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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Per doctor's orders, I've been laying around the house taking it easy until Friday. (Facing hernia surgery, no big deal. But make the most of it while I can.) So I've gotten some good photos of guns re-worked by/for Elmer Keith. And a few observations:

1) Keith stayed with the factory cartridges, .44 Special and .45 Colt, primarily, as opposed to going to wildcats. He did handload to get the most performance, though.

2) Sights gathered most of his attention. He disdained the "hog wallow" rear sight, as he described it, in the Colt Single Action. All of his sights as modified were of the Patridge type, wide square topped blade front sight, and flat topped blade rear with a deep square notch. He favored band type front sights for their durability. He also
included provision for long range shooting.

3) Base pin/cylinder pin retention. Many of his guns had improved base pin latches. Especially with an older or worn Colt Single Action this did/does become a problem.

4) Hammer spurs. Nearly every one of his custom jobs have a modified hammer spur, especially favored was a Bisley - type spur.

5) Grip. Only one of his guns, the No. 5, seem to have the modified grip. Others have the Colt/Navy style grip.



Looking at production guns today, certainly the Ruger Super Blackhawk seems to employ much of his thinking. Just makes for a most interestin' reading while lounging around.

Bob Wright
 

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Per doctor's orders, I've been laying around the house taking it easy until Friday. (Facing hernia surgery, no big deal. But make the most of it while I can.) So I've gotten some good photos of guns re-worked by/for Elmer Keith. And a few observations:

1) Keith stayed with the factory cartridges, .44 Special and .45 Colt, primarily, as opposed to going to wildcats. He did handload to get the most performance, though.

2) Sights gathered most of his attention. He disdained the "hog wallow" rear sight, as he described it, in the Colt Single Action. All of his sights as modified were of the Patridge type, wide square topped blade front sight, and flat topped blade rear with a deep square notch. He favored band type front sights for their durability. He also
included provision for long range shooting.

3) Base pin/cylinder pin retention. Many of his guns had improved base pin latches. Especially with an older or worn Colt Single Action this did/does become a problem.

4) Hammer spurs. Nearly every one of his custom jobs have a modified hammer spur, especially favored was a Bisley - type spur.

5) Grip. Only one of his guns, the No. 5, seem to have the modified grip. Others have the Colt/Navy style grip.



Looking at production guns today, certainly the Ruger Super Blackhawk seems to employ much of his thinking. Just makes for a most interestin' reading while lounging around.

Bob Wright
No pics?:p I like the Keith Colt's as well. I wonder if Elmer liked the Colt NF or was that too late in his life? I've been laid up some as well diverticulitis flare up, what a pain.
 

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Keith was an expert in his knowledge of all things shooting. He got that way by shooting a lot and trying different things to make his shooting better. In my opinion a lot of what he did wasn't understood and was put to the wayside for "just good enough" for the average shooter. Keith built guns and loads to get the best out of them, he was the best in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Keith was an expert in his knowledge of all things shooting. He got that way by shooting a lot and trying different things to make his shooting better. In my opinion a lot of what he did wasn't understood and was put to the wayside for "just good enough" for the average shooter. Keith built guns and loads to get the best out of them, he was the best in my opinion.
Elmer Keith was an experienced old time shooter, but he was, like the rest of us, an individual, and as such, all things he said or observed or tried, won't apply to all of us. Keith favored the Bisley hammer, I've tried those and found I much preferred the upswept hammer of the Colt Single Action as is. These suit my way of shooting much better.

Keith preferred the high backstrap as on his No. 5 Colt, while I've found the dragoon style or the Ruger Super Blackhawk more suitable to my shooting.

I've tried the method of holding up the front sight for long range shooting, but found this made it more difficult for me to hold windage when doing so.

And certainly what he said regarding jacketed hand gun bullets is certainly out dated today.

Great as he was, and influential, the bottom line is that each must incorporate that which works best for him.

Bob Wright
 

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Didn't Elmer Keith hair much of his knowledge the old fashioned way...when he blew a gun up he discovered he went too far?
 

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What I noticed about Keith is he built guns and loads to fit him and his lifestyle. Those days are gone now but he built a lot to learn from. He seemed to study every part of the gun and ammo to get what he needed out of both. I believe his grip was damaged as a young man so building a gun frame to fit made great sense. His test that blew up guns was the search to find better more powerful guns and ammo. His blowing up a 45 Colt was the start to knowledge of the 44 because the 44 has a thicker cylinder.

I really liked Keith writings, I have even driven by Durkee Oregon where he once lived. He was a great gunner and a lot of those guys are gone now.
 

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Back in the early days of shooting the excepted method of cocking the gun was,never break your shooting grip once it's in the hand which explains why Keith liked the Bisley hammer,it could be reached w/out moving your hand on the grip.I've mentioned on here before about my mentor Bob Howard,him & Keith were lifelong friends until Keith died & had "cowboyed" together when they were young,Bob did occasional work on a few of Keith's guns,Bob customized the hammer on his personal .44 SA by welding a tab on the right side of the hammer spur & sloped it slightly downward,then knurled it so he could reach it w/out breaking his grip to cock the gun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Back in the early days of shooting the excepted method of cocking the gun was,never break your shooting grip once it's in the hand which explains why Keith liked the Bisley hammer,it could be reached w/out moving your hand on the grip.I've mentioned on here before about my mentor Bob Howard,him & Keith were lifelong friends until Keith died & had "cowboyed" together when they were young,Bob did occasional work on a few of Keith's guns,Bob customized the hammer on his personal .44 SA by welding a tab on the right side of the hammer spur & sloped it slightly downward,then knurled it so he could reach it w/out breaking his grip to cock the gun.
With all due respect, I find that I don't get as good a "purchase" on wide hammers, and lowered hammers dig into the flesh of my shooting hand when at full cock. And this causes a "twitch" as the hammer is released.

With the wide hammer, my thumb sort of "sits" on top of the spur, while the narrow hammer digs into the flesh of my thumb.

I suppose I do shift my grip, but it is regained by the time my gun comes back out of recoil and the hammer is already cocked.

As I pointed out, individuals do vary in their likes and dislikes, grips and druthers.

Bob Wright
 

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Wouldn't the .357 Magnum that he helped develop be considered a "wildcat" cartridge at the time?
 

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Every time I had the choice I have went with the wider hammer. I am far more of a SA shooter than DA shooter on all my DA revolvers even though I had to qualify DA on my job yearly for 35 years. Probably because I started out with a ruger single six. Today, if its just me plinking or target shooting all my shooting with a DA revolver I still shoot SA.
Awhile back I was CCing a S&W model 36 with a 3" barrel in a OC holster under my untucked shirt. Somehow the hammer spur busted off at a sharp angle and was poking my fat roll like a knife. Don`t recall even bumping into anything. I haven't found a replacement hammer so I snubbed the hammer. I only took it out once to test reliability and I am not as accurate with it as I was shooting SA.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Wouldn't the .357 Magnum that he helped develop be considered a "wildcat" cartridge at the time?
I wouldn't think so. The early .357 Magnum development was done using .38 Special cases and in .38 Special revolvers. No special chambers or barrels were required. While a number of cases were considered, such as the .38 Super, the .35 and .351 Win. Self Loading cases, and one specially constructed case was used, they reverted back to the .38 Special case, finally extending it .10" to its current length. And since the development was done by factory, Winchester, Hercules Powder, and Smith & Wesson, don't think that qualifies as a "wildcat."

My opinion is that a "wildcat" is developed by an individual or several individuals, i.e "Pop" Eimer or Gordon Bosler, in which a new case is formed from another, new chambering, new barrels, etc.

Bob Wright
 

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I think what EK really shined in was bullet design. All his hunting he could really see how design changes worked. His Keith bullets were designed for accuracy and hunting and even today people call their bullets Keith style but are only close to the originals.
 

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To my recollection, Keith only blew the loading gate off one old surplus SAA. I don't know where this legend that he blew up a bunch of guns comes from.

Phil Sharpe was more responsible for the .357Mag than anyone else.

Keith experimented but did not wildcat. John Lachuk, one of the ".44 Associates", had a wildcat .44.

Keith was short and had small hands and that's why he needed the lower hammer spur to reach it without breaking grip. I have never had that problem with standard SA hammers.

 
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