Why In Bob Boze Bell’s Painting, Is Wild Bill Hickok’s Navy Colt Pointed To The Sky?


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In the November 2016 issue of True West, Bob Boze Bell’s picture shows “Wild Bill” Hickok with his Navy Colt pointed to the sky. Why?

Allen Fossenkemper
Fountain Hills, Arizona

Jim Dunham, a gun expert and the director of Special Projects at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia, explains: “I have fired my Colt 2nd Generation 1851 Navies quite a bit, and I can tell you that, if you just cock the hammer following recoil, broken pieces of the cap will often fall into the action and cause a jam. So cap-and-ball shooters point the barrel skyward to let the cap fall clear, but sometimes one has to use the free hand to assist.”

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. . His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen; History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write:  Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at  marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu

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Painting by Bob Boze Bell of “Wild Bill” Hickok

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian, board president of the Arizona Historical Society and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen; History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu