Movie Guns Volume 2: Westerns!

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High Plains Drifter, released in 1973, was made after Hollywood’s big Western boom of the 1950s and 1960s, but it remains one of the genre’s most famous and enduring works. In the film, Clint Eastwood plays a gunslinger hired to defend a helpless town from a band of evil criminals.
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In classic Western style, Eastwood’s go-to gun is a .45 Colt; Cavalry Single Action Army model. Other guns in the film include various Winchester models, as well as a 12-gauge shotgun and a .32 Webley bulldog pistol.
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Tombstone, a film about Wyatt Earp, revitalized the Western movie genre in the 1990s. It starred many famous actors who had grown up watching Westerns, including Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott and Bill Paxton.
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Doc Holliday carries a Meteor 10-gauge side-by-side for much of the film, which was also his gun of choice in real life.
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Wyatt Earp (played by Kurt Russell) was known to carry a legendary custom-made Colt bluntline special. Sources and historians note that Earp probably carried a Smith & Wesson Model 3 Schofield during the actual O.K. Corral gunfight.
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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, one of this author’s personal favorites, is a classic Western directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne.
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“Hey, pilgrim! You forgot your pop-gun!”
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Lee Marvin’s portrayal of the villainous Liberty Valance character can actually be partially seen in a more contemporary Western…
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Thomas F. Wilson’s portrayal of Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen in the Western-inspired Back to the Future III was actually largely patterned off of Marvin’s Liberty Valance persona.
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Although campy in tone, Back to the Future III does feature some great guns. The .45 Colt Peacemaker is seen in several scenes. “Mad Dog” Tannen also uses a rather interesting firearm for gun collectors and enthusiasts–the little Colt Theur Derringer. The “law” in the film (ie, deputies) are also seen keeping the peace with Winchester Model 1873 rifles.
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“Mad Dog” Tannen’s go-to gun in several scenes is his trusty Single-Action Army pistol.
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3:10 to Yuma was made in 1957, and remade in 2007. The remake stars Christian Bale and Russell Crowe.
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Ben Wade (played by Russell Crowe) names his gun “The Hand of God.” It is, in actuality, a Single Action Army revolver with a gold cross on the grip.
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Dan Evans (played by Christian Bale) owns a Spencer 1860 Carbine rifle.
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Pistol aficionados will also notice that Prince, one of Ben Wade’s henchmen, uses a .45 Smith & Wesson Schofield Model 3.
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S&W No. 3 Revolvers were originally chambered for .44 cartridges, and later manufactured for .45 Schofield. Production was discontinued altogether in 1877.
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Adding a little more firepower to the mix, the movie features a Gatling gun. Gatling guns were actually, in large part, the grandfathers of all fully-automatic guns.
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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the classic 1966 spaghetti Western, is another favorite of this author, specifically because it takes place during the Civil War (as many Westerns do) and features a famous three-man standoff at the end.
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Clint Eastwood’s character, Blondie, uses a Sharps 1874 rifle. “Sharps,” chambered in .45-70, began rolling out in the late 1840s and were eventually used by the U.S. military.
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There are numerous pistols in the movie. Colt’s .36 M1861 Navy is one of the more prominent ones.
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Remington’s Rolling Block Cavalry also appears. It’s a single-shot pistol, which is a stark contrast to the revolvers common in most Westerns.
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The Searchers, a 1956 film based on a novel by Alan Le May, is one of John Wayne’s most famous movies. It is about a Civil War vet searching for his niece.
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Winchester Model 1892 is the rifle of choice for nearly every rifleman in the film…
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Interestingly, the movie takes place before that rifle would have been available. A muzzleloader or Winchester’s 1866, like the beauty pictured here, would have been more accurate, but that’s Hollywood for you.
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“From now on, you stay out of this. All of ya. I don’t want you with me. I don’t need ya for what I got to do.”
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The Magnificent Seven is about a group of gunslingers who are hired to protect a small town in Mexico from an evil band of criminals. Film buffs will note that it borrows heavily from the Japanese movie, Seven Samurai. Gun buffs will note that it’s basically a two-hour cinematic showcase for Single Action Army pistols.
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Also seen in the film are a number of rifles and shotguns. Winchester M1892 are used, as well as M1866 rifles.
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As you can see, Colt .45 Peacemakers make an appearance in virtually every Western movie. Production on the gun originally began in the late 1860s. It was marketed as “The New Model Army Metallic Cartridge Revolving Pistol.”
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Stagecoach, a 1939 Western, has been remade a number of times over the years, but none of the later versions can compare to director John Ford’s original masterpiece. It has many of the classic Western elements–a rough band of outsiders, encounters between cowboys and Native Americans, sheriffs, the cavalry, and shootouts.
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John Wayne’s character, Ringo, uses a Winchester 1892 for much of the film. (Note the saddle ring–an interesting detail on the rifle.)
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In 1948, Humphrey Bogart decided to try his hand at a big-budget Western. He played Fred Dobbs, an American looking for gold in Mexico, in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
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“Conscience. What a thing. If you believe you got a conscience it’ll pester you to death. But, if you don’t believe you got one, what could it do to ya? Makes me sick, all this talking and fussing about nonsense.”
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Red River, which boasted a massive cast that included John Wayne, Montgomery Clift and Harry Carey, isn’t as famous as some of Wayne’s other Westerns, but it’s still worth a look. The film is about a cattle drive out of Texas, and the ensuing tensions caused by the trip.
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Once again, we see the Peacemakers!
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Unforgiven won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1992, and is often cited as one of the best Westerns of the “new” era. It starred Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman.
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It has a lot of guns…nearly a gun in every scene. Firearms featured include, of course, Winchester 1892 rifles as well as Winchester 1866 rifles and Spencer 1860 Carbines.
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The Outlaw Josey Wales, an older Clint Eastwood classic, takes place following the Civil War and is about a farmer who seeks revenge after the savage murder of his family.
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Colt’s Walker 1847 pistol is Eastwood’s go-to gun for the film.
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The Walker Colt was designed in 1846. Interestingly, it’s also featured prominently in the Lonesome Dove miniseries and in Three Amigos.
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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, a 1969 Western, is about two bank robbers, played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford.
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Both guys carry Peacemakers…and use them often.
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Shane is a Western from the early 1950s about a lonely stranger who finds himself entangled in the troubles of a small town on the frontier.
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Again, it’s all about the Peacemakers. However, it’s interesting to note the fine ivory grips of the Single Action Army that Shane uses.
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Load the chambers and fire away…
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High Noon, the 1952 classic, just might be this author’s personal favorite. Gary Cooper is stone-cold cool throughout the movie, Grace Kelly is stunning, and the plot about doing what’s right in the face of adversity is an enduring concept in most Westerns.
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As the town marshal, Cooper carries a Peacemaker.
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“People gotta talk themselves into law and order before they do anything about it. Maybe because down deep they don’t care. They just don’t care.”
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True Grit is a John Wayne classic. Wayne plays “Rooster” Cogburn, a U.S. lawman hired to avenge a murder.
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Wayne actually won an Oscar for his portrayal of the eye-patched Cogburn.
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Peacemakers, again, dominate the show. But Wayne also uses a Winchester 1892.
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Of course, no discussion of Westerns would be complete without mentioning The Alamo.
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Despite garnering mixed reviews at the time of its release, The Alamo has become a cult classic, and is particularly popular among flintlock enthusiasts.
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Leave comments below and let us know what you think of the list. Need more movie guns? Check out Movie Guns: Volume 1 >>