The first revolver made was the Colt Paterson of 1836, and several thousand were purchased by the United States government to help replace their aging flintlock pistols such as the 1775 Model. However, the Paterson was not as successful as Colt had hoped (mainly due to the fact that the weapon was not fully reliable and was underpowered), and the Paterson factory eventually closed.
In 1847, Captain Samuel H. Walker of the Texas Rangers approached Colt with an idea for an ew sidearm that offered more power than the 1836 revolver. The result was the Colt Walker, a .44 caliber six shot revolver that to this day remains the most powerful sidearm that the American military has ever adopted.
As with the Paterson, the Walker had issues. It was massive and heavy, and often had to be carried in a horse’s saddle. It also had weak metallurgy, and the loading lever was weak and would often come loose. A third of all Walkers were actually return to Colt for repair.