Colt Walker, introduced in 1847, was the first revolver of military significance. Sometimes called a “cavalry 4-pounder,” it was a large .44 caliber percussion revolver with loaded weight actually approaching five pounds. It held six 140-grain round balls and achieved velocities of 800 to 1,200 feet per second, depending on how much the user wanted to push his luck with heavy loads. Thanks to its heft, the revolver actually had modest felt recoil and could be safely fired one-handed–provided the user was strong enough to aim something as heavy as a modern AR15 pistol.
When it comes to the topic of powerful handguns, it is hard not to think of the classic .44 Mag. Smith & Wesson Model 29 wielded by Clint Eastwood as “Dirty Harry.” And, while his famous line, “… This is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world … “ may have been debatable, the current crop of magnum and big-bore handgun cartridges available today has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for those who want as much power as possible from their handguns. In addition, some innovative companies have taken handgun designs and adapted them to harness the power of traditional rifle cartridges.
I’ve been after whitetails with hand-cannons since I shot my first “handgun buck” in Maine with a .454 Raging Bull. Since then, I’ve harvested more deer with one of these big revolvers than any other handgun.