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Colt Dragoon


Colt Dragoon

1851 Third Model Colt Dragoon

Photo © Tennessee Wanderer, Creative Commons License
The Colt Dragoon is an antique revolver that was designed for the United States Army’s Mounted Infantry.


Legendary gun designer and inventor, Samuel Colt, designed the Colt Model 1848 Percussion Army Revolver (a.k.a., Colt Dragoon Revolver) in 1848 for the U.S. Army. It was developed to replace the Walker Colt that was used by the Mounted Infantry (known as Dragoons). The Walker Colt was somewhat bulky and had a tendency to jam, making it impractical for combat.

The newly designed Colt Dragoon, however, was smaller in size with a 7.5 – 8 inch barrel and a weight of just over four pounds. Improved safety features were included on the Dragoon, making it safer and less likely to lock up.

Although the gun was produced for the Army, civilians soon came to appreciate the gun’s power and many began carrying it during the unrest that led up to the American Civil War. During the California Gold Rush, a smaller version of the gun known as the Baby Dragoon, was popular with prospectors.

Three variations of the Colt Dragoon were produced between 1848 and 1860. The first, known simply as the First Model Colt Dragoon Revolver, had a production run of about 7,000. Only about 2,500 of the Second Model Colt Dragoons and about 10,000 Third Model Colt Dragoons were produced.

Although the Colt Dragoon was replaced by the Colt Model 1860 in the year 1860, many of the Colt Dragoons were used during the Civil War.


The Colt Dragoon is chambered for .44 caliber ball or conical bullet ammunition. With up to 50 grains of powder in the cylinder, it had a muzzle velocity of 950+ feet per second and an effective range of up to 80 yards. While not as easy to reload as a modern pistol, it had a special loading lever that allowed the shooter to swap out the gun's six cylinders pretty quickly. During combat, soldiers would carry a few preloaded cylinders for fast and easy reloads. A typical kit would include a bullet mold to make the .44 caliber bullets.


Because of their age, Civil War connection, and relative rarity, the Colt Dragoon is extremely collectible. Collectors of revolvers, antique firearms, and military weaponry can all appreciate this gun.


You won’t stumble upon a Colt Dragoon in every gun shop you wander into but they can be found with minimal effort. The best places to find these guns are on online gun auction sites and online classified ads. You may also find one at a gun show, particularly one that specializes in antique and Civil War era weapons like the Ohio Civil War Collectors Show or the Baltimore Antique Arms Show.


These guns can be found in a wide range of prices depending upon specific model and condition. Typically, you can expect to pay anywhere from about $500 to several thousand dollars.

Special Notes:

Because of the collectibility of the Colt Dragoon, some replicas of the weapon have been produced over the years. A non-firing reproduction was created by a Spanish company and is still being manufactured today.

The Aldo Uberti Company produces a working replica of the Dragoon. These replicas are considered to be good quality weapons, particularly for the price.

While the replicas may be of interest to some collectors, anyone in the market for a Colt Dragoon should be sure they are getting an original and not a reproduction.

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