Not sure whether this is better off here or on movies.se

It's a well-known movie cliché where two gunslingers stand in the middle of the street (possibly at high noon), staring intently at each other, hands hovering over the holsters - suddenly the villain goes for his gun. However, the hero, being "quickest on the draw" is too fast for him, draws his gun and shoots the villain first.

Did these types of gunfights really occur? It seems a bit unbelievable that they would wait for each other like that, rather than shooting their enemy as soon as they saw him. Would there have been an advantage in waiting for the other guy to go for his weapon first before you go for yours? I would think that even if you were quicker than him, you'd still draw as soon as possible rather than wait to react to him...

  • 4
    This question would benefit from preliminary research.
    – MCW
    Aug 18, 2017 at 11:51
  • 1
    Would there have been an advantage in waiting for the other guy to go for his weapon first before you go for yours? Maybe a legal aspect: If you wait, it's self defense, if you are first, it's murder. But I doubt if it is really relevant (and without a video replay it would be hard to proof you are the second).
    – knut
    Aug 18, 2017 at 20:44
  • @knut gentlemanly conduct.
    – jwenting
    Aug 21, 2017 at 6:14

1 Answer 1


Not all were that ordered, and it may have been the exception rather then the rule, but it did happen:

Both men faced each other sideways in the dueling position and hesitated briefly. Then Tutt reached for his pistol. Hickok drew his gun and steadied it on his opposite forearm. The two men fired a single shot each at essentially the same time, according to the reports.[4] Tutt missed, but Hickok's bullet struck Tutt in the left side between the fifth and seventh ribs. Tutt called out, "Boys, I'm killed," ran onto the porch of the local courthouse and back to the street, where he collapsed and died.

The Wild Bill Hickok – Davis Tutt shootout

Note that from the sideways stance this resembled the classic style duel from earlier times.

For a list see this: List of Old West Gunfights. (Not just street gunfights, but many have their 'Hollywood' style reproductions as well.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.