Monday, January 7, 2013

The Buntline Special

Ned Buntline the great Dime Novelist led a most unusual life. He fought in the second Seminole war, was hanged (must have been a bad knot as he was cut down before he choked to death). Wild Bill Hickok once gave him 24 hours to get out of town and he had Colt make him his own gun, a modified 1873 Single action revolver. The gun had a long (12 inch) barrel and a detachable walnut stock. The stock could be quickly attached turning the long barreled hand gun into a short barrel rifle. Thus inventing the –Buntline Special, several famous old west lawmen reportedly had one, but if they did history does not mention it (or at least I could not find anything). As much of a self supporter as Buntline was, if anyone famous owned one, it is likely because Ol’ Ned himself sent them one.

None of the supposed five Buntline Specials have ever been found and historians now believe that Stuart N. Lake who wrote the biography of Wyatt Earp (Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal, published in 1931) may have invented the gun for his book. The legend of the gun became so famous that Colt in the 1950s and again in the 1970s made some Buntline specials (none of the alleged five originals have ever been found).
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