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Wild Bill Hickok

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Shane, Sep 6, 2003.

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  1. Shane

    Shane Member

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    How did Hickok draw his pistols with the butts facing in the opposite direction (when compared to how most people carry revolvers). I've always been curious why he carried his revolvers backwards, and how exactly he drew them (was there an advantage to his technique in those days)?


    Another question: Any good websites on Old West history?
     
  2. IAJack

    IAJack Member

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    I have always been curious of this too.. He was supposed to have been an expert pistol shot? I watched a movie last Sun morning on the History channel about his life and demise. It showed some pretty fancy gun handling etc. If anyone caught it did you happen to count the number of shots he fired in the barn when he went after the gang out to get him? seemed alot for two pistols?

    Also I think he carried two .32 caliber revolvers, I tried looking it up but does anyone know what type?

    Later
     
  3. Shane

    Shane Member

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    I saw that movie too. It was entertaining, but I'm not sure it was historically correct. It also had many problems with a choppy story line IMO. A lot of the stuff on Hickok (in books) suggests that the LAST person he killed was his deputy (on accident). Yet, in the movie he kills several people after he killed his deputy. I'd be very interested in researching both theories.

    I still have the movie on tape, so I could count the bullet shots in the barn in the future just to see if the movie was realistic about that. Although I had high expectations of that movie, I feel it disapointed.....I'd give it just 1.5 stars (below average).
     
  4. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    I never paid much attention to his guns'n'gear, but I've read that he usually had his pistol in his hand before the other guy knew there was a serious problem. I've also read that such was a common method for gunfights, contrary to the Hollywood BS.

    Have your gun in your hand; walk up behind the other guy and call his name; when he turned, you shot him in the front. "Fair fight."

    Hickok was written about as having been a very good shot...

    Art
     
  5. Shane

    Shane Member

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    Most of the modern books that cover the history of that era come to the same conclusion as you did, as a general rule. As a general rule, the "Hollywood" style draws didn't happen. There was pretty much no "chivarly" or "honor" in the Old West--it was kill or be killed and people did what they needed to to survive (including shooting folks in the back).
     
  6. S_O_Laban

    S_O_Laban Member

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    I thought he carried two in 36 caliber? ( I could be wrong:) )
     
  7. IAJack

    IAJack Member

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    Ok .36 sounds right..what was i thinking?
     
  8. Shane

    Shane Member

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    .36 caliber Colt Navy revolvers come to mind. I could be wrong of course though.
     
  9. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    Isn't there a picture of him with his revolvers reversed like this?
     
  10. Shane

    Shane Member

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    Yes, in fact I have that picture in the book "Age Of The Gunfighters" written by Joseph Rosa. The picture shows Hickok with 2 revolvers reversed, and a long knife in his waste belt.

    I can't find any mention though of HOW he drew his (reversed) pistols.
     
  11. Shane

    Shane Member

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    Let me try to post that picture through attachment....
     
  12. Gabby Hayes

    Gabby Hayes Member

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    I seem to recall that the cavalry used to carry their revolver butt-forward in a cross-draw fashion on the right side because their primary weapon was still the saber and the handgun was intended to be used for backup with the left hand. If this is anywhere near true, the style might have be carried over to the general populace for folks who'd become used to it at some time in their past. Than again, maybe this was just part of his "Wild" name ...
     
  13. Shane

    Shane Member

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    Commodore Perry Owens (1852-1918), whom slightly resembled Hickok at a quick glance of a photo, carried his revolver in a cross-draw holster on his left upper leg (butt reversed)....maybe your on to something here?
     
  14. Shane

    Shane Member

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    attached....

    A closer up of Wild Bill and his weaponry arrangement......
     
  15. C.R.Sam

    C.R.Sam Moderator Emeritus

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    Looks to me like, with the butts cocked out like that, same handed draw would be a lot more natural than cross draw.

    For me, butts cocked in works much better for cross draw but is a bugger for same handed draw.

    Then, on the other hand; maby he has the butts cocked out so the guns show better in the picture. Quite possible.

    Sam
     
  16. E357

    E357 Member

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    Butt-forward high in the belt, is like a double cross draw. You can use either hand to draw either weapon. Good while seated around the poker table and is actually faster when drawing out from under those large long coats popular in the old west..

    For CCW I've always preferred cross draw, in case I got injured on my strong side.
     
  17. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    The "easier to draw with a long coat"..

    makes a lot of sense

    try sitting in a chair and you happen to be sitting on your long coat. It would be real tough to draw. Cross draw would be way easier. Same when on horseback.

    Also, as I understand it, a lot of guys of that era just tucked their pistols in their belt. I'm thinkin' the front sight could hang up if you pulled up and forward. Maybe cross draw would clear easier.

    Thing I still don't understand is being in Arizona and wearing a long sleeve shirt and tie and heavy coat over the top.
     
  18. BigG

    BigG Member

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    Wild Bill is one of the fascinating characters of our American West. If you look at the arrangement, two revolvers butt first thru a sash or in a pair of holsters, Bill would cross his arms and have his hands resting on the butts as he talked to the opposition. See the film "Wild Bill" for a good look at Hickok's probable technique.

    Hickok is also the guy who inspired Col. Rex Applegate who found a holograph letter Bill wrote to the editor explaining his technique, I raised my pistol to eye level, like pointing a finger, and fired.

    WILD BILL
     
  19. ACP230

    ACP230 Member

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    The draw Hickock used is discussed as the "Cavalry Draw" in Chic Gaylord's book, Handgunner's Guide.

    "The cavalry draw as used by John Wesley Hardin, Wild Bill Hickok and Doc Holliday, is the fastest known method of drawing and firing a single- action. It is the rarest of draws today because so few will take the time to master it. It takes longer to show results than with the more conventional tied-down holster draw. This draw requires a scabbard held high with an extreme forward tilt. The revolver is held with the bttt reversed and is wrn just behind the right hip. The draw is begun by raising the elbow almost ot shoulder heightm then slammiing the hand back onto the reversed gun butt with the thumb across the hammer. The gun is then thrown forward out of the holster as the elbow is snapped down to the side. This whips the gun around into the firing position. The weight of the gun against the thumb cocks the gun with no conscious effort on the shooter's part. All that is left for you to do is fire. The gun should be fired the instant it is on target."

    I tried this years ago, with an unloaded gun, and it does work. I stopped fooling with it, however, because I almost always pointed the gun at some part of myself as it came out of the holster. A word to the wise should be sufficient, eh?

    Hangunner's Guide was reissued a while ago. It may still be available from Paladin Press.
     
  20. IAJack

    IAJack Member

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    here is a short biography

    http://hem.passagen.se/topic/w.b.hickok.html

    If you do some deeper reading there are quite a few stories or accounts of Bill being on the edge of the law in his ways and enforcment? Another interesting account is that he outright murdered several indians for simply annoying him?
     
  21. greyhound

    greyhound Member

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    Thats the thing I always forget about the Old West - these guns were SA only and had to be cocked for every shot, so the cross-draw seemed to have helped with that.

    PS: for an awesome Old west shootout, go see "Open Range"!
     
  22. RQRWJB

    RQRWJB Member

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    I always heard that he carried them tucked into a wide sash, not a belt.
    What I do know is that they were Colt 1851 Navy .36s.
    I believe they had ivory grips and were heavily engraved. Seems to me a company offered replicas of them.
    When was he killed? I think he continued to carry the cap and ball revolvers even after the advent of cartridge guns.
     
  23. Biff

    Biff Member

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    Carrying a pair of revolvers butt forward had several advantages for Wild Bill. As noted, it was easy to conceal them under a coat. A major advantage to having them under a coat was not concealment, but keeping the caps and powder dry in inclement weather. Also, as previously stated, same-side draw with a handgun in that butt forward carry is extremly fast, but carries the safety hazard of the muzzle crossing the body during the draw. Probably of utmost importance for someone like Hickock, however was the ability to easily access either gun with either hand!
     
  24. Backwoods

    Backwoods Member

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    Wild Bill kept his cap-n-ball Navy Colts' even after cartridge revolvers were freely available. It's reported that he would walk out each morning and empty one of them and return to his rooms. After cleaning and reloading the first one he would go back and repeat the procedure with the other. This kept him in practice and the guns freshly charged. Smart SOB wasn't he?

    Don in Ohio
     
  25. pbman

    pbman Member

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    Butt forword is a great way to carry, and once you get used to it, it works good for a draw. And i don't mean cross draw.I normaly just tuck a gun behind my belt but forward and it is much more comforteble. I tried hard to find a holster to carry this way, but have had no luck.

    With a single action you have to turn your wrist, as you cock the hammer, and bring the gun up, and it works much better than you think.
     
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