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The Walch Twelve-Shooter

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There were only a couple hundred of the Navy model John Walch 12-shot revolver and Ian from Forgotten Weapons recently got his hands on one. The .36 caliber Navy Walch was substantially less popular than it's smaller .31 caliber pocket revolver cousin and had far greater capacity; 6 super-imposed, sealed chambers, loaded twice with ball and powder and equipped with 2 percussion nipples each, are fired using 2 separate hammers and 2 separate triggers — thus, it's a twelve-shooter, albeit a somewhat anemic one with a low muzzle velocity due to the reduced powder charge.

Forgotten Weapons Walch Twelve Shot Revolver -2


The Walch Twelve-Shooter

Take 10 minutes to check out the video.

Says Forgotten Weapons,

Patented by John Walch in 1859, this is a .36 caliber revolver using superimposed chambers – meaning that each of the six chambers could hold two shots, for a total of 12 rounds before reloading. The revolver has two hammers and two side by side triggers, with the trigger for the front loading being positioned slightly ahead of the rear load’s trigger, to help ensure that they are fired in the correct order.

While the 12-shot capacity was a major advantage over other revolvers of the period, number of significant disadvantages (weak charges because of the small chamber capacity and the safety hazards of a misfire or accidental firing of the rear load first) led to it being produced only in small numbers. About 200 of these .36 caliber Navy guns were made, and only for commercial sale. They did see use in the Civil War, though, as did most other guns in production at the time. A much more popular version was the 10-shot, .31 caliber pocket model.

Forgotten Weapons Walch Twelve Shot Revolver -3

At one point New Haven Arms Company made an agreement to manufacture 3,000 of the Walch percussion pocket revolvers (Patent Number 22905, for the Walch Fire-Arms Company of New York) but the latter company failed prior to completion of the contract. This is one reason there are comparatively few of them (no not so few as the twelve-shooter).

Interestingly an account of the .36 twelve-shooter's use in wartime by an Army private from Wisconsin tells of how another soldier tried to kill a pig with it to supplement meager rations. As the account goes, “Reeder shot several times before he would give up. The gun wouldn't kill a hog, and the pigs go so wile we couldn't get near them.”

That was not me, though I too believe pigs are meant to be eaten.

According to the Rock Island Auction Company, the Walch Twelve-Shooter was manufactured circa 1859-1869 at the…

“Union Knife Company in Naugatuck, Connecticut, for Walch and J.P. Lindsay. The Walch mechanism is one of the most unusual of the American percussion revolvers. There are double hammers and triggers, six cylinder chambers and 12 percussion nipples (outer and inner). It is single action with each chamber holding two charges. The front charge is fired by the outer nipple being struck by the right hammer, which is released by the right trigger (which is set slightly forward of the left trigger), continual pulling on the triggers engages the left trigger which strikes the inner nipple firing the inner charge.”

This particular revolver lacks the barrel address and has no rear sight. The left side heel of the frame under the grip, front face of the cylinder, and loading lever are marked with the number “1” and it features a Colt style two piece loading lever and rammer. It's fitted with two piece checkered walnut grips.

More here.

If you have an interest in militaria and historical weapons, you really ought to be following Forgotten Weapons. I don't read it every day, but don't miss a post. To call a resource like this just a blog is too damn it with faint praise. Ian McCollum is an extremely knowledgeable and affable man who is passionate about he does, and it shows. FR is a great resource, and one that is worth supporting. You can do that, if you are so inclined, right here on Patreon.

You can follow Forgotten Weapons on Facebook (/ForgottenWeapons/). They're online here.

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