Tuesday, July 21, 2009

John Wesley Hardin Was A Punk

But you knew that didn't you.

In life he may had the reputation as "the fastest gun alive" but in the world of Boot Hill, it was a certifiable fact.  He was so fast, his speed with an SAR6 is faster than "Buckshot" Blume with and FDR6...and with an FDR he is a damn sight better than Blume or Blume's biggest rival, Hezekiah Kane.

Better than Mister "G"?  You bet your sweet ass, pard'.

(and if you don't thing the NPCs based on Blume and Gygax are mediocre, you've got another think coming...though I suppose if I were to throw any of MY old D&D characters into an adventure module, they'd tend to steal the show as well)

That's one of the greatest things about Boot Hill: everything is ranked all nice and neat and there's never any question about who can outdraw whom.  None of this futzing around with "initiative rolls" and such...are you greased lightning, or are you merely very quick.  There IS a difference, and it is a big one.

Of course, once the shooting starts, all bets are off...in the haze of gun smoke it's easy to have a bad roll and miss completely while your slower opponent shoots you through the gizzards. Thems the breaks.  But you'd probably expect that, too...it feels right, it rings true to the source material. Though it also means you better get ready to kiss your character good-bye if you insist on getting in shooting scrapes with other gunslingers.

Well, unless you're a low-down, dirty, back-shooting rattle snake like John Wesley Hardin.

See, Boot Hill gives you just enough to make you dangerous to yourself and others, but not enough to be a historian.  I learned precious little about "the Old West" from Boot Hill besides the cost of a plug of chewin' terbacky, or the year the repeating shotgun became readily available (1885 according to the book)...but who knows how accurate these "facts" are.

For example, an SAR6 (that's short-hand for "single-action revolver six-shot") is faster than a DAR6 ("double action revolver").  Why exactly is that?  Well, as a kid I simply figured that single action meant everything occurs with the pull of a trigger...hammer cocks, fires, and chamber turns.  A "double-action" is one of those old-timer guns that need you to cock the hammer first and THEN pull the trigger. Right?

Wrong-o, amigo!

It is the exact opposite...the DOUBLE-ACTION cocks and fires the gun in one pull of the trigger...THAT'S why it's called double action.  Okay, so then...if that's which is which than why is the SAR faster?  No idea, though I can guess.


This is that nifty trick you see Clint Eastwood do in all those spaghetti westerns, when he pulls the gun with one hand and slams down on the hammer with the other while pulling the trigger with the first hand.  When done correctly, you can empty your smoke-wagon pretty rapidly...though perhaps not too accurately (I understand they do fanning competitions in Texas).  Of course, the trick here is you can only use ONE GUN at a time...and most folks in BH are carrying two or using two, often at the same time.

John Wesley Hardin did.

And if JWH used two guns (which he did, ostensibly of the "fast draw" variety, though this just seems to mean he sewed his holsters into his vest so he could perform an elaborate cross-draw he practiced for hours in order to kill folks)...that means he can't have been fannin' 'em, right?

Well, maybe he was using an FDR6 (that's "fast draw revolver"). What the heck is an FDR?  No idea.  Boot Hill just tells us it becomes available after 1870 and has its own special holster...some kind of gunslinger rig, I'd guess. Well, Hardin was using his sewed-in-holsters in 1869, chumps, not "after 1870."  I'm beginning to think all this stuff is made up!

I might need to re-stat the historical character stats in my BH.  Hardin WAS a punk and a killer, no doubt about it.  But the fastest gun in the West?  I'm not so sure about that.
; )


  1. Your wrong on the reason SAR is faster than a DAR. With a SAR you thumb the hammer back, which advances the cylinder to the next loaded chamber. Then the finger pull/squeeze releases the hammer. Easy, doesn't take much pressure.

    Compared too...

    DAR where the the hammer is levered back, the cylinder advanced and then the hammer released all off that finger pull. I lot more work and force required, so it takes longer.

    FANNING is basically a dangerous way to unload your pistol. You're not going to hit anything more than a couple of feet in front of you, unless they happen to be your own. Actually, happened.

  2. What the others said, re: SAR vs. DAR.

    As for the production "fast-draw" revolver, unless I'm mistaken, it was named so because of a combination of an easier-to-cock hammer, smooth surfaces, and a shorter barrel.

    (If we're talking Hollywood westerns, I also recall more than one movie referencing how some badass gunslinger had filed down the front gun sight ramp of his hogleg(s). Who knows if such a thing ever happened IRL, but I would imagine this to be more of a customization than a production feature. Either way, I suppose if you're worried so much about getting your pistol out of the holster faster than anybody else, you won't really be too concerned about how something like this will affect your aim...)

  3. Thanks for the info, folks. As I said, BH does a good job of modeling the feel (for me, anyway) of the cinematic Old West. It just doesn't do a great job of explaining its sources nor its design specs. This kind of info (that you're providing) is invaluable to a GM running a BH game. Thanks!