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GUNS Magazine March 2012 Digital Edition - Page 98
tHE lEGENd lIVEs! or a quarter-century beginning in the mid-1950s the Sixgunners Mecca was found in the little town of Salmon, Idaho, where Elmer Keith resided. This ended when he suffered a stroke in 1981, as he would spend the next three years in a Boise, Idaho, nursing home. From the time of his passing until a few years ago, everything was kind of in limbo. Then Cabela’s incorporated the Elmer Keith Museum within their Boise store, and now sixgunners come from all over to view the sixguns, rifles and hunting trophies of Elmer Keith. I was given the rare privilege of placing all the firearms, and so was able to position the No. 5 S.A. in the spot where it could be seen immediately as you enter the museum. It is the centerpiece of the sixgun display. I “visit” the No. 5 at least once a month. From the late 1920s until 1955, Keith continually promoted the .44 Special as the ideal sixgun cartridge using his designed “Keith” bullet, weighing 250 grains and pushed at a full 1,200 fps using first No. 80 powder and then, when it became available, Hercules No. 2400. Over the years Keith featured his sixguns in his articles, and as a teenager I purchased a copy of Sixguns By Keith, subsequently spending many hours carefully studying the pictures of his many custom sixguns. Other teenagers were interested in the new rock and roll music, movies and fast cars. I soon lost interest in all three but developed a passion for sixguns. F Lipsey’s delivers again. Anyone who doesn’t recognize Elmer’s famous Stetson and No. 5 S.A. needs to go back to Sixgunning 101! the four Colts Keith was not satisfied with stock factory sixguns and enlisted the help of some of the top gunsmiths and engravers in the country to customize Three of Elmer Keith’s custom Colt Single Actions. The bottom one is the No. 5 S.A. in .44 Special. his sixguns. His four Colt Single Action .44 Specials were a King short-action job with a 7-1/2" barrel, an original one-of-a-kind 7-1/2" Flat-Top Target, a 5-1/2" Flat-Top Target with a folding 3-leaf rear sight designed by Keith and the No. 5 S.A. Colt—an extensively customized 5-1/2" Flat-Top Target Model with a special grip made by combining a Bisley backstrap and Colt SAA triggerguard. This now famous custom Colt was written up as “The Last Word” in the April 1929 issue of the American Rifleman. The title for the article comes from the fact this revolver was designed as the epitome of the single-action sixgun. Every possible improvement was incorporated in “The Last Word” sixgun and Keith tried to interest Colt in making it a factory offered single action, but to no avail. Keith, along with the ideas of Harold Croft and gunsmiths Neal Houchins, R.F. Sedgley and J.D. O’Meara, worked together to weld up the top strap of a standard Colt Single Action to make a heavy Flat-Top Target design. The old flat mainspring was replaced by a U-type spring, and the hammer was made by welding a Bisley wide spur on a standard hammer. The rear sight continued on page 97 98 W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • M A R C H 2 0 1 2