Bat Masterson: Armed and Dangerous
True West|February - March 2021
Bat Masterson lived long enough to enjoy the fame associated with his legendary time on the Kansas frontier as a lawman in Dodge City, and he never shied from promoting it, as he did when he notched a pawnshop pistol he sold as “his” frontier Colt to an overeager collector. – TRUE WEST ARCHIVES –
Marshall Trimble

How many of Bat Masterson’s Colt SAA revolvers are known to exist, and how many did he own over the years? I have read that he possibly owned seven or eight.

Greg Williamson Jr. McDonough, Georgia

It’s pretty hard to say how many. I checked Robert DeArment’s Bat biography, and he mentions a total of eight Colts that would have real provenance—or proof that he owned them. Bat apparently preferred to special-order his Colts direct from the factory rather than buy them across the counter from a local dealer. He liked special extras such as the front sight and was glad to pay for them. There are several 1880s letters to Colt from Bat in the Colt factory collection at the Connecticut State Library and records of which make and model and serial number he bought. This is the kind of provenance that brings big bucks. About five years ago, one of his pistols auctioned off for $96,000.

I’ve read that when he was a sportswriter for the New York Telegraph, some collector was pestering Bat to give him one of his pistols. He went to a pawn shop and purchased an old .45. Then he took his knife and carved 22 notches on the grip. Bat was a practical joker; everyone knows gunfighters didn’t carve notches on their pistols. But the story started a rumor. And there are some tales that Bat fulfilled other gun requests the same way.

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