Revolvers got their start in 1835 thanks to Samuel Colt, and in the years to follow there were quite a few designs and innovations – and, yes, failures – in the gun world. It was 1856 when Smith and Wesson began manufacturing cartridge revolvers, and others would soon follow suit. But it was a man by the name of John Walch who felt he could not only improve on Samuel Colt’s design from a technical aspect, he could give it the gift of greater firepower. The Walch Revolver was patented in 1859, and it would go down in firearms history as – well, you’ll have to draw your own conclusions.
The idea behind the Walch Revolver was superposed rounds, also known as a stacked charge. It wasn’t a new idea when John Walch designed his revolver, but the way he implemented it was certainly interesting. The Walch Revolver required extended cylinders so that two rounds could be superimposed. That means two triggers and hammers were also required along with two percussion nipples. The first model was chambered in .36 cal and capable of firing 12 rounds single-action. There were a few drawbacks including the need for both hammers to be cocked at once and some larger, dangerous risks.
John Walch believed he’d solved the existing, known risks to superposed firearms, and said so in this excerpt from this patent: “By ramming the ball down, the recess of the ball will become compressed, and thereby the above-mentioned grease or composition will be forced out of the same, filling in every part between the ball and the barrel. by this arrangement the chamber will be well greased and the barrel by each discharge will be thereby well cleaned. by the forcible pressing out of the grease so as to fill every crevice between the ball and the changer every danger is likewise prevent by which the after-charge might be ignited when the forward charge is fired off, and as this forms a perfect air-tight packing for the ball the powder will have more force and be able to send the ball a greater distance… and that without materially increasing the size of the parts or adding to the complexity of the same, and my fire-arm is perfectly secure, and the forward charge is in all instances first exploded.”
Watch Ian at Forgotten Weapons go over a Walch revolver in the video below. It’s another cool one, no doubt about it.