In law enforcement, the pistol reigns supreme. Let’s look at five famous lawmen and their sidearm of choice.
In the military, the rifle reigns supreme. It’s the weapon that wins wars, or well, it wins battles. Most soldiers and Marines carry rifles and fight with rifles. However, as great as rifles are, the men and women of law enforcement rely on a sidearm day in and day out. Today we are going to be looking at five famous lawmen and their chosen sidearms.
Wild Bill Hickock and the Colt 1851 Navy
James Butler Hickock, aka Wild Bill Hickock, is one of the most well-known American folk heroes. He served as a soldier, a scout, a gambler, and a lawman in the old west. Like many lawmen at the time, his past was checkered, and he was often a fugitive himself. Wild Bill served as a city Marshal in Springfield, Kansas, and a federalized deputy Marshal in Hays City.
Wild Bill carried a number of guns throughout his life, but his favorite seemed to be a pair of Colt 1851 Navy revolvers in .36 caliber. These revolvers were cap and ball revolvers that used a percussion cap. He carried two of the guns, butt forward in a sash around his waist.
He didn’t carry two so he could fire both at the same time, but as a quick reload when his original ran dry. Reloads certainly weren’t quick those days, so a second gun made a lot of sense in a gunfight. The 1851 Colts were super popular and used by a wide variety of gunfighters at the time, and were essentially the Glock 19 of their day.
Frank Hamer and His Colt SAA
Frank Hamer is one of the few lawmen we don’t hear much about. It’s odd because he tracked down some of the most dangerous criminals during and before the Great Depression. Hamer was known to be smart, a good shot, a great investigator, and a damn fine gunfighter. He took down Bonnie and Clyde, worked a dangerous border, and took on the Klu Klux Klan.
His weapon of choice was often a rifle, but he famously carried a Colt Single Action Army in 45 Colt with a four ¾ inch barrel. The weapon was old by the time Frank reached his peak, but it was one he was likely very familiar with and a weapon he trusted. The Famed Colt SAA guns armed a great many lawmen, gunfighters, soldiers, and even farmers. These weapons were simple but durable and very lethal. Hamer was a gunfighter by every sense of the word, and he carried a gunfighter’s weapon.
Jim Cirillo and the Model 10
Jim Cirillo served with the NYPD during the dark and dangerous years of the 1960s. He worked on the city’s stakeout squad and was involved in dozens of gunfights with armed and determined stickup men. He pioneered shooting techniques and tactics still used to this day. Cirillo owned a great many guns, but in his service with the NYPD, he carried a Smith and Wesson Model 10.
The Model 10 is the quintessential .38 Special revolver. The gun traces its lineage back to 1899 and has been known by many names. Cirillo often carried two Model 10s because, like the cowboys of yesteryear, it was faster to switch guns than reload. He’d often use electrical tape to modify the grip to fit his hand and became well known for his accurate combat shooting style. Jim lived long enough to retire and train generations of both law enforcement and armed civilians.
Edmundo Mireles, Jr. and the S&W 686
Edmuno Mireles, Jr. took a path of service that first led him to Vietnam as a United States Marine. From there, he went to college and then joined the FBI. As an FBI agent, he served from 1979 to 2004 and, during that time, became a legend due to one sunny day in Miami. Mireles and seven other lawmen were tracking down a pair of well-armed and violent bank robbers.
Well, they found them, and a brutal shootout occurred. The 1986 Miami Shootout was a brutal fight that saw the two suspects killed, along with the loss of two FBI agents and the wounding of five others, including Mireles. Mireles first emptied his 870 at the threat, working the pump shotgun with a wounded hand. He then moved to his sidearm, a S&W 686, which he fired without fear as he approached the vehicle encompassing the two violent thugs. He was wounded, but came back and finished his career with the FBI.
Sgt Adam Johnson and his M&P 40
It was just another day for Texas Lawmen when an active shooter armed with two long guns became an active shooter. He terrorized the town with the two rifles and had clear evil intentions with multiple propane bombs left in a rented van. To no one’s surprise, the Texas Lawmen came riding horses, and the Austin mounted patrol reacted quickly and clearly effectively.
Sgt Adam Johnson was tangled up holding the reigns of two horses when the shooter appeared in front of him. With a single hand, he drew his S&W M&P 40 pistol and took a well-aimed shot. He launched a 40 S&W projectile over 300 feet and stopped the active shooter dead in his tracks. That kind of accuracy isn’t impossible, but dang, to do it with one hand, under fire? That takes a set of brass ones.
Famous gunfighting lawmen often have famous sidearms. This list just goes to show that a gun is only as good as the man wielding it. The firearms on this list are incredible, and they certainly served their owners well. They often represent the fantastic firearms, and the guns on this list all certainly have their place in a hall of fame.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.
He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.
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