A vast empty landscape of tan and brown rock and dirt, the loud crack of rifle, the fading clapboard of a Western Town and the greed and violence of desperate men.

These are the paints with which directors like Corbucci and Leone painted their Euro-Western films - more popularly known as the Spaghetti Western.

Their heyday spanning a period from 1960 - 1978 and consisting of around six hundred films, these movies were incredibly popular and went on to influence such directors as Quentin Tarantino and, of course, Clint Eastwood who arguably became a major Hollywood actor by starring in three of the most influential Spaghetti Western films by Sergio Leone “A Fist Full of Dollars”, “ For a Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”.

In this series of articles, I’ll be highlighting the guns used by the various characters in the films and then creating stats for them to use in the Dark Trails RPG game by David Baity. While I specifically will be creating stats for David’s game based on the DCC RPG rules, it should be trivial to take the guns and stat them for your game of choice.

In the first article we are going to take a look at A Few Dollars More, considered by many critics to be the best of the so-called “Dollars” trilogy. I’ve chosen to start out focusing on what I consider the most interesting firearm in the film - the Colt Buntline special.

In the film, the Buntline is most spectacularly used by Col, Mortimer, played by the fantastic Lee Van Cleef. The villain Indio, played by an equally fantastic actor, Gian Maria Volonté also uses a Buntline Special.

The Buntline in A Few Dollars More

The Colt Buntline Special makes its first appearance in the film in the hands of Colonel Douglas Mortimer, when he guns down the outlaw Guy Calloway for a $1000 bounty.

Mortimer has two Buntline Specials, an 18’ model - which we see in his saddle bag and the 10” model he uses on the outlaw after calmly attaching a stock to use like a carbine rifle.

The Saddle Bag Colonel Mortimer’s collection of Buntlines.

Mortimer shoots at Calloway Colonel Mortimer readies a shot at Calloway.

The second time we see the Buntline special it is in the hands of our villain in the film, Indio.

Indio uses the pistol to kill his cell mate during the breakout with his Compañeros and later during the breakout to threaten a guard.

El Indio kills his cellmate. El Indio kills his cellmate.

Indio threatens a guard Indio threatens a guard.

Mortimer uses his Buntline until getting it shot out of his hand by Indio - most notably to make Manco’s (Clint Eastwood) hat dance until he empties the pistol.

Mortimer shoots Mancos Hat Mortimer shoots Mancos Hat

El Indio dies with his Buntline Special in his hands.

El Indio Dies El Indio Dies in the dirt with his Buntline

The Colt Buntline Myth

The Colt Buntline Special was conceived by Wyatt Earp biographer Stuart Lake in his bestselling 1931 biography of Earp entitled Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal.

The biography - now debunked as being mostly fictitious - Lake describes the pistol as extra-long Colt Single Action Army revolvers, with a 12-inch (300 mm)-long barrel.

Lake claimed that the dime novelist Ned Buntline commissioned the production of five of these revolvers from Colt to present them to five Dodge City lawmen in the summer of 1876- Wyatt Eart, Bat Masterson, Bill Tilghman, Charlie Bassett, and Neal Brown - to thank them for “their material for hundreds of frontier yarns.”1

Ned Buntline Ned Buntline.

According to William B. Shillingberg in his article “Wyatt Earp and the Buntline Special Myth”2 for the Kansas Historical Society, when one examines Buntline’s works – he wrote prolifically until his death in 1886 – the scrutiny reveals that Buntline very rarely wrote anything with Western themes.

Despite the claims by Stuart lake all of Buntline’s Western tales combined can’t make up the volume Lake puts forth as being inspired by Earp and the rest of the Dodge City Lawman.

Shillingberg also points that period writers penning western themed dime novels preferred using Native America fighters and scouts as their main characters. These period novelists never used lawmen or so-called “gunfighters”.

While the famous Jesse James received some coverage as an outlaw, this was because it was romanticized as an American version of the “steal from the rich and give to the poor” Robin Hood trope.

As for lawmen, Shillingberg points out that Sheriff Pat Garrett was used in later on, but his character was considered to be background to the chasing Billy the Kid - considered the “real hero” of the story.

While there were some “Buntline Specials” made by Colt, they were never actually called that officially until 1957 and these pistols were never shipped. And despite Lake’s claim of 12-inch barrels all the weapons that Colt manufactured were 16-inch.

But despite Lake’s manufactured tale of the Buntline Special, the pistol wound up becoming an integral part of the mythology of the Wild West and the legend of Wyatt Earp.

Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp.

The .45 Colt Cartridge

The Buntline uses the .45 Colt cartridge. The cartridge use in handguns dates to 1872.

The cartridge was originally a black-powder revolver round that Cold developed for use in the Colt Single Action Army revolver.

In 1873 the US Army adopted the cartridge and it remain in use as the official US military handgun load for 14 years.

The .45 Colt originally was a black-powder cartridge using 28 to 40 grains (1.8 to 2.6 g) of black powder behind a 230-to-255-grain (14.9 to 16.5 g) lead bullet.

With this black powder load muzzle velocities of up to 1,050 ft/s (320 m/s) were possible.

It was because of this firepower and its concomitant accuracy that .45 Colt was the most-used cartridge after being introduced by Colt’s Manufacturing.

The .45 Colt cartridge proved to be so popular that it is still in use today over a hundred and forty years when it appeared.

DT RPG Stats – Colt Buntline Special

Colt Buntline Special

Model Type Ammunution Damage Load ROF Range S/M/L Reload Concealment Cost
8 inch Barrel Single Action .45 Colt Cartridge d12 6 Shot 3 15/30/80 2 rounds 0 $13
10 inch barrel Single Action .45 Colt Cartridge d12 6 Shot 3 20/35/85 2 rounds -1 $14
12 inch barrel Single Action .45 Colt Cartridge d12 6 Shot 3 25/75/125 2 rounds -2 $15
16 inch barrel Single Action .45 Colt Cartridge d12 6 Shot 3 30/85/135 2 rounds -1d $18
18 inch barrel Single Action .45 Colt Cartridge d12 6 Shot 3 45/100/150 2 rounds -1d $20

Barrel length and Accuracy

In general, the greater the increase in barrel length, the greater the gain in accuracy and range for a firearm. Though there is a optimal length of barrel and barrels that are too long will actually cause a decrease in range unless special powders are used.

This bump in accuracy and range comes about from the increase in velocity from the longer barrel and the fact that longer barrels will aid in a longer sight radius - using sights that allows for more precise aiming.

Gun barrels are not rigid and will have some vibration which can affect accuracy.

It is up to the individual Judge to add as much real-world “crunch” to their firearms in their games - a good rule of thumb however would be to require longer barreled pistols like the 16’’ and 18” Buntline Specials to use a removable stock or some other sort of stabilization or suffer a penalty to hit.

For example, the Judge could impose a penalty for using the 16’’ Buntline of -1/-1/-2 if used without a stock or other stabilizer (like a wall or other level surface).

Removable Stock for the Buntline Special

The Buntline Special can be fitted with a removable stock that will allow for stabilization of the weapon and more accurate firing. The stock can be clipped or screwed on by several catches on the frame near the chamber and around the pistol grip.

Removable stock Mortimer Colonel Mortimer readies his 10’’ Buntline Special.

Removable Stock Frame

A metal detachable stock.

Frame and Gun

Stock and Gun.

Though the stock can be purchased, an enterprising Bedlamite could craft one as well.

Gun Accessory  
Item Cost
Removable pistol stock $3.00
  1. page 145, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal, Lake, Stuart, 1931 

  2. https://www.kshs.org/p/kansas-historical-quarterly%20wyatt-earp-and-the-buntline-special-myth/13255 , accessed 9/15/19