In remembrance of Billy the Kid and his place in the
lore of the Old West, America Remembers
presents the Billy the Kid Rifle.
Billy the Kid is arguably the most famous outlaw in the
history of the Old west. Shot by Pat Garrett when he was only 21, Billy
the Kid's reputation and legend only grew larger after his death. The one known
image of William Bonney is a tintype that portrays him in mismatched
cowboy duds, posing with a Winchester Model 1873 Rifle and a
Billy the Kid's family moved to Silver City, New Mexico when Billy was
fourteen. A possible prank gone badly at a Chinese Laundry where he worked
sent Billy to jail from which he escaped, beginning a trend that would
establish him as a wanted man. Supposedly, the Kid killed his first victim
in the Camp Grant area of Arizona during a gunfight when he was around
seventeen. Billy told his jailers that his opponent, who was much larger,
was pummeling him, so he had to shoot the man in self-defense. He picked
up the name Kid Antrim on his way out of town, which later evolved into
the infamous title "Billy the Kid."
Once again free, Billy the Kid solidified his place opposite the law by
joining a band of rustlers, whose thieving ways kept Billy on the run
until he met an Englishman named John Tunstall. The wealthy businessman,
who had established himself in ranching and real estate, took in Billy the
help work on his ranch. Later, Tunstall became partners with Alexander
McSween in building a general store in downtown Lincoln County.
John Tunstall became a mentor to Billy the Kid, providing him with a horse and
saddle- the first time Billy had been aided by such generosity. The Kid
grew appreciative and began to admire Mr. Tunstall in the few weeks he
worked for him on a legitimate basis. Little did Billy the Kid know that powerful forces had begun to plot against Tunstall.
The Lincoln County War was brought on by the corruption that engulfed
local government and businessmen, like James Dolan and Lawrence Murphy,
who were rivals of Tunstall and his associates. Dolan and Murphy had
attracted investors at every level in the county, who wished to see the
partners do well. Having infiltrated the local business world of the
scandalous county, Tunstall was treading on thin ice. Sheriff Brady sent a
posse out to Tunstall's ranch to discuss some charges. During this
confrontation, John Tunstall was murdered. Billy the Kid saw the incident from a
distance, but was helpless to make a difference against the band of
Billy the Kid was now entrenched in the dirtier half of the Lincoln County
War. The murder of his mentor drove Billy into a frenzy, and he partnered
with some of the other hands from Tunstall's ranch to form a vigilante
group called "The Regulators." They were a posse committed to bringing
Tunstall's murderers to justice.
The Regulators exchanged shots with A.L. "Buckshot" Roberts, a gunman for
the Dolan-Murphy gang, while trying to serve him an arrest warrant. Many
bullets found their mark, as both Roberts and Dave Brewer, a foreman from
Tunstall's ranch, fell dead. Billy the Kid, along with some others
involved, was dissatisfied with the outcome of the fight. When the group
returned to Lincoln, they shot Sheriff Brady in the streets of Lincoln.
Swift retribution followed the Kid's actions. The newly appointed Sheriff
Peppin cornered Billy the Kid and the Tunstall group in McSween's house.
With Billy the Kid's reputation having grown, a siege bore down on the
house that lasted for days. When the structure was eventually set on fire,
the battle came to a climax with smoke and gunfire. Both McSween and
Sheriff Peppin died in the fight, but Billy the Kid managed to scrape
The new territorial governor Lew Wallace, who was appointed by President
Hayes to quiet things down, later tried to end the feuding by offering
Billy the Kid a full pardon for all the wrongs he had perpetrated. The
trade-off was that the Kid had to turn himself in and testify in another
case. The plans did not unfold as Wallace had hoped. Local politics
prohibited Billy from receiving any kind of official pardon, and the Kid
left town to avoid any more trouble with the Dolan-Murphy group.
Later, in October of 1880, Billy's former friend, Pat Garrett, became
Sheriff of Lincoln County and began the steps of bringing Billy the Kid to
justice. Before the close of that year, Sheriff Garrett tracked Billy and
the Regulators to Stinking Springs where the gang was surrounded and
surrendered. Garrett transported Billy to jail in Las Vegas, New Mexico,
where he spent his time petitioning Governor Wallace to remember the
promises of pardon he had made prior. However, Billy's requests went
unanswered, and he was convicted of the murder of Sheriff Brady.
Billy's future uncertain, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
He managed to escape jail again by slipping out of his handcuffs and
overpowering the guard, J.W. Bell, before finishing him off with a shot
from Bell's own gun. Deputy Bob Olinger heard the noise and rushed to the
courthouse, but Billy saw him coming and shot Olinger with a shotgun.
Billy the Kid was on the lamb again with Garrett and his men hot on his
trail. This time there would be no discussion of amnesty for the Kid. The
double murders of the deputies sealed Billy's fate in the eyes of the law
for good. Unfortunately for the Kid, his old friend Pat Garrett stayed
one-stop ahead of him. Garrett and his deputies were waiting for him at
the home of Pete Maxwell, where Billy had been spending some of his
As the legend goes, Billy returned home late one evening and passed a pair
of strangers by the threshold of the house. Though he was unaware, they
were actually deputies that had come with Sheriff Garrett to find the Kid.
Garrett had staked out the house earlier, and was already waiting inside.
When the Kid stepped into the room, a couple of shots rang through the
black bedroom. Once the smoke had cleared, Billy the Kid was dead.
Rumors swirled about his death; a lifetime of escapes and daring
adventures, preceded rumors that Garrett had actually shot the wrong man
or maybe never shot anyone at all. It is said that Billy the Kid is buried
near Fort Sumner, but this issue, along with most statements made about
the Kid's life and death, have been argued time and again over the years.
His legend has only increased as Billy the Kid has been painted as both a
heinous murderer and a misrepresented vigilante. Even Pat Garrett, who
cashed in on Billy the Kid's fame by writing a biography about him,
portrayed Billy as being a likeable kid, maltreated by the law. It seems
at the end that the Kid's greatest legacy was leaving few facts behind for
his admirers to rely on.
His legend has grown, and it has even been reported that Billy the Kid
murdered 21 people before he was killed (one for each year of his life)
- even though most historians agree this number is much too high. The
legend of Billy the Kid is as well-known as any of the legendary lives of
America's most famous outlaws and lawmen.
The Billy the Kid’s story has come to find a place in
our hearts, and it is because of his enduring legend that America
Remembers is proud to present the Billy the Kid Tribute Rifle. We’ve
chosen the Model 1873 rifle as the most fitting tribute to the Kid
because both the Model ‘73 and Billy the Kid are synonymous with the
Wild West, and it is the rifle shown with Billy the Kid in the only documented
photo of the Kid. Through this exclusive Tribute we have proudly brought
together two icons of the Western frontier.
A Handsome Tribute to the Billy the Kid
Often called “the rifle that won the West,” the Model ‘73 has been
admired for decades
as an engineering landmark, representing light-weight utility and
long-ranged power. This firearm was one of the most coveted rifles of
its day, and was the ultimate prize for outlaws, lawmen, Indians, and
settlers of the frontier.
Each Billy the Kid Tribute Rifle is a handsome working
recreation of the immortal Winchester Model 1873 rifle produced for us
by the master craftsmen of A. Uberti. The Billy the Kid Tribute Rifle is a fully functional, working firearm in
.44-.40 caliber. The handsomely blued, 24-1/4 inch tapered octagonal
barrel is complemented perfectly by the elegantly decorated receiver,
along with the polished and gold decorated lever, hammer, trigger,
buttplate, and forearm end cap. The focal point of the Tribute is the
spectacular artwork features on the receiver, including a depiction of the
legendary tintype depiction of Billy the Kid and his own Model 1873 Rifle.
Craftsmen specifically commissioned for this project by America Remembers
have magnificently captured the details of the handsome artwork that we
have created for this historic Billy the Kid Tribute. All artwork is featured in a
spectacular combination of 24-karat gold and nickel with blackened
patinaed highlights to accent the details of the artwork.