ask the marshall Strongboxes true west

Did outlaws shoot locks off strongboxes?
John C. Gieske — Prescott, Arizona.

Shooting a lock off a strongbox requires a high-powered gun at close range, something that would send shrapnel flying in all directions. Less-powerful weapons, like those carried by frontier outlaws, would have buried rounds in the locks, making the strongbox more impervious than before. Shooting the lock is pure Hollywood special effects.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at

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