In the remote parts of America's Western territories during much of the 1800s, law and order was overextended or even nexistent. Guns were used by some, such as hunters and settlers, for self-protection and their very salvation, and by others as a means to impose their will, legally or otherwise. There can be doubt that the exploration and exploitation of the Western frontier that began in 1804 was inextricably linked to the development of the firearm. It is certainly true today that firearms are associated with the Old West more than with any other era of American history. That Old West period, which ended officially in 1890, saw gun design and manufacture improve dramatically, such that the taming of the West could be accomplished with grit and determination, and also with reliable firearms. It is t surprising to learn that very often those firearms were Colts or Winchesters, since these were the gunmakers who achieved more than most in techlogical development and manufacturing prowess, pioneering the revolver and the lever-action rifle, respectively. Within these pages are the pistols and revolvers, rifles and carbines used by the hunters, the settlers, the lawmen and the lawless, the military and the showmen. All are interestingly described in accompanying essays written by an ackwledged expert in the field.
Dean K. Boorman is president of the prestigious Armor and Arms Club of New York. Boorman is also a member of the American Society of Arms Collectors and of the Visiting Committee, Department of Arms and Armor, as well as The Metropolitan Museum of Art. A collector of Colts and Winchesters, he has written for both the American Society and the Armor and Arms Club of New York. He is the author of two companion volumes to this book, The History of Colt Firearms and The History of Smith & Wesson Firearms. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey.