Historical 2-Pistol Carry?

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum:

Joined
Jul 26, 2014
Messages
3,055
Reaction score
1,731
We all know Josey carried two pistols:
1C3FBF5B-E3C3-4411-9BA1-F2D60C302D56.jpeg

But did anyone in history ever actually carry two percussion revolvers on their belt? I know cavalry carried two pistol but in saddle holsters. I imagine a Navy or Army sized pistol would be the best choice. I can see the benefits in the percussion era as reloads were extremely slow even using paper cartridges. I just haven’t been able to find many historical examples that this was every actually done in primary documentation and it seems like more of a modern movie Western trope at this point.

Anyone here carry two on their belt for competition or in the field?
 

kje54

58 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Aug 22, 2020
Messages
2,030
Reaction score
2,345
Location
Duke City
We all know Josey carried two pistols:
View attachment 80201
But did anyone in history ever actually carry two percussion revolvers on their belt? I know cavalry carried two pistol but in saddle holsters. I imagine a Navy or Army sized pistol would be the best choice. I can see the benefits in the percussion era as reloads were extremely slow even using paper cartridges. I just haven’t been able to find many historical examples that this was every actually done in primary documentation and it seems like more of a modern movie Western trope at this point.

Anyone here carry two on their belt for competition or in the field?
Jesse James, John Wesley Hardin, Agustine Chacon, John King Fisher to name a few carried two pistols.
 

Stantheman86

32 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2018
Messages
1,918
Reaction score
1,069
If I'm not mistaken I think Custer carried a pair of 61 Navies during the Civil War and later a pair of Pinfire revolvers. More likely, given Custers reputation as a "Cool Guy" he probably just thought it was more dashing to carry two guns.

Basically, I believe only a dedicated gunslinger, outlaw or lawman like Wild Bill was carrying a pair of hoglegs and likely not for shooting at the same time, one in each hand like the movies but simply drawing the loaded gun when one was empty.

Also unlike Hollywood, I believe the vast majority of gunfights were settled after a few shots. Reloading even an "unmentionable " thumb buster wasn't a speedy process and some may say paper combustible cartridges were faster to reload since punching out empties wasn't happening. Capping nipples under stress isn't fun but again, I honestly believe it was rare outside of wartime combat to fire more than 6 shots until one party was dead or decided to run and fight another day.

Hollywood sold us on the frantic Wild West shootout concept where there was 10 guys firing dozens of rounds at each other but in reality, gun fights were rarer than we want to believe.

Even Wild Bill was only involved in a handful of actual shootings. Granted he killed 6 or 7 men over his 10 year career as a Lawman but if you look at it objectively. He fired his guns in anger less than once per year and he was probably the most well known gunslinger that ever existed. His number of gunfights has historically been inflated.
 
Last edited:

justjake

32 Cal
Joined
Apr 16, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
9
If you read Forrest Carter's book you'll learn that while a horseback Wales had access to five pistols, with three on his person and two in saddle boots. He carried a Colt Navy in a shoulder holster.
 

SOLANCO

50 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Nov 6, 2020
Messages
1,048
Reaction score
1,222
Location
Lancaster County, PA
I have read of carrying an extra, loaded cylinder. But changing cylinders during a confrontation does not have the same appeal as reaching for a backup gun.
 

justjake

32 Cal
Joined
Apr 16, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
9
Whether reloading an empty pistol or swapping out a cylinder (easier with top strap framed revolver) keep in mind most ammunition used at the time wasn't loose ball and powder but conical bullets in 'paper' cartridges especially as the undeclared war of Kansas-n- Missouri became a full fledged national conflict.
 

fjrdoc

36 Cl.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Messages
53
Reaction score
64
I vaguely remember reading an account that stated the Wild Bill was able to simultaneously shoot 2 bottles off of a fence post to his left and right with both of his pistols.
 
Last edited:

justjake

32 Cal
Joined
Apr 16, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
9
I vaguely remember reading an account that stated the Wild Bill was able to simultaneously shoot a 2 bottles off of a fence post to his left and right with both of his pistols.
Most of those accounts were collected by Joseph G. Rosa and published in one of the four or five books authored by Rosa. The one that comes to mind in response to your recollection is "They Called Him Wild Bill".
 

Billy Boy

40 Cal
Joined
Apr 15, 2014
Messages
473
Reaction score
451
Location
Northern Minnesota
If I'm not mistaken I think Custer carried a pair of 61 Navies during the Civil War and later a pair of Pinfire revolvers. More likely, given Custers reputation as a "Cool Guy" he probably just thought it was more dashing to carry two guns.

Basically, I believe only a dedicated gunslinger, outlaw or lawman like Wild Bill was carrying a pair of hoglegs and likely not for shooting at the same time, one in each hand like the movies but simply drawing the loaded gun when one was empty.

Also unlike Hollywood, I believe the vast majority of gunfights were settled after a few shots. Reloading even an "unmentionable " thumb buster wasn't a speedy process and some may say paper combustible cartridges were faster to reload since punching out empties wasn't happening. Capping nipples under stress isn't fun but again, I honestly believe it was rare outside of wartime combat to fire more than 6 shots until one party was dead or decided to run and fight another day.

Hollywood sold us on the frantic Wild West shootout concept where there was 10 guys firing dozens of rounds at each other but in reality, gun fights were rarer than we want to believe.

Even Wild Bill was only involved in a handful of actual shootings. Granted he killed 6 or 7 men over his 10 year career as a Lawman but if you look at it objectively. He fired his guns in anger less than once per year and he was probably the most well known gunslinger that ever existed. His number of gunfights has historically been inflated.
I recall reading Custer was carrying an Irish Constabulary 455 on that sunny June day...
 

OldMaineWoodsman

32 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Jun 10, 2005
Messages
476
Reaction score
698
Shane said "One is all you need if you can use it."
 
Last edited:
Top