Last year I came up with the idea of converting a Walker reproduction to something a bit stronger than .45 Colt. After all, the original load for the Walker was a 210gr. Pickett bullet over 60 gr. of black powder; that’s 50% more powder that a .45 Colt… Of course people immediately informed me that it had been done- the .45 BPM, .45 Walker, .45 Brimstone etc. OK, that meant I knew it could be done. A buddy of mine found an Armi San Marcos Walker repro at a good price and I snagged it. So far so good.
God, what a beast! 4-1/2 pounds of Italian steel. I prefer a more compact package, so I cut the barrel at the lug, giving me 3-1/2″ of barrel. That took a full pound off the weight… better. I re-crowned the barrel, then modified the loading lever to use as a disassembly tool and I was ready to tackle the cylinder.
Oops. Too big to fit in the chuck of my metal-lathe. Bugger. Other concerns (like paying the bills) intruded and the project languished. Over the months the project was waiting patiently I started reloading .44 Colt (original.) This used a .452″ heel-base bullet in a straight-bored chamber. I got to thinking- what if I did a longer version for the walker? It would simplify things quite a bit as I could straight-bore the chamber using tools I already have… interesting, but the cylinder was still too big for my lathe.
Yesterday we were having a rather stressful morning and Linda said, “OK, just go in the shop and play.” Okey dokey, I can do that! I removed the nipples and set to boring through the cylinder and reaming the chambers to .454″-
Next I chucked the cylinder up in the lathe and turned the base around the ratchet to 3/4″- this allowed clearance for the cartridge rims. I used .44 Colt ammo I had on-hand to test this-
Of course it’s still very rough in the photo; I did clean it up before bluing! I apologize for the lack of further in-progress pictures- I got far too involved at this point to remember to take them.
Next it was time to make the breech-plate. I grabbed a hunk of 1020 steel, bored a 3/4″ hole and cut and ground to shape. This involved relieving a 1-1/4″ circle about 3/32″ deep around the central holes so that it would sit flush with the gun’s breech, and I did this with the Dremel using sanding drums and grinding wheels. Life will be easier when I get the mill running…
Once that was fitted it was time to do the loading-port in the frame. Once again the Dremel with sanding drums and grinding wheels went to work… After I had cut the frame I made a matching cut in the breech-plate, a little bluing and that was done.
Last thing to do was to make a firing-pin. I inserted a Sharpy-marker in the chamber and marked where the firing-pin needed to be, then bored a 5/64″ hole at an angle to put the end of the pin under the hammer. I then bored this hole from the hammer-end to 3/16″- not quite through- and found a suitable spring to fit the hole. I had a firing-pin that I’d turned for another project that didn’t work, and it was a perfect fit! I staked this in to retain it and the gun was basically finished. OK, I still need a front-sight, and I am planning on permanently mounting the breech-plate, but the gun is functional. I used primed .44 Colt brass and it went ‘Pop!’ so it’s all good.
Like a .357 shooting .38 special, while the gun is designed for a longer cartridge .44 Colt will work just fine- better, even as the cylinder is bored straight-through. So what is the guns actual cartridge? A wildcat based on .445 Supermag that uses a 200gr. Heel-base bullet loaded over the equivalent of 50 grains of black powder. The new cartridge will be called .44-50/200 Walker. I still need to obtain brass and dies, but until then I can shoot .44 Colt.
The new cartridge should, with the correct smokeless load, drive it’s 200gr. bullet at 1150+ fps. from this gun’s 3-1/2″ barrel, yielding in the neighborhood of 600ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle.
So, here is the gun, if not finished at least in it’s final form- shown with a custom Richards-Mason conversion for scale:
Now I just have to wait for the brass and dies…
Michael Tinker Pearce, 01 Feb. 2018
This content originally appeared at text and was written by admin This content is syndicated and does not necessarily reflect the views or positions of The Liberal Gun Club