Luke Short-Jim Courtright Duel


Luke Short

Luke Short

The Luke Short-Jim Courtright Duel occurred in 1887 when Timothy Isaiah “Longhair Jim” Courtright was running the T.I.C. Commercial agency in Fort Worth, Texas, which provided “protection” to gambling dens and saloons in return for a portion of their profits. At the same time, Luke Short, a former friend of Courtright’s, was running the White Elephant Saloon and Jim was trying to get Short to utilize his services. But, the Dodge City gunfighter told Courtright to “go to hell,” he could do any gunslinging that was necessary to take care of his business. 

On February 8, 1887, the two quarreled, resulting in one of the most famous gunfights in western history. With Bat Masterson at Short’s side, Courtright and Luke Short dueled in the street in one of the few face-to-face gunfights in the American West. Drawing their pistols at close range, Short fired first, blowing of Courtright’s thumb. Courtright then attempted the “border shift”, a move where a gunfighter switches their gun to an uninjured hand, but he was too slow. Luke Short shot him in the chest, killing him.

Years later, Bat Masterson would publish his own account of the events, in which he stated that it was Jim Courtright, carrying a “brace of pistols”, who challenged Luke Short to a fight:

“No time was wasted in the exchange of words once the men faced each other. Both drew their pistols at the same time, but, as usual, Short’s spoke first and a bullet from a Colt’s 45-caliber pistol went crashing through Courtright’s body. The shock caused him to reel backward; then he got another and still another, and by the time his lifeless form had reached the floor, Luke had succeeded in shooting him five times.”



The gunfight became well known due to the notoriety of both men. Courtright’s funeral was attended by hundreds of Fort Worth residents. Short was arrested for the shooting, but he was never brought to trial, though he was almost lynched after the shootout.


By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated February 2020.

Also See:

Oriental Saloon Gunfight

Luke Short – A Dandy Gunfighter

Luke Short’s Last Gunfight

Old West Gunfights

1 thought on “Luke Short-Jim Courtright Duel”

  1. men who were there and who are the only men I trust said they had saw wes Hardin and long hair Jim Courtright performing trick shots and said it was much too difficult to know where to place your money if those two were facing each other Jim Courtright was a much better gun fighter then Luke short the entire town said Courtright is definitely going to kill Luke short Luke short cheated in the gunfight and Drew his pistol before the time for drawing Courtright didn’t notice it even then Courtright still almost beat him and Luke shorts first shot would have missed entirely except it ricocheted off the gun and injured his wrist and although Luke short was a Texas boy he was no match for Jim Courtright in a fair fight

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