Skip to main content

Billy the Kid's 1873

Billy the Kid's 1873

During a career that included a purported 21 killings (some say it was only four), outlaw folk-hero William H. Bonney — aka Billy the Kid — had only one photograph taken before being shot down by Pat Garrett in 1881. But it has become one of the most iconic and reproduced photos in western history.

Taken by an unknown photographer outside Beaver Smith's Saloon in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, the 2x3-inch tintype shows a cocky Billy the Kid wearing a Colt Single Action Army on his left side and leaning on a Winchester Model 1873 carbine. The most popular guns of the era, they were often chambered for the same cartridge — in this case, judging from the bullets in Bonney's belt, the .44-40. The Winchester New Model of 1873, as it was initially called, was truly "The Gun That Won The West" and came out concurrently with the .44-40 centerfire cartridge.

This tintype has been the inspiration for songs, but it was Hollywood that made the false assumption Bonney was left-handed. Emilio Estevez had it right in "Young Guns," wearing his pistol on his right side. But Paul Newman in "The Left Handed Gun" got it dead wrong — literally — as a southpaw.


The erroneous conclusion was drawn because tintypes depict a reverse image. The most obvious giveaway is the Model '73 loading gate on the left side of the receiver. Winchester loading gates are on the right side.


Nonetheless, on June 25th 2011 this tintype sold for $2.3 million at auction. And to think, Bonney only paid 25 cents to have the picture taken.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC Revew

Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC Revew

Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC Revew

Steyr Arms Announces Sniper Rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor

Steyr Arms Announces Sniper Rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor

Scott O'Brien from Steyr Arms sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to take a look at Steyr's new tactical heavy barrel sniper rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor.

RS Sako Finnlight II

RS Sako Finnlight II

The new Sako Finnlight II sports an innovative stock and Cerakote metal paired with the terrific 85 action.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Practical rifle marksmanship depends on following these five fundamentals.5 Fundamentals of Rifle Marksmanship Shooting Tips

5 Fundamentals of Rifle Marksmanship

Jospeh von Benedikt - August 13, 2020

Practical rifle marksmanship depends on following these five fundamentals.

With the new Hunter rifle, Ruger takes its popular Ruger American rifle line to the next level.Ruger American Rifle Hunter Review Reviews

Ruger American Rifle Hunter Review

David M. Fortier - July 28, 2020

With the new Hunter rifle, Ruger takes its popular Ruger American rifle line to the next level.

SIG SAUER adds to its Elite Match ammo line with the 30-06 Springfield.New 30-06 Springfield Elite Match Ammo from SIG SAUER Ammo

New 30-06 Springfield Elite Match Ammo from SIG SAUER

Rifleshooter Online Editors - April 03, 2019

SIG SAUER adds to its Elite Match ammo line with the 30-06 Springfield.

Joseph von Benedikt explores eight areas of concern that are vital for anyone who wants to increase a rifle's accuracy.8 Ways To Increase Rifle Accuracy Shooting Tips

8 Ways To Increase Rifle Accuracy

Joseph von Benedikt - August 05, 2020

Joseph von Benedikt explores eight areas of concern that are vital for anyone who wants to...

See More Trending Articles

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Rifle Shooter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now