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Old July 26, 2000, 09:58 AM   #1
45automan
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What kind of gun did Wild Bill Hickock and Wyatt Earp use?

Hey guys what kinds of guns did these fellows carry and use? I think Wild Bill used Colt cap and ball pistols. What caliber? Earp i think used a 45LC peacemaker. Anyone know more about this than me? Also i saw a write up in a gun mag a while back titled How good where wild bills Colt's? They tested them in gelitin with the same loads that were used in those days,and they were quite impressive! One hell of a wound track if i recall. What company if any puts out reproductions of these kinds of guns if any? Cowboy action shooting seems really popular as of late so someone must know something of these guns,right? Thanks guys 45automan
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Old July 26, 2000, 10:14 AM   #2
Don Gwinn
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According to my History of the West professor, Wyatt Earp did use a .45 LC but I don't recall the brand. I believe it was a Colt. Also, if I recall correctly, for at least part of his career he used one with about a 7.5 inch barrel. Earp and his brothers were actually known as great lawmen because of their gentleness at the time, according to Dr. Urban. They would pistolwhip drunken cowboys into submission when lesser men would simply have shot 'em full of holes, and the next day when the young men woke up sober they often realized how close they'd come to death.
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Old July 26, 2000, 10:31 AM   #3
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Earp did in fact carry a Colt Single Action Army, 7.5", .45LC. He, as well as a few others, were given the same gun with a 12" barrel by author Ned Buntline. The long barreled single actions have been known as Buntlines ever since. There have been no documented cases of any of those given the 12" guns actually using them. In fact there have been reports of many of them being shortened by the recipient to a shorter, more managable barrel length.
There are several companies offering reproductions of the Colt SAA. Most are actually manufatured by Aldo Uberti of Italy and finished by the company whose name appears on them. Although there are other manufacuters as well. There a lot of orginal Colts available used on the market in all three "generations". Prices are high for any and outrages for some. The Ruger Vaquero is designed to simulate the Colt SAA. However it incorporates many modern features.

James Butler Hickock, aka Wild Bill, carried a matched pair of Colt 1851 Navy cap and ball revolvers chambered in .36 caliber. Initially he carried the guns in a sash tied around his waste. In years later he had holsters fashioned into his trouser pockets. The .36 C&B caliber is comparable to the modern .380. Not eactly a man stopper by contemporary standards. Hickock used one to dispatch a man named Tillman on the town square in Springfield, Missouri at over 20 paces. One shot was all that was needed. A testiment to shot placement. It was one of the few, very few, documented "High Noon-middle-of-the-street-Hollywood gunsfights in fronteir history.
There are several companies offering reproductions of the 1851 Navies. Again most are manufactured by Uberti. If you decide to purchase I would recommend the steel frame version.

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Old July 26, 2000, 11:59 AM   #4
panzerfuehrer
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Should also be noted that Hickok took daily target practice by emptying his Colts, and loading them fresh.

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Old July 26, 2000, 01:59 PM   #5
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by panzerfuehrer:
Should also be noted that Hickok took daily target practice by emptying his Colts, and loading them fresh.
[/quote]

Important to note that black powder guns need to be entirely disassembled and cleaned to prevent corrosion from powder and primer caps.

It was often the thorough cleaning and attention to the finish/fit of the gun's parts that helped separate the sharpshooter from one whom merely packed a handgun.

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Old July 26, 2000, 02:59 PM   #6
panzerfuehrer
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Absolutely correct xero. Had an 1858 Remington Army that was fun to shoot, but a royal pain to clean. Therefore, it didn't get much shooting. Finally wound up making it a part of a trade.

Having to grease the chambers also makes things especially messy, particularly in the warmer months.

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Old July 26, 2000, 03:00 PM   #7
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The gunfight in Springfield, against the frontiersman and former confederate soldier Tillman, likely exacerbated by each of the participants previous loyalties, has been called the first gunfight, at least in the high-noon, drawn-down style.

I just read something that suggests Hickock didn't carry his guns in the sash ever, b/c the 1851 Navy Colt was prone to getting the loading levers caught in such a rig. The author suggests that Hickock wore a holster arrangement out of direct sight, possibly under the sash.

[This message has been edited by B Shipley (edited July 26, 2000).]
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Old July 26, 2000, 06:25 PM   #8
George Hill
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When I visited Tombstone (- what 8 years ago?) I had a chance to look at some replicas of these famous guns... Very Cool.

Why in the movies do these streets look so wide and open when in fact you could spit from one side to the other?
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Old July 26, 2000, 07:59 PM   #9
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George, some of the Hollywood streets are a lot wider than the real ones were. And they pull some tricks also. They usually have the doors where the hero goes in and out made small, so the hero looks taller. And the doors where the women stand are higher, so the "helpless" women look smaller.

They had a problem with Alan Ladd, who was only a bit over 5 feet tall. Ever notice the number of times he is on a stair case or posed in a way that the female lead won't tower over him? He stood on a box for the kissing scenes. And in Shane, he couldn't fire a SAA fast enough with his small hand, so they gave him a Colt 1917 for the big saloon scene. (You can't see it on the small screen, but it's there in the movie if you look quick.)

But his daughter-in-law is sure OK.

Jim
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Old July 26, 2000, 09:20 PM   #10
Jim V
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Earp used Colt SAA's of various barrel lengths but also carried a S&W American revolver at one point in his life.

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Old July 26, 2000, 09:27 PM   #11
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The fight between Tillman and Hickock came about after Hickcock lost his watch to Tillman in a poker game. He had given the watch to Tillman with a warning not to wear it in public. Later when Tillamn appeared on the street wearing watch the fight ensued.
They reeact the gunfight every year during "Springfield Days" or some such. (I live in the sticks and try to stay out of town. ) The two were standing over thirty paces from each other. Given the distance and crude sights on the 1851 it was a very good shot.

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Old July 27, 2000, 10:40 AM   #12
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I had heard it was about bad blood from the war, and it still could've been, given your more detailed explanation.
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Old July 27, 2000, 02:50 PM   #13
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Gunslinger-

Many out there still believe that Wyatt Earp used a Colt Buntline Special with a 12" barrel. As the story goes, Wyatt and other "worthy" Dodge City Lawmen were presented with these special pistols by dime-novelist Ned Buntline in 1876. The origin of this story started with Stuart Lake's book where Lake supposedly quoted Earp as saying that the Buntline was his favorite weapon. This is the only evidence that has ever existed that Wyatt Earp ever used such a weapon. Lake's book and quotes contained therein must be taken with less than a grain of salt. Lake admitted in later years that few, if any quotes in his book Frontier Marshal came from Earp and that he was often able to "put words in the mouth" of the aging lawman.

I won't go into all the reasons why it is extremely unlikely, if not impossible that Wyatt Earp ever owned or used a 12" Colt Buntline Special. But for the die hard Earp traditionalist who believes Lake's book as gospel, I will provide just a few of the main reasons why this legendary gun probably never existed:

1. Wyatt was almost unknown except in local circles in 1876. He was not the national figure at that time that would have come to the famous Buntline's attention.

2. Colt records show that the original Buntline Specials were made with 10" and 16" barrels but none with 12".

3. Colt did not ship any 12" Peacemakers until August 30, 1892.

4. When Earp died he left his entire personal collection to friend John Flood, Flood was unable to find any such gun. Flood would also go on to say that he and Earp talked about guns often and Earp never mentioned such a pistol.

5. Earp would later tell a friend, "I don't like a gun with a longer barrel. Sometimes an inch or two makes a difference when you want to jerk it quickly."

6. Earp never stated to anyone, except in the fictitious Frontier Marshal that he used a 12" Buntline Special.

For those who want to know exactly what kind of gun Wyatt used at the OK Corral Shoot-Out, it is believed to have been a 8" .44 Caliber 1869 Model Smith and Wesson. Earp did state to friend John Flood that this was the gun he used in the shoot-out and the pistol is still in the collection of John Gilchriese, who inherited it from John Flood. The information for this page came from William Shillingberg's Wyatt Earp and the "Buntline Special" Myth. I would suggest anyone wanting more information on this to check this book out and read it.


[This message has been edited by BB (edited July 27, 2000).]
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Old July 27, 2000, 03:28 PM   #14
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BTW, I just spent the day in Tombstone (for the third time) last month on the way back from a visit to the Grand Canyon and got the chance to talk to a lot of the locals...and you'd better believe that the debate about who was in the right (if anyone) in the OK Corral shootout is STILL a living one.
For the record, the Bartender at the Crystal Palace likes the Cowboys, while the manager of Spangenburg's Gun Shop favors the Earps.
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Old July 27, 2000, 09:55 PM   #15
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by RikWriter:
BTW, I just spent the day in Tombstone (for the third time) last month on the way back from a visit to the Grand Canyon and got the chance to talk to a lot of the locals...and you'd better believe that the debate about who was in the right (if anyone) in the OK Corral shootout is STILL a living one.
For the record, the Bartender at the Crystal Palace likes the Cowboys, while the manager of Spangenburg's Gun Shop favors the Earps.
[/quote]

A while back the SASS "Cowboy Chronicle" published a story that was supposed to be from a written account by an actual witness . The meat of the story is that the Earps butchered those fellas as they tried to leave town . If anyone still has that copy maybe they can give a little more info .



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Old July 27, 2000, 10:14 PM   #16
RikWriter
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Paratrooper, I would doubt that account. The gunfight was witnessed by several people, most of them neutral in the feud, and it is pretty well established what happened.
It is in much dispute as to whose fault the feud was, but it was well established that Ike Clanton had been making threats against the Earps all night long, and had been hunting for someone to give him a gun all that morning. It was very fair to assume that once his friends arrived with guns, that he would start that fight.
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Old July 28, 2000, 12:27 AM   #17
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Glock 17 assault pistols with armor piercing teflon coated bullets. Ever visit the Center for Prevention of Handgun Violence home page? I learn something new each day.

www.cphv.org

Oh, and please note that if you enter their number for the CFC donation and donate $.01, they will send you a mailer that costs $.33 to mail to you. I have been enlightened by their literature.

[This message has been edited by badgerarms (edited July 28, 2000).]
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Old March 11, 2010, 09:41 PM   #18
ZVP
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Why a .36 in Hickocks hand?

I still wonder what truely drove Hickock to choose the less powerfull .36 Colt over the .44 Army?
I suppose the superior qaccuracy of the .36 Navy and low recoil had a lot to do with his choice. SUrely the power of the Navy was not the issue here!
Maybe the high velocity of the .36 Navy made it more likely to penetrate the heavy clothing of the era and that it still retained enough velocity to reach the vital points that could bring a fight to an end? Maybe similar to the high penetration of the 9mm?
I own both a .36 Uberti London and a .44 navy replica and a pair of Remington .44 armies. I am going to try and devise some sort of test to help to understand Hicock's choice.
What is your opnion of Hickock's choice?
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Old March 11, 2010, 09:49 PM   #19
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Holy old thread Batman!
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Old March 11, 2010, 09:50 PM   #20
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Quote:
Glock 17 assault pistols with armor piercing teflon coated bullets. Ever visit the Center for Prevention of Handgun Violence home page? I learn something new each day.
Maybe I'm just bad-tempered, but that website makes me so angry I could just spit. What narrow-minded, bigoted people. I don't even know what to say.

I'm sending $50 to the NRA right now.
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Old March 11, 2010, 09:57 PM   #21
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Umm... Left field there much?
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Old March 11, 2010, 10:03 PM   #22
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How so?
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Old March 11, 2010, 10:09 PM   #23
w_houle
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How so? What does:
Quote:
Glock 17 assault pistols with armor piercing teflon coated bullets. Ever visit the Center for Prevention of Handgun Violence home page? I learn something new each day.

www.cphv.org

Oh, and please note that if you enter their number for the CFC donation and donate $.01, they will send you a mailer that costs $.33 to mail to you. I have been enlightened by their literature.
have to do with anything, or did I miss something?
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Old March 11, 2010, 10:11 PM   #24
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Oh, you meant the original post. I suppose it sort of is out of left field. I thought you meant my post.

'Tis disgusting nonetheless.
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Old March 11, 2010, 10:30 PM   #25
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As B.N.Real pointed out, this thread is about 10 years old, you guys do realize that, right?

In my opinion, ZVP resurrected the thread for a legitimate reason (and that's rare for such an old thread), but arguing about anything other than Hickock's pistol choice just seems silly at this point.
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