|Single by Marty Robbins|
|from the album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs|
|Released||February 22, 1960 |
|Marty Robbins singles chronology|
"Big Iron" is a country ballad written and performed by Marty Robbins, originally released as an album track on Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs in September 1959, then as a single in February 1960 with the song "Saddle Tramp" as the B-side single.  Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time. 
It tells the story of an Arizona Ranger's duel with an outlaw named Texas Red in the "town of Agua Fria". [a] The townspeople predict the death of the ranger; an unconcerned Texas Red having already killed "one and nineteen" men, but at the moment they meet, the ranger kills Texas Red with the "big iron on his hip." The ranger's draw was so swift, that Texas Red had not even "cleared leather," [b] killing the outlaw in one shot.
Robbins's version of the song reached number 5 on the Billboard Country chart and number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in April 1960.  The B-side, "Saddle Tramp" was not included on Gunfighter Ballads,  but was later placed on Robbins' 1966 LP The Drifter. 
The song is also featured in the 2010 video game Fallout: New Vegas on the in-game radio stations, 'Mojave Music Radio', ‘Black Mountain Radio’ and 'Radio New Vegas'. The popularity of the game helped spur a revival of interest in Robbins' music in the 21st century. In the decade following the video game's release, "Big Iron" became an Internet meme, gaining popularity through remixes and Photoshop parodies as well as its use on YouTube. 
The eponymous "Big Iron" was built by Andy Anderson in his Fast Draw Holster shop from parts. It was on a Great Western frame with a 12" barrel made from an 1892 Winchester rifle or carbine barrel in .44 WCF. Andy was 6'4" with large hands. He put Colt 1860 Army grips on his personal SA revolvers, and this gun has an original grip frame from an 1860 Army. The cylinder is a Great Western cylinder chambered for .44 Magnum.
Robbins happened to be in the shop the day a customer bought the gun. The customer was also a very large man, and Robbins was fascinated by his fast drawing the Buntline. One week later, Andy Anderson received in the mail a record of Big Iron; Robbins wrote the song after seeing this gun. Andy Anderson additionally had a personal gun he called Big Iron, a Colt S.A. .44 Special with 7 1/2" barrel out of his own favorite rig, the "AA", a high rise version of his Walk & Draw Western. 
The gun that served to inspire this song currently resides in a private collection.[ citation needed]
The ranger referenced is based on a ranger named Joseph Pearce,  who was an Arizona Ranger born in 1873. On November 23, 1903, Joe enrolled in the Arizona Rangers in Douglas, Arizona. He worked with the Rangers for a brief but illustrious career before quitting in 1905. Following his service, he worked as a line rider for six years before being appointed chief of Apache police on the Fort Apache Reservation. He was a skilled trailer, and because he preferred to work alone, the Indians called him "Lone Wolf", much like the ranger in the song.
|Australia ( ARIA) ||67|
|US Billboard Hot 100 ||26|
|US Hot Country Songs ( Billboard) ||5|
Michael Martin Murphey covered the song on his 1993 album Cowboy Songs III. With the Robbins family's blessing, the song was recorded as a duet with Robbins. It was released as a single and peaked at number 62 on the RPM Country Tracks chart in Canada. 
Other covers of the song include: