The Curly Bill spin.....

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Bob Wright

Jun 24, 2004
Memphis, TN USA
Known as the road agent's spin, the border roll, or the Curly Bill Spin, it was a trick move as one pretended to hand over his gun, or guns, to a law officer. How it was executed varies as well. In one move, the gun (always a Single Action Colt in this case.) is offered butt forward, and as the peace officer reaches for it, it is spun around, cocked and fired. In one instance the gun butt is up, the trigger finger is through the trigger guard, and the gun simply spun around so the butt falls into the miscreant's hand. Another version the gun is offered with the butt down, so the gun half rolls on the trigger finger into shooting position. The first method seems too obvious for a lawman to fall for it.

Supposedly Curly Bill Brocius killed town marshal Fred White in Tombstone in such a move. But testimony at the inquest does not bear this out. From testimony, Wyatt Earp grabbed Curly Bill from behind and White jerked on the gun barrel. Further, Curly Bill's Colt could fire from the half cocked position. From testimony, it seems White himself caused the gun to fire, as he testified before he died. Unlike the movie, White lived about three days after he was shot.

All this from a book I'm reading, Ride the Devil's Herd, by John Boessenecker. Very interesting treatise on the times around the O.K. Corral affair, and the Cowboy gang.

Bob Wright

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