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Massachusetts Arms Model 1850 Dragoon (Wesson & Leavitt)

United States (1850)

Detailing the development and operational history of the Massachusetts Arms Model 1850 Dragoon (Wesson & Leavitt) Six-Shot, Percussion Cap Cavalry Revolver.

 Entry last updated on 3/30/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

Basic Specifications
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United States
Year: 1850
Type: Six-Shot, Percussion Cap Cavalry Revolver
Manufacturer(s): Massachusetts Arms Company - USA

Fewer than 1,000 Wesson and Leavitt revolvers were furnished by the Massachusetts Arms Company from 1850 until 1851.

Massachusetts Arms Company was founded in 1849 by a collection of talent that included famous gunsmiths Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson (Smith & Wesson). The company began operations by fashioning pistols and rifles as well as swords from existing patents under license. From this exposure arrived the "Wesson & Leavitt" Dragoon percussion revolver - a design by Daniel Leavitt of Cabotsville originally produced by Wesson, Stevens & Miller from their Hartford, Connecticut location. The gun was also produced by the Massachusetts Arms Company and saw service in the American Civil War (1861-1865).

For historical perspective, the "Dragoon" was an armed cavalry unit that operated as "mounted infantry". The soldier, trained in horseback riding as well as shooting, could dismount his horse and operate as a standard trooper when needed but it was the power of his steed, as well as his sword or gun, that stoked fear in the hearts of enemy foot soldiers. Some firearms, particularly carbines (shortened rifles), were deliberately developed for horse-mounted troopers like Dragoons and therefore went on to be either generically or purposely referred to by the "Dragoon" name.

The Massachusetts Arms / Wesson & Leavitt revolver - also referred to as the "Army Revolver" - was a percussion-based firearm involving a cocked hammer and percussion cap set upon a nipple. An elegantly shaped grip formed the handle and there was an underslung trigger loop in its traditional place under the receiver. The cylinder was smooth-sided and offered six chambers for .40 ammunition. The barrel assembly was rounded and smooth typically measuring 7.1 inches long. Unlike contemporary revolvers, there was no loading lever installed which slowed reloading of the weapon.

The Massachusetts Arms Dragoon revolver was produced from 1850 to 1851 and some early forms included a 6.25" barrel while other, later models, introduced 8" long barrels. About 800 of the pistols were manufactured in all and the Massachusetts Arms Company, operating out of Chicopee Falls in Massachusetts, ended their stay in 1876.
Any available statistics for the Massachusetts Arms Model 1850 Dragoon (Wesson & Leavitt) Six-Shot, Percussion Cap Cavalry Revolver are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering initial year of service, country-of-origin and manufacture(s) involved in bringing the weapon to market. Other qualities showcased are related to physical values such as the internal action, available calibers / chamberings, weight and lengths. Global operators are also presented in A-to-Z format as are any model variants available to the series.
Supported Mission Types
Frontline Infantry
Special Forces
Close Quarters Battle
Designated Marksman/Sharpshooter
Area Effect/Suppression
Indirect Fire
Airspace Denial
Attachment Weapon
Internal Design, Weight and Dimensions
Firing Action: Percussion Cap; Revolving Cylinder
Available Caliber(s): .40 Ball
Ammunition Count / Feed: Six-Shot Rotating Cylinder
Barrel Length: 180 mm (7.09 in)
Sighting Assist: Iron

Operating Performance
Rate-of-Fire (RoF): 6 rounds-per-minute (rpm)

Operators List
United States

Model Variants
• Model 1850 Dragoon - Base Series Model; based on the original Wesson & Leavitt product.