Did gunfighters carve notches in their guns to count the number of men they killed?

Larry Dye

Fenton, Illinois

It’s logical to think a gunfighter would carve a notch on his weapon for each victim sent on to his great reward (not a government job, but the other one). The act would be similar to scalping one’s enemy, a trophy of hors de combat.  Yet historian Jim Dunham says, “I know of no case outside of fiction of notching firearms.”

One of my favorite caveat emptor tales is of a collector who purchased an “official pistol belonging to Billy the Kid” that had 21 notches carved on the handle. We all knew that one had to be bogus.

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