The best gun show on cable TV, ′American Guns′, took us on another history tour as they build a .45 caliber Colt Buntline Special for firearms historian Tom Powers. The Colt Buntline was made famous by none other than lawman Wyatt Earp during the gunfight at the O-K Corral. Rich Wyatt, owner of the Gunsmoke gun shop, is eager to do the job, but quotes Tom the price of $5,000 for the custom build. Much of the gun will be made from scratch. Tom balks at the price but agrees to a showdown with Gunsmoke′s resident gun historian, Bob, when a disagreement arises between Bob and Tom over who made more of an impact during the O-K Corral gunfight? Wyatt Earp and his Colt Buntline or Doc Holiday armed with both a double-barrel shotgun and a ′normal′ sized six-gun. Rich agrees that if Tom wins the shootout against Bob, he′ll knock $1,000 off the price.

american guns colt buntline

The original idea came from novelist Ned Buntline, who commissioned Colt to build five of their famous single-action Army revolvers with 12-inch barrels instead of the usual 7-inch. The Buntline′s also were chambered to fire a longer, more powerful .45 caliber round. This is due to the need to match the ammunition with the barrel, such that all of the gunpowder burns within the barrel. In 1876, the five Buntline′s were built and were presented to five famous lawmen of the day, including Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson.

Interestingly, there is no real proof that Earp actually used his Buntline as part of his job. Many historians believe that he used a .44 caliber Smith & Wesson with an 8-inch barrel on October 26, 1881 at the O-K Corral. That gunfight itself is full of historical mysteries. Nobody really knows who fired the first shot? We do know from testimony that Wyatt Earp first shot at Cowboy outlaw Frank McLaury. Doc Holiday also fired at Frank, but only after unloading the double-barrel shotgun into his brother, Tom McLaury. Holiday is also credited with shooting Billy Clanton, as well as Frank McLaury, with his pistol. The whole battle lasted only about 30 seconds and in the end, only Wyatt Earp was still standing without a scratch of the nine men involved in the Tombstone, Arizona shootout.

Speaking of shootouts, Bob did indeed win his over Tom, so Tom had to pay the full price of $5,000 for his custom built Colt Buntline Special. The .45 caliber revolver sported a 16-inch barrel and came with a detachable wooden stock. Naturally, Rich Wyatt′s son, Kurt, did some awesome engraving on the weapon. All in all, Tom was most pleased with the work done by the Gunsmoke gunsmiths. Another fun episode of American Guns on the Discovery Channel!