The Walch Revolver: How 5 Chambers Become 10 Shots

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Consider the problem of the pocket revolver of the 1860s. In order to be small enough to be reasonably concealable and comfortable to carry, it would typically be made in .31 caliber. That’s not a lot of firepower…even back in those days when ballistics potency was rather less of a concern to buyers than it is today.But for the person who does want something more than 5 shots of rather small caliber, what is the solution?

Well, John Walch came up with an idea. Superimposed charges were not a new idea, but Walch took that concept and applied it to the pocket pistol. The idea of superimposed charges is that you load two complete sets of powder and projectile into a single chamber, and then have two separate firing mechanisms so that you can fire the front charge first and then the rear charge. This had been used in flintlock rifles for example, but Walch used it to double the capacity of a 5-shot revolver to 10 rounds. His gun had two hammers and a single trigger, which would drop the hammers in the proper order.

While to 10-shot capacity in a small package was a good idea, the gun suffered from some problems. If the rather long flash-tube to ignite the front charge in a chamber became clogged with black powder residue and the rear charge were then fired, the gun could explode. When it did work properly, it was even less powerful than a typical .31 caliber piece, as the double charges had to be a bit smaller than normal to allow space for both in the cylinder.

The guns were used by one company of Michigan Infantry during the Civil War, but never sold very well. Interestingly, they were actually manufactured by Oliver Winchester and the New Haven Arms Company…


Hi guys thanks for tuning in to another Video on Forgotten weapons comm I’m in I Am here today the Rock Island auction House taking a look at some of the guns From their upcoming December 2015 Auction one of the ones I found here in The hand gun racks was this wolch Revolver now from the side there it Doesn’t look like anything fancy Although if you’re sharp-eyed you might Notice that the cylinder looks unusually Long well what’s interesting about this Particular revolver is that it has five Chambers and fires ten times actually a Pretty cool clever clever use of the Superimposed charge concept so basically In a nutshell what this does is you Actually load powder and ball and then More powder and a second ball and then You have two nipples on the back of the Cylinder for each chamber so you put on Two percussion caps and there are Actually two fire holes so one of the Percussion caps vents straight through The back of the chamber into the the Back charge and the other percussion cap Actually has a fire hole that runs up Alongside the chamber and then down Partially up in front of it so when you Fire one hammer you’re actually going to Detonate the front powder charge and Fire the front ball and when you fire The second hammer you’re going to Detonate the rear powder charge and fire

The rear ball this allows you to Actually squeeze ten rounds into a five Chambered cylinder a cool clever concept Now there are a couple potential Problems here the first obvious one is Well what if you accidentally fire the Back charge first then you’re instead of One projectile you’ve actually got two Projectiles that you’re trying to fire Out that’s kind of a recipe for blowing Up a gun well Walsh Actually had a solution for this his Firing mechanisms and there were two Different versions which I’ll get to in A moment his firing mechanism actually Forced you to you would [ __ ] both Hammers simultaneously and the trigger Would automatically fire one and then The other in the proper order Now the first version of these walch Pistols was a 36 caliber gun that Actually had six chambers and thus was a 12 shot gun Only about 200 of these were made and They were made subcontracted by Walsh to The Union knife company from manufacture They’re called the Navy version they Were actually used by the United States Navy Although nobody’s been able at this Point to find the actual contract Paperwork for their order they’re Considered a secondary martial pistol in Collector circles now the more much more

Common version is this one although Certainly not common by most standards Today a total of 3,000 of these were Made and this is a 31 caliber 5 chamber So 10 shot version these are made for The commercial market although actually At least one whole unit of infantry Company I of the 9th Michigan Infantry Used these pistols during the Civil War And at least a few others would have Been purchased for private use by Various Union soldiers it’s kind of Interesting about this is these guys the 31 caliber guns were actually again Subcontracted by Walsh to the New Haven Arms Company for manufacture well if That rings a bell that’s because that’s The company that was owned by Oliver Winchester which at the time that these Were being made they had just finished Making volcanic pistols and in in a Short period they would go on to Actually making the 1860 Winchester Lever-action rifle which would of course Become an iconic and vastly popular line Of products for Winchester in fact it’s Kind of funny there’s some Correspondence that that you can find Bead between Oliver Winchester and Somebody else and he’s discussing these Pistols and he says how the the company Had decided to make a large batch Winchester had decided to late make a Large batch of volcanic sand they they

Spent quite some time doing it and by The time they actually had products Coming out they were really kind of Disheartened to find that there was a Major prejudice against the volcanic in In the market and it didn’t sell very Well and rather than try and continue Developing it they decided to kind of Take a break and they just you know I Want we need some quick easy cash flow So they took a contract from Walsh here To manufacture 3,000 of these little Revolvers for him and what happens when The pistols are all finished Walsh Refuses to pay them so they’re screwed Again now if we look at the Documentation apparently a Winchester Sued but then the case never went to Trial so they must they clearly came to Some private arrangement the suit was Dropped and these all are labeled or Marked the Walsh firearms companies so Apparently he did ultimately fall in Line and pay a Winchester for the work Making those revolvers but anyway we Should take a closer look at this guy so You can get an up-close view of exactly How this double shot system works so Let’s go ahead and do that right so I Will start out by pointing out that this Is a mildly engraved bronze frame gun They did about 2,000 of these guns in Bronze and they were the first ones done And then they followed those with about

Another thousand made in steel so Neither one of them neither material Seems to bring much of a premium to the Collectors market but it’s interesting That they are done two different ways Now this being the 31 caliber gun it Does have the sheath trigger or sheet Style trigger and if we look at the back Of the cylinder you can see that it’s Got just a huge profusion of Percussion-cap nipples there that is of Course 2 per cylinder as kind of typical On percussion revolvers we have a Sighting a rear sight notch cut into the Hammer in this case it’s the left-hand Hammer which is centerline of the gun so When I [ __ ] the hammer I will point out That the lock up on this particular Example is not ideal let’s try that Again There we go yep so when I [ __ ] it that Will rotate the cylinder like so and now When I pull the trigger it will drop First one and then the other hammer I’m Going to use this pencil to cushion it So there’s our first first hammer which Fires the front ball and then second Hammer fires the rear one so once again Do this from the side so you can see it First pull drops the one hammer second Pole drops the other hammer now the Other thing to point out here is that if I do this quickly let’s say I’m panicked And just gank off a shot one long pole

Will actually fire both both chambers or Both both percussion caps of that Chamber it will fire them in sequence But it will fire them both so hopefully You don’t have a hang fire on one of Your percussion caps when you do that or You then that could be non-optimal shall We say no sight picture on these guys is Pretty typical of civil war-era Revolvers which is to say poor at best We do have a little teeny bit of a rear Sight notch cut into that hammer right There and that is the second hammer to Fall so you can use that sight notch and The first time you pull the trigger the Right-hand hammer will drop and you Continue to have a sight picture to use Now disassembly is just like a typical Colt you’ve got a wedge here Drive that Wedge out and then the barrel assembly Comes off and the cylinder comes out on This particular one that’s kind of tight And I don’t want to be the guy who takes A pin punch to it so I’m going to leave That assembled for the time being so There you have it one ten shot five Cylinder waltz revolver well thanks for Watching guys I hope you enjoyed the Video these are a cool little side note In Civil War revolver history you know The the superimposed charge is something You can do with the muzzle loader that Was short of metal storm you can’t Really do with cartridges so if you’d

Like to add this one to your own Collection certainly a cool Piece of civil war memorabilia take a Look at the link in the description text Below that will take you to rock Island’s catalog page you can see their Pictures their description etc and place A bid right there online from the Comfort of your computer chair and Thanks for watching

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