The worlds fastest quick draw shooter was Bob Munden. He was the owner of every one of the 18 handgun shooting records as listed by Guinness World Records.  Since 1960 Bob had won over 3,500 trophies whilst winning 800 major championships.

Bob Munden 1942 - 2012

Sadly Bob Munden passed away on December 10th, 2012 due to cardiac arrest. R.I.P

The worlds fastest living quick draw artist is now Howard Darby, seen below, who currently holds 16 worlds fastest quick draw records. Darby is seriously fast and accurate, he can draw his .45 and shoot an apple several paces way all in the blink of an eye.

In the days of the old west there were the quick and the dead, and that was basically it.  Darby would have been the quick one and the living one, it would have been a fatal mistake to have gone up against him.

There is also the worlds fastest quick draw lady, Nicole Franks, seen below,  See more about her in the   article further down the page...Franks is just as fast as the guys!

Bob Munden was the main world record holder at basic quick draw.  Munden could draw his Colt .45 from his holster, cock the hammer and fire accurately at a target in less than  2/10ths of a second or exactly 0.2.  This is literally as fast as the blink of an eye, and Bob didn't mind shunning modesty to stand square and admit that he was the best!

He could also shoot a playing card in half, that's right through the edge of it at twenty yards and with the first shot.  He could also flip a dollar coin into the air and shoot it, not with shot-shells that fire lots of little ball bearings like gunslingers faked in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show but just a single bullet.

Bob Munden could also fire his .45 Colt twice in one go, but so fast it only sounds like he fired one shot.  Amazing but true as the YouTube  video below testifies.


Fast Draw is a now an officially recognised sport, a sport that is based on the dramatic and famous art of  gun slinging from the days of the Old American Wild West.

The guns that are used are traditional single action revolvers like the Colt .45 Model 1973, as shown below.  The 1873 Colt .45 is the real deal six shooter that legends  in the old Wild West were built upon.  Anyone, who was anyone packed an 1873 and they learned how to use it.


Fast Draw and firing .45 bullets around the place is dangerous and hence the participants use special adapted blanks or soft wax bullets.  While some competitions are strictly against the clock, with the fastest time winning, many are set up as head to head single or double elimination matches.

In a fast draw competition, fast draw shooters must start with their revolver holstered,  their hands must not be touching the gun. An audible and sometimes visible signal is given to the fast draw participant when its time to fire.

An accurate electronic timer is automatically started when this signal is given and the shooter fires at either a metal plate for wax bullets or a balloon for blanks, the burned powder emitting from the barrel enough to burst the balloon. The timer will stop when the wax bullet hits the steel plate, or the balloon bursts.

Below is the modern manufactured Ruger Vaquero .45 six shooter, this is very similar to the revolver that fast draw exponent Howard Darby uses

It is a nice traditional .45 with a beautiful case hardened frame, loading gate and hammer.  Fitted with modern non slip, black checkered, hard rubber grips and an accurate five and half inch barrel with high blade front sight.

Howard Darby is very fast and has also been the holder of worlds fastest quick draw exponent for several years..  He is so fast he can beat a computer operated gunslinger as seen in the YouTube  video below...don't blink or you will miss it!


There are different types of fast draw match where double targets are set up or the fast draw participant will fire whilst backing away or walking towards the target.

Fast draw is possibly the fastest sport in the world where timings can be under 0.5 of a second from start to finish.  Nicole Franks from Langley, British Columbia, Canada is seen here at the Cloverdale Rodeo Fair Ground near Vancouver, British Columbia in May 17th, 2009 during an exhibition shoot.

Franks, at twenty-two years old (at time of writing), is the current all round Ladies World Fast Draw Champion, she has held this title since 2001 and has won over 40 world records in the various Fast Draw disciplines. Her current standings are: Ten world championships.  Six times all around world champion.  Fourteen Chairman championships

She has thirty-five world records.  She set twenty-one world records at the age of fourteen.  In 2006 she set another 13 world records.  Her fastest world record is also the fastest traditional record ever shot by a woman at 0.263 of a second!

Fantastico! Keep up the great shooting Nicole!

Not wanting to throw cold water on the skills, excitement and panache of the fast draw but these sort of gunfights never really happened strictly as depicted in Hollywood movies where two men face each other and fire at the drop of a hat or handkerchief as they rarely had the skills, so they simply drew their guns and fired ready or not.

They just drew their revolver, took aim and fired at the undesirable that they wanted to kill as soon as they saw him, only then if he was a fast gun could he turn the tables.

If they did stand face to face, then they were about  twenty to fifty feet distance between them, and you can bet your bottom dollar that one of the gunfighters would have drawn and fired before the other guy was ready.

If you were in the situation where you could lose your life, then cheating was the order of the day, like James 'Killin Jim' Miller who wore a steel plate under his waistcoat.

Bang! your dead! many an argument was settled in a shootout, whereas he who shot first was usually the victorious, as they used to say: there was the quick and there was the dead.

In a fast draw shoot out it is thought that they stood at a fair distance and just took aim and fired in their own time.  It is true that there were some very fast on the draw gunfighters in the old Wild West such as Wild Bill Hickok and John Wesley Hardin  but like all fast guns, they died by getting shot in the back.

If there was an argument that warranted a gunfight then the gunfight would most likely happen in a scuffle, right then and there as depicted in the painting below by N. C. Wyeth entitled "Gunfight"  c:1916.


Of course there were always those that excelled in gun play and lived their short lives as gunfighters, they would carry pistols tucked into their belts, pushed down the front of their pants or as depicted below they may wear a holster otherwise known as a fast draw rig.

Professional gunfighters, those hired by banks to ride with their cash wagons or cattle barons to protect them and their stock during cattle drives would have had their gun rig made to measure.

Accurate sizing was very important, gun belts were cut and sized according to the wearer,  measurements were made over the type of clothing normally worn when wearing the gun belt.

Natural waist line was measured, then the rig was made to fit the hip line two inches below the trouser belt, with the holster sagging slightly fore or aft depending on the gun fighters style.

Cowboy Fast Draw holsters were made to fit the gunfighter and his gun, with the revolver fitting  on the right side, left side or twin holstered for ambidextrous shooters.

For proper holster sizing, their gun model, the barrel length and its caliber was taken into consideration.  It was almost a science and just buying off the shelf was not the professionals way of doing business.

Maybe the best way to turn up for a fast draw shootout would be like the guy below has opted to do!  Get crankin!

Learn more about fast draw and some of the fast draw celebrities as mentioned on this web page by clicking on the links below:

I have  more information about gunfighters on my History Links page.



Page created August 9th 2009.  Updated May 27th 2014.