True West

By: W. W. Bennett

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: July 1, 1995

True West, a magazine presenting true accounts of the pioneer West, was published by Western Publications, Incorporated, of Austin. Joe Austell Small founded the magazine in 1953 as a quarterly published by Sportsman Publishing Company of Austin. The first issue reprinted stories from a sister publication, Western Sportsman. The magazine became bimonthly in 1954. Topics included badmen, range wars, the gold rush, Indian fights, ghost towns, and buried treasure. The international circulation reached 185,000. The magazine ran between forty-eight and seventy-two pages and sold for twenty-five cents. Small was the editor and publisher, Bill Faris was field editor, and Dev Klapp was associate editor. By the second issue, the magazine was published by the True West Publishing Company, which apparently reflected merely a name change and not a change of ownership. Pat Wagner assumed editorship in the early 1960s and remained until the company left Texas. True stories were selected by sifting "fact from rumor, lies and fiction . . . [relying] on stories which sound[ed] logical and [were] well-written." From 1955 until his death in 1963 Walter Prescott Webb served as historical consultant. Black and white photographs were supplied by contributors or from historical institutions. True West was one of several publications of Western Publications. Frontier Times, originally a publication of J. Marvin Hunter, was also published by Small during True West's `off' months, with an identical format; stories were frequently switched between the two magazines. Old issues of True West were reissued in 1964 under another Western Publications title, Old West, so as not to devalue collector's copies of the original True West. Early contributors to True West included J. Frank Dobie, Frederick B. Gipson, Curtis K. Bishop, and Norman B. Wiltsey. Early illustrators included George Phippen, Randy Steffen, and Charles Phillip Hexom. In 1979 Western Publications was sold to Chester Krause of Iola, Wisconsin; editorial offices remained in Austin until 1982, after which True West continued to be published as a monthly by Western Publications of Stillwater, Oklahoma. In January 2000 western historian Bob Boze Bell and two partners purchased True West magazine and moved the magazine's editorial operations to Cave Creek, Arizona.

  • Journalism
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Publications, Journals, and Magazines

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

W. W. Bennett, “True West,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995