Guns of The Quick and the Dead

The Quick and the Dead is a fantastic gunfighter movie that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. It’s even full of stars such as Gene Hackman, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Sharon Stone. This is a movie with an excellent storyline that truly delivers throughout the show, and with cool guns, too. We’ve chosen our top five favorite firearms of the Quick and the Dead to share with you. If you think we missed one, be sure to drop the gun in question in the comments section.

herod in the quick and the dead
John Herod using his revolver to intimate the townsfolk. (Photo credit:

Single Action Army

Considering the era in which this movie is set, it really comes as no surprise the Single Action Army (SAA) makes a lot of appearances. One of its more infamous uses is in the hands of Gene Hackman’s character, John Herod, who both runs the town and is definitely the bad guy in the movie. Hackman has a pair of SAAs which he uses both to intimidate the locals and win fights. He’s fast, there’s no denying it, and he demonstrates his prowess with the guns on more than one occasion. And yes, there are times he dual-wields the guns.

The SAAs Hackman uses are a pair of revolvers with custom gold dragon grips, making them distinctive. If you haven’t seen the movie, you’re not yet familiar with the ways in which Hackman’s character is both loved and hated. So, does his possibly evil or at least cruel hold over the town last or does someone come along to dethrone him? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

colt 1851 navy
A Colt 1851 Navy in the hands of Sharon Stone’s character, shown as a young girl. (Photo credit:

Colt 1851 Navy

Early on in the movie, we see the little girl who will become Sharon Stone’s character, The Lady, wielding a Colt 1851 Navy. Her father was the Marshal, played by Gary Sinise, and in the flashback scene, he’s being hung. Young Ellen (The Lady) is watching Gene Hackman’s character, who tells her that if she can simply use the Colt 1851 Navy he handed her to shoot through the noose, her father will live. She has three shots to get it done, and of course, she can’t. In fact, her attempts to shoot her father down and save his life end rather horrifically.

The Colt 1851 Navy was a .36 caliber revolver with a six-round capacity. It was in production from 1851 to 1873 and approximately 272,000 were made. The gun had a 7.5-inch barrel and an overall length of 13 inches. There are still reproductions being made by quite a few companies today. In The Quick and the Dead, the ivory-gripped Colt 1851 Navy doesn’t get the job done, but when Ellen grows up and becomes known as The Lady, her SAA does just fine.

marlin ballard no 4 perfection
This rifle makes only a brief appearance, but it’s still memorable. (Photo credit:

Marlin-Ballard No. 4 Perfection

This single-shot rifle doesn’t spend much time front and center in the movie, but it’s well worth including. At the beginning of the movie, The Lady is riding up on bad guy Dog Kelly, played by Tobin Bell, who takes a shot at her and misses (he does shoot her hat effectively, though). Let’s just say it doesn’t end really well for Dog Kelly.

The Marlin-Ballard No. 4 Perfection was designed in the late 1800s for hunters, and as a result, the guns that can be found today tend to be rather worn out. The rifle came in a few different calibers including 40-63 and 38-55 and was an octagon-barreled rifle manufactured by Marlin Firearms (of course). These single-shots were breech loaders that weighed close to ten pounds. So while they weren’t exactly portable or easy to swing around, they were large enough to do some damage if you got that one available shot on target. Having this rifle be Dog Kelly’s choice of firearm makes some sense considering he’s seen digging on the frontier, behind a wagon.

lemat 1861 revolver
A close-up shot of the LeMat 1861 being loaded. (Photo credit:

LeMat 1861

This one’s interesting less because of its use and more due to the many close-ups of it that give you a better look at its details. The LeMat 1861 is shown in the hands of gunslinger Gutzon, played by Sven Ole Thorsen. Some fantastic close-ups of the revolver are shown as Gutzon loads and aims it. Of course, the careful loading of the LeMat 1861 is all part of the build-up to the duel between Gutzon and The Kid (played by a young Leonardo DiCaprio). Spoiler alert: Gutzon isn’t nearly as fast as The Kid, and despite his painstaking loading of the LeMat, he just can’t get a round fired quickly enough.

The LeMat 1861 was a black powder cap and ball revolver that is sometimes referred to as The Grapeshot Revolver. It was chambered in .42 caliber and also 20 gauge, so yes, it did have a smoothbore barrel capable of propelling 20 gauge shot down range. That eventually changed to a .35 caliber and 28 gauge smoothbore. The revolver had a 6.75-inch barrel with an overall length of 13.25 inches and weighed around four pounds. While this might seem like a bulky gun, it likely wasn’t enough to truly offset the effects of firing 20 gauge through its smoothbore barrel. The LeMat 1861 was only in production for about nine years with fewer than 300 of the guns made.

the kid with his revolver
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Kid, with one of his revolvers. (Photo credit:

A Cimmaron SAA…Among Others

Now, we’re mentioning the SAA Leonardo DiCaprio had, but we’re actually going to get into a few other firearms his character, The Kid, had. In The Quick and the Dead, The Kid has an entire gun store of fun stuff at his disposal. So while this engraved Cimmaron SAA 45 Long Colt is the focus of this particular image, there are far more guns to get into.

In The Kid’s shop, we see a number of guns including a sawed-off shotgun, a nickel-plated Cavalry SAA with a 7.5-inch barrel, a Quickdraw SAA, and a Colt 1851 Navy with a Richards-Mason cartridge conversion. The latter of those guns is the one he ends up handing off to another gunslinger, named Cort, who might look unassuming but is apparently quite the shooter (and he’s played by Russell Crowe).

Aside from the wide array of firearms in this movie, most of which are pretty era-appropriate, there’s some fun dueling. That’s the entire point of the town where The Lady goes, after all: duels. Lots of duels. While this movie has a somewhat serious storyline it’s also simply good entertainment (not to mention the laundry list of famous actors). If you haven’t seen The Quick and the Dead yet, it’s way past time to find it and watch it. Just be careful who you’re cheering for.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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