Airguns of the American West Part 10
The Guns of John Wayne
For almost 50 years The Duke’s favorite handgun was a Colt Peacemaker
By Dennis Adler
The guns of John Wayne have always helped to define his characters but none so dramatically as the pair of engraved single actions he carried as former lawman and gunfighter John Bernard Books in “The Shootist.” In this memorable image recreated from the movie, the author has stepped in to play Books and a pair of Limited Edition, hand engraved Umarex Colt “Duke” Peacemakers, to fill the role of Wayne’s ivory griped Single Actions.
John Wayne’s film career spanned more than three generations, from 1930 when he starred in his first western, The Big Trail to 1976 when he made his last film, The Shootist. The Western cinematic legacy he left chronicles almost the entire history of this uniquely American film genre and its kinship to the Colt Single Action Army revolver.
There are 10 John Wayne models available with blued, weathered, or nickel finishes, including four hand engraved models in both .177 caliber BB and .177 caliber (4.5mm) pellet versions. Pictured are the weathered Duke model, (top) with a Bianchi Frontier Gunleather “Duke” holster and two-tone cartridge belt, the Limited Edition Shootist model (center) with a Legends in Leather copy of the gun rig worn by John Wayne in the film, and a Limited Edition hand engraved nickel plated Duke Model.
Up until 1930, the tall, rugged looking man from Winterset, Iowa, had been working as an extra, but he had determination and a look that caught the attention of legendary film director Raoul Walsh in 1929. The next year he gave the young actor named Marion Morrison his first big break in the 1930 epic The Big Trail. Walsh also changed Morrison’s name to John Wayne. Although the film was not a box office smash, even though it was one of the first shot in 70mm wide-screen, Wayne became a “B” movie hit, spending the next nine years making westerns and building a reputation as a film star. Many of his early films were remakes of old Ken Maynard silent movies with Wayne always playing a character named John (John Drury, John Steele, John Mason, John Trent), and riding a magnificent white stallion named, of all things, Duke.