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GUNS Magazine Digital February 2011 - Page 82

A hAlF CENTURY WITh SIxGUNS: Smith & Wessons he year was 1955. The first advisers are sent to T vietnam, churchill resigns as Prime Minister of the united Kingdom and a bomb explodes on Flight 629 killing everyone aboard. disneyland opens, Gunsmoke begins its long reign on Tv and elmer Keith writes Sixguns. This is also a year for great guns: colt introduces the .357 Magnum Python, Smith & Wesson comes forth with the .357 combat Magnum, the .45 AcP 1955 Target and in the last days of december, the .44 Magnum arrives. I had just started my senior year in high school and could only dream about sixguns. By 1957 I had my first and second double-action sixguns, however, I can’t remember which one was the chicken and which was the egg. They were both Smith & Wessons. One was a WWI surplus M1917 .45 ACP and ammunition was $1 for 50 rounds, which gave a lot of cheap shooting. In those days I never saw a half-moon clip, let alone one of the full-moon versions so prevalent today. That old Smith worked just fine without the clips although it was a nuisance to pick out the empties. The highway Patrolman A very much younger Taffin with a pair of Smith & Wesson .44 Magnums in 1967. The brand-new Smith & Wesson was a .357 Magnum Highway Patrolman which soon after my purchase became the Model 28. In those days the Ruger .357 Magnum Flat-Top Blackhawk sold for $87.50 while Smith & Wesson’s premier .357 Magnum, the original dating back to 1935, carried a price tag of $120. The Highway Patrolman was nothing less than a .357 Magnum in working clothes. No carefully polished surface, no checkering on the A pair and a spare of 4" .44 Specials: Ivory stocked Model 24-3s and a top of the barrel 1950 Target. The carved leather is El Paso’s Tom Threepersons. rib and rear sight assembly and no bright blue finish. The Patrolman was just a plain-Jane matte blue that not only became popular with law enforcement but outdoorsmen as well. The .357 Magnum was offered in several barrel lengths from 3-1/2" to 8-3/8", however, the Highway Patrolman came only with a 4" or 6" barrel; I went with the easier packing short-barrel. The great thing about the Highway Patrolman was not having to worry about hurting the finish in bad weather. Just as with the .357 Ruger Blackhawk the Highway Patrolman was used with the Keith 358429 loaded over 13.5 grains of 2400 in .38 Special brass. Between the time I purchased that continued on page 81 82 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • FEBRUARY 2011

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