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Colt Walker Pistol
Division of Military History & Diplomacy, National Museum of American History

Colt Walker Pistol

Date: 1847
Catalog #: 1993.0415.01    Accession #: 1993.0415
Credit: Division of Military History & Diplomacy, National Museum of American History


Colt (Manufacturer)

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: x 14" W

Physical Description

Colt Walker pistol, known as the United States Model 1847.

Specific History

The Colt Walker was officially designated a pistol as it was the first revolver ever purchased by the Army Ordnance Department. This was a problem in that many men had never seen a revolver, much less used one, resulting in many burst cylinders, the accidental firing of all six chambers.

General History

The Walker pistols were manufactured during a short production run in 1847. The pistol was named after Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker, a renowned national hero who had fought in the Texas-Mexico wars. Captain Walker approached Samuel Colt, a leading firearms designer, to create a pistol suitable for the Texas Rangers and the U.S. Dragoons. The new weapon was designed by both Colt and Walker, based on the Colt Paterson revolver, but clearly improved. It proved to be a revolver of such size, weight, and heft that Colt was reputed to have said, "It would take a Texan to shoot it." Walker wrote in 1847 that the gun was "as effective as a common rifle at 100 yards and superior to a musket even at 200." Far more powerful than the earlier Patersons, this gun quickly became legendary. For those who could afford it, the Walker Colt was a symbol of strength, authority and great financial means. While the gun was a financial success for Colt, Captain Walker met a tragic end. Fighting at the front in the Mexican War, he was killed by a lance in the Battle of Juamantla in early October 1847. At the time of his death, Walker was carrying a pair of Walker pistols--gifts from Colt which had just arrived a few days before.


Country: United States
State: Texas
War: Mexican War
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