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Colt Dragoons are highly prized collectible six-shot .44-caliber percussion revolvers made from 1847 or 1848 to 1860 or 1861. Colt made roughly 19,000 of these very powerful guns in three versions called simply the First Model, Second Model and Third Model. These big guns measured 1.75” across the cylinder, 5.75” from top to bottom and, thanks to a long 7.5” barrel, a very imposing 14” overall!

Dragoons were very fast-moving horse-mounted infantry (meaning basically light, unarmored cavalry) equipped with light, transportable firearms. Far cheaper than heavy cavalry yet far faster than regular infantry, they were pioneered by several nations in Renaissance Europe and used very effectively to show up unexpectedly to do battle.

George Washington ensured the Continental Army (now the US Army) created Dragoon units in the American Revolution. Their heyday was in the US Civil War. Their weapons and mounts have changed over the years, but they have served in almost every American conflict throughout the country’s history and still serve to this day.

American cavalry carried Colt Dragoon revolvers in pairs in saddle holsters. Though lighter, shorter, narrower and less powerful than their immediate 1847 Colt Walker predecessors, Colt Dragoons were still heavy guns tipping scales at about 4.2 pounds each.

These guns were single-action and could fire their lead balls effectively to about 80 yards. These revolvers used a simple low-profile blade sight in front and a hammer notch sight in back, neither of which was adjustable in any way. They had steel barrels and frames, walnut grips, non-fluted notched steel cylinders and beautiful brass grip frames.

The three models are easily distinguished. The First Model had oval cylinder notches and a trigger guard rounded in front but squared off in back. The Second Model had the same trigger guard but rectangular cylinder notches. The most produced variant was the Third Model. It had rectangular cylinder notches and a trigger guard rounded both in front and back. All were made in Hartford, Connecticut.

There were also some Third Model Colt Dragoons partially made in Hartford and then sent to London, England for completion. These have the rectangular cylinder notches and rounded trigger guards but have low serial numbers since they started at 1!

Eventually the Colt Dragoon was replaced in production by the Colt 1860, which debuted in 1860. As you can imagine, with only 19,000 having been produced and the last one of them being produced 160+ years ago, they are rare and highly prized. They’ve broken the $1 million mark at auction.

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