Colt 2nd Model Dragoon
Photo by author
Colt Dragoon revolvers were an improvement of the 1847 Walker Colt
revolver. The 2nd model was made between 1850 and 1851 and is the least
numerous of the three main types. The photos are of my modern replica.
Walker Colt and, to a slightly lesser extent, the Dragoons were the
most powerful handguns of their day being comparable to a modern magnum
revolver. The Dragoons were made in .44 calibre and were loaded with
blackpowder and round lead ball with the loading lever beneath the
barrel. Place percussion caps on the six nipples on the cylinder and
you were "good to go." The lead balls for this .44 calibre revolver
actually measured .454" in diameter as was common for ".44 cal."
firearms back then. Why? Well the barrels were first bored to a
diameter of .44" and this gave them the name. They were then rifled to
a groove depth of about .007". This made the groove diameter .44" +
.007" +.007" = .454" and the ball had to be big enough to fill up the
grooves of the rifling. The numbers are approximate, but give the idea.
This was a powerful handgun, but it was very large and heavy. It was
most practical on a saddle holster though many were worn at the hip.
fired this one at an informal match with some of my Civil War
re-enactor friends. They used cartridge revolvers and I used the
Dragoon. Except for one chamber that I didn't get loaded correctly I
hit all my targets, exceeding my comrades with their more "modern"
revolvers. Yes, it takes practice to load these beasts correctly every
time. On the re-enactment fields the blank charges from this pistol
were as loud as the ones from the rifled muskets of the line soldiers
-- or even louder if you can judge by the reaction of the "enemy."
Photo by author
was it called a "Dragoon?" Well the soldiers to whom these were issued
were called "Dragoons" which was a name going back many years. The
earliest Dragoon soldiers were so-named because the hammers (or "cocks"
as they were called then) of their guns were usually highly carved and
decorated and they often resembled what people thought to be dragons.
So they were called "dragon soldiers" which became corrupted to
Yes, I would use this revolver for self-defense, but
only if I could be absolutely certain that I would not need to fire
more than six shots -- and if concealment were not needed, for sure!