Firearms were essential survival tools on the American frontier. Settlers used guns to help put food on the table and for protection against hostile elements. The following are five of the most common Wild West-era firearms.
When they say, “If God didn’t make men equal, Samuel Colt did,” they are talking about this gun. The Colt Single-Action Army revolver was the world’s right arm in the late 1800s, and it became an iconic symbol of the American West.
The Kentucky Rifle was intended for use in Kentucky and Tennessee, which was the frontier of the new America at that time. This double-barreled, .45-caliber flintlock was capable of harvesting a deer or bear at long range.
The Wild West was glamorized in traveling vaudeville performances, the most famous being the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. This gun was owned by someone who knew her way around a shotgun—one of the Wild West Show’s star performers, Annie Oakley, aka Little Miss Sure Shot.
Settlers were heading West, and guns like the Sharps Big .50 helped keep them safe. This powerful gun was capable of launching half-inch projectiles backed by 90 grains of powder—more than enough stopping power for life on the prairie and interior West.
Bringing together names like Horace Smith, Daniel Wesson and B. Tyler Henry, the Jennings Rifle was pivotal in the evolution of the American gun. It is considered by many to be the “great-grandfather” of the Winchester lever-action rifle.