Colt 1848 “Baby Dragoon”: A Rather Big Baby

We’ve had such fun looking at pocket pistols and revolvers, I thought I’d share another I ran across: The Colt 1848 “Baby Dragoon.” Many consider this to be the first true hideout gun.

The Colt Model 1848 Baby Dragoon Revolver was manufactured in Hartford from circa l847 through to 1850 with a total of about 15,000 produced. A .31 caliber weapon, this baby held five shots in its cylinder.

In order to cut back on the weight of the gun, the loading lever was removed from under the barrel and the front sight was scaled down to a tiny bead. This also helped make the gun more “snag-free”, meaning it was less likely to catch in the lining of the pocket or purse when drawn. Rather important if you wanted to get the drop on a bad guy.

The one on the left has no loading lever; the one on the right does. See it, under the barrel?

The five-shot Baby Dragoon was a scaled down version of the large dragoon revolvers, and were manufactured with barrel lengths of 3″, 4″, 5″, and 6″ and a distinctive square-back trigger-guard.  The 3” and 4” are reasonable for a pocket revolver, but a 5 or 6” barrel, plus the cylinder and polished wood grip–not exactly a miniature weapon.

The “Baby Dragoon” pistol was more accurate and more powerful than earlier pocket guns, and their lighter weight made them the weapon of choice for Pony Express riders, and the Wells Fargo Company.

Want more info? Check out Colt’s Pocket ’49: Its Evolution, Including the Baby Dragoon & Wells Fargo by Robert M. Jordan & Darrow M. Watt. The book is out of print, but you might be able to find a copy through your local library.

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History, Texas, cowboys, horses—these are a few of Tracy’s favorite things. Check out her westerns at www.TracyGarrett.com.

13 thoughts on “Colt 1848 “Baby Dragoon”: A Rather Big Baby”

  1. Cool blog, Tracy. You are quite the gunsmith! I used a 32 cal. “Baby” LeMat in my first book, a supposedly easy to hide smallish gun issued by the South in the Civil War. When I first read this, I kept seeing the word “dragon” instead of “dragoon” lol. Ah, it’s been a long day.

    I love all the info you share with us on this important 19th century “accessory.” Thanks! oxoxox

  2. very interesting gun. I have been loving reading about all the different little guns. I would rather carry the Baby Dragoon around instead of the Pepper Box one(looked to scary)

  3. I’m so glad you’re doing a series of blogs on 1800’s weapons. I’m finding out lots I didn’t know. And as a western romance writer it’s crucial information. Thanks!

  4. Interesting post. I am getting my handgun education from your posts. I just went through the past ones back to the palm pistol to show my son.

    I am not anti-gun, but hand guns do make me nervous. There are too many people walking around with them that should have them. I’m not talking about criminals or hot headed teens. I know several older people around here that have them. One woman is sliding into Alzheimers, can barely see ore hear, but has a gun in her bedside table and purse. Our state passed a law allowing loaded guns to be carried into places serving alcohol. Th bar and restaurant owners are not happy. A minister in our area was arrested in Washington, DC for having 2 loaded hand guns under the seat of his car. He always has them with him even at home. If his parish is that dangerous (which it isn’t) he is in the wrong business. There is just something wrong with those situations.
    We own guns and go shooting. I just don’t see the need to be packing a six shooter to go to church, pick the kids up at school, or go shopping. Maybe when you are hiking in the mountains and have bear and coydogs to worry about.
    Sorry I got side tracked. We do enjoy your posts.

  5. Anita, I’m glad you enjoyed the images. I’m visual, too, and like to be able to see what I mean. lol

    Vicki, I have a half dozen “people” running around in my head who would carry this.

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