The Buntline Special may never have actually existed, but it has found a place in Western Lore.
According to a 1931 biography of famed lawman Wyatt Earp by Stuart N Lake, Earp and several other Dodge City lawmen were given these as gifts by the celebrated dime novelist Ned Buntline in appreciation for the inspiration they had given him. The guns were modified Colt Army Revolvers with a 30.8 cm (12-inch) barrel. The extra-long barrel was intended to increase accuracy, and the gun came with a removable metal shoulder stock, allowing the user to shoot it like a rifle. Most of the recipients cut the barrel down to the standard 19.2 cm (7 1/2 inch) size, but Earp liked the Buntline.
At least that's how Lake tells the story. Other historians have found no evidence of Buntline's gifts to the Men who Cleaned Up Dodge City; although the Colt Company did have a practice of making long-barreled revolvers on request, at a cost of a dollar per inch over the standard length, and there are historical examples of such long-barreled guns in existence; some as long as 41 cm (16 inches). Colt also manufactured a number of "revolving rifles" as early as the 1930s, which could easily have been involved in cases of mistaken identity.
Depending on your interpretation, the Special may qualify as the "ascended pistol" type of carbine - or may just be a pimped up pistol.
Game and Story Use
- If you're running a Wild West campaign, it's possible that one of your players is going to want a Buntline Special.
- In a Modern Day campaign, Wyatt Earp's Revolver could be a valuable MacGuffin, sought after by the PC's
- If magic exists in the campaign, the gun of a famous gunslinger like Earp might possess some residual qualities of it's previous owner. The gun may be a repository or key to taping into the Earp legend and mystique.