The Quick Report

The 10 Fastest Western Movie Gunslingers

The pinnacle of many Western movies is the high noon gun dueling showdown between two characters, where one or both have the reputation of being the fastest draw alive. Here are the ten fastest gunslingers from our favorite Western films. Where does your favorite rank?

10. Cort: The Quick and the Dead (1995)

Russell Crowe as Cort in The Quick and The Dead

Former outlaw John Herod (Gene Hackman) holds a single-elimination dueling contest. Contestants include The Lady (Sharon Stone) and The Kid (Leonardo DiCaprio). The biggest concern is an unwilling participant named Cort (Russell Crowe). He’s the fastest in the West but has renounced all violence. Herod’s goons break Cort’s hand before he faces their boss in the final showdown.

9. Charley Waite: Open Range (2003)

Kevin Costner as Charley Waite in Open Range
Buena Vista Pictures

Charley Waite (Kevin Costner) works as a ranch hand for Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall). After an employee fails to return from town with supplies, they know he’s in trouble. They set out to rescue him and take revenge on those who took him captive. Waite is a top-tier sharpshooter who uses planning and patience, taking shots at the opportune moment.

8. Chris Adams: The Magnificent Seven (1960)

Yul Brynner as Chris Adams in The Magnificent Seven
United Artists

Each main character of The Magnificent Seven brings their own unique skills to the table. However, Chris Adams (Yul Brynner) brings both a quick wit and a lightning-fast draw that separates him from his fellow gunslingers. Even with his sharpshooting prowess, Adams focuses more on preparing and protecting the villagers before the big battle comes.

7. Shane: Shane (1953)

Alan Ladd as Shane
Paramount Pictures

Veteran gunfighter and drifter Shane (Alan Ladd) decides to hang up his gun and settle down in a small Wyoming town. He goes to work for local farmer Joe Starrett. A dispute breaks out between the townspeople and a cattle baron. With the Starrett family’s safety at risk, Shane has no choice but to bring his gun out of retirement.

6. Harmonica: Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Charles Bronson as Harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West
Paramount Pictures

A railroad baron sends gun-for-hire Frank (Henry Fonda) to force an owner to sell his property. Frank kills the owner and blames a known gang of bandits. The owner’s recent bride arrives in town at the same time as a lone gunman known as Harmonica (Charles Bronson). Harmonica utters few words. Instead, he does his talking with his trigger hand.

5. William Munny: Unforgiven (1992)

Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven
Warner Bros.

Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) informs his retired widower friend William Munny (Clint Eastwood) about a huge bounty for killing two men who disfigured a woman. They arrive in town and are warned by the sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman). When Logan is murdered and his body disrespectfully displayed, Munny a former ruthless gunslinger takes revenge on everyone involved.

4. Ben Wade: 3:10 to Yuma (1957)

Glenn Ford as Ben Wade in 3:10 to Yuma (1957)
Columbia Pictures

Stagecoach bandit and murderer, Ben Wade (Glenn Ford) is captured. Struggling rancher Dan Evans volunteers to take Wade to the town of Contention City to catch a train to Yuma to stand trial. Wade offers Evans a huge bribe to let him go. Evans also has to fight off Wade’s gang. In real life, Ford had a draw under 0.4 seconds.


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3. George Kelby Jr.: The Fastest Gun Alive (1956)

Glenn Ford as George Kelby in The Fastest Gun Alive

George Kelby Jr. (Glenn Ford), had a reputation as the “fastest gun alive.” He hid his identity so he could stop having to face every gunslinger with something to prove. Outlaw Harold guns down a man named Clint Fallon, the “fastest draw in the West.” People laugh off George as a timid store clerk. But he retrieves his gun from hiding and takes on Harold. 

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2. Doc Holliday: Tombstone (1993)

Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday in Tombstone
Hollywood Pictures

Doc Holliday — a dentist — is a hard-drinking, consumptive gambler with a reputation as a lightning-fast gunfighter. Verbally sparring with outlaw gunslinger Johnny Ringo, Holliday mocks him by aping his gun spinning using a tin cup. Wyatt Earp is set to duel against Ringo, but Holliday gets there first in his place, and the two fastest guns in the West face off.

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1. Man with No Name: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly (1966)

Clint Eastwood as The Man with No Name
Produzioni Europee Associate

This is the third and final installment of Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy. Throughout the series, The Man with No Name (Clint Eastwood) — Blondie, as Tuco calls him — makes impressive shot after shot. The showdown at the end is worth the wait. The Man with No Name cements his reputation as the greatest gunslinger in Western movie history.

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