Odd guns for famous gunslingers of the west

Discussion in 'General Handgun' started by Range Rat, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. Range Rat

    Range Rat G&G Newbie

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    I was surprised years ago to learn that Billy the Kid used a Starr double-action revolver. Who ever heard of this one? Not me.

    Recently we toured the National Firearms Museum at the NRA Headquarters at Fairfax Va. We saw an exhibit which displayed what was supposedly the carry gun of John Wesley Hardin. It was a weird-looking double action revolver. A very ugly handgun.



    I was under the impression that the west was won by the Colt Peacemaker.

    Apparently, only the "candies" and "gutless wonders" carried the Peacemaker. The real gunfighters carried odd and weird off-brand double action revolvers.

    Can anyone shed any light on this?
     
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  2. ChaZam

    ChaZam G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

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  3. big shrek

    big shrek G&G Evangelist

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    You didn't have choices like you do now...whatever the local store carried, you bought.
    Then you practiced with it until you were competent.

    If you found a nicer one from a corpse, you took it...
    then practiced with it until you figured out if it was better than what you had.
     
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  4. grizcty

    grizcty God, Guns, Glory

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    A good and well researched book to read.
    Is written by Loen Clair Metz, called The Shooters.
     
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  5. elmer fudd

    elmer fudd G&G Newbie

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  6. Rex_Lee

    Rex_Lee G&G Regular

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    If I remember right, Wild Bill Hickock used .44 S&W Russians. An early double action design like this:
     

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  7. Para Cassatt

    Para Cassatt G&G Enthusiast Forum Contributor

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    I believe he used Colt Navy 36 cal. cap & ball single actions. I don't remember if he had backup guns.
     
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  8. samuel

    samuel G&G Newbie

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  9. ChaZam

    ChaZam G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

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    Here is a link that has a lot of history about The Schwend Gun Collection that was housed in the Southwestern Historical Wax Museum in Grand Prairie, Tx. It was destroyed by fire in 1988, but some of it has been recovered and restored. Several pages of pictures and history to click on and read. I had the opportunity of visiting the museum before the fire and it had lots of historical documents, photos, etc in addition to all the collectible firearms, badges, handcuffs, etc. Quite a historical loss that fire was.

    The Schwend Gun Collection - Old West Guns

    PS: Click on the photo of the Bat Masterson revolver at the bottom of the page to access the rest of the pages of pictures and information.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 21, 2010
  10. Range Rat

    Range Rat G&G Newbie

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    ChaZam's reference to the Hardin article was very informative.

    Since Hardin lived a long time, he doubtless owned many guns over the years. The exhibit in the NRA's National Firearms Museum is probably just one of many guns that Hardin owned over the years.
     
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  11. Capt'n Mil Coll

    Capt'n Mil Coll G&G Evangelist

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    Jesse and Frank James owned thousands of handguns. Not really. After Jesse was murdered his mother had visitor after visitor wanting to purchase his firearms. So being an enterprising sort she would go to the gunshops around the area and buy the cheepest junk six shooters she could find. When more people came to the house she would go into a routine about how she really didnt want to sell the guns but she needed money really bad. So she sold guns she paid about a dollar for for a lot more than that.

    Thats why Jesse James firearms are everywhere.
     
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  12. samuel

    samuel G&G Newbie

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    Why,when people talk about old time gunmen don't they ever mention my name.I should be listed with the others. "Sammy The Slug (slinger)".I was the fastest drawer puller upper in the west.(some day I am actually going to put my bullet in the gun.) (I do have one you know) ,,,sam.
     
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  13. Huey Rider

    Huey Rider Rotorhead Savage Forum Contributor

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    I heard from reliable sources it was really "Sammy the Bull Slinger" LOL
     
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  14. Capt'n Mil Coll

    Capt'n Mil Coll G&G Evangelist

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    I thought Andy carried the bullet.
     
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  15. samuel

    samuel G&G Newbie

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    Now I am hurt! I can get insulted anywhere,I don't have to come to you. ,,,sam.
     
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  16. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder G&G Newbie

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    19th century hand gun technology changed fast. Until the late 1830's the only game in town was a flint lock pistol, single shot and not always reliable. In early 1836 Sam Colt patented the Colt Paterson, a five shot revolver in .28 and later in .36 caliber.
    [​IMG]

    This was a MAJOR development in technology. The precussion cap ignition system was much more releiable than the flint lock and haveing five rounds was the assualt weapon of the day. A single Paterson was the equivalent of carrying five flint lock pistols. As Colt learned more about metallurgy they were able to produce larger revolvers. In 1847 Colt introduced the Walker, a massive .44 caliber six round revolver. Note the un-blued cylinder, Colt was concerned that the bluing process would weaken the metal.
    [​IMG]

    The Walker was a large revolver and not really man portable. This lead to the Dragoon models starting in 1848, still a large revolver it was getting closer to what we think of today as a holster gun.
    [​IMG]

    In 1849 Colt introduced the first of the "Pocket" revolvers, the "49'er" or "baby Dragoon". These were a five round .31 caliber revolver.
    [​IMG]

    Two years later the 1851 Colt Navy appears, again we see a giant step forward. A truly man portable, six round revolver in .36 caliber. Commonly refereed to as the "holster frame".
    [​IMG]

    We go nine years before we see anything different from Colt, in 1860 the 1860 Colt Army is introduced, a six round .44 caliber revolver with an improved loading lever, a creeping lever vs a pivoting lever.
    [​IMG]

    During the Civil War there were many new manufacturers, Remington being one of the better known.
    [​IMG]

    The CSA made several counterfeit version of the Colt Navy and imported hand guns from Europe like the LeMat.
    [​IMG]

    At the end of the Civil War we have dozens of manufacturers and cap and ball revolvers are the standard. This is the start of the big westward expansion. It's not until 1873 that we see the Colt SAA being adapted by the Army. Now most men already had a cap and ball revolver of some sort. The new cartridge revolver cost the average man a months pay, not many bought them. A cost effective way to use this new technology was to have your cap and ball revolver converted to use a cartridge. This was fairly common. The cap and ball revolver remained in common use until the turn of the century. Not every one had a Colt SAA like in the movies.

    Almost forgot, Henry McCarty's (Billy the Kid) DA Starr.

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Cyrano

    Cyrano Resident Curmudgeon Forum Contributor

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    Johnny Ringo, an outlaw turned lawman whom I believe turned outlaw again and died on the wrong side of the law, used not only an unusual pistol but an unusual holster too. He carried a LeMat in a cutaway holster mounted on a swivel. Ringo was adept at shotting from the hip and with that swivel, he could pivot his LeMat and shoot before his opponent managed to draw his pistol from the holster.
     
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  18. bobvonb

    bobvonb G&G Evangelist

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    the wiki article on Billy the Kid is interesting, if longwinded. However, I've also read that the Lincoln County War was just a continuation of the Irish vs. English (or Catholic vs. Protestant) conflict that existed across the pond.

    I remember when I was a tadpole and my family drove Rt. 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles in the early fifties and in some town, maybe in Kansas or Oklahoma, I'm not sure which, on every corner there was some older gentleman with a sign reading, "I'm Jesse James". Don't think any of them were armed (I guess mama sold all his guns) but it sure made an impression on a me.
     
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  19. sunwheel29

    sunwheel29 G&G Addict

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    Yeah, you need to realize that $#!+ you see in movies is horse$#!+, not reality.

    By the time the Western Movie was invented around the turn of the last century, Remington and S&W had discontinued most of their old single action army pistols and were making automatics and DA wheelguns. Colt made the Peacemaker right up to WWII. It was selling more New Services and 1911s by then as well as Police Positives. But it kept the Single Action around longer than their contemporaries.
    So when Hollywood started cranking out movies, there were a LOT more Colt Peacemakers available for rough and tumble movie making than say, Starrs, Forhand and Wadsworths, Spiller and Burr's, Hopkins and Allens, and so forth.

    Wild Bill Hickock for example carried a 5 shot .45 caliber Deane and Adams double action .45. Other well known gunmen carried S&W Russians and Americans or even various "Bulldog" revolvers or DAs. The guy who caught Tom Horn carried an automatic.
    While a dandy like Bat Masterson might write to Colt's and special order his ivory handled, nickel plated gun, the typical gunman bought what was available at the mercantile store. It might be a blue Colt or it might be a darn close clone of the Colt made in Belgium.
    I think Wes Hardin's DA revolver was a Colt Thunderer. Billy the kid supposedly carried a Colt Lightning in .41 caliber, which was also a double action gun.

    Many of the old timey gunmen were no different than the Tacticool fools infesting internet firearms forums today who seem to only be interested in whatever is new and different. If the horrid Glock were available back then, many of them would have been all over it. They figured whatever was new gave 'em an advantage over what was tried and true, just like their tupperware toting spiritual descendants.
    Just like todays Tacticool crowd, many of them couldn't hit the side of the barn from the inside either. Which is why they sought any technological advantage they could find.... Which is also why you have accounts of multiple rounds being fired at poker table distance and people missing. Or getting the drop on a foe....

    If you want to know abour REAL WORLD old west gunfighting read the chapter in Teddy Roosevelt's book about his experiences out west.
    Basically real old west gunmen operated by backshooting each other with shotguns and only pulled a handgun when one could get "the drop" on the other.
    Thats how old John Selman shot Wes Hardin. Its also how Hickock bought it at the Saloon in Deadwood.
    Because of hollywood bull$#!+ most people don't know that at the infamous Gunfight at the OK Corrall, only one of the Clanton gang was armed.
    And he got shot out of the saddle at the beginning of the fight! Over forty rounds were fired by the Earps and Holliday. Which was why the Earps fled and were dragged back to Arizona in handcuffs for a legal hearing.
    Wyatt Earp was so unfamiliar with firearms he got in trouble when he dropped a Colt out of a holster and it discharged in a saloon because he had a live round under the hammer. Later, in his biography he told a credulous Stuart Lake about his 'experiences' as a buffalo hunter...with a shotgun.


    In real life Earp never was a US marshall. His brother was. Wyatt was a pimp and gambler and probably never used a gun at all except to scare prostitutes with. As he outlived the real life gunmen he lied about his past when western movies caught on.
    Bat Masterson, albeit the real thing, was a bit of a blowhard. So if somebody said, "Wyatt Earp cleaned up Tombstone" Masterson would agree and point out he was there too, helping! Anything for some fake glory. Just like most modern sports reporters (which is what Masterson eventually became) he was a flake and a bit of a con man. (Any grown man who gives a **** about adults playing childrens games has mental illness problems. If nothing else, keep that in mind. ) Masterson also went around buying old guns from pawn shops and selling them to rubes as the gun he carried when he helped clean up Dodge and so forth.

    The information about Wyatt Earps shady real life past all came out when they were making a movie about Earp by the way that was supposed to star Robert Mitchum. The studio fearing negative publicity about "the Fighting Pimp of Tombstone" as historians began calling Earp, and changed the names of the characters and called the film "Young Billy Young."
    There were probably about 9 face to face shootings in the old west. Hickock vs Coe, I think was one. Dallas Stoudenmire shooting three men was another. (He carried his S&W in his hip pocket during that one).

    Dang. I spent years in college studying all this American frontier stuff and I thought it was just a waste of time....
     
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  20. Range Rat

    Range Rat G&G Newbie

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    Sunwheel29==

    I just got done reading the account of the OK Corral on wikipedia. The following is a link that can be clicked ---

    Gunfight at the O.K. Corral - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    This account does not square with yours. You state that only one cowboy was armed. This is mysterious, since every member of the gunfight from the Earp side was hit in some fashion except Wyatt. In other words, three men took some damage. Where were these bullets coming from? Based on the wikipedia account, it appears that at least three of the cowboys were armed and shooting for all they were worth.

    The only debate after the facts is whether Tom Lowry was armed or not. The debate is hot, and there's as much of a case that he was armed, as that he was not. This was debated extensively in legal hearings after the gunfight. Three of the cowboys were killed -- they were probably all shooting.

    I kind of get a feeling that you are determined to make the whole episode into a big joke, with the whole thing being fake. You remind me of some acquaintances of mine who swear no astronaut ever landed on the moon-- the whole thing was just a scam. If there's any consensus about the OK Corral, I would suggest you are out of it on some extreme fringe.

    Those out there who read this far may want to go back up to the link I provided near the beginning of this posting. Read it and judge for yourselves.

    Best--
     
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