Wyatt Earp History Page

Wyatt Earp

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Buntline Special Myth

      Certain myths have grown up around Wyatt's time as a Dodge City lawman.  One is the story of the special-order Colt "Peacemaker" revolvers with extra-long barrels presented in 1876 to Earp, Masterson, and three other Dodge City personalities by the flamboyant "Ned Buntline" (Edward Judson), a wealthy writer of dime novels who lived in Stamford, New York.

    The yarn about the long-barrel "Buntline Special" revolvers first appeared in Stuart Lake's book Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal (1931, pp. 145-146).   Many people have searched for direct evidence corroborating the story, but nothing of substance, such as one of the five guns, mention of them in Colt factory records, a reference to the weapons in Ned Buntline's writings, or a document confirming that Buntline visited Dodge City, has been found.

    Some writers have accussed  Lake of concocting the anecdote.  However, Lake's notes show that Lake got the Buntline Special story from Wyatt, believed the fable to be true, and searched (in vain) for proof of its validity.

Still, to this day some researchers and writers continue to believe that the "Special" weapons were real and present various arguments while trying to prove the weapons existed.

For a more complete discussion, see Wyatt Earp and the Buntline Special Myth by William B. Shillingberg (1976)
  

Your host is Steve Gatto, author of The Real Wyatt Earp (Edited by Neil Carmony) (2000), Johnny Ringo (2002), Curly Bill, Tombstone's Most Famous Outlaw (2003).  Steve's latest work,Hurled Into Eternity, The Story of Wyatt Earp and the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral has not yet been released.

Portions of the text appearing on this site come from the above books.

Other Sources: Tefertiller, Casey. 1997. Wyatt Earp, The Life Behind The Legend, p. 370 note 14.
Morey, Jeff. 1997. Wyatt Earp's Buntline Special: The Real Story. Guns & Ammo, Vol. 41, No. 12 (December), pp. 33, 36-37, 80).


"bravery and determination were requisites, and in every instance proved himself the right man in the right place."  Tombstone Epitaph