From Buffalo Bill to Wild Bill and from Chief Joseph to Geronimo, the most famous guns in the West and the history behind them
More than a few of the actual guns once in the hands of the heroes and villains of America’s Old West still exist, housed in a dozen museums across the country—from the Model 1866 .44-40 that Chief Joseph famously surrendered to General Miles to Wild Bill Hickok’s Colt Model 1851 revolvers; from Buffalo Bill’s .50 caliber breechloading needlegun nicknamed “Lucrezia Borgia” to John Wesley Hardin’s 1860 model .44 SA revolvers.
Famous Firearms of the Old West follows the life stories of a dozen actual pistols, rifles, and shotguns instrumental in shaping America’s history—using them as entrées into the lives of the shooters themselves. This is a vivid portrait of famous Western characters, paired with the guns they used to make themselves famous or, as the case may be, infamous. It is a must for anyone interested in the history and lore of the Wild West, gun hobbyists, and tourists seeking a museum experience with a difference.
Hal Herring is a contributing editor at Field and Stream and an editor-at-large for the online news magazine newwest.net. His fiction, journalism, and essays have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly and the Economist.