A Bit Of History

March/April Sixgunner

Hamilton Bowen’s No. 5

As so many other things having to do with firearms it began with Elmer Keith. Keith was born in 1899 and during his growing up years quality sixguns as well as components were nowhere near as easy to access as they are today. As a teenager he mostly shot black-powder Colts. Celebrating the Fourth of July in 1925, he blew apart an old Colt .45 using black powder loads. These were not ordinary black-powder loads as he ground the powder granules to a consistency akin to flour looking for all possible muzzle velocity in his old Colt.

The top of the chamber as well as the top strap blew and he decided to go with a different cartridge. The .44 Special had arrived in late 1907 but as of 1925 he was yet to see one. This soon changed as he realized the .44 in a Colt Single Action cylinder resulted in more steel around the cartridge case, thus he shifted from the .45 Colt to the .44 S&W Special. This was to have far-reaching effects, which are even felt today.

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