The Tombstone Vigilantes are a volunteer group of modern-day cowboys and cowgirls that keep the gunslinging history of Tombstone alive with free shows on Allen Street every second Sunday.


Tombstone Vigilantes
Jeff Ingerson, Matt Conner, and Mike Monroe pose during a break from performing on Allen Street. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Steve Reeder has been president and chief of the Tombstone Vigilantes for the last 34 years. "Our mission statement here is to recreate the old history of Tombstone. Some of it actually happened, and maybe some of it didn't. But just provide entertainment and keep the history of Tombstone alive," he said.


Ruger Vaquero
Jim Alderson takes aim with his Ruger Vaquero revolver during a performance on Allen Street. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

The group is comprised of people who are passionate about history that took place at the turn of the century in the rough-and-tumble town of Tombstone. "Ever since I was a kid, I was into Wyatt Earp and Tombstone, and so being here is like a dream come true for me," said Mike Monroe, a member of the group.

Tombstone, The Town Too Tough To Die
The town adopted the name: "Tombstone, The Town Too Tough To Die" after the 1942 film of the same title. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Without a doubt, Hollywood played a role in bringing prominence to the town. There have been numerous films made highlighting the gunfights that took place at the turn of the century in and around Allen Street. In fact, Tombstone adopted the tagline: "Tombstone, The Town Too Tough to Die" from the 1942 film of the same name.

Ruger Vaquero
Mark Gurvitz poses with his Ruger Vaquero revolver. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

"I love the old West," said Frank Carra, another member of the group. "I love being a part of its recreation, and keeping the romance of the old West alive."


gunfight ok corral
An advertisement for daily gunfights as you approach the town of Tombstone. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

In 2017, the mayor of Tombstone proclaimed the town as America’s Second Amendment City. Although it's unclear how official this statement actually is, it does encourage its citizens and visitors to carry with confidence and safety in the town. Arizona is also a constitutional carry state. "I think you'd find that, yes, guns are really accepted here," said Steve Reeder. 


oliver smith tombstone vigilante ruger vaquero
Oliver "Buck" Smith has been performing with the Vigilantes for the last four years and loves it. He poses here with his Ruger Vaquero. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Lorelie Redmon is one of many female members of the Vigilantes. She loves how diverse the group is. "If you look around, people from a lot of different backgrounds, a lot of different skill levels. But the one thing I think we all have in common is everybody here is a ham. Everybody loves to be on camera, everybody loves to be out on the street acting. And everybody loves to raise money for all of our various charities," she said.


Tombstone Vigilantes
Group photo of the Tombstone Vigilantes taken on March 28, 2021. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Tombstone relies heavily on tourism, and the Vigilantes play an important role in attracting visitors. "We're the ambassadors of Tombstone," said Mike Monroe. In many ways, they are. They bring a lot of people to town, entertain them for free, and raise money for various charities in town.


Don Mott, armorer for the Vigilantes
Don Mott, armorer for the Vigilantes, with his Colt 1873. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

The guns the Vigilantes use in their performances are all real and belong to the members. Armorer Don Mott is responsible for making sure they're all safe. Prior to performances, the Vigilantes gather at Vigilante Hall at one end of town. All of the guns are handed in and Mott inspects them in the armory. Absolutely no outside ammunition of any kind is allowed anywhere near the performances. Rules are strictly enforced.

Guns belonging to the Vigilantes
Guns belonging to, and used by the Vigilantes during their performances. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Motts loads all of the blanks for the guns which, for sake of ease, are either chambered in .45 Colt or 12-gauge. "Most everybody either uses a Colt replica or a Ruger Vaquero," said Mott. "That's the two predominant guns."

Prior to every performance on Allen Street, the Vigilantes do a safety demonstration to show how dangerous blanks can be at a close range. One of the performers shoots a beer can from a few inches away with a .45 Colt blank. The can explodes.


sign marker for the town of Tombstone
 A sign marker for the town of Tombstone 3 miles ahead. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Some people think it costs money to enter the town of Tombstone. That's not true. It's free to enter and there's plenty of parking and lots to see and do. The museums and exhibits cost a few dollars, but they're worth it. And if you visit every second and fourth Sunday of the month, you can see the Vigilantes performing from around 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Allen near the Birdcage Theater. Their performances are fun with lots of gunshots and laughs and donations all go to good causes.

So make sure you plan a visit to Tombstone.

Vigilantes Scotty Craigen and Robert Craigen 
Father and son Vigilantes - Scotty and Robert Craigen pose with their wheel guns. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Spurs are not required in Tombstone
Spurs are not required in Tombstone, but they don't hurt. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Colt 1892 chambered in .38-40
A good-looking Colt 1892 chambered in .38-40 belonging to Lane Wilkins, a member of the Vigilantes. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Tombstone Vigilante Hall
Vigilante Hall where the group gathers to rehearse and hang out prior to performances. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Tombstone Vigilante Hall
The sign above the entrance to Tombstone Vigilante Hall. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Vigilantes rehearsing in Vigilante Hall
The Vigilantes rehearsing in Vigilante Hall prior to hitting Allen Street. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Guns belonging to the Vigilantes
Guns belonging to the Vigilantes in the armory for a safety inspection prior to the performance. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Armorer Don Mott's badge
Armorer Don Mott's badge. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


horse drawn carriage on Allen Street
A horse-drawn carriage on Allen Street. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Birdcage Theater
The Vigilantes perform just down the street from the famous Bird Cage Theatre. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


A buffalo head hands in the famous Birdcage Theater
A buffalo head hangs in the famous Birdcage Theater. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


The longest known poker game took place at the Birdcage Theater
The longest known poker game took place at the Bird Cage Theatre. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


The Vigilantes offer the public a chance to be hung and displayed in a coffin
The Vigilantes offer the public a chance to be hung and displayed in a coffin. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Tombstone is rich in history
Tombstone is rich in history. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Tombstone is free to visit and provides a great deal of fun for the whole family
Tombstone is free to visit and provides a great deal of fun for the whole family. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


revolver barrel loading graphic