1850 Colt 2nd Model Dragoon

Value (2012) | $8,000 Retail
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GUEST:
It's an 1851 Colt .44 revolver.

APPRAISER:
Where did you get it at?

GUEST:
It was my great-grandfather's. It's been passed down through the years.

APPRAISER:
Have you ever used it?

GUEST:
Yes, when I was about eight years old. My dad and I went out to Highland County, Virginia, loaded and shot it four times.

APPRAISER:
How did that work for you?

GUEST:
Not too well for me. It set me on my rear end real quick.

APPRAISER:
They are a massive gun, and it's made by the Colt Firearms Company in New York City. It's what they call a second model Dragoon. And they're easily distinguishable because the trigger guard, which is made of brass, on the back of it it's square. And that's how we know it's a second model. They only made those for two years. This one has serial numbers of 8027. The 8000 lets us know that it was made in the first year of their production of the second model, which would have been 1850. The 1851 you're thinking of is a smaller gun. This massive gun weighs four pounds. The 1851, they made it thinner, lighter and a smaller caliber. The '51 was a .36 caliber, where this is a .44. For decades, Colt guys have loved to mess with guns. It's good that this gun stayed in your family because y'all left it alone. A lot of times if it goes to a collector, they clean it. There'd be one piece that didn't look the way they wanted it, so they'd replace it. This one is just the way it's been since 160 years ago. Do you know who would have used this gun?

GUEST:
I have no idea. I've always wondered whether it was cavalry, citizens, was it the type they used in gunfights that you saw in old westerns, or not?

APPRAISER:
Well, this one's actually the military model. And there's a couple of things we look at to know it's a military model, not a civilian. Because they did both ways. They sold them privately and to the government. If you notice on the frame we have Colt's patent and the small "U.S." That lets us know that it's a military frame. But the main thing that lets us know it's a military gun is on the grip. I love the burn mark. And right above the burn mark we have an oval cartouche. And that's where the gun was stamped by the military inspector saying this gun is a good enough quality that we can use it for military service. So we know the date.

GUEST:
Did they put the burn mark on there?

APPRAISER:
No, during the time of service, the gun was a tool. And they just left the tool a little bit close to something that got hot. Have you ever had it appraised?

GUEST:
No.

APPRAISER:
In today's world, this gun would retail for about $8,000.

GUEST:
Okay, that sounds good. It's more than what I thought. It sounds good.

APPRAISER:
I love them because when you hold that gun, you know that you have a weapon in your hand. And if you run out of bullets, it works well as a club too.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Shiloh Civil War Relics
Savannah, TN
Appraised value (2012)
$8,000 Retail
Event
Myrtle Beach, SC (June 23, 2012)
Period
19th Century
Form
Revolver
Material
Metal, Wood
October 28, 2013: After this appraisal aired, we received an email from a viewer who correctly pointed out that, contrary to what appraiser Rafael Eledge had indicated, this 1850 Colt revolver was not made in New York City. We contacted Eledge, who acknowledged the confusion, saying that even though Colt did mark their gun barrels "ADDRESS SAML COLT NEW-YORK CITY," where their offices were located, Colt's manufacturing operation was based in Hartford, Connecticut, at the time this gun was made.

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