Whisky in the Jar / The Brothers Four Many versions of the great folk song.
This one is good.
Westerns have guns. Lotsa guns.
In fact, along with horses, it’s questionable whether it’s really a Western
if it doesn’t have guns in it. Or even worth watching.
Yet I don’t often profile Guns in the Westerns anymore. I stopped.
Not for Political, Social or Spiritual reasons. But because most Westerns use the same guns.
Over and over.
It just became redundant. Ben Hall, however, has a few new (old) Guns that I’ve never seen before.
Let’s check ’em out.
Firstly, you might be wondering why Ben and his friends are bristling with a rather large number of firearms.
There was a good reason.
This was the Cap and Ball era. Pre-cartridge.
Re-loading was a timely exercise – very impractical during a fight.
Solution: carry lots of guns.
I’ll cover Cap and Ball loading and Bullet Making in my next post.
Below: One of Ben’s revolvers: 1856 Tranter .38 caliber, double trigger, five shot, percussion revolver. A revolver of this make was found with Ben Hall at the Billabong where he was killed.
Here’s it’s Cap and Ball Gun Kit.
1856 Tranter .38 caliber, double trigger, five shot, percussion revolver gun kit. Unlikely Ben toted a kit around – but he definitely had all these tools.
May I now confess that I am no gun expert?
I cannot identify everything in this kit.
Though I was in the Calgary Highlanders Militia
and did a lot of shooting when I was kid, I don’t even own a gun now – of any kind.
And haven’t shot one in a long – except in computer games (Where I’m an expert).
Those of you out there who can ID the items in the kit please step forward.
There’s no reward, but I’ll be grateful.
Proper cleaning and maintenance of your guns was essential.
Otherwise jamming, misfires, fouling and other evils could occur.
Another of Ben’s revolvers:
Most of the gun images are from:
Ben Hall Gallery
Streets of Laredo contains most your standard Western gunfare: Yer Colt 45, Yer Winchester ’73, and Yer double barrel shotgun ….
But it also has 2 unique weapons – plus another that’s fairly uncommon.
I was not able to locate any resources that specifically itemized the Guns in Streets of Laredo. It took considerable detective work to discover the identity of at least 2 of the firearms. A Thank You goes to my brother Richard who identified the mysterious and unusual shotgun carried by Charles Martin Smith.
Most of the main characters use handguns at some point Streets of Laredo – including Sissy Spacek and Sonja Baca.
The handgun of choice appears to be the famous Colt 45 – either long or short barrel.
A Colt Refused
Near the beginning Episode 1 (of 3) of Streets of Laredo, James Garner (Captain Woodrow Call) is offered a pearl handled Colt by his employer – which he refuses – upon advice there may ‘strings attached’.
Uncommon Gun Number One
Randy Quaid, who plays the very surly John Wesley Hardin in Streets of Laredo, brandishes anickel plated handgun that looks almost too grand to be a ‘shootin’ iron’ of the Old West.
But there it is. This gun was not easy to for me to identify and I’m still not certain I have it right, but I’m going with a:
Smith & Wesson Schofield
Subsequent editions of a successful weapon design often remain or appear almost identical to the original – even over years of production – with only minor refinements. Or can be copied by other Manufacturers.
In other words, they aren’t easy to identify. So this is just a guess on my part.
Top Breaking handguns.
When you consider that the ‘top breaking’ feature (similar to double barrel shotgun) of this handgun appears to be make loading and unloading quicker and easier, you’d think they would have been more popular, but it seems the side loading style of the Colts was more common. I do not know who originally invented this design, but it was clearly used by other manufacturers as well – including Colt.
NO HUMANS OR HORSES WERE HARMED
IN THE PRODUCTION OF THIS POST.
– The Management
When I initially started My Favorite Westerns, I had intended to include a page/section on the Guns that appear in each movie I profiled. Certain things have evolved however, to make me adjust or re-think this intention.
The first is the number of horrific and disturbing gun incidents over the last few years. Enough said… almost.
The second is less idealistic: many Westerns use the same guns – so identical gun profiles seemed redundant.
BUT/YET … What the hell is a Western without a Gun? You can pretty well define Westernsby guns. There ARE a few Westerns that don’t have guns … very few. Even Little House on the Prairie had an occasional gun.Fact is, if a Old West period piece doesn’t have any guns, most of us wouldn’t even consider it a Western. Or even watch it.
I’m not defending gun culture – or guns. It’s just a fact.
Further, this predilection for guns in our Entertainment is hardly unique. Take a look at the current list of films showing at your local theatre. Over half of them have guns – or violence – be it delivered via sword of Hobbit or gun by Willis.
Guns? Swords? Monsters? Space ships … ? You name it … We shoot it.
We are blood soaked and blood fuelled.
Violence you say? Nahhhh. They’re called ‘Action Movies’.
TV is not exempt. Sports, for instance, is huge on TV … and full of violence. And it’s debatable that we would watch it if it wasn’t. A hockey, football, or baseball game with no hitting is boring. And when there’s no Action we flip the channel – searching for Action/Violence. And what about Cop Shows? Game of Thrones, etc. etc? There’s no end of examples. Even most Reality Shows have Conflictsbuilt into their setup – to raise the Entertainment factor.
“Lights! Camera! Action!” Every day, all day, year ’round, we fight – we kill.
Comic books? You might think you were in a porno shop … if it wasn’t for the killing. Rated G.
VIdeo games? Over 90% have graphic violence and bloodshed. Killing.
Bottom line: WE LOVE THIS STUFF!
And we keep the pushing the envelope – more action, more violence, more graphic, more blood, more killing …
Another thing I truly wonder about is the Desensitization that seems to be occurring. Nobody bats an eye at most of this stuff any more.
The real question though …. is WHY? do we Love this Stuff?
Winchester’s 1873 rifle was the “Rifle that Won the West.” It was chambered in a new, more powerful cartridge, the .44-40—a .44 caliber bullet, propelled by 40 grains of black powder. However, a factor that really insured the success of the 1873 Winchester rifles was that Colt quickly offered its Peacemaker chambered in .44-40, as well. A cowboy could have both a lever-action rifle and his six shooter, and needed only one cartridge belt for both. Most Texas Rangers and every old West cowboy worth his salt carried 1873 rifles. Chappo, the son of Apache war chief Geronimo, packed an 1873. And Buffalo Bill carried an 1873 lever-action rifle along with a pair of .44-40 Colts in 1876 when he worked as an Army scout … Cimmarron Firearms Company http://www.cimarron-firearms.com/repeating-rifles-1/model-1873/special-sporting-1/1873-sporting-rifle-44-wcf-24-in-ca242.html
“A Cowboy’s word is his sacred bond, a handshake is more binding than a contract.” http://www.topspine.ch/html/code_of_the_west.html
Corny as it may sound there truly was a ‘Code’ in the Old West.
And it was very important.
Break your “Word” and no one would deal with you.
It truly threatened your survival.
Too bad not many people feel the same way today.
Open Range – The Gunfight / Part 1:
I didn’t count the bullets – or the bodies – but the climactic gunfight in
Open Range is one of the longest in all Western movies – some 20 minutes
– give or take a bullet.
A number of different types of firearms are used in this exchange:
3 different handguns; 2 rifles and a shotgun.
The fight is a brilliantly choreographed and certainly one of the more memorable gun battles in all Western Film.