Original Rare U.S. Massachusetts Arms Company Wesson & Leavitt Patent First Model Dragoon Model Percussion Revolver – Serial No. 4
Original Item. Only One Available. Now this is a REAL piece of firearms history! Very rarely do we get such early examples of firearms, and this is SERIAL NUMBER 4 of this rare percussion revolver!
Introduced by the newly incorporated Massachusetts Arms Company in 1850, the Dragoon Model percussion revolver was the first real competitor to Samuel Colt. The design was covered under patents filed by Daniel Leavitt and Edwin Wesson. The latter was the older brother of the famous gun makers Daniel and Frank Wesson, who had apprenticed under their older brother. The revolver was designed by Edwin Wesson and Thomas Warner, who was the factory superintendent at the time. Edwin would pass away in 1849, shortly before the release of the revolver, however his brother Daniel became one of the three principals of Mass. Arms, who then later broke away and started Smith & Wesson in 1855.
Unfortunately, it appeared that the “new” Revolver design infringed on at least three of Colt’s patents. In 1851, Samuel Colt filed and won a historic patent infringement lawsuit against the Massachusetts Arms Company. This caused production to be stopped after approximately only 800 were manufactured, making any example extremely rare.
Even MORE remarkable is that this is a FIRST MODEL, with a 6 1/4″
barrel, not the 7″ length usually seen. Per Section 7A-054 of Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms, only the first 30 examples were the “first model”, produced with the shorter barrel length. This means that not only is this revolver one of only 800 in total production, it is ONE OF ONLY THIRTY first models produced.
This incredibly rare heavy dragoon revolver is beautifully made and features a side hammer, a heavy six shot cylinder, and a long 6 1/4″ inch barrel. It handles more like an arm cannon than a revolver! The design features a unique way of unhooking the barrel, which then folds upwards to allow the cylinder to be completely removed in order to be reloaded and then reassembled. It was apparently also considered that extra cylinders could be kept, already loaded, allowing a substantial rate of fire for the 1850s.
The top of the cylinder is marked with the Mass. Arms Co. address:
On the back of the cylinder:
LEAVITT’S PATENT APRIL 29.1837
On the front of the action:
WESSON’S PATENT AUG. 28. 1849
Our lovely example has a top quality walnut grip, which is marked with serial number 4 on the bottom of both sides, on the center strap, and on the bottom of the brass trigger guard. The barrel tenon that locks into the cylinder arbor is marked with assembly number 377. The finish is lovely, with a solid blue on the cylinder, and the rest faded to a lovely gray patina, most likely originally case hardened.
The revolver functions flawlessly, and looks to have seen very little use. The bore shows crisp lands and grooves with a mostly bright finish. This really is the best example of a Mass. Arms Co. Dragoon revolver that we have ever seen. The fact that it is such a low serial number makes it that much more incredible.
In just wonderful condition, this is a true opportunity for the discerning collector of early American firearms designs. In fantastic condition and ready to display with pride!
Years of Manufacture: 1850-1851
Ammunition Type: Cap and Ball
Barrel Length: 6 1/4 inches
Overall Length: 14 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver
NOTE: International orders of antique firearms MUST be shipped using UPS WW Services (courier). USPS Priority Mail international will not accept these. International customers should always consult their country’s antique gun laws prior to ordering.