A Chandler, Arizona, man spent $150,000 on a shotgun owned by Earp, a family archive, and other items. Back in 2012, the guns used by Bonnie and Clyde were sold at auction for over half a million dollars. And yes, one of Annie Oakley’s guns sold for $143,400 -- which really does seem like a steal compared to Earp’s gun.
While the Colt was the highlight of the auction, Wyatt Earp’s Winchester shotgun and another Colt revolver owned by Wyatt’s brother Virgil were also sold at the auction. The former sold for less than its estimated value of $125,000, selling for only $50,000. But Virgil Earp’s gun sold for $37,500, higher than the estimated value of $30,000.
Unfortunately, there was a little bit of controversy surrounding the Wyatt Earp gun. Some historians claimed that Boyer fabricated portions of his books. The Colt pistol once had the barrel, grip, and cylinder replaced in addition to having its serial number rubbed off.
So why do I say "supposed" gun used at the OK Corral shootout?
It's because Wyatt Earp didn't use a Colt pistol at the OK Corral -- he used a Smith & Wesson!
In The History of Smith & Wesson Firearms by Dean K. Boorman, published by Globe Pequot Press, in 2002, he reported that Wyatt Earp used a Smith & Wesson Model 3 and not a Colt at the gunfight near the OK Corral.
In Age of The Gunfighter by Joseph G. Rosa, published by the University of Oklahoma Press, in 1993, he states that Wyatt Earp preferred the Smith & Wesson Model 3 over a Colt at the gunfight near the OK Corral.
Most Old West historians agree that Wyatt Earp did not use a Colt pistol at the gunfight near the OK Corral. In fact, according to Wyatt Earp himself through his biographer Stuart Lake, he was actually armed with a Smith & Wesson Model 3 during that shootout.
As stated above, in Earp's case, he was given the S&W Model 3 American by The Tombstone Epitaph owner and who was also Tombstone's Mayor, John Clum. We know this to be fact.
The U.S. Army adopted the .44 S&W American caliber Smith & Wesson Model 3 revolver in 1870. That fact makes the Model 3 revolver the first standard-issue cartridge-firing revolver used in the United States military. Most military pistols until that point were black powder cap-and-ball revolvers. The Smith & Wesson Model 3 was a single-action, cartridge-firing, top-break revolver produced by Smith & Wesson from circa 1870 to 1915. It was produced in several variations and sub-variations.
In 1877, Smith & Wesson discontinued production of its other Model 3 variation's such as the American, Russian, and Schofield -- in favor of a new and improved design. That newly designed Model 3 came out in 1878 and was called the New Model 3.
Besides being the last single-action pistol that Smith & Wesson ever came out with, the Smith & Wesson New Model 3 was considered their perfected single action. It was a top-break revolver, only slightly smaller and lighter than previous models. Because it was smaller and lighter, it was more concealable. They kept it in the .44 Russian cartridge.
Yes, I have heard the New Model 3 referred to as the "New Model 3 American." Why would someone call it such? Well, that has to do with the fact that the New Model 3 design returned to the original Smith & Wesson American barrel latch system. Most agree that that change was because Smith & Wesson wanted to stop paying royalties to George W. Schofield for the "Schofield" latch design. The New Model 3 was the most popular revolver of the later frontier era.
In fact, according to records, more Smith & Wesson New Model 3's were made than Colt Single Action Army pistols during the 19th century -- though the majority went to foreign military contracts.
Among Lawmen and Outlaws
The standard barrel length was 6.5". But as the desire for shorter barrels was in demand by lawmen around the country, many Schofields were purchased as surplus by distributors, and they had the barrels shortened to 5" and refinished in nickel. Nice concealability and faster to get it into play when needed.