It tells the story of an Arizona Ranger's duel with an outlaw named Texas Red in the town of Agua Fria, Arizona. The town predicts the death of the Ranger (Texas Red had already killed 20 men), but the Ranger kills Texas Red with the swiftness of the "big iron on his hip." This term refers to the gun the Ranger carries.
The Ranger's "Big Iron" actually existed. It was a one off custom handgun chambered in .45 Colt and featured a Great Western copy of the Colt Single Action Army frame, Colt 1860 Army backstrap, grip frame and grips and a cut down 9 1/2" Marlin rifle barrel. Marty Robbins saw it in Andy Anderson's famed North Hollywood gun shop in the late 1950s and wrote the song around it. Its current whereabouts are unknown.
Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs (September 1959), a compilation, CL 1349 - mono, CS 8158 - stereo, PC 8158
More Greatest Hits (April 1961), CL 1635 - mono, CS 8435 - stereo, PC 8435
Bend In The River (1968), D 445 - mono (Columbia Musical Treasuries), DS 445 - stereo
The Heart of Marty Robbins (1969), STS 2016 (Columbia Star Series)
All Time Greatest Hits (August 1972), CG 31361, KG 31361, C 31361
Streets Of Laredo, KH 32286 (Harmony, August 1973), LE 10576 (Columbia, December 1973)
Marty Robbins' Own Favorites (1974), P 12416 (Columbia Special Products)
Marty Robbins Gold (1975), NU 9060 (K-Tel)
All Around Cowboy (1980) P 15594
No. 1 Cowboy (1980), P 15594 (re-release of "All Around Cowboy")
Marty Robbins (1981), GS 4003 (History of Country Music, Sunrise Media)
A Lifetime Of Song 1951 - 1982 (August 1983), C2 38870
Memories In Song (1983 - 2 record set), P2 19162 (Columbia Special Product)
The Best Of Marty Robbins (1984), RB4-214-1
The Essential MARTY ROBBINS:1951-1982 (1991), Sony Music Entertainment Inc C2T 48537 CT48538 CT 48539
MARTY ROBBINS Lost and found (1994), Sony Music Entertainment Inc CT 57695
MARTY ROBBINS Memories In Song (1994), Sony Music Special Products Compact Disc A 19163
MARTY ROBBINS LIVE Concert Versions Of His Greatest Hits (1995),Pickwick Group Ltd London England 300382
Under Western Skies (Oct 1995), Bear Family Records, West Germany 4 CD Box Set BCD 15646
MARTY ROBBINS Legendary Country Singers (1995), Sony Music Special Products R989-06 PT-25142
Story Of My Life: Best of MARTY ROBBINS (Mar 1996), Sony Music Entertainment Inc Sony CK 64763
Michael Martin Murphey covered the song on his 1993 album Cowboy Songs III. With 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.