The Colt Buntline Special is a long-barreled variant of the Colt Single Action Army revolver that author Stuart N. Lake described in his best-selling but largely fictionalized 1931 biography, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal. According to Lake, dime novelist Ned Buntline had five Buntline Specials commissioned. Lake described them as extra-long, 12 inches (300 mm)-long barrel Colt Single Action Army revolvers. Lake wrote that Buntline presented them to five lawmen in thanks for their help with contributing “local color” to his western yarns. But modern researchers have not found any evidence to confirm that Buntline ordered the guns or that Colt manufactured them in that time period.
Lake attributed the gun to Earp, but modern researchers have not found any supporting evidence from secondary sources or in available primary documentation of the gun's existence prior to the publication of Lake's book. After the publication of Lake's book, various Colt revolvers with long (10″ or 16″) barrels were referred to as "Colt Buntlines" or "Buntline Specials". Colt manufactured the pistol among its second generation revolvers produced after 1956. A number of other manufacturers, such as Uberti, Navy Arms, and Cimarron Arms, have made their own version of this long-barreled revolver.
There is no conclusive evidence as to the kind of pistol that Earp usually carried, though it is known that on the day of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, October 26, 1881, he carried an 8 inch (200mm) barreled Smith & Wesson Model 3. Earp had received the revolver as a gift from Tombstone mayor and Tombstone Epitaph newspaper editor John Clum. Lake later admitted that he had 'put words into Wyatt's mouth because of the inarticulateness and monosyllabic way he had of talking'.
The book later inspired a number of stories, movies, and television programs about outlaws and lawmen in Dodge City and Tombstone, including the 1955 television series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.