"There was a blur, and then shootin'. I didn't see no draw."
, on the Saint of Killers
The one-on-one gunfight is a derivation of the more ancient practice of duelling. Thus, a key characteristic of many gunfighters
is their ability to field their weapon of choice with lightning speed. This is critical to their ability to deliver the Instant Death Bullet
rather than receive it, although they may choose to blast the gun out of their adversary's hand
Because the trope is so well evolved, there are many refinements. Guns and holsters are commonly altered to make the quick draw more effective. Subverting the quick draw by removing an adversary's ammunition before the showdown is a well-known ploy. Shooting from the hip is a way to improve the speed of the draw at the expense of accuracy. You may also have the firearm in an apparatus that sends it directly into your hand
The Western Showdown at High Noon
among shooters is the classic setting for this trope, but it can appear in pretty much every genre with guns, and the best of best at this game will often earn the title of The Fastest Gun in the Story He's Casted in
The sword analog of this trope is the Iaijutsu Practitioner
in a Single-Stroke Battle
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Anime and Manga
- Golgo 13 has a notoriously quick draw speed. In one episode, a hitman measured it at 0.17 seconds.
- In the anime series, Golgo is up against a Mafia bodyguard who can draw faster than him. So he makes an appearance just as he's hauling a woman out of a car — the fraction of a second it takes for the mafiosi to let go of her is enough.
- Kino from Kino's Journey is extremely talented when it comes to drawing and using guns at a moment's notice. Doesn't have a reputation, so doesn't count as Fastest Gun in the West.
- Lupin III: Jigen is said to possess a 0.3 second quick-draw. He's also shown to take out three or more people who have already aimed their guns at him before he's drawn his Magnum. Usually by Blasting It out of Their Hands.
- Van Augur from One Piece was able to do this to Ace (with no effect, of course). Furthermore, he uses a rather large sniper rifle, not a pistol.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica : Homura, the walking armory of the series, is so fast she can unload a full Beretta in Kyubey's face in less than half a second, thanks to time mastery.
- Trigun has an episode called "Quick Draw", in which Vash and Nicholas enter a quick draw competition to give the reward to a family in need. Vash being Vash and Nicholas being a priest, both are opposed to killing, but they can manage nonlethal shots. One gunman uses a particularly novel trick; he wears his clothes backwards and uses a Latex Perfection mask to pretend he's walking backwards before the draw when he actually never faces away from his opponent, so he doesn't have to turn around to shoot.
- In GANTZ, Izumi challenges Kurono to a quick draw duel at the end of his murderous shooting spree with the life of Kei's girlfriend Tae at stake. It's hardly a fair contest for Kurono as Izumi is armed with a pistol while he only has a Gantz gun- which is devastatingly destructive but functionally almost useless for duelling because of the massive time lag between the gun being fired and the target suffering the horrific effects. Regardless, he has no choice but to go ahead with it. They both raise their guns but Izumi shoots and Kurono goes down without his gun lighting up, which would indicate he got a shot off. However, as Izumi exults in his victory and heads over to kill Tae, Kurono pulls the SECOND trigger on his gun, having worked out that pulling one trigger locks the gun onto a target and then pulling the second fires a shot that can't miss. Knowing that if Izumi saw him fire he might turn and kill Tae out of spite before the shot reached him, and that getting hit wouldn't be an Instant Death Bullet unless it hit him in the head, he let Izumi shoot him, then fired from the ground, blowing Izumi's head off once he'd stopped paying attention to Kuruno. Batman Gambit at its finest (with a bit of Thanatos Gambit).
- Black Lagoon. Yakuza thug Chaka challenges Revy to a quick draw contest, with them drawing when the soda can he's holding hits the floor. But Revy has such contempt for him she charges at Chaka and knocks him down with a kick to the face. She then leads him to Ginji, who challenges Chaka to his own quick draw contest, with Ginji only armed with a samurai sword. Ginji wins and Revy can't resist challenging him herself. He turns her down the first time, but not the second.
- The Saint of Killers from Preacher is explicitly described as having a draw so fast the policemen attacking him only saw blurs.
- Despite his reluctance to use guns, Batman. Only Jonah Hex has defeated Batman in a quickdraw. This only makes him more badass.
- Lucky Luke: his signature move is outdrawing his own shadow. A moment's thinking will cause one to think that, given the way light works, this is the case for everyone and everything. Luke is simply able to put a hole through his shadow while the shadow still has its hand on the hilt.
- While The Punisher generally relies on thorough planning, surprise, overwhelming firepower, hitting his opponents at their weak point, and getting the drop on his targets, he has also been shown to be incredibly fast on the draw. Part of the reason for this is that he doesn't waste time talking or looking for a nonviolent solution. If violence is called for, his guns are coming out from under his badass longcoat in a hurry.
- Juan Gimenez' comic 8 y ½ (part of the Cuestión de Tiempo series) has an interesting variation. Rock Murphy is a cowboy who is a downright supernaturally Quick Draw; his gun seems to literally teleport to his hand each time he duels. It turns out that a time traveller who idolizes Murphy stops time during each duel (with an appropriate device) and puts the gun in Rock's hand to give him a flawless victory. Once the time traveller is taken away by Time Police, Rock dies without the support.
- In a Hitman story, one-shot antagonist Manko was able to light a cigarette, drop the lighter, draw, shoot three men, re-holster his gun, and then catch the still-lit lighter before it hit the ground.
- The Two Gun Kid; He once managed to outdraw an opponent whose guns were built into his arms.
- As a nod to the strip's Space Western motif, Judge Dredd has done this on occasion, most notably against his brother, Rico. More impressively, Dredd holsters his lawgiver in his boot, yet can still outdraw other characters with ease.
- Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns are also famous for this. Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name has been known to take out four men in one draw, and the climactic showdowns are something to watch. Especially the final showdown in The Good The Bad And The Ugly, which had all three principal characters facing off in a graveyard clearing.
- Harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West, whose introductory scene ends with him gunning down three men, some armed with rifles.
- Desperado is an neo-Western, featuring a gunfighter who often produces two pistols from his sleeves.
- In Serenity Mal finds himself up against The Operative who is a more skilled opponent, but Mal has a faster draw as seen in their final confrontation. The Operative's Static Stun Gun is already drawn and Mal still draws and fires before the Operative can get a shot off, sending him diving for cover. This is pointed out in the film's commentary.
- Tom Cruise's amoral, disarmingly charming but deadly hitman character Vincent from Collateral. So fast that he can draw a pistol from a holster high up on his hip, almost in the small of his back (which is not really conducive to a fast draw) and get off five very accurate shots in less than two seconds, killing two men. One of whom was already pointing a gun at his face. It helped that they had no idea how dangerous he was and closed within arm's reach of him, allowing Vincent to knock the gun away with one hand while simultaneously drawing his gun with the other. By the time the two jerks realized they'd messed with the wrong man, they were already dead.
- In quite a few Blazing Saddles scenes, the Waco Kid pulls off shots without visibly drawing his revolvers. Not only does he draw and fire before we see him even move, he gets his guns back into their holsters as well]].
- Demonstrated in the film of Angels & Demons where The Dragon holds up a pilfered police badge to distract a pair of policemen, then brings up his pistol and guns them both down before they can react.
- The Quick and the Dead is full of this, being as it is about a quick draw competition. Notably, Keith David's character doesn't have a holster — instead his gun is attached to a pivot on his belt, letting him fire from the hip without drawing it.
- The Magnificent Seven has Chris use this in his attempt to convince Gunfighter Wannabe Chico to go home: he tells Chico to clap as fast as he can before casually drawing his gun between the closing hands and inviting Chico to match the feat.
- In Maverick, the eponymous character has very fast hands, and uses his quick draw skills to bluff his way out of confrontations. He's actually not a gunfighter at all, and would probably lose a gunfight because he is admittedly a terrible shot.
- Deconstructed in Unforgiven. Sheriff Daggett demonstrates to an author that he is indeed quick on the draw, but explains that accuracy goes out the window and it's all next to useless unless the shooter keeps a cool head. He also recalls a man who tried too hard to draw quickly and ended up shooting himself in the foot. Demonstrated in the finale where Munny does not rapidly gun down Daggett's men with a flick of the wrist, but instead draws and kneels down, deliberately aiming and gunning down the terrified mooks who all miss him in their panic.
- Parodied in Toy Story, with Woody telling an Etch to draw, followed by him drawing a picture of a gun.
- Subverted in Rio Bravo; when asked why he carries a rifle, Sheriff Chance (John Wayne) replies that he found there were lots of men faster with a pistol.
- Jimmy Ringo in The Gunfighter.
- Ned in ¡Three Amigos! gets challenged to such a duel when a former fan of his films claims he used trick photography to appear to be a quick drawer. He didn't.
- Three Ten To Yuma had Ben Wade one of the two main characters in the film show that his reputation as a formidable gun fighter is well earned. In the ending he shoots all 6 bullets out of his revolver before any of his gang members can even so much as breath in his direction let alone react to him. What makes it even more amazing is that he doesn't fan the hammer of his revolver with his other hand, this quick draw is done with just one hand.
- The American-West obsessed villains in Quigley Down Under actively practice this, and in the end force Quigley (who is a real American marksman, but a sniper specialist who insists he never had much use for a pistol) into one of these at the end. He still drops them all before any of them get a shot out.
- Another Eastwood example, the title character from The Outlaw Josey Wales is famous for this. After one shootout against several men he explains the strategy and psychology involved to his partner.
- As could be expected, spoofed in Support Your Local Sheriff and Support Your Local Gunfighter.
- Django Unchained: Both Django and Dr Schultz can shoot very quickly and accurately (though Django's better).
- In the Back to the Future trilogy: Marty McFly, surprisingly, turns out to be a talented quick-draw artist, from time spent in his local 7-Eleven playing Wild Gunman. He's just shown to be a "crack shot" at the game in Part II, but his talent really shows in Part III when he is challenged to a 19th Century shooting range and manages to shoot every single target - before this point, he'd probably never used a real gun in his life.
- Robocop 2014. Murphy walks into the police station and confronts a fellow officer with evidence of him being a Dirty Cop. Despite the evidence playing on the computer screens for the entire department to see (or perhaps because of this) he decides to draw his weapon to kill Robocop, who is sitting right in front of him with his armoured visor up, suffering visible gunshot damage from an earlier battle. Unfortunately Murphy's enhanced cyborg reflexes are working just fine.
Live Action TV
- The Marty Robbins song Big Iron describes a duel between an Arizona Ranger and an outlaw named Texas Red:
"There was forty feet between them when they stopped to make their play
And the swiftness of the ranger is still talked about today
Texas Red had not cleared leather fore a bullet fairly ripped
And the ranger's aim was deadly with the big iron on his hip"
- The music video for the Michael Martin Murphey cover had a twist. The Ranger drew and fired all right, but the killing shot came from a spectator firing from the window that no-one saw.
- The song 'The Quick and the Blue' by The Megas interprets the fight against Quick Man as being one of these.
My circuits slow;
I'm not scared anymore.
Reach for my weapon, and in turn,
You're reachin' for yours.
My circuits slow;
What they said is a lie.
The shots are heard and the
Bullets scream death as they fly.
- Subverted in Frank Gallop's "The Ballad of Irving:"
They called him Irving.
Big, short Irving.
Big, short, fat Irving.
The hundred and forty-second fastest gun in the West.
- The Beatles' Rocky Racoon challenges the man who stole his gal to a showdown:
But Daniel was hot,
He drew first and shot,
And Rocky collapsed in the corner.
- An Easter Egg in Sega Pinball's Golden Eye allows the player to get the drop on James Bond and shoot him dead.
- This is one of the events in Cactus Canyon; the player must shoot a Bad Guy before time runs out to collect the bonus.
- GURPS has the Fast-Draw skill for this. For a heavy penalty characters can draw in less time than it takes a normal person can pull the trigger on a gun. It is also possible to buy a holsters designed to make a Quick Draw easier, see the Bridgeport Rig below.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- 1st Edition Oriental Adventures. The Iaijutsu skill allowed the user to draw a melee weapon with blinding speed, thus avoiding any combat penalties.
- Edition 3.5 has this as an a feat that allows you do draw your weapon (anything from a hand crossbow to a knife to a BFS) as a free action. Very useful for rogues, ninjas and other stealthy types, as well as general fighting in difficult places.
- In 4th Edition, drawing weapons is a little bit easier for most classes, but it's still useful for classes like the rogue who can Back Stab an enemy they get the drop on For Massive Damage. Plus, Rule of Cool, you know?
- Rifts has a sci-fi wild west setting, with a system for determining who wins in a quick-draw.
- Starblazer Adventures, based on the 1980's British science fiction Comic Book. The Quick Draw stunt allows you to instantly draw your weapon without penalty.
- Shadowrun. In 2nd Edition a character could try to perform a Quick Draw action and use the drawn weapon in the same combat phase. If the attempt failed the character would have to wait until the next combat phase to fire.
- Witch Hunter: The Invisible World. The Fast Draw and Lightning Draw talents allowed a character to do this with no penalty.
- Used, naturally enough, in Deadlands. In fact, Quick Draw is a skill available for everyone to purchase, and lengthy portions of the game's guns-and-gunplay splatbook was devoted to tricks and weapon modifications to improve one's simulated quick-draw skills.
- Mechwarrior, BattleTech's RPG spinoff game, features the skill Quickdraw, which allows the character to perform a simple action before initiative is rolled. This includes but is not limited to drawing one-handed weapons before combat starts. If they have their weapons already out, they are technically allowed to declare a preemptive attack.
- The last part of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, with Naked Snake and Ocelot doing a strange quickdraw slash Russian Roulette thing.
- In the earlier boss battle, if you stand in plain sight and unequip your pistol. Ocelot will come out of hiding for a quick draw duel.
- The NES game Wild Gunman is based on this concept.
- Quick Draw also appears as a minigame in Kirby's Adventure. A similar one, but with Iaijutsu appears Kirby Super Star.
- The Boss Battle between Dan Smith and Curtis Blackburn is fought like this in Killer7
- The Boss Battle between Travis and Dr.Peace in No More Heroes.
- Both Jak and Daxter are walking examples of this, being able to grab the BFG and fire off a shot in the same second.
- Being a gun/sword slinger, the Kusagari-with-no-name from Red Steel 2 is a great example. Switching from sword to gun is instant, and the bullet lands in the target before the swap animation can even start. It's in first person, so there's no visual clue to see how he actually pulls it off. He can even quickdraw the rifle.
- In Vanguard Bandits, the Counter ability allows any character attacked from the front to quickly preempt the enemies attack.
- Boss battles in the Call of Juarez games are usually these, except for Colonel Barnsby and Juarez himself, who are content to stay on the other side of an impassable barrier, summon mooks, and shoot at you.
- The WiiWare game Fast Draw is entirely made out of this, the difference being that you shoot real life cowboy people.
- John Marston of Red Dead Redemption fame is quite the quick draw, as can be seen in the duel minigame and cutscenes.
- A higher Agility stat in Fallout: New Vegas means you pull out and reload weapons faster. There is also a perk called "Quick Draw" that cuts whatever your reload speed is by 1/3. Both are more important for switching weapons, because you'll usually be able to see a fight coming and having your weapon out only gives a penalty to movement speed if it's two-handed.
- In his old vaquero days, Raul Tejada was a talented quickdraw who had fast hands. By settling his personal quest and encouraging him to be a gunfighter once again, he gains a perk that gets him a fire rate bonus to revolvers and lever-action rifles.
- The eponymous Quickdraw Battlemech in MechWarrior Online is not necessarily quicker to ready its weapons, but it has a bonus of an aim speed boost to its arm mounted weapons. This means it can get off the first shot or a reaction shot much faster than, say, a lumbering Dragon.
- The aptly named Sheriff Quickdraw in Gunfright needs to take them down some outlaws, shooting the rapidly moving bandits in a duel. In early stages, the player can outdraw the enemy even if the foe reaches for the gun first, but later on they are too fast and Quickdraw needs to take the initiative, which makes the bandit call him a cheater for it.
- The Nobel-winning physicist Niels Bohr once did an impromptu research project to find out why good guys in movies always win quick draw duels. After many mock gunfights against fellow physicist George Gamow, Bohr concluded that the villain always tries to draw his gun first (and so must consciously move his hands), while the hero always reacts and draws by reflex as soon as he sees the villain moving. Bohr theorized that reflex is always faster than conscious action, therefore, the good guy always wins. Research shows that "reactive advantage" is about 10% faster than conscious initiation, but this only shaves an average 21 milliseconds from a 200-millisecond action - not enough to out-draw an opponent. The researchers conclude that Bohr's anecdotal victories in all his mock duels "suggest that Bohr was a crack shot, in addition to being a brilliant physicist."
- And of course, this had nothing to do with cooperative writers, directors, editors & actors.
- Today, quick draws abound. There are competitions worldwide where shooters compete by emptying revolvers upon a target, sprint through training courses, and all sorts of feats as fast as humanly possible.
- Longhair Jim Courtright invited Luke Short outside to discuss their ongoing feud. They went out into the street and faced each other. Courtright then proceeded to threaten Short, before reaching to pull his gun. It got caught on part of his clothes, and then Luke Short drew his own gun and fired it from the hip. The shot hit Courtright in the thumb before traveling into his body. As Courtright attempted to shift the gun to his other hand, Short raised his own gun and fired into him four more times, killing him. It was ruled a justifiable homicide.
- Jim Levy got into a gambling argument with Charlie Harrison. They ended up agreeing to meet in the streets. Both drew, but all of Harrison's shots went wild. Levy took more careful aim and hit Harrison, who fell down. Then Levy walked up to him, stood over him, and shot him again for good measure. This ended the duel.
- Wild Bill Hickock and Davis Tutt got into an argument over gambling issues. When they met in the street, Hickock warned Tutt not to approach him. Both made threatening gestures towards their guns, until both drew and fired. Tutt missed, Hickock did not. Note that they were dueling with pistols from 75 yards away.
- Note that contrary to what video games will tell you, handguns are generally designed to be able to fire at least 100 yards accurately, and sometimes 200 yards or more.
- Modern pistols. Hickock was using an 1851 Colt Navy, a cap-and-ball revolver that was generally only accurate to around 30-40 yards. Not only did he hit his opponent at roughly twice the gun's recommended distance, he hit Tutt while he was in a "standard" dueling position (meaning he was facing to the side, with his arm outstretched to present the smallest possible target).
- The Bridgeport Rig is a specialized holster that places the gun on a pivot that slides out, making for extremely quick draws in the right hands. While cowboy movies make some use of the design, there's no evidence they were used in any real life shoot outs.
- Ted Blocker is the current record-holder in quick draw, using a speed-rig of his own design, from a visual start signal to the bullet hitting the target, in 0.25 seconds. That is, a quarter second. Gun guru Bill Jordan is on film doing it from a normal holster in 0.27 seconds. However, it must be noted that for all practically all quick draw competions, the contestants place their hands very carefully (just over the butt of the gun for the drawing hand, with the hand that fans the hammer of the pistol placed just over the hammer so that the motion of drawing the pistol will fan the hammer, without the need to move that hand at all). When these same people are asked to draw with the hands placed normally (at their sides) their speed is not particulary remarkable.
- In 1978, police officer Ed Cantrell (sitting in the front passenger seat of a car) saw his aggressive and somewhat unstable deputy, Michael Rosa (sitting in the back seat) mouth at him "You motherf-cker" while going for his pistol. In the time it took for Rosa to lean back and unsnap his holster, Cantrell drew and shot over his shoulder, hitting Rosa between the eyes. Cantrell was actually arrested and tried for murder, and his lawyer (Gerry Spence) proved self-defense by the way Rosa's body was positioned. At the trial, in order to illustrate Cantrell's speed, Spence had a bailiff aim an unloaded pistol at Bill Jordan, and told him to pull the trigger the instant he saw Jordan go for his gun. Jordan drew and fired a blank so fast that the poor bailiff never had a chance. As everyone in the courtroom sat stunned, Spence turned to Jordan: "Mr. Jordan, you've seen Cantrell shoot before. How fast is he?" "Oh, he's a mite faster than me."
- Senator Al Franken is actually a quick-draw champion. In Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them, he claims to be third in the US.
- One justification for the quick draw duel (conceived of retroactiveley as historically they occured rarely, if at all) was the goal of manipulating your opponent to reach for their pistol first while ultimately hitting your opponent before they hit you. This would allow the victor to claim self-defence rather than becoming an outlaw. This is essentially what happened in the Hicock-Tutt duel although Hicock's acquittal was an act of jury nullification. Of course, it makes no sense for either a wanted man nor an officer of the law confronting a wanted man to engage in this behaviour (unless the latter, for whatever reason, was looking to kill rather than apprehend the fugitive). It is a good explanation for the psychology of media portrayals though.
- The Bugs Bunny cartoon "Hare Trigger" (Yosemite Sam's debut film) turns this into a joke. Sam gives Bugs one second to draw a gun, and Bugs does—on a sketchpad.
- A Huckleberry Hound cartoon had Huck as the fastest gun alive, which is why the townsfolk are afraid to come near him, no matter how cordial he is. When a gunslinger challenges Huck for the title and loses, Huck offers to give up being the fastest gun alive so the gunslinger can take the title.
- As noted by his name, Quick Draw McGraw is quick on drawing a gun. But once drawn, he can't implement it without shooting himself in the face.