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I'm convinced that Earp did have a Colt SAA with a long barrel, but ten inches, not twelve. I get that from "Earpologist" (don't laugh!) Jeff Morey (Tonbstone movie tech. advisor) who got to go through Stuart Lake's personal papers that are still in his family and he had copies of letters Lake wrote to two people asking for the wherabouts of Earp's ten inch barreled Colt. Earps old pard in Alaska and a Masterson brother, I think. It being strange that under the radar he would be looking for a gun that didn't exist. Speculation being that he did embelish it to a more dramatic foot long barrel in his book. there's other convincing stuff in the Morey piece in a Guns & Ammo article that I still have like Earp getting names wrong in his old age which means he could have gotten a couple dates wrong, too, pertaining to Buntline's presentation. This Morey info is why Kurt Russel carried a ten inch Colt in Tombstone. But this will go back and forth for eternity among us guys that are into such things. Me, I'd rather have a Sheriff's Model like yours.
 

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I think the embellishment was done by Earp and Lake was taken in. A lot of stuff in the Lake book does not stack up but I believe he wrote just what Earp told him. Some years ago a guy name Shillingburg wrote a very convincing piece debunking this story. How come we haven't seen anything of the other guns? From what I understand Buntline only wrote half a dozen Western tales and they were about Buffalo Bill so the idea that these guns were presents for inspiration in his writings don't fit. And if I was going to present you with a pistol I would put YOUR name on the butt, not MINE.

Rio
 

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I don't know about the Buntline Special myth, but Wyatt definitely carried a long-barreled revolver into the Shootout in the Vacant Lot Next to Fly's Photography Studio That Was Somewhat Near the OK Corral.

The Earp faction was hauled into court to determine whether they acted improperly as lawmen that morning (they were exonerated). At least a partial official transcript of the trial survives, and one eyewitness (can't remember his name off the top of my head ) reported seeing Wyatt pull a "long-barreled" pistol and use it. That's just enough information to be tantalizing, because it could refer to a standard 7 1/2" SAA. Or the witness may have noted, remembered, and testified that it was "long-barreled" because it was longer than the 7 1/2" standard, which could mean 10 or 12 inches.

At the very least it means that Wyatt didn't use a Storekeeper or Sheriff sized pistol.

For anyone interested in more I recommend Inventing Wyatt Earp ​by Barra.
 

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I've read that a man witnessed Earp pistol whip a man using a long barreled revolver. That supposedly came from a newspaper account of the incident.

Years ago I read an article that traced everything back from Ned Buntline presenting the long barreled Colts to receiving the Colts. I can't remember all the details, but it made a lot of sense.

I also agree that Earp used a long barreled revolver as well as using a host of others. Much the same as we do today.
 

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Interesting article. I'm a real fan of the Earps and the Tombstone era. Thank you for finding and posting.
 

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Having been interested in this subject for years, I can say that I wouldn't believe one word of anything Stuart Lake wrote. If it weren't for him, Earp would probably have been forgotten soon after the Tombstone fight. I could go on, but this would turn into a major rant, and I don't feel like it now. Suffice it to say that my opinion of Wyatt Earp has never been very high. Unlike some, I don't worship at his altar.
 

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Nothing like a mention of Buntline Special and Wyatt Earp to bring up some interesting, if at times heated, conversation.

First, regarding Lake's book. There is no doubt that Lake romanticized Earp in glowing language. I do think however he got a surprising amount of information correct. There were several items he wrote about in his book that he was accused of making up, which were later discovered to have been documented in other sources long before he did Frontier Marshal. So even if they were not true, he did not "make them up." It is my belief that most of the information he got "wrong" was not because he made it up, but rather, it was given to him incorrectly. How or why that information was given to him incorrectly would be a discussion too lengthy I believe, however it was probably a mix of failed memories, and possibly Wyatt's tendency (just like all humans) to protect their own self image by passing on information that is somewhat self serving.

It being strange that under the radar he would be looking for a gun that didn't exist.
I agree. Why would Lake waste his time looking for something he thought didnt exist?

so the idea that these guns were presents for inspiration in his writings don't fit.
I learned a lot by reading Lee Silva's "Wyatt Earp A Biography of the Legend Volume I: The Cowtown Years" and he proposes a theory about "why" Ned would have presented these guns to those men. I dont want to misquote his theory on this so I would encourage the one who is serious about learning more to check it out. He also points out that it is documented that Buckskin Frank Leslie ordered a 12" Colts Frontier Model from Colt. There are no factory records of this being produced, however it is interesting to note that Earp and Leslie were working together at the time in Tombstone. Silva's book is a bit pricy but for the photos, size, and amount of information it is a very good deal.

Suffice it to say that my opinion of Wyatt Earp has never been very high. Unlike some, I don't worship at his altar.
A lot of people feel this way. And based on some of the books that have been written about him, I could see why. However I think there is a lot of bad information out there. It was en vogue for a while to idolize him, then it became a more popular trend to demonize him. While the truth may lie somewhere in between, I think he was an overall good lawman and a decent human being. There are numerous, numerous accounts of citizens, respected government officials, and newspapers of the days who sang his praises and agreed that he made the communities safer for those in it. If he was such a scallywag, Im not sure why so many respected people of the day would have gone on record honoring him and backing it up with their names. Im sure there was plenty of bad information put out about him by the people left behind in the AZ territory. Most of the respected citizens eventually up and left once the silver boom busted, leaving behind a lot disgruntled cattle thieves and outlaws.

I guess I would be described as part of the "Pro-Earp" crowd, but I wouldnt say I worship at his alter. I would be the first to place money on the fact that he left out certain things when he spoke to Lake to protect his reputation. But then again, I dont know of many people that wouldnt, as everyone I have ever met, including myself, has things in the past they are less than proud of. I do belive that he was an effective lawman. I believe that he wanted a good life for himself. I dont believe that he wanted much of the attention that he received. He himself minimized the OK corral incident at times, chalking it up to little more than a short lived street fight.

Did the Buntline exist? I dont know. The article linked has some very good points of discussion, but I dont know that it proves they dont exist. If I read it correctly, the author is passionate about the fact that 10" and 16" barrels were ordered from the factory, but NOT 12" That doesnt really prove to me that Buntlines didnt exist, it only means that the factory only has records of 12" and 16." Maybe it was a 10" and Lake got it wrong by two inches??? The world may never know...

Just my 2 cents, and probably not worth more than that!:)
 

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kdave, you are right when you say that the truth lies somewhere inbetween. Earp was no better or worse than many contemporary lawmen. Kind of a shade of gray, if you will. He wasn't the super hero many made him, but he wasn't a villian either. My main beef is not with Earp but with the press with it's ability to make or destroy. Take Hickok for example. My post came off a lot angrier than I intended and I appologize for that. As far as the existance of the Buntline Specials....I have no idea...
 

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kdave, I just checked that article I mentioned and Morey found seven copies of letters pertaining to Earps supposed gun, three of which asked about hopes of purchasing it. And in the article it mentions Buckskin Frank Leslie's 12" barrel Colt ordered Jan. 14, 1881, over nine months before the OK Corral. And when Lake was asked about Earp's gun by the producers of that comic book TV show in the 50's he said it had a "10-12 inch barrel". He couldn't remember exactly.
Virgil Earp was the lawman in the family. The two others just occasionally. And they were gamblers, an honorable profession at the time. I don't think there's anything noble or sleazy about them. They were just guys. And if anyone thinks politics are rough now, check out what it was like in those days. The greatest lawman on earth would lose his job instantly if the party he didn't belong to took power. It's funny, but there were lifelong sheriffs in California that had up to thirty year gigs and no one has heard of them. They were family men who sometimes looked nerdy and had plain names..Tom Cunningham, John Boggs, Ben Thorn, Harry Morse. And they shot people in gunfights. But the colorful characters with the cool cinematic names are well known..Johnny Ringo, Doc Holliday, Wild Bill Hickock, and Bat Masterson.
 

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I have Lee Silva's book in which he spends some 130 pages discussing the Buntline story then admits there is no real evidence to support it but "he believes it anyway".

Rio
 

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Chaffee, I think you and I are in agreement, the truth is in the middle.

I don't think there's anything noble or sleazy about them. They were just guys.
+1 Im in law enforcement. None of us are perfect. Most of us are average joes who try to lead good lives and watch out for those we love. We are like most people, we have flaws, we have strengths.

I have Lee Silva's book in which he spends some 130 pages discussing the Buntline story then admits there is no real evidence to support it but "he believes it anyway".
LOL. Well you cant blame a guy for hoping.
 
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