6 Real-Life Gunslingers Who Put Billy the Kid to Shame
If some bizarre criminal held you at gunpoint and asked you to name six gravel-shitting badasses from the Old West, you'd probably get as far as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday before you started wondering whether the Lone Ranger was based on a real person. But a closer look at Old West history reveals a solid collection of mighty gunmen who didn't get their own movies, possibly because they were too busy kicking ass to waste time telling everyone how awesome they were.
Buckshot Roberts Defeats Billy the Kid's Entire Gang by Himself
Andrew "Buckshot" Roberts is probably best known for killing Charlie Sheen while taking a dump in Young Guns. The actual story of that day is no less amazing.
You see, Billy the Kid (the famous gunfighter and co-author of Bill and Ted's history report) and his gang the Regulators had a warrant for Roberts' arrest, implicating him in the murder of a rancher named John Tunstall, whom Billy used to work for. Roberts didn't actually have anything to do with Tunstall's death, but he was a shit-kicking Texas outlaw who didn't shy away from gunfights, so when Billy and his gang staged an ambush, Roberts was more than happy to engage in a free exchange of bullets.
And looking 10 kinds of suave as he did it.
That's right -- rather than surrender when he realized he was surrounded by 14 Regulators (that's enough guys to field one and a half heavily armed baseball teams), Roberts instead told them all to go straight to hell.
As the battle commenced, Roberts was hit in the groin almost immediately, which would've taken the fight out of Quick Draw McGraw himself. But Roberts continued firing until his rifle was empty, wounding three Regulators and taking them out of the fight. Billy the Kid tried to take advantage of Roberts' dick wound by rushing him, but Roberts took his empty rifle and clubbed the blazing pigshit out of him.
With the empty rifle. Or with his wounded dick. Sources disagree.
Roberts retreated into a house to reload, where Regulator Dick Brewer (Charlie Sheen's character in the movie) tried to sneak up on him. Roberts spotted Brewer and blasted his head into skull-and-brains confetti. At that point, Billy the Kid decided it was way too early in the day for any more of this bullshit and ordered his gang to beat feet, leaving Buckshot Roberts alone to bleed to death a day later. Go back and read that sentence again -- one of the most famous gunfighters in history, backed up by his entire gang, wasn't enough to bring the mortally wounded Buckshot Roberts down.
James Riley Shoots an Entire Saloon and Vanishes
James Riley was an 18-year-old kid stricken with tuberculosis, meaning the guy could barely get out of bed without vomiting up a gallon of lung tissue like Val Kilmer in Tombstone. But when his mentor was gunned down in front of him, the sickly young Riley managed to perforate the four ruthless bastards responsible in a matter of seconds, all for the sake of righteous revenge.
And what is now known in the psychiatric world as a "blood boner."
You see, Riley had been taken under the wing of a policeman named Mike McCluskie, who taught him how to shoot and, presumably, how to chew tobacco and whistle at busty corseted women. In 1871, McCluskie was cornered in a saloon by four gruff Texans looking to settle a score, since McCluskie had killed a friend of theirs (probably while fulfilling his duties as a police officer, but this was the Old West, so it's really anyone's guess). The four cowboys unloaded on McCluskie, chewing him up into a pile of pulpy red mist as Riley looked on in horror.
However, instead of hacking up the rest of his lungs in terrified spasms like some knee-knocking wiener, Riley stood up to face the four armed men who had just killed his only friend and proceeded to unleash a storm of Pacino-esque fury on McCluskie's killers, eliminating two of the men and severely wounding the other two (and killing two bystanders in the process). When the smoke in the saloon finally cleared, Riley was gone, never to be seen or heard from again.
Least of all by the surviving bystanders, all now permanently blind and deaf.
That part isn't legend, by the way -- immediately after avenging his friend's death, James Riley walked out of the saloon, into the desert, and freaking disappeared. Nobody knows where he went or where and when he died. He's like a gun-slinging phantom.
Captain Jonathan Davis Is Outnumbered 11 to 1, Kills Everyone Anyway
A former militia captain and veteran of the Mexican-American War, Jonathan Davis made his way to California after the war to try to become rich, a practice that has yet to go out of style.
Passing a cornfield along the way, Davis raised an eyebrow and the music world was changed forever.
While strolling merrily through the Gold Rush State in 1854, Davis and two other prospectors were ambushed by 14 armed bandits, a group of frontier ruffians who'd already loot-murdered several men in the previous two weeks.
Davis' two companions were instantly lit up like James Caan in The Godfather, leaving the retired captain alone to face pretty serious odds. But he calmly drew his dual Colt revolvers and eliminated two bad guys with his first two shots. By the time his pistols were empty, Davis had cast seven of his attackers into the Pit of Eternal Embarrassment, causing three others to hightail it out of there. However, Davis was now out of bullets, and there were still four angry robbers left.
As you may have already guessed, this is when shit got real.
Slowly, he drew his guitar and hammered out the first four notes of "Blind" as cymbals tapped in the background.
The four men closed in on Davis wielding knives and a cavalry saber, leaving Davis no choice but to draw his Bowie knife. He fought courageously, but eventually succumbed to their superior numbers ... is what we would have said, if Davis were anything less than the hardest dude in the history of time. Nope, Davis took his Bowie knife (named for that famed hero of the Alamo, Soren Bowie) and killed all four of them.
After the story was reported in local newspapers, Captain Jonathan Davis simply rode off into the sunset, never to be heard from again. He presumably met up with James Riley for a Wild West spinoff of Tango and Cash.
George Patton (Yes, the George Patton) Has a Shootout with Pancho Villa's Men
George Patton would go on to beat enough Nazi ass to earn the nickname "Old Blood and Guts," but back in 1916, he was just a young second lieutenant chasing Pancho Villa all over northern Mexico along with the rest of the U.S. Army. However, the glint of prospective bloodshed was already twinkling in his eye when he took part in one of the last gunfights of the Old West.
Re-enactment by Jim "The Eyeball" Twinkles.
Patton and 10 enlisted men had been sent to San Miguelito Ranch to look for Villa, who had recently raided the city of Columbus, New Mexico. Patton positioned his men by the south gate and was making his way up to the north gate when a trio of Villa's men came thundering into the ranch on horseback like El Guapo's outriders in Three Amigos.
Patton's murder sense started tingling, and he drew his single-action Colt Peacemaker revolver (which was obsolete even by 1916 standards, but the future general evidently respected the weapon's bandito-slaying pedigree). With bullets whizzing by his face, Patton took aim and blasted two of the men's horses right out from under them. The first man had been fatally wounded in the exchange, but Patton patiently waited for the second man to get to his feet, presumably struggling against the gravitational pull of Patton's giant balls, and allowed the bandit to draw his pistol before killing him with a single shot.
From his pipe.
After his troops took down the remaining outlaw, Patton tied the three dead men to the hood of his touring car and drove the bodies back to his commanding officer, because as history would go on to demonstrate, Patton was a cold-blooded motherfucker.
Bass Reeves Dispatches Three Cop Killers With the Utmost Courtesy
Bass Reeves was a slave in Texas before managing to escape to Oklahoma (or Indian Territory, as it was called back before that name became ironic), where he was appointed a U.S. deputy marshal for his expert skill as a tracker and marksman. During his career as the most respected marshal in Oklahoma, he participated in more gunfights than a Hong Kong action star and achieved an arrest record of about 3,000. Despite the fact that he personally planted 14 outlaws in the ground, Reeves himself never got so much as a scratch.
Other than self-inflicted ones, from rubbing his mustache.
One of Reeves' crowning moments of badassitude occurred when he rode out to serve a warrant on the Brunter brothers, a notorious trio that enjoyed killing lawmen and robbing stagecoaches, as well as the occasional round of Ding Dong Ditch and not rewinding their Blockbuster videotapes. However, to serve this extremely high-risk warrant, Reeves simply handed a copy to the Brunters and politely informed them that they were under arrest, and that it would be best for everyone involved if they just came along quietly. You may recognize this as a common practice in movies but something that real-life policemen rarely attempt, because real-life bad guys will shoot you directly in the face.
"Oh. I ... uh ... meant the band. Yes, we're all going to see Warrant play a live show. Mount up!"
Which is exactly what the Brunter brothers tried to do to Bass Reeves. However, Reeves was faster, and he instantly shot two of them dead before snatching the third brother's revolver away and pistol-whipping the everloving Xanadu out of him. Reeves then took the beaten but still living Brunter brother to jail, as promised.
Sheriff Elfego Baca Cannot Be Destroyed
As he was deputy sheriff of Socorro County, New Mexico, in 1884, it seemed inevitable that Elfego Baca would start a feud with a local gang of Texas cowboys, because the cowboys loved to ride into town and shoot things up for fun, and part of your job description as sheriff is to discourage that sort of behavior. Baca didn't respond to intimidation, because he was apparently born without the portion of the brain that allows human beings to experience fear, and began the feud by arresting a cowboy named Charlie McCarthy for firing his pistols at the feet of several locals in an effort to get them to dance. (Daft Punk did not yet exist, so at the time this was the most surefire method.)
"OK, enough. You don't have to be smartasses about it."
However, McCarthy worked for a big-shot rancher named Tom Slaughter, who dispatched a gang of cowboys to threaten Baca into releasing McCarthy. Baca responded by killing one cowboy and wounding another (see "born without fear," above). With one Texas cowboy dead, another wounded, and a third cooling his heels in the county drunk tank, Slaughter rallied 80 (that's 80, as in eight-zero) of his lackeys to ride into town and put Baca in his place. And by "put him in his place," we mean "murder the terror-soaked pants-dook out of him."
Cornering Baca in a tiny adobe shack, the veritable army of cowboys laid siege to the building overnight, firing somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 rounds through the shack's flimsy walls. They even tried to burn the place down and almost blasted it from the face of the Earth with a stick of dynamite, collapsing most of the roof on top of Baca. Essentially, it was the scene from Die Hard 2 when the bad guys trap Bruce Willis in a plane, riddle the fuselage with bullets, and toss in some grenades for good measure.
Baca, shown here with actual metal for skin, was widely considered by historians to be the first Terminator.
But Baca never took a single hit, and during the 33-hour ordeal actually managed to kill four of the cowboys and wound 10 others. Ever the iron-scrotumed lawman, Baca turned himself in after it was all over to face down possible murder charges, of which he was acquitted.
From that day forward, Baca rode the crest of his fame as an unkillable justice machine to become one of the most feared lawmen of his time. His reputation became so great that he was eventually able to serve warrants just by sending the following letter, politely requesting that his quarry turn themselves in:
"I have a warrant here for your arrest. Please ... give yourself up. If you don't, I'll know you intend to resist arrest, and I will feel justified in shooting you on sight when I come after you. Very truly yours, Elfego Baca, sheriff."
How can you put these badasses to shame? Pick up a Roosevelt T-shirt and show us your random acts of superheroism.
Related Reading: These gunfights were pretty badass- but in the REAL wild west, shoot outs weren't at all common. We've got more wild west myths than that, just click here. You'll learn that the whole "settlers constantly fighting with Indians" trope is way overblown. Want to see Cracked's best attempt at a realistic western? Have at it.
And if you're in a rush and just need a quick fix of Cracked, check out 4 Recent Headlines That Sound Like Bad SyFy Movies.