Wild West Guns Were
Necessary Equipment for Pioneers

The Wild West guns from the mid 1800’s had not be invented when the early pioneers traveled west . Their protection came from muzzle loading rifles and shotguns.

Sharps and Spencer Rifles photos courtesy of Wikipedia

Handguns were introduced into the territories from the Civil War, when many new settlers decided to find their fortune elsewhere after the long and bloody battle.

Wagon trains could not begin to cross the plains and mountains without adequate protection from outlaws, rampaging Indians or to hunt for food.  The rifles and revolvers were needed to survive.

photo courtesy of Time Life Books

Wild West Guns Supplied Protection and Food To Settlers

However, not all people who owned firearms were settlers heading into the unknown.  Outlaws, Indians, gunfighters, lawmen, farmers and ranchers, were in possession of these equalizers.

Early handguns were known as revolvers.  The reason was that the chamber holding the rounds rotated.  The handmade bullets were a ball, powder and cap. 

The ammunition had to be carefully loaded or misfires and chamber explosions occurred.  The first of its kind, the Colt .44 was introduced in 1860.

Mass produced metal bullets solved the problem.  The first metal cartridge gun was a single shot, cock the hammer and fire weapon.  It was known as the Peacemaker.

Developed in 1873, it was the standard issue sidearm of the army of the post Civil War days. However, when lawmen and outlaws saw the ease of which they could draw the gun from holsters, waistbands or coat pockets, this gun was flying off the shelves.

photo courtesy of Time Life Books

It was mass produced in great numbers and sold in stores and by mail order.  However, the problem with this first gun of the west was the short barrel that reduced accuracy. Remington, Colt and Starr were the brands of this wild west gun, favored by the good and the bad.

Then around 1875, the Colt company started developing longer barreled guns with more functionality.  Competitors jumped on the wagon and Smith and Wesson, Remington and others manufactured and received endorsements from famous folks of the day.

photo courtesy of Time Life Books

The next generation of handgun was called the double action revolver.   It was simple and easy to use.  Pulling the trigger, pulled back the hammer and the shot was fired.

Rifles and shotguns were also being revamped for better use.  Handguns were for close action, but rifles were for long range shooting.  They were accurate at 200 yards or more and with the new lever action and improved sights, were easy to use.

Shotguns could not compete with the rifles as far as range, but they could do great damage when loaded with buckshot and used at close range.

Sharps Rifle photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Winchester Rifle photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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