th Century American single-action revolvers, and some other handguns; if an opponent has "the drop" on you and tells you to hand over your weapon, you do so butt first, holding it in such a way that it can be flipped, spun, cocked and fired. I can do it, most of the time, with my other revolvers like the Remington, the 1861 Colt and the modern double-action GP100 - but I've never tried it with a loaded weapon, not even blanks.
Did I mention this maneuver is difficult and dangerous? The risk of shooting oneself is remote due to the nature of the maneuver, but there is a risk of shooting something you don't want to, or dropping it on your foot, or - especially with these enormous Dragoons - breaking your finger if it doesn't go around just right.
In limited firing thus far, this Dragoon works fine with the typical .44 revolver load of 30 grains by volume FFFg or Pyrodex P - but I need three or four Ox-Yoke Wonder Wads to fill the empty space in the chamber to get the bullet seated properly. Increasing the powder charge solves the seating problem, but then the loading lever flops down under recoil and drives the rammer into the bottom chamber, locking up the weapon. Since this is a reproduction without collector value, I intend to alter the loading lever catch for positive retention, so I can then load the Dragoon to its proper capacity. Dixie Gun Works' data says the originals were loaded with 40gr, but the cavernous chambers on this piece might take 45 or even 50. The even-bigger 1847 Walker takes as much as 60.
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