These Wild West guns were used to tame the American West.
Countless gun fights were fought on the vast landscapes of the American West. Soldiers, cowboys, frontiersmen, bandits and sometimes Native Americans all relied on their firearms to survive the perils of the West. This slideshow explores five of the most popular Wild West guns. Each of them were revolutionary in their own right, and each inspired countless gun designs.
In the 19th Century, Colt and Winchester were the dominant Wild West gun designers. The Winchester Model 1873 is widely considered “The Gun that Won the West,” and the Colt Single Action Army, a standard sidearms for gunmen of the West, is one of the most legendary guns of all time.
Click through the slideshow to view some of the most famous Wild West guns.
To view more guns used in the American West, check out the NRA’s National Firearms Museum website.
Do you think we should have included different guns in this list? Let us know in the comments below.
Winchester Lever Action 1873
The term “the Gun That Won the West,” applies most to the Winchester Model 1873 Repeating Rifle. With more than 720,000 of them in circulation, and originally only $20 per rifle, the Winchester 1873 was accessible to just about any gunmen who wanted one. Frontiersmen were not the only ones to use the rifle; evidence shows that Native Americans who fought in the Battle of Little Bighorn used the Winchester Model 1873.
Colt Single Action Army
The Colt Single Action Army, also known as the Colt 45 or “Peacemaker,” was perhaps the most famous pistol of the American West. The Colt Single Action Army had a patented six-chambered bore design that made it an innovative handgun for its time. The pistol was a standard issue sidearm for soldiers during the Indian Wars. The gun was so popular that it has been brought back for several reissues since it was released.
Colt Model 1860 New Army
The Colt Model 1860 New Army was one of the top pistols used in the American Civil War and Indian Wars. It was a standard sidearm for U.S. Army officers, infantry and calvary men. The Model 1860 was single-action, meaning the shooter had to cock the gun’s action each time before shooting. While that may seem cumbersome by today’s standards, it was an innovative firearm on the frontiers of the American West.
The Colt Walker was the most powerful handgun of its era. It was a big, powerful pistol that had the man-stopping power of a rifle. Legendary gunmaker Samuel Colt designed the Colt Walker in 1836 for U.S. Army Captain Samuel Walker, a Texas Ranger who also fought with the US Army in the Indian Wars. When the gun was introduced in 1847, it became a mainstay of US Army calvary soldiers.
Henry Lever Rifle 1860
The Henry Rifle was one of the most legendary and widely used rifles in the American West. Storied gunmaker Benjamin Henry designed the rifle in 1850. By 1860 it had become one of the most popular rifles in America. The Henry Rifle was known as “the gun you could load on Sunday and shoot all week long.” Its fast shooting capabilities made it popular with soldiers and settlers throughout the frontiers of the American West.