Did Wyatt Earp carry his pistol in a holster at the O.K. Corral gunfight?

Wyatt Earp

Did Wyatt Earp carry his pistol in a holster at the O.K. Corral gunfight?

Ken Blyth
Surrey, England

No, lawman Wyatt Earp did not carry his pistol in a holster during the Gunfight Behind the O.K. Corral that took place in Tombstone, Arizona, on October 26, 1881.

Movies show Wyatt, his brothers Virgil and Morgan, and Doc Holliday wearing holsters that day, but Wyatt actually had his gun in an overcoat pocket, Earp expert Jeff Morey says. Holliday, who was also armed with a shotgun, likely carried his pistol the same way. Morgan probably followed suit. Virgil stuck his in his waistband.

On the other side of the gunfight, cowboys Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury wore guns in holsters. Tom McLaury had access to a rifle in a saddle scabbard. Ike Clanton was unarmed.

At the time, few men in Old West towns used holsters—but rural dwellers, especially cowboys, frequently wore them.

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.