Wyatt Earp was a famous lawman that had the respect of the famous bandits of his time. He travelled across the American frontier from growing cities like Dodge City to the dangerous and lawless town of Tombstone where he was sheriff. Sheriffs in the old west were often the only barrier for citizens from the other lawless gunslingers listed later on this list.
Wyatt Earp’s most famous gunfight was at the OK Corral in 1881. He, his brothers Virgil and Morgan, and close friend Doc Holliday battled a large group of cowboys that had been wanted for a string of stagecoach robberies. The small group of lawmen killed at least 3 of the outlaw cowboys despite all being shot with the exception of Wyatt Earp.
Later Earp and Holliday led a larger team of men on their ‘Vendetta Ride’ which managed to kill and revenge several additional members of the outlaw cowboy gang.
Billy The Kid
William H. Bonney aka “Billy the Kid,” started his life of crime at a young age with horse stealing. As the line between good guys and bad guys was often blurry and changing, he was deputized for the Lincoln County War. A small band of gunmen with questionable character were ordered to hunt down and bring to justice a group of corrupt business men in the old west that organized the murder of a preeminent rancher and gunsmith. Following the Lincoln County War, Billy the Kid renamed the group the regulators and continued their killing spree against anyone that stood in their way including a sheriff and deputy.
After battling several law enforcement groups on a cross-country crime spree, he was captured, sentenced to death, and managed to escape in 1880 and 1881. The official story is that Sherrif Pat Garrett shot him to death while on the run in late 1881 but a popular myth supported by several modern movies is that he escaped the shootout with Garrett and managed to quietly live out his life in a quite Mexican town.
A legend among legends in the old west, Will Bill was a gambler, lawman, and of course a gunfighter. Many consider him one of the most technically skilled shooters of the 1800’s. Will Bill started building his reputation at a young age when he rode for the Pony Express and killed the outlaw David McCanles. The legend says he killed McCanles with a single shot from his revolver from a distance of 75 yards.
Wild Bill Hickok also showed no fear by routinely engaging in the classic quick-draw duel from close range. His first quick draw duel was in 1867 with Davis Tutt over a disputed gambling debt.
Ironically, Wild Bill Hickok’s lost his life while being shot in the back of the head while playing poker by Jack McCall. Hickok was holding a pair of Aces and Eights which have since become known as “Dead Man’s Hand.”
Resource: Best Gunsmithing Schools