The success of the Colt Model 1848 "Dragoon" line (described in a separate entry) prompted Samuel Colt to design a civilian-minded derivative that was more compact and lightweight. This became the Model 1848 "Baby Dragoon" which carried the same general shape and configuration as the full-sized Dragoon with a redesigned front-end managing an octagonal barrel assembly of 3", 4", 5" or 6" length. The same percussion cap actuation system was retained through the chamber was now of a five-shot, .31 caliber design. (original Dragoons were .44 in caliber). Baby Dragoons featured a square-backed trigger ring as seen in the Dragoon First and Second models, a spur trigger on the hammer and a downward-curving pistol grip. 15,500 Baby Dragoons were produced from 1848 into 1850 and, despite their civilian-minded design elements, were pressed into service during the American Civil War due to a need for all manner of small arms in the war.
The Baby Dragoon preceded a whole line of compact, lightweight handguns intended for the civilian market under the Colt brand label.