By Hal Herring
From the Model 1866 .44-40 Chief Joseph famously surrendered to General Miles (now gathering dust in a museum in Fort Benton) to Buffalo Bill’s .50 caliber breechloading needle gun nicknamed Lucretia Borgia, a good portion of the actual guns that were once in the hands of the heroes and villains of the old West are still in existence, scattered around in a dozen different museums across the country. Although there are a host of titles that take advantage of our endless curiosity about western firearms (it’s a cottage industry unto itself), there is no single book that traces the natural history of the individual guns. Famous Firearms follows the life stories of twelve of the actual pistols, rifles, and shotguns that were so instrumental in shaping our western mythology, using them as entrees into the lives of the shootists themselves. The end result is a vivid portrait of twelve famous western characters, paired with the guns they used to make themselves famous and infamous.