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Relive Old West Gunplay and Period Dress, with Your Own Cowboy Alias

Wild West: Incorrect Impressions About Wild West Guns

For many, many years, a boatload of wrong ideas have cropped up regarding Wild West guns. Books, magazines, and films have helped brand these western firearms as a symbol of disgrace and infamy. One-shot kills, high noon duels, and desperadoes shooting up every town they visit – most of these incidents are incorrect. You’ll be surprised that what you’ve accepted as true and historical about guns of the Wild West are mostly false impressions.


Wild West gun


Dueling was an everyday occurrence


Everyone knows this familiar scene in western paperbacks and classic cowboy movies. Two men at odds with each other must settle their dispute at high noon. The quickest to draw his gun and shoot his opponent wins. Shootouts like this very rarely occurs in those days, if they ever do at all. Images of dueling cowboys were made popular in classic western novels and films, further fanned by folk tales and urban legends to attract tourists.


A duel ends with one accurately placed bullet


If this were true, then two angry men will face each other on the street, and haphazardously fire at each other. They will do their best to empty their gun chambers as fast as they can just to hit the other guy first. Being in a tense and stressful situation, it is not possible even for a good shot to hit his opponent with a well-aimed shot. In the end, one will eventually bite the dust after a sloppy and disorderly show of frantic gunplay, instead of the clean one-shot kill depicted in classic western films.


Everyone carried their gun anywhere in those days


Not true. Most frontiersman and ranch owners did own a firearm or two. However, not everyone carried a gun everywhere they go. A gun was used mainly for hunting and as a protection against outlaws when needed. No one would go into town carrying a firearm, specially not into the general store or any public place. To do so, a gun-carrying person risks running into trouble with the law.


Nearly everyone you meet is a sharpshooter


Men of the Wild West period went to settle in new lands with their family to start a new life for them. The men found jobs and were able to support their household. The family would most likely have a firearm solely to protect themselves and their property. Since most of the men never held a weapon in their life, one cannot expect them to be sharpshooters who can hit a coin in midair. Shooting a pistol off an opponent’s hand is a far-fetched idea taken from cowboy movies. There were gunslingers, of course, but they are not likely to find trouble with anybody.


A shooting incident always occur somewhere


That statement is highly exaggerated. The most violent places in the Wild West like Dodge City and Wichita have recorded only 45 deaths in 15 years, from 1870 to 1885. There were only a total of 5 deaths recorded in Tombstone in its wildest year.


A revolver is the most popular weapon to carry


Credit:Taylors & Company, Inc.

On the contrary, most men would rather carry around a rifle or a shotgun. A revolver’s effective range could just be up to 30 yards, usually for shooting at people. A rifle has more range and better accuracy. No wonder the weapons of choice are the longer-barreled rifle and shotgun. Both offer better protection against bad-intentioned trespassers on your property and wild animals in the open country.


It was popular for men to wear their pistols at the hip


Cowboys wearing their pistols in low-hanging holsters at the hip was may look cool on John Wayne and other actors on the big screen. In real life, however, this Hollywood hip fashion isn’t very sensible as it doesn’t provide quick access to the pistol. Most people in the Wild West carry their gun where they can reach for it more quickly. Thus, they prefer to conceal their weapon in a holster at their waist or belt.



There were no gun laws or gun control during the period


There may have been more regulatory laws on carrying firearms in the old Western days. Gun laws may have been stricter then especially in newly-established towns. This is to show how safe the town is and draw in more people. There were sheriffs and lawmen around to provide safety to local folks as well as new settlers. Unlike the movies where bandits overran the town, the first laws to be enforced in towns were gun control laws.





One Comment

  1. Actually, some popular cowboys like Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy wore buscadero style low hanging holsters, but John Wayne did not. His holster and belt were traditional style. His hung somewhat lower in that he pushed down and back on it all the time.

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