July 2006

Second Dragoons On Trial: We Rank Cimarron, Colt, and EMF

The verdict: Cimarron’s boomer shot best but didn’t have the “aged” EMF’s charm. The 2nd-Gen. Colt is a great investment, but it had a problem. All in, buy the Cimarron cap-and-ball gun.

The Second Dragoon was the middle of three post-Walker revolvers developed by Colt beginning in 1848. All were designed for horseback use, and as such, weight was not much of a consideration, though at 4 pounds, the Dragoons weighed half a pound less than the Walker. There also was, most likely, ignorance about how heavy a revolver had to be in order to handle a given power level. For example, the 1860 Army Colt was not a lot less powerful than the Dragoon but weighed far less, yet was totally controllable, the result of ten years of refinement.

The Dragoon name comes from the use, or designated use, of this heavy pistol by the U.S. Mounted Rifles, some of which were called the Dragoons. Most originals, and all of our test trio, had the initials U.S.M.R. engraved on the cylinders. The Second Dragoon was in production from 1850-51, with a total of about 2,700 made. The First Dragoon was made from 1848 to 1850 in the quantity of about 7,000, and the Third Dragoon was made for about ten years, in the quantity of about 10,500. This makes the Second Dragoon the rarest of the original 4-pound Colts. In a similar manner, when Colt organized the production of the 2nd-Generation Dragoons in the early 1980s (built by Iver Johnson from I-J and Uberti parts), they made nearly 4,000 of the First, close to 7,000 of the Third, but only 2676 of the Second Dragoon, again rendering them the rarest of the lot. Easily distinguished by the square-back trigger guard and the rectangular bolt-stop notches, the Second Model Dragoon was originally presented with blued barrel, cylinder and trigger, and case-colored loading lever, hammer, and frame. The grip straps were brass, and grips were one-piece walnut. Some martial-use pistols had grips marked with an inspector’s escutcheon. Our test EMF has such a mark.

To continue reading this article you must be a paid subscriber.

Subscribe to Gun Tests

Get the next year of Gun Tests for just $24. Don’t wait another minute to get the knowledge you need to make the best possible firearms investment. Our offer is guaranteed. You can cancel at any time and we'll send a full refund for any unmailed copies. No strings, no hassle.

Or get 12 months of Gun Tests Digital. You get unlimited access to everything on the site including all current and past monthly issues in PDF format.

Subscriber Log In

Forgot your password? Click Here.

Already subscribe but haven't registered for all the benefits of the website? Click here.