The grinning man in this bold and clear daguerreotype is depicted proudly brandishing his Colt Dragoon, likely second model. Designed and manufactured by Samuel Colt (1814-1865), Colt revolvers of the 1840s and 1850s – notably the Colt Walker and Colt Dragoon – were unparalleled in the history of firearms and played a key role in the culture of the American West. Unlike earlier single-shot firearms, Colt’s revolutionary revolvers had a rotary cylinder capable of discharging 6 shots without reloading. Introduced in 1847, the Colt Walker was used heavily throughout the Mexican-American War, especially by the Texas Rangers. The Colt Dragoon, a smaller, lighter model, was introduced the following year and became a popular pistol for law enforcement and civilians alike. In the unsettled great American West, many miners and pioneers considered the Colt required equipment and, at the height of the Gold Rush, a Dragoon could trade for several hundred dollars of gold in San Francisco.