Throwback Thursday: Fastest Gun in the World?

First, let's make sure we're asking the right question!

by
posted on December 28, 2023
ed-mcgivern-colt-saa.jpg

What is the world's fastest gun? Right now, you may be looking at the photo above and wondering if we could possibly be claiming that the world's fastest gun is a Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army. We aren't, but that's because "what is the world's fastest gun" is the wrong question. The right question is, who? The answer is complex, and it's the subject of today's Throwback Thursday.

Today, we're visiting the remarkable confluence of one of America's most iconic firearms with one of America's most iconic exhibition shooters, a man who is known as "The World's Fastest Gun" even now, 60 years after his passing. His name is Ed McGivern.

Coincidentally, both the Colt in question and McGivern entered the world at about the same time, in 1873. Although wheelgun technology had actually been around since the Renaissance period in Europe, Samuel Colt was the first innovator who was able to turn what had previously been a curiosity into a a commodity that could be manufactured en masse. The 1873 model was unique in that it was chambered for the .45 Colt, which at the time was the most powerful cartridge available. Reliable, powerful and simple to operate, it was an instant hit with the military and civilians alike. It's a testament to the staying power of this firearm that Colt still makes them to this day. 

McGivern, however, didn't reach the peak of his fame until 1932, when he earned himself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records by drawing his gun from its holster and firing five shots from 15 feet into an area a little over an inch wide in less than half a second. Although many attempts at defeating this particular record have been made, so far none have succeeded. He didn't perform this feat with the firearm pictured above—that was achieved with a Smith & Wesson Model 10 double-action revolver—but it is from his personal collection, and now resides at the NRA National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia. 

So, a better question might be, who is the world's fastest gun today? The best answer is no doubt Jerry Miculek, who holds countless world records for speed- and accuracy-shooting—as well as the closest attempt at McGivern's record. For those of us who enjoy watching exhibition shooting, a McGivern vs. Miculek contest would definitely be the most thrilling match-up we could imagine.

To catch a glimpse of Miculek in action, click here.  
To learn more about the iconic Colt Model 1873, click here

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