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The Gun that Killed John Wesley Hardin

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On August 27, 2021 the gun that John Selman used to kill notorious gunslinger John Wesley Hardin (shown here) sold at auction for $858,312.50.   I'm actually surprised it wasn't more. Question for those who know more than I do: could you fire this pistol without hurting it?  Would doing so devalue it in any way?

A brief recap for those unfamiliar with the story:
Constable John Selman led a long and varied life as both a lawman and an outlaw, but will most famously be remembered as the man who killed John Wesley Hardin. Selman served in the 22nd Texas regiment in the Civil War but faced charges of desertion.

 During the Lincoln County Wars, he was the leader of "Selman's Scouts," also known as the "Rustlers," for which exploits he was captured by Texas Ranger Joe McKidrict and jailed to stand trial. He escaped and fled to Mexico, returning to the U.S. in 1888 in El Paso. By 1892, he was elected constable, and served a short but tumultuous four years. On April 5, 1894, he killed the famed but unstable Texas Ranger Baz Outlaw, after a drunken Outlaw shot Joe McKidrict.

On August 19, 1895, inside the Acme Saloon, Selman used his "remarkably good judgement" when he shot John Wesley Hardin in the back of the head with this Colt Single Action serial number, 141805, taken into evidence as Exhibit A during the resulting trial. The killing ended the career of one of the West's most dangerous gunfighters, and immortalized Selman, forever after referred to as "the killer of John Wesley Hardin."

On April 6, 1896, just about two years to the day he had killed Outlaw, he got into an argument with Texas Ranger George Scarborough, the same Scarborough Hardin had drunkenly declared as the hired killer of Martin Mrose. According to Scarborough at trial, Selman had asked him to help break his son out of jail across the Mexican border. When Scarborough refused to head back in to drink on it, Selman, not renowned for his quickness, had pulled his gun. Scarborough shot him dead before he could get off a shot.

Source for these photos and the information regarding the auction is Bonham's Auction House: 


John Selman's gun killed John Wesley Hardin.jpg

John Selman's gun killed John Wesley Hardin 2.jpg

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I recently read a story about the pistol that Jack Ruby used to kill L. H. Ostwald. Apparently the original purchaser of the pistol from the family after it was released from evidence kept it for many years. The article said he would take it out occasionally and shoot it then sell the bullets to collectors. Good idea or bad idea, it’s an interesting way enjoy a collectible.

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