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  • The key to the west was the use of guns and their rapid development. The traditional quick draw gunfight was very rare in the west. If you wanted to shoot someone, you usually did it from cover or distance. The first recorded quick draw involved Wild Bill Hickock in Missouri in 1865. He was a fast and deadly accurate shooter. In 1836 the Colt Patterson revolver was introduced which started revolutionary changes in gun development. It played an important role in defending against Indians used bows and arrows which could be shot very fast and had developed tactics based on single shot guns that took time to reload. To produce the gun Colt created lathes, other tools, and used the assembly line to keep up with demand. Pistols changed rapidly for the next 30 years as technology improved. In 1854 the introduction of the self contained cartridge made repeating guns easier to develop and use. The Henry Rifle was the first practical repeating rifle introduced in 1860. It, too, had a major impact on battles with Indians. It was followed in 1873 with the Winchester which became the standard. Holsters also under went several advancements in the second half of the 19th century. However, wearing guns openly in town in the west was normally illegal. Instead, people carried small guns hidden in pockets and waistbands. Cowboys wore their guns openly as they were in the country. In the OK Corral shootout the Earp group wore hidden guns while the cowboys wore theirs in the open. John Wesley Hardin was one of the most prolific killers having killed his 40th man on his 21st birthday. The other gun that was popular due to its easier use was the shotgun used by Billy the Kid in his jail break.


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