Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1875 Anglo-Am. cowboy

Subject: cowboy
Culture: Western American
Setting: range wars, American West late 19th-early 20thc.
Object: guns = pistol, rifle, shotgun


* Clayton/Hoy/Underwood 2001 p132-133 (Jerald Underwood, "The cowboy" p66-153)
"Another traditional item of gear for a cowboy, at least in the popular image, is the pistol.  Horton says that the early cowboys carried two six shooters at their waist, and each of the holsters was tied down with a buckskin thong.  The low-slung position of the pistol on the thigh relieved the weight from the waist.  Abbott notes that later cowboys who carried more than one pistol did so with one as a 'hideout gun down under their arm.'  The weapons were not turned against other men nearly so much as popular fiction and film would have us believe but were, instead, for use against varmints and various threats -- human ones among them -- to the ranch property and livestock.  The pistol could be any one of several large calibers, but the forty-five and forty-four caliber single-action models by Colt, once they were available, found great preference among the cowboys."

* Rosa 2002 p98  [PLAGIARIZED: Boorman 2004 p107-108]  ​
"COWBOY GUNMEN 1870s-1880s  It is not difficult to picture cowboys riding in from the trail, celebrating their opportunity to relax, and firing their revolvers jubilantly into the air.  The fact is that many cowboys did carry revolvers for a variety of purposes.  They were used to put injured animals out of misery, but they were rarely used in range wars and other conflicts.  Revolvers were handy for dealing with snakes and rabid animals, and with a really lucky shot could help to put meat on the dinner table.  Revolvers were also worn for reasons of status, but the truth is that they were also heavy and got in the way.   Many cowboys kept their guns in saddle bags or in the chuck wagon, bringing them out as they needed or maybe just for the chance to go to town and to wear while having a picture taken.  Down on their luck and out of a job, some cowboys joined the ranks of the lawless, resorting to violence and use of the gun.
      "Low wages kept most cowboys from having really fancy equipment.  They were not without their pride, however, and fancy silver mounted bits and spurs were not uncommon.  A Colt revolver with ivory and pearl grips might compliment such an outfit along with nicely stitched boots and a particularly fine shirt and hat."


* Clayton/Hoy/Underwood 2001 p133 (Jerald Underwood, "The cowboy" p66-153)
"The lever-action repeating rifle by Winchester in the 1873 or the later 1894 model became widely accepted by these men and was usually carried in a leather scabbard attached to the saddle.  The butt of the rifle might point to the rear or the front, depending on personal preference and whether the cowboy would want to get his rifle without dismounting.  The style of carrying with the stock to the rear generally made the rifle accessible only from the ground."