Sunday, October 07, 2018

The Keith #5

The tale of American handgunning can't be told without Elmer Keith.  There are others, of course, but Keith tended to be a dominate voice in the 20th century and was instrumental in shaping onions about what constituted the perfect revolver.  He is best known for his work with bog bore magnum revolvers and is considered the father of the .44 Remington Magnum.

In his long-range work prior to the introduction of the .44 Magnum in 1955, Keith worked with the .44 Special cartridge for a number of reasons.   Basically, both calibers were chambered in the same gun and the cylinders were the same size.  The .44 Special had a smaller diameter , so there was more steel in the .44 cylinder than the .45, so the cartridge could be loaded to a higher pressure without running the risk of a burst cylinder.    Plus, the .44 Special brass had a stronger web than the balloon-head brass of the .45 Colt of the era.

Keith's work in this regard also focused on the revolver itself.  Better sights, a stronger base-pin latch, a different grip.  This work culminated in a gun that he called the #5.  In 2015,  Keith's #5 cane up for auction and Forgotten Weapons did a video on this remarkable revolver prior to the sale.  They tell the story better than I do, so I'll let them tell it.

I'm a big fan of the .44 Special, preferring it over the .44 Magnum.  While the magnum has its place,  and if you are enamored of it, by all means, use it.  Were I going up north, where I might encounter big bears, I might carry more than the .44 Special could provide, but for the little bears we have hereabouts ad the other fauna lurking around here, the .44 Special provides all the thump I think I"ll ever need from a belt-carried revolver.

In the .44 Special, I prefer Skeeter's Load.  Promulgated by the late, great Skeeter Skeltonn, it features a hard-cast 240 or 250 grain Keith bullet over 7.5 grains of Unique.  My research tells me that Skeeter found it in Elmer Keith's writings, which ties us back to Keith, but it was Skeeter who talked about the load.   What I like about it is that it has more thump than the standard .44 Special at 750 fps.  This load runs the bullet out at about 950 fps which makes it perfectly suitable for 95% of whatever you want a big bore handgun to do.

I tell you all this because my love affair with the .44 Special ain't over, and I'm about to open another chapter inn my infatuation with this cartridge.  More to come, soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Downright polite the .44 Spcl. Similar to the .45LC, a big slow bullet that thumps, not crushes. On both sides of muzzle. Both of ours are short barrelled carry guns (Charter Arms Gen. I Bulldog, the other a S&W Lew Horton 3" snub nose. The CA for light carry woodsroaming, the Smith for serious plinking.

Still though, the .45ACP revolver has much to recommend it, nost especially if you aren't a handloader. A S&W 1917 with full moon clips is fun to shoot.

Where was I going with this ? Oh yeah - big bore low velocity rounds are fun. Thank you for the post.