What was the weapon that Old Shatterhand used? That has been a question, which has long been on our mind. Karl May did not identify the year in which the story took place. The best guess we can make therefore depends on the story elements and the historical hints in “Winnetou II”.
Firstly, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act in 1862, which authorizes the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. The “Winnetou I” tale must therefore take place later than this year. The mention of the Ku Klux Klan in “Winnetou II” suggests that the story takes place after 1866. We also know that Maximillian I was in power and Benito Juarez was in exile. That indicates that the year for the second part of the Winnetou tale must be between 1864 and 1867.
Since Old Shatterhand returns to St. Louis and decides to go to Germany in “Winnetou II”, we must conclude that the year of the “Winnetou I” tale must be sometime after 1866 as this gives Old Shatterhand time to travel and the Ku Klux Klan to mobilize.
We also know that more than 200,000 units of the .44 Cal 1860 Black Powder Colt were manufactured from 1860 through 1873. We can therefore surmise that in all likelihood Old Shatterhand may have carried such a weapon.
We therefore test fired a replica of this hand gun, which we intend to use in our film “Winnetou – The Beginning” and you can see the result in the short video clip, provided for your enjoyment.