Duel-wielding firearms in movies?

When and why did this start to become popular?

While its fun to watch its starting to get a little overplayed, and while I’m not a stickler for complete accuracy in movies it always takes me out of the film a little when someone does it.

And a secondary question, are there any records of people trying it in a real gunfight, and more importantly…did it work?!? :wink:

I imagine its along the lines of the whole ‘hold your handgun sideways’ shooting style, it may make you look and feel like a gangster but its far from effective…

I think pulp covers of The Shadow may have been the first major introduction to popular culture.

In real life, it was a trademark of the early KGB. Who knows if it was ever practiced in the field.

Since my guess is I wouldn’t hit anything with a single gun, I’d probably increase my odds of hitting something by 30% or so if I has throwing out twice the lead.

Really? I’m a bit of a Cold War buff and I’ve never heard of that, do you have any more information? :slight_smile:


I think it was probably something I read in connection with The Shadow and how KGB (or more likely, NKVD) fashion was actually influenced by the character even down to training with two pistols. This would have been in one of many histories of pulp magazines that I read about 25 years ago.

Hollywood’s depiction of firearms is and has always been execrable tripe. A little part of it is unavoidable (blanks have little recoil) but idiocy like Ahnuld or Sly firing an automatic rifle like it’s a garden hose does no one any favors.

OK, thanks!

Basically this.

Do you think so? I’d have thought westerns would have featured it earlier. Looking around the web, I (of course) found the TV Tropes page on the topic, where I find (among other things) that Wild Bill Hickok was reputed to use two guns – and he was certainly a popular subject of early western literature and movies.

Hickok’s dime novels would certainly predate The Shadow but looking at the covers, I don’t see any evidence of him wielding two guns. The earliest example of the cowboy trope I’m aware of is comic books from the 1940s like The Two-Gun Kid

I suppose it depends on your goal at the moment. If you’re actually trying to hit a specific target, it’s obviously going to be less effective. If your current objective is to encourage the other guy to keep his head down lest he catch a wild shot, filling the air with all the lead you can manage might be advantageous. Granted, suppressive fire with a pair of pistols isn’t going to be as impressive as it might be with the proper weapons for the job (I would favor dual aircraft carriers, personally), but you work with what you’ve got.

William S. Hartwas probably the first in Hollywood to use two guns; he started making westerns in 1914. He was the one of the first major western stars, after Bronco Billy Anderson (who didn’t use two guns).

Note that Hart was famous for the gritty verisimilitude of his westerns, and was a stickler for accuracy. (He also was a friend of Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson.) If Hart used two guns, then it was very likely some western gunmen used two guns, also. If you look at the photo, it’s clear that makes him a very intimidating figure.

Oh, as as for using it in a real gunfight, gunfights in the west were few and far between. They did exist (e.g., the OK Corral), but didn’t happen all that often, and were nothing like movies or dime novels portrayed them. No one called anyone out, but rather someone just drew a gun – often when the other guy wasn’t looking – and fired away. Smart gunfighters tended to avoid them (that’s what made them smart gunfighters instead of dead ones).

There were plenty of gunfights in the Old West. Most involved two drunk guys in a bar shooting at each other from about 6 feet away and missing entirely.

Sure, but the classic “high noon” gunfight hardly every occurred. One town even made itself a tourist attraction by staging one whenever the train came through.

More likely, someone with a grudge would draw and shoot the other guy in the back.

My favorite is the Stephen Baldwin’s use of it in The Usual Suspects.

The Mythbusters of course…

Chow Yun-fat does a good job of making it look real :slight_smile:

“Duel” or “dual”? :dubious:

And Bruce Willis in The Last Man Standing.