George Patton, Colt .45 Peacemaker
Patton is one of the most recognizable figures in U.S. military history, and his two ivory-gripped six-shooters only helped advance the legend of Old Blood and Guts. Patton famously carried a Smith and Wesson .357 on one hip and a Colt .45 Single Action Army (aka Colt Peacemaker) on the other. While Patton carried other sidearms during WWII, it’s said that his soldiers could easily recognize him by his six-shooters with ivory grips.
Colt .45 Peacemaker
Wild Bill Hickok, Colt 1851 Navy
Hickock was a legendary lawman, gunfighter and gambler who rambled the American west from 1837 to 1876. He carried a pair of silver-plated Colt 1851 Navy revolvers with ivory handles. He allegedly started one of the first recorded quick-draw gunfights that we now see so often on the silver screen.
Colt 1851 Navy
Ernest Hemingway, 1903 Springfield
One of Hemingway’s favorite rifles was his sporterized 1903 Springfield, chambered in .30-06. He used the gun on African safaris and it made appearances in his book Green Hills of Africa. For the most part, Hemingway doesn’t go too deep into detail about his rifles in the book, but he does write that he used the Springfield to kill a lion. The Springfield was the U.S. military’s standard issue rifle from 1905 until 1937, two years after Green Hills of Africa was published.
Jesse James, Colt .45 Peacemaker
The Colt Peacemaker, formally known as the Colt Single Action Army, was one of the more powerful six-shooters of its time. It handled charges of up to 40 grains of black powder and a 255-grain round-nosed bullet. James used his to rob banks, stagecoaches and trains until he was gunned down by a member of his own gang in 1882. The gun that killed James was a .44 Smith and Wesson.
Colt .45 Peacemaker
Wyatt Earp, Colt Buntline Special
Wyatt Earp (front, second from left) is one of the most legendary lawmen of all time. He worked his way across the west and was the driving force behind the Gunfight at OK Corral. So it’s fitting that his gun has reached mythical status as well, but like all legends, fiction has been mixed with fact. According to legend, Earp carried a Colt Buntline Special, which is a Colt Single Action Army with a 12-inch barrel, complete with a detachable metal shoulder stock. Many experts find it hard to believe that Earp used a gun with a 12-inch barrel in gunfights, and there is little documentation of Earp ever owning the gun. However, the legend continues.
Colt Buntline Special
Doc Holliday, Colt .41 Thunderer, .38 Lightning
Holliday was good friends with Wyatt Earp and was one of the main players in the Gunfight OK Corral. He walked into that shootout carrying a double-barreled shotgun, but Holliday’s go-to guns were the Colt .41 Thunderer and the Colt .38 Lightning. With these two nickle-plated six-shooters he earned himself a reputation and as a deadly marksman. Earp said this about Doc after his friend’s death: “[Doc was] the most skillful gambler and the nerviest, speediest, deadliest man with a six-gun that I ever knew.”
Colt .38 Lightning
Davy Crockett, Old Betsy
Crockett was given a .40 caliber Kentucky flintlock rifle by the Tennessee State Assembly for his service to the state. Crockett nicknamed the rifle Old Betsy and legend has it that he used it to take more than 125 bears. Crockett was a crack shot with a rifle and became immortalized after he died in the Battle of the Alamo. However Crockett did not have Old Betsy at the Alamo, he left it with his son in Kentucky.
Billy the Kid, Winchester 1873 rifle
This outlaw turned folk hero favored the Winchester 73 also known as “The Gun That Won the West.” Legend has it that the Kid killed 21 men, one for every year of his life, but most historians agree that it was probably between four and nine. Billy’s favorite gun was the Winchester 73, which was originally chambered in .44-40 and then later chambered in .38-40 and .32-20. Winchester made both a carbine (20-inch barrel) and a rifle (24-inch barrel).
Teddy Roosevelt, Winchester 1895
Roosevelt was a legendary big-game hunter and preferred Winchester Model 1895 lever actions. When he went on his famous African safari with his son Kermit, Winchester gave them four 1895s, one in .30-40 and three in .405. Roosevelt favored the .405 for dangerous game and called it his “big medicine” or “medicine gun.” The 1895 rifle was the last rifle John Browning designed for Winchester.
Teddy Roosevelt, Colt M1895
Before Roosevelt was a famous big-game hunter, he was a Rough Rider in the Spanish American War. During the battle of San Juan Hill he carried a .38 caliber Colt M1895. Roosevelt’s six-shooter was eventually put on display at Sagamore Hill in Long Island, but it was stolen twice, once in 1963 and again in 1990. It was finally recovered in 2006 and returned to the exhibit.
Butch Cassidy (front right) and the Sundance Kid (front left), Sundance Colt
Both Butch and Sundance carried the same Colt SAA at different times. The pair was known for running the Wild Bunch, a group of bank robbing outlaws that pulled heists in Idaho, Wyoming and New Mexico. The gun had a nickel finish and eventually had an “S” engraved on the butt for Sundance. Butch had the gun first and then gave it to Kid Madden and it was later passed to Sundance.
George Custer, Remington Rolling Block
Custer’s men were issued Springfield 1873s, but Custer’s rifle was a Remington Rolling Block in .50-70. The 1873s were notorious for jamming and some historians argue that malfunctions with the Springfield were partially responsible for Custer’s defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. In that battle Custer and 268 of his men were killed by Cheyenne and Sioux warriors. The Remington Rolling Block was one of the most popular rifles among buffalo hunters in the 1870s and 1880s and Custer used it on an elk hunting expedition around Yellowstone. It is unclear which gun he used during the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Remington Rolling Block
Daniel Boone, Tick Licker
Boone’s gun, named Tick Licker, was a .29 caliber Pennsylvania Long rifle. Boone, a born Pennsylvanian, named the gun Tick Licker because he boasted that he could shoot a tick off of an animal without touching the animal.
Sitting Bull, Whitney Revolver
Sitting Bull was a Sioux holy man and war chief who orchestrated the Battle of the Little Bighorn for the Sioux. His Whitney Navy revolver has become a valuable collector’s item. In 2005 it was auctioned for $118,000. It came with a leather holster with “DIE 1890 Sitting Bull” carved into it.
Buffalo Bill Cody, 1863 Springfield
Cody nicknamed his favorite 1863 Springfield Lucretia Borgia, after a beautiful and murderous woman in a Victor Hugo play. Cody’s gun was converted to shoot .50-70 cartridges.
Jack O’Connor, pre-64 Winchester 70
As O’Connor continued his career as a writer for Outdoor Life magazine, the .270 became more and more popular as a hunting cartridge. After reading about O’Connor’s adventures you couldn’t help but wished you owned a .270 Winchester. O’Connor’s famous pre-64 Winchester has been recreated by gunmakers Al and Roger Biesen.
Al Capone, Colt Police Positive
Capone was the most infamous mob boss of all time, so it’s a bit ironic that his sidearm of choice was called the Police Positive. The gun was a .38 special and Capone acquired it in 1939 after he was released from federal prison. It was eventually actioned off for $95,000 long after Capone’s death.
Colt Police Positive
Winston Churchilll, Mauser C96
There wasn’t much Churchill (center) and the Germans agreed on, but the Mauser C96 was one exception. The semi-automatic pistol came with a shoulder stock and its high-velocity cartridges had a superior range and better penetration than most other pistols of the time. It’s odd look earned its “broomhandle” nickname. Churchill carried this gun during the Second Boer War in South Africa.
Carlos Hathcock, Winchester Model 70
Hathcock was perhaps the greatest U.S. sniper of all time and helped establish the modern Marine Corps sniper training program, but his weapon was nothing fancy. It was the standard issued Winchester Model 70 sniper rifle in .30-06 (although he would occasionally use the Browning M2 machine gun for sniping). He used the rifle on countless missions in Vietnam and he was so successful that the North Vietnamese Army eventually put a bounty of $30,000 on his head.
Ronald Reagan, Colt .45 1911
When Ronald Reagan was working as a sports caster in Des Moines in 1933 he used a Colt .45 1911 (not pictured here) to stop a mugger from attacking a nursing student. He heard the mugging from his second story window, grabbed his gun, pointed it out the window and told the mugger to stop or he would shoot. Reagan’s gun was unloaded at the time, but the bluff worked and the thug ran off. Reagan retold that story in an interview about 50 years after it happened. The nursing student, named Melba King, eventually heard the interview and finally realized that she was saved from being mugged by the president of the United States.
Colt .45 1911
Annie Oakley’s shotguns
Oakley shot all kinds of guns during her performances in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. The show was fantastic because it got the general public interested in shooting, but it also caused a lot of confusion among those who had seen Oakely shoot, but didn’t know anything about guns. To clear the air, a sports writer listed Oakley’s guns in a letter to the New York Times. Oakley reportedly had a Scott, a Parker, a Francotte and two Lancasters, all in 12 gauge.
Jim Corbett .450-400 Jeffery
Corbett was a legendary dangerous game hunter and saved countless lives by taking out man-eating tigers and leopards in India. But Corbett wasn’t much of a gun nut. While he wrote about his exploits, he rarely went into detail about his rifles. Most agree that he used a .450-400 Jeffery for most of his tiger hunting expeditions.
Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, Colt 1851 Navy
Designed by Samuel Colt between 1847 and 1850, this was the popular gun of the day. It remained in production until 1873 and more than 250,000 of the guns were made domestically. Interestingly enough, both Robert E. Lee, a commander of the Confederate army and Ulysses S. Grant, a commander of the Union army, carried the gun.
John Dillinger, Thompson submachinge gun
Among the list of most infamous criminals in the 1930s, Dillinger quickly became the most wanted. The weapon of choice for both police and bank robbers was the Thompson sub-machine gun, nicknamed the Tommy gun.
Throughout history certain guns have reached an almost legendary status. Here’s a look at some of the most famous and infamous guns.