Colt .44 that killed Billy the Kid sells for record $US6 million

From the stuff of legends comes a legendary price

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Pat Garrett Colt that killed Billy the Kid

The .44-40 Colt revolver used to kill Wild West legend Billy the Kid is officially the most expensive firearm in the world, according to Bonhams Auctioneers, after it sold on Friday for $US6.03 million, or $8.25 million. 

It was expected to eclipse the previous record of almost $US2 million achieved by a matching pair of pistols owned by George Washington, but no one expected it to more than triple that mark.

US lawman Pat Garrett shot and killed 21-year-old outlaw and murderer Billy the Kid, whose real name was Henry McCarty, on 14 July, 1881. 

Garrett had tracked the outlaw to a ranch and crept inside during the night. The Kid woke up and entered the room Garrett was in, but before he could work out who was standing the shadows, Garrett fired.

A single shot to the chest from the Single Action Army model revolver did the job, though according to Garret’s account he then fired a second shot that missed. 

The Colt was part of a private collection that included a number of historic Wild West firearms, and in total it realised more than $US12 million. 

A shotgun used by Billy the Kid during a violent courthouse escape sold for close to $US1 million. It was a Whitney double-barrelled hammer gun that Billy snatched from a deputy sheriff, killing him with it before escaping. 

Wild Bill Hickok had been buried with his Springfield trapdoor rifle in the Deadwood cemetery in South Dakota, but it was dug up and souvenired. It sold at the auction for almost half a million US.

The Colt Single Action Army revolver used to kill outlaw John Wesley Hardin sold for $US858,313 and the Smith & Wesson Double Action Frontier revolver Hardin was carrying at the time sold for $US625,313.   

Hardin, who had killed at least 27 men and then served 24 years in jail, was shot in the back of the head while playing dice in a saloon by John Selman, a lawman with a chequered history.

Selman’s subsequent murder trial resulted in a hung jury but before a retrial he was shot dead by another lawman after an argument over a card game.

Read about John Wayne’s $700,000 Colt here.

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