The image of the cowboy has long ben associated with the state of Texas. In pop-culture and in history, Texas has been (and still is, in many cases) the home of the western hero. Often thought of synonymously, the cowboy and his pistol have sparked the imagination of generations in stories, television, and movies. Yet, many may not know that Texas has an official state pistol! In May of 2021, Governor Abbot declared the 1847 Colt Walker Revolver the official gun of Texas. It’s a weapon with a storied and unique history, mirroring the history of the state. Keep reading to find out more about this special firearm.
The Man Behind the Name
Samuel Walker was an American Army Officer. Born in 1817, Walker served in several key conflicts. He was captured by the Mexican Army in 1842, and held prisoner for two years before escaping into Louisiana and then returning to Texas. In 1844, Walker joined the famous Texas Rangers and was eventually promoted to Captain.
Soon after, Walker traveled to New York to meet with Samuel Colt and discuss ideas for a new pistol design. Walker was not satisfied with the current options (having accrued plenty of combat experience). He suggested Colt add an additional round (most pistols only had five) and create a larger, more powerful caliber capable to higher fatality rates. Colt got to work immediately, and before the year’s end in 1847, the new Colt Walker Revolvers were available. The United States Army’s mounted rifle companies swiftly adopted the revolver to resounding praise.
Unfortunately, in October of 1847, Walker was killed in combat, unable to fully appreciate just how groundbreaking his revolver would be. The Colt Walker remained the most powerful handgun in service until 1935, when the .357 magnum was created.
The Weapon’s Operation
If you’ve only had experience with modern firearms, the operation of a single-action, percussion revolver may be a bit foreign to you. There are plenty of resources online showing the firing, reloading, and cleaning of such a weapon. Still, it’s probably wise to seek out professional training when exploring any new firearm (or any firearm new to you).
Certain mechanical safety devices have been integrated into modern replicas, such as drop safeties, to make shooting a stress-free and safer activity. Do your research when searching out a replica, and speak with a qualified firearms professional. There is an almost limitless amount of information out there; don’t feel bad if you don’t know it all.
What’s the Point?
When discussing historical firearms, some people always ask “What’s the point of owning or shooting one?” It’s a fair question. After all, while the Colt Walker is capable of devastating injury, it is far from the most efficient combat revolver on the market today.
Still for some, shooting a historical pistol is a way to connect with the past. For others, owning a piece of history unique to the country (and Texas!) is what they’re after. For others, the skill required when shooting older firearms is an appealing challenge they want to tackle. Regardless of the reason, if you are seeking to include a historic piece of American and Texan history in your firearms collection, you can’t go wrong by purchasing an 1847 Colt Walker Revolver!