Best gunfighter.


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d2wing
January 3, 2012, 09:38 PM
I just read a story in my VFW magazine about a man named Jonathan Davis and two friends were ambushed by 14 murderers in California in 1854. Both friends were shot down, Davis fought back and killed 11 gang members, 7 with a pair of Colts, 4 with a bowie knife. Amazing. The last three fled. Some other miners saw it happened from a distance, it was over by the time they got there. He had served in the Mexican war and had been wounded in the late 1840's. He was an experienced combat vet so he was battled hardened and knew how to fight. In addition, he had to have amazing skill and God on his side, because his hat and coat had 17 bullet holes. BTW not everyone comes out of battle a cool headed gang killer but that is were you find out the truth.

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Skribs
January 3, 2012, 09:40 PM
Sounds like California has changed a lot since 1854.

Mauser lover
January 3, 2012, 09:54 PM
He was from South Carolina (according to the errornet), so California hasn't changed much, unfortunately. We still have a big problem with bands of murderers; usually called gangs now.

J-Bar
January 4, 2012, 08:58 AM
Colts in 1854 were cap and ball revolvers. Usually they were carried with hammer down on an empty chamber, but let's say the had all 6 chambers of both guns loaded and the hammer down on a safety pin between chambers...

So he killed 7 bad guys using no more than 12 (maybe 10) shots from percussion guns, likely 1851 Navies in .36 caliber. (The Walker Colt came out in 1847, and was .44 caliber but they are pretty heavy, most folks would not pack two of them routinely. The 1860 Army .44 would be 6 years in the future.) That's pretty good performance for both gun and man in combat.

threoh8
January 4, 2012, 10:40 AM
Many of the percussion-era Colts could be carried fully loaded, with the hammer resting on a pin between the cylinders. That locked the cylinder so it would not rotate until the hammer was pulled back. Pretty safe, and effective.

http://www.antiquearmsinc.com/images/1851-colt-navy-squareback/1851-colt-navy-squareback-12.jpg

lobo9er
January 4, 2012, 10:45 AM
Sounds like California has changed a lot since 1854.

yep no more murderers, murders, gang members, or need for guns.

InkEd
January 4, 2012, 10:46 AM
That is an impressive story. I wonder about the accuracy of it (or any similar exploit from the time.) Either way it's interesting to read. When talking about the "best gunfighter" of the old days, I would say any of the guys that actually lived to old age like Bat Masterson would be the "best."

X-Rap
January 4, 2012, 10:53 AM
I bet back in the days of hard reloads and up close hand to hand combat the guys who did it a lot and survived were pretty dam good at it, even today with a dozen yrs of CQB fighting I bet there are guys who have carved out quite a niche in the history of prolific gun fighters after many tough combat tours. I hope more of their stories will be heard because they deserve their place in gun fighting history.

xfyrfiter
January 4, 2012, 12:00 PM
Most historians will call John Wesley Hardin the best, or worst, (depends on your point of view of course) of the old west gunfighters. Earp and Masterson were more well known, but only because of the penny dreadful novels of the day.

threoh8
January 4, 2012, 12:19 PM
Not sure I'd call him a gunfighter, but Jim Bowie was famous for having "won" a gunfight with a knife.

The Lone Haranguer
January 4, 2012, 12:53 PM
In the modern era, I nominate Jim Cirillo and Lance Thomas. Regarding the former, his partner, Bill Allard, was as much in the thick of the action, but was unwilling to write about it, so Cirillo was the one who became famous.

d2wing
January 4, 2012, 05:50 PM
I could only find reference to 2 Colt revolvers. It doesn't say what model. I did find that he had been a Captian in the Army and a swordsman too. It all had to be at close range
so he was pretty busy. I don't understand why a well documented amazing event like that is not better known. I just heard of it.

rcmodel
January 4, 2012, 07:57 PM
I would add a few semi-modern gunman to the list.
Charles Askins Jr. and Bill Jordan probably killed more men in gun battles than history will ever know about.

Askins sometimes bragged, but Jorden never did, so we will never know.

rc

MrBorland
January 4, 2012, 10:12 PM
I would add a few semi-modern gunman to the list.
Charles Askins Jr. and Bill Jordan

You gotta include Jelly Bryce (http://www.gutterfighting.org/jellybryce.html). ;)

fallingbird
January 4, 2012, 11:32 PM
Sounds like Jelly was one bad dude. Great read.

d2wing
January 5, 2012, 04:15 PM
No doubt some great gunfighters. But none of them faced 14 armed men and killed 11 at one time, 4 with a knife. This story was verified by witnesses and published in newspapers. I would like to more about the man, his life and what all he did but that was before the popular books written about later gunfighters. Unlike Davey Crockett, Jim Bowie and others he was not otherwise famous. I enjoyed the Jelly Bryce article thanks for that link. Another amazing good guy.

lobo9er
January 5, 2012, 04:45 PM
He took on the entire train – 40 men – at once, killing three and wounding eight more with a ferocious series of face-stabs

This guy is pretty bad a$$ beat out 40 attackers armed with guns and knives with his kukri. Bishnu Shrestha, ex gurkha infantry.

http://www.badassoftheweek.com/shrestha.html

lobo9er
January 5, 2012, 04:52 PM
Dipprasad Pun, another gurkha might fit OP description a little better as he used firearms. After running out of ammo he threw his tripod his gun was on at one of the 30 taliban that was attacking him.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1369743/Gurkha-fought-Taliban-awarded-Gallantry-Cross.html
Better die gurkha than live coward!

hso
January 5, 2012, 05:05 PM
I'd consider it to be a work of fiction and have little relevance to us expect as an entertaining story.

OTOH, keep in mind that without the advanced emergency medical care found today many more people would die than do. It is possible that at close quarters and with a ferocity driven by need and seizing the initiative an individual with good skills might defeat several attackers.

d2wing
January 5, 2012, 06:32 PM
Great soldiers are another catagory, In wartime PFC. Herbert K. Pililaau while covering the retreat of his unit duribng the Korean war killed 40 Chinese communists with a BAR, hand grenades, entenching tool and bare fists until he himself was killed. PFC John McKinney on May 11, 1945 Killed at least 40 Japanese useing a machine gun, rifle, rifle butt and knife. Considering the times and arms used.
For a civilian, with the arms used, I don't know of any single gunfights that exceed what Capt J. Davis did, but it would be interesting to know. Those Gurkhas were very impressive as well. I only count the good guys.

wannabeagunsmith
January 5, 2012, 06:38 PM
Haha all those gangstas running from one guy they thought they could kill. Betcha back then he had no reason to get a ccw permit cause cali used to be as good as the rest of the country. ;) BTW, I know that there used to be no such thing as a ccw.

lobo9er
January 5, 2012, 06:46 PM
no ccw? must have been scary time. I wonder if it was as scary vermont is today?

Zombiphobia
January 5, 2012, 07:02 PM
I'd like to point out that 'newspaper verification' means diddly. Reporters are habitual exhaggeraters.

d2wing
January 5, 2012, 07:23 PM
Hard to argue with that Zombi.

MachIVshooter
January 5, 2012, 11:23 PM
Colts in 1854 were cap and ball revolvers. Usually they were carried with hammer down on an empty chamber, but let's say the had all 6 chambers of both guns loaded and the hammer down on a safety pin between chambers...

So he killed 7 bad guys using no more than 12 (maybe 10) shots from percussion guns, likely 1851 Navies in .36 caliber. (The Walker Colt came out in 1847, and was .44 caliber but they are pretty heavy, most folks would not pack two of them routinely. The 1860 Army .44 would be 6 years in the future.) That's pretty good performance for both gun and man in combat.

I would guess he probably emptied his own, but that there was no shortage of guns lying about.

d2wing
January 6, 2012, 06:00 PM
I did a little more checking on this story. There was an inquest the next day, bodies buried, and reports filed. Later the story was questioned and verified to be true. The Capt was a man of high reputation, was modest and did not seek or gain anything. I also read that he already had a reputation as a gunfighter and swordsman. There a few accoints of this story so it appears to be true. More so than of some of the more popular stories.

Win73
January 7, 2012, 10:20 PM
Most historians will call John Wesley Hardin the best, or worst, (depends on your point of view of course) of the old west gunfighters. Earp and Masterson were more well known, but only because of the penny dreadful novels of the day.

Cousin Wes was good with a gun, no doubt about that. In his autobiograhpy, he claimed to have backed down Hickock while Hickock was marshall of Abilene. At the time Abilene had a city ordinance against carrying guns. Hickock told Hardin to give him his guns. Hardin took them out and handed them to Hickock butt first but did what he called a "border roll" and got the drop on Hickock. Some say that incident didn't happen but it was a fact that Hickock let Hardin keep his guns and even became friends with Hardin.

The general consensus is that Hardin killed around 40 men. The family can overlook that minor character flaw of killing 40 men but toward the end of his life he did something that we just can't forgive. He went too far. It was beyond the pale. He became a lawyer!!!

Sobel
January 7, 2012, 11:00 PM
gunfighter as in pistols like draw at high noon or deadliest with their respective firearm? Simo Hayha was a beast but everyone knows of that fellow, same with Zaitsev and the soviet female snipers.

X-Rap
January 8, 2012, 02:33 PM
Porter Rockwell and Tom ThreePersons probably would fall in this group somewhere.
I have read accounts that certainly put them into the prolific catagory.Perry Owens from AZ knew his way around a gunfight as well.

Steel Talon
January 8, 2012, 02:50 PM
FBI agent D.A."Jelly" Brice

d2wing
January 8, 2012, 06:04 PM
Hardin doesn't count. Good guys not back shooters and murders.

Steel Talon
January 8, 2012, 11:33 PM
John Slaughter Rancher/lawman Cochise County Arizona

http://www.franksrealm.com/Indians/Lawmen/pages/lawman-johnhortonslaughter.htm

xXxplosive
January 8, 2012, 11:40 PM
My vote..... for Cirillo also.

Win73
January 9, 2012, 08:30 PM
Hardin doesn't count. Good guys not back shooters and murders.

I won't say Cousin Wes was a good person. But I don't believe the original post was looking for good people but people who were good with guns. So far as I know he didn't shoot people in the back. He didn't have to. In fact, one time someone shot him in the back, then he turned around and killed the fellow that shot him.

A deputy sheriff once tried to arrest Hardin. Hardin gave him his gun. Then the deputy said, "Now, I am going to kill you!" But Hardin was able to draw another gun and kill the deputy. That was what Hardin was eventually sent to prison for.

Hardin was killed in El Paso in 1895. John Selman, Sr. shot him in the back of the head in the Acme Saloon. Selman claimed he shot him in the eye and the bullet came out the back of his head. A local newpaper at the time said if he shot him in the eye, it was good marksmanship. If he shot him in the back it was good judgement.

Win73
January 9, 2012, 08:43 PM
gunfighter as in pistols like draw at high noon

The Hollywood version of the gunfight rarely happened. In fact the fast draw holster is a Hollywood invention. And the so called gunman's walk. Most gunfights took place when the two (or more) protaganists unexpectedly met each other and started grabbing guns. Or else one ambushed the other.

A rare exception to this was the Jim Courtright/Luke Short fight. They met in the street and essentially drew on signal. I don't remember right now who won the fight, but the winner shot the other one's thumb off with his first shot (I am sure not deliberately). The loser then tried to switch his gun to his other hand (single action revolver) but the winner was able to kill him with his second shot.

Stevie-Ray
January 10, 2012, 05:48 PM
He was from South Carolina (according to the errornet), so California hasn't changed much, unfortunately. We still have a big problem with bands of murderers; usually called gangs now.
:DHehehehe. Sorry, I'm not laughing at your situation, just your matter-of-fact way of putting it.

parsimonious_instead
January 10, 2012, 10:23 PM
Some of these stories can be read in a fair amount of detail in Paul Kirchner's books Deadliest Men, and More of the Deadliest Men who ever lived.
I believe the encounter the OP describes is in Kirchner's second book, as is the story of John Wesley Hardin.
Lance Thomas appears in the first book, as do Ned Christie and Sergeant York.
Absent from either are a legendary lawman named Bass Reeves and Cirillo, with whom Kirchner was apparently friends.
Worth mentioning are Ty Cobb(!) and a sheriff named Tom Allen, who had the distinction of never having to kill a man while dispensing justice, and never suffering any serious injury.

kentucky bucky
January 10, 2012, 10:32 PM
I vote for Sgt. Alvin York. If it doesn't have to be in the Old West.

WalkAbout
January 11, 2012, 12:24 PM
Simo Hayha. He was a Finnish sniper with over 700 Soviet kills to his name. He had a confirmed 505 kills with an iron-sight Mosin Nagant and an additional 200 plus with a 9mm Suomi. He did all that in about 100 days that had very limited daylight hours. He averaged 7 kills a DAY. He performed all these kills in -20 to -40 degree weather, often packing snow into his mouth to prevent his position from being given away by his breath vapors. The Soviets launched several attempts to kill him with counter-snipers and artillery, and eventually managed to shoot him in the face in an ambush. He survived and recovered from his wound. He died in 2002 at the age of 96. I'm sorry if some people don't want to accept a sniper as a gunfighter, but his 200+ additional kills with a 9mm SMG should qualify him above and beyond that.

http://www.badassoftheweek.com/hayha.html

X-Rap
January 11, 2012, 01:53 PM
Hayha's numbers are impressive but he was fighting in what was probably one of the most target rich environments in modern times.
He no doubt had the key components to being a top notch gunfighter and proved it.
Willing to pull the trigger, accuracy, stealth, nerves of steel and a cold heart. He also was a Patriot and that kind of passion can drive a human to amazing levels.

The_Shootist
January 11, 2012, 10:45 PM
My vote..... for Cirillo also.
Well - this blogpost points a less than flattering description:

http://benjaminwhitmer.com/index.php/2010/03/jim-cirillo-and-police-corruption/

d2wing
January 13, 2012, 02:31 PM
IMHO none of those guys did anything near what Capt Davis did considering the odds and in self defence in single civilian fights. A important fact is his party was ambushed and at a disavantage. Also the event is not colored by dubious morality and ethics on his part. Capt Davis wasn't looking for trouble or gunning men down in ambush and was a Civilian at the time from what I gather. Military fights are a whole different thing and as posted before several known cases denote even greater deeds of skill and valor. Like all the men on the Texas side at the Alamo, Sargent York, Audie Murphy and countless others whose stories are not as well known. Now if Cirillo or others mentioned had been jumped by over a dozen armed men at close range and killed most of them in one fight you'd have something to talk about. Maybe he could have, maybe any number of guys could have, but one guy did.
But I do enjoy hearing about other candiates. I would think Hickock would come to mind.

fallout mike
January 13, 2012, 10:17 PM
It was not uncommon for men to carry 4 or more revolvers back then bc of the difficulty of reloading. Especially people that had reason to be concerned for their.health

parsimonious_instead
January 15, 2012, 08:31 AM
It was not uncommon for men to carry 4 or more revolvers back then bc of the difficulty of reloading. Especially people that had reason to be concerned for their.health

As I understand it, after about three or four cylinders' worth of shooting a black powder revolver, they were pretty badly fouled.
So I surmise that "multiple" revolvers were carried not just for an "instant reload" but because they dirtied up rather quickly.

Ramone
January 15, 2012, 07:36 PM
In in the early '80s I had the privilege of shaking the hand of Capt. Chuck Johnston, who had recently defeated a column of Israeli Tanks with a M1911A1 Pistol, .45 Caliber.

That ranks pretty high in my book.

But the most impressive modern day pistolero, though he was not one of the good guys, had to be Larry Davis, who shot six NYPD officers and escaped when they raided his apartment (he was aquitted on those charges, as the court found that they were coming in to kill him).

d2wing
January 15, 2012, 08:22 PM
That is interesting Ramone. Any details or links?

Ramone
January 15, 2012, 08:31 PM
Sure!

Larry Davis:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Davis_(criminal)

I really had to dig for this one:

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AMH/XX/MidEast/Lebanon-1982-1984/USMC-Lebanon82/img/USMC-Lebanon82-39.jpg

scroll down to pg 45

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AMH/XX/MidEast/Lebanon-1982-1984/USMC-Lebanon82/img/USMC-Lebanon82-39.jpg

d2wing
January 16, 2012, 03:25 PM
Not interested in criminals like Larry Davis. But I did look up Capt Chuck Johnson. Amazing bravery. I like that guy. Good to know.

Ramone
January 16, 2012, 08:06 PM
Not interested in criminals like Larry Davis. But I did look up Capt Chuck Johnson. Amazing bravery. I like that guy. Good to know.

A fine officer,an outstanding Marine. One of the truly good guys.

Scuttlebutt has it that he was forced into an early retirement due to the Reagan Administrations desire to down-play the conflicts between the USMC and the IDF in that theater.

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