The west was a dangerous place to live.
You could mount your horse, or cart, and ride into town. You might consider stopping at the local watering hole. You walk into the bar and your arm grazes by the wrong person.
He turns, looks angry and shoots.
You are dead.
That was the west and here are the most dangerous gunfighters you would ever see. If ever you are out for a beer with the family—keep your eyes open, and try not to annoy these guys.
Billy The Kid
Legend has it that famous outlaw Billy the Kid had killed more than 26 men during his life. He died at the ripe age of 21 years old. While there’s conflicting information about Billy the Kid’s true name and origins, he is widely reported to have excelled with guns. It seems most likely that he was born in an Irish district of New York City on November 23, 1859 and then settled in New Mexico in 1873, after being moved around the country by his mother.
Following his engagement in criminal activity such as livestock rustling – Billy the Kid was hired by a wealthy English cattle rancher named John Tunstall in Lincoln County, New Mexico. The Kid’s job was to protect Tunstall and watch over his animals. And he was known for his lightning-fast draw, his lithe frame, and his readiness to fight with his fists if necessary. The Kid is said to have thought highly of his boss, and the two had a mutual respect. So when Tunstall was murdered in cold blood, Billy vowed to exact revenge on the killers.
Billy the Kid’s favorite gun was a .44 caliber Colt “Peacemaker.” His career as a gunfighter was filled with famous duels, shootouts and killings. He met his match on July 14th 1881 though when he was killed by notorious Sheriff Pat Garrett.
John Wesley Harding
Hardin, according to legend, “could get out a six-shooter and use it quicker than a frog could eat a fly.” He was also said to have been a crack shot from horseback, able to unload his ammo into the knot of a tree trunk while galloping past.
Hardin favored cap-and-ball six-shooters and, on at least one occasion, a double-barreled shotgun. Unfortunately, he used his skills for ill. Born on May 26, 1853, this Texan desperado and gunfighter shot and killed his first victim in 1868, when he was just 15 years old. During his lifetime he was said to have killed at least 27 men. However, he got his comeuppance on August 19, 1895 when he was shot and killed at the age of 42 by outlaw John Selman.
Dan Bogan grew up in Texas, where he started working as a cowboy from an early age. Bogan was said to possess a quick temper, and he was always on the lookout for a fight, which earned him a reputation as a troublemaker. He later left Texas for Wyoming after being blacklisted in a wage dispute.
It is believed that by the late 1880’s that he had taken the lives of three men. On January 15, 1887 he murdered Constable Charles S. Gunn, shooting the onetime Texas Ranger with a revolver. Before he could get away, though, Bogan was himself shot in the shoulder and then captured – although he managed to make a getaway in the midst of a raging blizzard.
Bogan later turned himself into the authorities because his wounds had caused him to get sick. However, in October 1987 he succeeded in breaking out of jail. And although famous detective Charlie Siringo pursued him, Bogan vanished without leaving much of a trace and possibly escaped to Argentina. Not as well-known as the other names on this list—Bogan certainly left his mark on the Old West.
Enjoy reading about gunfights of the Old West in my novel ‘Gunfight at Black Ridge’.