Which Fictional Wild West Gunslinger Would Win In A Free-For-All Shootout?

List Rules
Vote up the characters with the quickest draw.

Ah, the Wild West, where cowboys ruled and disputes were adjudicated with the pull of a trigger. Quick-drawing heroes, antiheroes, and psychopathic villains are a mainstay of the Western genre and appear in just about every film, TV show, or video game set in the Wild West. However, there are undoubtedly some that stand out among the horde of cattle rustlers and righteous, vengeance-seeking white knights. Here's a chance to see how they would hold up in a free-for-all fight in the streets of a backwater border town.

Could the cigar-chomping Man with No Name get the drop on the drunken US Marshal with the amazing name of Rooster Cogburn? Would Tombstone's Doc Holliday (a historical figure, admittedly, but a highly fictionalized one) be Raylan Givens's huckleberry in a quick draw? Would the space-faring Malcolm Reynolds come out on top in a tete-a-tete with the (again, highly fictionalized) Sundance Kid? Revisiting some of the greatest Western gunslingers of fiction - including their choice side arm, their greatest victories, and their biggest weaknesses - let's see which of these characters would wind up as the last man (or woman) standing in a dust-up.


  • The Man with No Name (The Dollars Trilogy)
    Photo: A Fistful Of Dollars / Unidis

    Weapon of Choice: Revolver (Colt Single Action Army model)

    Signature Victory: In A Fistful of Dollars, the Man with No Name (Clint Eastwood) - also referred to as the Stranger - returns to town to face off against Ramon Rojo, the ruthless leader of a lawless crew. Secretly wearing a steel plate under his poncho, the Stranger taunts Ramon into firing at him, but the bullets just bounce off him until Ramon's side arm is empty. 

    The Stranger reveals the steel plate and then, with shocking speed, blasts the piece out of Ramon's hands and takes out all four of the henchmen standing around him. He then challenges Ramon to see who can reload their side arm first. The Stranger wins by a fraction of a second, putting an end to Ramon's frightening reign once and for all.

    Weaknesses: While he's undeniably a master of the quick draw, the Man With No Name doesn't always think his plans through. While the steel-plate-under-the-poncho is clever (and inspired the best scene in Back to the Future III), Ramon has a very accurate side arm, and could have just as easily fired at the Man's very unprotected face. This seems to be a running theme for the Man with No Name, and luck just carries him through.

  • Weapon of Choice: Revolver (Colt Single Action Army Quickdraw model)

    Signature Victory: While it would be easy to turn to the showdown at the OK Corral as an example of Doc's (Val Kilmer) prowess, the whole fight is a messy affair. Holliday's true mastery of the side arm can be seen when he faces off against the frighteningly accurate Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn) and ends him in a quick draw, despite suffering from late-stage tuberculosis.

    Weaknesses: Well, tuberculosis. Even before it ultimately ends him, Holliday has a propensity for fainting, general weakness, and fits of coughing—although, as Johnny Ringo learns, it doesn't slow his trigger finger.

  • 3
    195 VOTES

    Chris Adams ('The Magnificent Seven')

    Weapon of Choice: Revolver (Colt Single Action Army model)

    Signature Victory: Chris Adams (Yul Brynner) agrees to lead a small band of fellow vigilantes into a fight with the evil bandit leader Calvera (Eli Wallach) to protect a small town that the villain has been menacing. After fighting off his goons, and losing some of his friends in the process, Adams gets the drop on Calvera and unloads his side arm into his chest. Before he perishes, the greed-filled Calvera delivers his haunting last words, asking Adams, "You came back to a place like this? Why? A man like you? Why?" Adams doesn't answer, opting instead to let Calvera perish with his questions.

    Weaknesses: Adams agrees to protect the town out of a sense of guilt that hangs over him because of the life he's lived. This intense internal sorrow prompts him to face impossible odds - which works out for him, but not for the majority of his "magnificent" comrades in arms.

  • 4
    244 VOTES

    William Munny ('Unforgiven')

    Weapon of Choice: Revolver (Smith & Wesson Schofield Model 3), shotgun (W. Richards 10 Gauge Double Barreled Shotgun), rifle (Spencer 1860 Saddle Ring Carbine). Munny (Clint Eastwood) is an equal-opportunity pragmatist, using whatever's at hand to get the job done. He often ends up using pieces that once belonged to his friends: In the climactic showdown, he wields both Ned Logan's (Morgan Freeman) rifle and the Schofield Kid's (Jaimz Woolvett) revolver.

    Signature Victory: Arriving at the saloon in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, to avenge the slaying of his friend Ned Logan, Munny gets the drop on a posse assembled by Sheriff "Little Bill" Daggett (Gene Hackman). As an amuse-bouche before the big event, he blows away the saloon owner, then zeroes in on Little Bill. A misfire in his second barrel hardly slows down Munny, who throws the useless piece at his enemies, pulls out his side arm, and dispatches the posse members in a matter of seconds. Grabbing Ned's old rifle (which Little Bill had acquired) before the dust has settled, Munny finishes off the now-wounded Little Bill with the immortal line, "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it." 

    Weaknesses: At this stage in his life, Munny - who had ostensibly been "reformed" by his late wife - is reluctant to get involved in extralegal matters, and his skills have obviously declined. Once his ire is aroused and he shakes off the rust, however, Munny's a stone-cold marksman, demonstrating neither fear nor remorse.