The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum: Frequently Asked Questions


This page contains some of the most frequently asked questions about the Texas Rangers and the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.

star How do I join the Texas Rangers? I'd like to sign up!

One of the popular myths is that one can become a Ranger by signing up. In the 1800s Rangers joined that way, but it is much more competitive these days. Becoming the best-of-the-best has never been easy . . . Since 1935, there have always been more qualified applicants than positions.

All Texas Rangers are now drawn from the sworn officers of the Texas Department of Public Safety. In brief, you must live in Texas; you must complete 60 college credit hours (most Rangers have degrees, some have advanced degrees and certifications. You must have a record of eight years of outstanding full-time law enforcement experience (two of which must be with the Texas DPS at a certain rank. While distinguished military service is respected , it does not count towards law enforcement experience. You must pass stringent written and verbal and physical fitness exams. All of that gets you a spot on the "qualified to apply" list -- not a Ranger commission. Given the fact that there are currently only 134 Rangers,it is competitive. There are often 40 to 100+ applicants for every position.

If you want to be a Texas Ranger, stay in school, learn the law enforcement skills and technology of the 21st century, build a solid record of service, join Texas DPS and you may have the chance to become a Texas Ranger.

star I need help researching a [Ranger / battle / gun / novel, etc.]. How do I do it?

Genealogy: Please see the Research Center section of this site (click here) to research a specific Ranger.

Students: Students needing limited assistance may contact us free-of-charge after reading the information on this site. Students should see the "For Students" (click here).

Authors and Producers: The Texas Ranger Research Center has worked with many authors, television and movie producers. However, due to limitations of staff size, budget and in-house projects, authors or producers must perform their own detailed research. Our resources are available by appointment.

Firearms ("Ranger guns"): We receive many questions about firearms allegedly owned by Texas Rangers. We regret that it is not possible to verify Texas Ranger ownership of firearms, knives or riding equipment. Records or inventories of firearms used by the Texas Rangers are extremely scarce until the mid-20th century. Most Texas Rangers bought and carried their own weapons instead of State issued firearms. Registration of personal weapons used by Rangers was not required until modern times.

In the past a small number of unscrupulous firearms traders and dealers have concocted false or misleading stories about Texas Ranger connections to enhance the value of their offerings. The most common practices are:

- Misrepresented Stamps or Inscriptions. "Texas Ranger" has been used as a product or model designation by hundreds of firearms manufacturers and other retailers. Weapons marked "Texas Ranger" were not issued by the State of Texas. Among the most common are mass produced Belgian knockoffs of Colt single action revolvers. While marked "Texas Ranger" they have no connection with the Texas Rangers.

- Forged inscriptions. Many firearms have been "enhanced" with fake inscriptions, or inset with fake Ranger badges, tie-tacs and pins.

- Unverifiable affidavits. Letters of authenticity or statements from "witnesses" or deceased family members have been forged. All affidavits and statements of authenticity should be viewed with suspicion until independently verified.

Weapons purchased from dealers, auctions or private parties should be accompanied by thorough written documentation that can be independently verified and unconditional written refund guarantees. The best rules are:

  •  Never spend more than you can afford to lose.
  •  Act in haste and you increases the odds of buying a bogus item.
  •  Its better to walk away with your money than lose it on something dubious.
  •  A negative "gut instinct" is often true.
  • Beware of dealers that suggest your purchase can be documented after the sale.
  • Make sure you have an unconditional written guarantee of authenticity
           -- and that you can find the seller after the sale.

star I heard on "Walker: Texas Ranger" that there are 99 Rangers. How many Texas Rangers are there?

The number of Texas Rangers is set by the Texas Legislature. The current authorized strength is 150 Rangers. This is the largest number of Rangers since they were placed under the Texas Department of Public Safety 1935. The number of Rangers will vary at any one time due to retirements and resignations.

star What duties are assigned to Texas Rangers?

Under state law, Texas Rangers are charged with four duties:

  1. Protect the life and property of Texans by enforcing the criminal statutes;
  2. Suppress riots and insurrections;
  3. Investigate major crimes; and
  4. Apprehend fugitives from justice.
Rangers are rarely involved with #2 these days. Writers have called the Texas Rangers a "state FBI" or an "elite investigative unit" and compared them with Scotland Yard, Interpol, the investigative arm of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the French Surete and the FBI. Their powers of arrest are specified under state law as "similar to county sheriffs with the exception that they have no county jurisdictional boundaries."

star What is the official Texas Ranger uniform?

There has never been an official Texas Ranger uniform. In the 1950s-1970s some companies and the Texas Ranger administration experimented with coordinated gabardine outfits that proved unpopular.

By tradition the dress is specified as western with light or tan hat, straw summer hat, cowboy boots, western cut shirt, tie, pants and belt.

star Are there any Ranger privates?

Not any more. The rank of private, now just "Ranger", was eliminated some years ago. The ranks run Ranger , Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Assistant Deputy Director Texas DPS (Assistant Chief) and Deputy Director, Texas DPS (Chief) of the Texas Rangers.

star How many retired Texas Rangers are there?

We believe the current count is about 180. Many of them qualify for Special or "retired" Texas Ranger commissions for many years after leaving regular service. A common saying is, "once a Ranger, always a Ranger."

star What about Hispanic / African-American / Indian Rangers? Are there female Rangers?

American Indian and Hispanic names appear on the Ranger enlistment rolls in the 1820s (click here for further information). African-Americans served with Ranger Companies as teamsters and cooks as far back as the 1870s, and likely further back. Some mixed race "Creoles" or "mulattos" (a person of mixed African, French or Spanish ancestry and "mulattos" (a person of African and Caucasian ancestry) appear in the records. Much research remains to be done.

In 1988 Sgt. Lee Roy Young, Jr., a 14-year DPS veteran, became the first Texas Ranger of African-American and Seminole Indian descent in the 20th century. He was promoted after a distinguished career with Texas DPS Intelligence. Sgt. Young was soon joined by Earl Pearson, who served as Captain of Company "A" in Houston and later as Senior Captain (Chief) of the Texas Rangers. Chief Pearson was both the first African-American Captain and the first African-American Chief of the Texas Rangers.

The first female Special Rangers were appointed in the 1930s-'40s. They were generally administrative specialists who handled especially sensitive information or security for the Governor. They had no criminal investigative duties. There have been several distinguished female Rangers and the fist Lieutenant. They prefer, rightly, to be thought not as "female" Rangers, but just as Texas Rangers.

star 'Walker: Texas Ranger" featured the "historical" character of Hayes Cooper in several        episodes. Was there a Hayes Cooper, or was the character modeled after a real        Ranger?

No. Hayes Cooper and his diary was an invention of the "Walker" writers. Although his name is similar to famous Ranger Captain John Coffee Hays, there is no connection. To this day we receive e-mails asking if Hayes Cooper he was real, or if there was a biography of the fictional Cooper. Chalk it up to the power of television!

star Who makes Texas Ranger badges? I saw some cheap Texas Ranger badges on
E-Bay, are they real? Is it possible to buy a Texas Ranger badge?

There are several sources for Texas Ranger badges; none is specified by law. They are issued only to serving ranger, retired Texas Rangers, and honorary Rangers appointed by the Governor. All are made only with the express written permission of the Chief. In 1998 the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame was granted permission to sell a limited number of 175th anniversary badges sealed in Lucite. No other commemorative, organizational "membership" or other badges are authentic.

About 10 badges a year are made for Rangers from Mexican silver, gold-plated silver and gold coins according to strict design standards. The badges made from 50 peso gold Mexican coins are no longer issued because of the high cost of gold; all state issued gold badges are plated. However, with the permission of the Chief, Rangers may supply the coins and have badges made if they attain the rank of Captain, Major, Assistant Chief or Chief. The coins alone are now worth more than $1,000.

Sorry, but the vast majority of Texas Ranger badges on E-Bay, Yahoo and other auction sites are forgeries. For information on the proliferation of fraudulent Texas Ranger badges, please click here. It is a crime in Texas to wear Ranger badges, or deceptively similar badges, unless you are a Texas Ranger. The Rangers take misuse seriously and fake badges have been confiscated.

To submit a question: E-mail:

The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas