Ask The Marshall Civil War Weapons Guns True West

What was the most popular weapon after the Civil War?

Wes Shinn
Saratoga Springs, New York

After the Civil War, the most popular weapons were those featuring the self-contained cartridge, which displaced the paper cartridge used up through the Civil War. The 1873 Winchester rifle (below left) and the 1873 Colt Single Action Army “Peacemaker” revolver (below right) were among these. Yet the double-barreled shotgun, a comparatively inexpensive firearm, may have been the more popular one, says Firearms Editor Phil Spangenberger. Many emigrants relied on it as their only means for hunting and defense. Another formidable weapon pioneers relied on was the surplus Civil War musket, which could easily be charged with buckshot.

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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