GUN BELTS

   Through the years, the cowboy star’s gun belt has changed very little—a single gun in its holster with a full supply of cartridges. The leather thong across the hammer holding the gun in the holster was almost never seen on film until more recent alternative Westerns, despite the fact that pistols do not stay in their holsters during deadly fistfights and stunt horse-riding feats. William S. Hart always wore a Mexican sash under his gun belt. Fred Thompson wore an all-white affair. Bill Elliottwore his pistols butt forward, facilitating a spectacular cross draw.
   Some symbolism of the gun belt has developed through the years. Astring or cord holding the holster to the leg, making a quick draw a bit faster, usually signals a professional gunfighter. The cowboy hero, however, eschews the tie-down because it indicates a bit too much willingness to kill. Whether a hero wears one gun or two guns sometimes indicates proficiency and seriousness of purpose. Lefthanded gun belts often code masculine homoeroticism.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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