By comparison, in the late 1800s when Jack Bryant was a lawman, it was impossible not to fire his weapons in the line of duty. The Texas Ranger Frontier Battalions of which he was a part were often the only significant law enforcement entities preventing criminals from acting with impunity outside the few established towns. The criminal element did not fear the courts, the laws, or attorneys, or being sued. They feared being shot and killed by men like Jack Bryant.
To put it in perspective, in El Paso in 1893, a year that Jack Bryant happened to be a deputy sheriff there, an arrest was made about every 15 minutes. The historical record shows El Paso at this time was a den of saloons and vice that attracted an unsavory element as well as outright criminals. The Frazier Museum staff let me inspect some of the arrest warrants Bryant executed. Most of the sample I reviewed were for the arrest of suspects accused of illegally carrying firearms in El Paso. That’s dangerous work anytime, but apparently Bryant was the man for the job.
Bryant managed to survive to die of old age, which is pretty remarkable in his line of work. He was involved with at least one major gun battle, and I’m sure there were many more that weren’t recorded. His daughters, who donated his weapons to posterity, indicated that they were the only ones he owned in his career and there was other evidence to support this in the museum’s files. They show wear from long use in the field. I speculate that Bryant must have been very good to do what he did for as long as he did.
Texas Rangers of Company D in Camp, 1893, near Ysleta, Texas
Jack Bryant is on the far right of the photograph. The carbine he’s holding appears to be the same make and model as the piece on display at Frazier Museum.