The Guns of Billy the Kid

gunsofbillythekidJudging by the various advertisements in this magazine, it doesn’t seem likely that True West’s readers would object to a modest documentary on the guns associated with Henry McCarty a.k.a. Billy Bonney, the Kid.  Historian and actor Peter Sherayko (Texas Jack Vermillion in 1993’s Tombstone) and renowned gunsmith Larry Zeug take us into a gunroom, with a dog following them in, to look over a table full of handguns, repeating rifles and shotguns.

They show us an example of Billy’s single action Colt Thunderer and the actual .44 Bulldog that John Tunstall (the Kid’s father figure) carried with him at all times. This gun was picked up at some kind of yard sale in New Mexico, and Tunstall’s name was found inscribed inside the grips. Apparently Billy was said to have removed the gun from Tunstall’s pocket when he discovered the body of his murdered employer and friend, and carried it with him ever after.

Then we’re shown an example of Billy’s Winchester repeating carbine, as well as his Whitney-Kennedy repeater at the Autry National Center. Finally the two presenters introduce a number of shotguns and demonstrate the differ-ence in effectiveness between buckshot and dimes. If you don’t know about the dimes, best go rent Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid to see what Sam Peckinpah could do with a slo-motion camera and a shotgun full of dimes. As a character in a movie once said, “It’s an education.”

The main feature on the disc is relatively brief (40 minutes), but you get the guns, some footage from movies, some re-enacting and some shootin’. And the DVD includes a couple of shorts and a comparison of several movie Billys including Roy Rogers’ (1938’s Billy the Kid Returns), Marlon Brando’s (1961’s One-Eyed Jacks) and Jack Beutel’s from Howard Hughes’ The Outlaw (1943). Few can complain about a clip or two of Jane Russell’s audacious debut in the strangest gay Western ever made. Thank heavens for public domain!

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