Most accounts of the O.K. Corral gunfight estimate that about 30 shots were fired over 25-30 seconds. Is that possible?

Most accounts of the O.K. Corral gunfight estimate that about 30 shots were fired over 25-30 seconds. Is that possible?

Dave Cuddeby

Phoenix, Arizona

Thirty shots fired in 30 seconds means that a round was fired about every second. And there were seven active participants (counting Tom McLaury, who probably didn’t get a shot off). So each of the six primary shooters averaged five shots. Billy Clanton emptied his pistol. Doc Holliday fired two shotgun blasts before shifting to a revolver. Each of the Earp brothers squeezed off several shots. And Frank McLaury was able to fire a few times before collapsing in the street. Like most shoot-outs, the action was fast and furious, and details are a bit sketchy, even today.

But more shots could have been fired—after those first rounds, fired almost simultaneously by Billy Clanton and Wyatt Earp, there was a brief pause before the fight resumed.

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.