Paladin is on his way to Portland to help a friend in a poker game (a complete McGuffin in this story) when he comes on a herd of cattle and a driver named Rook (Robert J. Wilke)who is punishing a smelly trail follower named Monk (Ken Curtis) for possibly killing one of his herd for the skin. Monk refuses to sell Paladin food and denies him water. He shows off a holster less gun (thus the episode title) that slips on his gun belt much like a chain in a chain lock on a door. It looks kind of dumb, to tell you the truth. Despite not wanting to get involved, Monk gets him involved and Paladin ends up goading Rook into a gunfight to keep from being hung.
There's a lot of wasted time at the top of this episode about the poker game Paldin is summoned to. You get the feeling when they finished the episode they found it was three minutes short, so they wrote and shot the San Francisco opening. This episode would have been much better had it just started with Paladin on the trail, going to Portland for unknown reasons.
But once Paladin gets to the herd, the show really picks up. Despite his ridiculous Naked Gun, Wilke does a nice job creating a formidable foe for the man in black. Ken Curtis is even better as the smelly, broken down comic saddle tramp. The script takes a unexpected turn when Monk turns out to be a dead shot and an eager one. Boone must have liked this one a lot too. The script is full of surprises and gives him a chance to show his comic side as well as his tough gunfighter persona.
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