The Colt Dragoon is another 19th century, blackpowder Samuel Colt revolving cylinder pistol chambered for .44 caliber. Dragoons were heavily armed, European mounted military troops; the term dragoon evolved and became associated with any heavily armed cavalry-an example, fictional outlaw Josey Wales. For those who have seen the movie with Clint Eastwood and Sondra Locke, Josey Wales is a fitting archetype to the dragoon moniker-a heavily armed soldier on horseback, bristling weapons.

I'm pretty sure weapons designer Samuel Colt never met Clint Eastwood, but if he had he most surely would have agreed-Clint Eastwood, a.k.a., Josey Wales would fit the dragoon billing to a tee.

In the movie, The Outlaw Josey Wales, our hero Josey carried two, 1847 Walker Colts, each weighing 4 1/2 pounds unloaded. While men like Josey Wales-Clint Eastwood could easily tote 9-plus pounds of blazing pistols astride horseback at full gallop, mowing down the enemy, few mortals could.

And unlike the pair of Walker pistols Josey-Clint carried in the film, real Walker cylinders had a bad habit of exploding now and then and jamming in battle-both undesirable traits for combat guns.

The Colt Dragoon Revolver was Samuel Colt's 1848 solution to the Walker's drawbacks.

The Dragoon is a full 6 ounces, nearly a half-pound lighter than the Colt Walker.

And Colt made sure that Dragoon design features reduced the risk of exploding cylinders.

The Walker was unwieldy, at 15.5 inches with a 9-inch barrel. The Dragoon measures 14 � inches overall length with a barrel length of 7 1/2 inches. It is lighter, shorter and more reliable than the Walker. Its cylinder is shorter, and each chamber holds less powder than the Walker, yet the Dragoon proved its worth in the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and as a good civilian self-defense gun.

The Colt Dragoon is chambered for .44 ball ammunition and boasts a muzzle velocity up to 1,100 feet per second, depending on how much powder is used. Each of its six chambers can accommodate 50 grams of powder; the Walker uses 60 grams of powder per each of its six chambers.

None of these guns was particularly accurate to distance. The Dragoon was good to 50 yards.

Neither the Walker nor the Dragoon Colt revolvers were "belly" guns, but they weren't sniper rifles either. In order to kill a man with a Colt, the shooter had better be able to see his eyes.

"Don't shoot till you see the whites of their eyes," is appropriate in the world of revolvers.

To aid in aiming, the Dragoon uses a blade front and hammer notched rear sight.

In 1860, the Dragoon was replaced by the Colt Model 1860.

In the world of early Colt blackpowder revolvers, the Dragoon was commercially viable, selling close to 20,000 units during its 12-year production cycle. This is another valuable Colt collection piece.