Oct 16, 2014

Texas Rangers: Samuel Hamilton Walker and His Famous Pistol

In the Hall of Fame Memorial of Texas Rangers are 30 Texas Rangers who died in the line of duty or made significant contributions of service.
Captain Samuel H. Walker
Among them was Samuel Hamilton Walker, who folks called “Sam”, who lived from 1815 to 1847. Captain Samuel Walker became immortal because of a revolver produced by Samuel Colt in his honor. He was not just a Texas Ranger, but a military officer of the Republic of Texas, serving in several armed conflicts that included the American Indian Wars and the Mexican-American wars.
Born on February 24, 1815 at Toaping Castle in Maryland, he was the fifth of seven children.
Walker arrived in Texas in 1842 and took part in the defense against the Mexican invasion led by General Adrian Woll. Later he joined the Texas Rangers in 1844 under the command of Captain John Coffee Hays
After being promoted to captain, he led a Ranger company in the Mexican-American War with the armies of General Zachary Taylor and General Winfield Scott.
As previously mentioned, Walker became best known for his co-invention of the Walker Colt revolver with Samuel Colt, the firearms manufacturer. Walker took a trip to New York to meet with Colt to propose a new concept based upon the five-shot Colt Paterson revolver with additional enhancements that included adding a sixth round in the cylinder. The revolver was produced in 1847 and it was made available for the US Mounted Rifle companies.
While serving as a scout for Captain Jesse Bingsley, Walker fought against Mexican troops in San Antonio. He was captured during the attack on Mier, marched in chains across the desert. Walker attempted to escape and was captured again, he was among those prisoners that were told to choose a bean from a pot and if it was black, they would be executed. Walker escaped being executed by drawing a white bean, but not so fortunate for seventeen other soldiers drawing black beans. The infamous execution was ordered by General Santa Anna of the Mexican army, known for his cruelty to prisoners captured. 
In 1847, Captain Walker received two custom commemorative Walker revolvers from Samuel Colt. Unfortunately, a short time later, on October 9, 1847. Walker was killed while leading a charge into Huamantla, Tlaxcala, Mexico.
The Walker Colt revolver, unlike contemporary revolvers at the time, had an effective range to 100 yards. The disadvantage was its weight and the fact that it was a percussion revolver (cartridge revolvers not produced yet) making it slow to reload. Some shooters purchased extra cylinders that they kept loaded in a pouch hung on the holster belt, changing cylinders being faster than hand-loading one cylinder at a time – as depicted in the film, Outlaw Josie Wales. This practice was popular among cavalry troops during the American Civil War until cartridge revolvers were introduced. Many Walker-Colt revolvers were reconfigured into cartridge revolvers by gunsmiths and the Colt Firearm Company because there were so many black-powder revolvers still in service. Even today, collectible firearm owners convert black-powder revolvers into cartridge revolvers in .45 caliber long colt ammunition.
Replica Colt Walker pistols are available today, some, like offered by the United States Society of Arms and Armour, with engraving and gold-plated features with presentation case can cost $3500. The commemorative replica sponsored by America Remembers is produced in limited quantity by the Colt Blackpowder Arms Co. The value of this replica will increase sharply more quickly because the Colt Blackpowder Arms Co. is no longer operational.
The working replica is stamped with “US 1847” on the right barrel lug, Sam Colt's signature hand-engraved in gold on the backstrap, a relief-bust of 18-carat gold of Captain Walker is hand inlaid on the left recoil shield, and Walker's signature, hand-engraved in gold, on the left barrel lug. The polished blued barrel is octagon like the original with nitrite blue screws and wedge and the Walker cylinder is finished in white, like the original Walker Colt revolvers.
Original Walker Colt revolvers, of course, cost even more – depending upon their condition and whether they come in the original presentation case. With the French-fit walnut case with a second interior glass lid for presentation, it is a masterpiece that would make any collector proud. The box is handcrafted by furniture maker, Duncan Everhart. Cost: $3,995 plus postage and handling. It can only be shipped to an FFL license holder.
There is a movement to make the 1847 Walker-Colt revolver the official handgun of the state of Texas. The movement began in 2011. It has been immortalized by the Texas Rangers. It also was a popular TV series starring Chuck Norris.
A new miniseries entitled Texas Rising will be aired in 2015.

The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a fictional story of a Texas Ranger who decides to fight outlaws on his own with the help of a native companion, Tonto. First aired as a TV series back in the days of black-and-white, it has been reintroduced in a recent film with Johnny Depp as the native sidekick.

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