Only an estimated 2,700 Second Model Dragoons revolvers were manufactured around 1850 and 1851 compared to 7,000 of the First Model Dragoons and 10,500 Third Model Dragoons. They are thus by far the rarest of the primary Colt Dragoon revolvers. This U.S. contract revolver was manufactured in 1851 and was part of the Fifth Contract between Colt and the U.S. Ordnance Department executed on May 8, 1851, for 2,000 pistols. The combination of rectangular cylinder stops and square-back brass trigger guard clearly identify the revolver as a Second Model Dragoon, and it also has the roller on the hammer and the improved mainspring. The U.S. Contract Colt Dragoon revolvers were used primarily by the First and Second Dragoon Regiments and the U.S. Regiment of Mounted Riflemen from 1849 until the Civil War. Some of the men of the latter left the unit and joined the Confederacy, including "Fighting Joe" Wheeler who also later rejoined the U.S. military during the Spanish-American War. The revolver has a German silver blade front sight, "-ADDRESS SAML COLT NEW-YORK CITY-" on top of the barrel, loading lever with vertical catch, "MODEL U.S.M.R./COLT'S PATENT" cylinder marking, "COLT'S PATENT/U.S." on the left side of the frame, "H" and "Q" inspection marks on various components, and matching partial or full serial numbers on the loading lever, barrel, cylinder pin, frame, trigger guard, back strap, and grip (properly handwritten in the back strap mortise). The wedge is a working replacement marked "179."
Very good plus with mostly light gray and brown patina on the iron along with some minor oxidation and pitting, aged patina on the grip straps, distinct markings and cylinder scene, and general mild wear consistent with age. Some of the cylinder safety pins remain solid. The grip is fine and has evidence of a cartouche, scattered minor scratches and dings, and some hammering marks on the butt. Mechanically excellent. These scarce and historic revolvers saw hard service on the frontier and had a low survival rate. They are desirable in any condition, especially honest examples like this one. No collection of Colt percussion revolvers is complete without a Second Model Dragoon, the scarcest of the three numbered Dragoon models.
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