Autry Museum of the American West

Experimental Third Model Dragoon Revolver

right side

right side

Circa 1855; no serial number
Manufacturer: Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company

Samuel Colt’s revolver was revolutionary because the cylinder rotated mechanically when the hammer was cocked as it was pulled to the rear. This experimental Third Model Dragoon Revolver has an extremely unorthodox and complex revolving mechanism. When the hammer is engaged, a curved rectangular plate beneath the cylinder is pushed forward by an arm attached to the hammer, part of which is visibly protruding from the rear of the frame. Grooves on the sliding plate ultimately engage pins on the cylinder, causing it to rotate. Although this particular design was deemed impractical and never patented, it illustrates an active research and development program at Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company. Most of the patents issued during Colt’s career were to himself and his superintendent and chief associate, Elisha King Root.

  • left side

    left side
  • Elisha King Root, Samuel Colt’s superintendent and chief associate, circa 1862

    courtesy of Connecticut State Library


Jeffrey Richardson

Web Development

Gary Cannone

Electronic Cataloging and Imaging

Marilyn Kim, Vlasta Radan, Carmel France, Rebecca Menendez, David Benitez, Susan Eisenstein


Marlene Head

Special Thanks

Greg Martin, R. L. Wilson

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