From the pen of a legend

Elmer Keith talks about speed, grips and hammers

Somebody sent me images of a February 1960 article in GUNS Magazine by the late, legendary Elmer Keith, the little cowboy from Idaho and Montana with the big bore sixguns who talked about all things handgun.

Timing is everything, and this weekend—Saturday, actually—in farm country southwest from Spokane, Wash., comes the annual Invitational Elmer Keith Memorial long-range handgun shoot. Insider Online will be there, launching 210-grain Nosler JHPs ahead of 20.0 grains of H110 from a 6-inch vintage Model 57 Smith & Wesson in .41 Magnum. It’s an N-frame the way I like an N-frame: with the firing pin on the hammer, no internal lock and an action that is smooth with a trigger let-off as crisp as they come. Call me cantankerous.

Keith preferred grips of the “magna” style, that fit the contour of the frame,
like this set of handsome elk antler grips from Eagle Grips."

As written in the past, this Keith shoot brings together some of the most skilled handgunners I’ve ever encountered. They were all invited. Never heard of this match? Then you must not have been invited!

Whatever else Keith might have been—big game hunting guide, firearms authority and accomplished writer, rancher, outdoorsman and family man—he was a fellow who knew handguns. Some of his observations will be poo poohed by would-be social media experts who debate about how much ammunition one should have when grocery shopping, but everything he put in that article makes sense from the perspective of someone who pulled triggers and carried a handgun almost daily, even though he was not a lawman.

Keith’s autobiography “Hell, I was There!” is considered a must-have volume
for any Keith aficionado. They are pricey collectors’ items!

Here’s one of my favorite Keith observations: “I do not believe in cutting out the front of the trigger guard, although, for men with long fingers, it can be narrowed for easier access to the trigger. I do not believe, either, in dehorning the hammer. You may want to do some long range or deliberate slow fire shooting, for which you’ll need the full hammer spur for cocking the gun, especially with cold fingers.”

Here he is, talking about clearing leather fast: “Start by drawing (the) gun and swinging the muzzle upward as you poke the gun forward toward the target and fire. Do this over and over until you hit with each shot, right where you want your bullet, before you make any attempt at speed. Forget speed for the time being; it will come naturally with enough practice.”

Workman prefers vintage N-frame wheelguns, with a firing pin on the hammer, which has not been de-horned!"

Wrap your gun hand around this: “Personally, I do not like the big S&W target stocks for quick draw work. They are fine for some men with very large hands, but I prefer a flatter grip. The S&W Plain-clothes type, or the same in ivory, suits my hand best. The grips should be tailored to fit the individual hand. Avoid any finger grooves, thumb rests, and like gadgets. They have a place and a value on slow fire target arms, but not on combat guns.”

What’s This Shoot About?

When Insider Online initially reported on this shoot about two years ago, we explained that it’s a fund-raiser for the NRA Foundation.

Yeah, we’ve all read about the NRA’s money and management problems lately. This little soiré raises money for Foundation activities, with a specific Elmer Keith fund that has raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000. It was the brainchild of Will DeRuyter, and he’s gathered quite a little band of long-range handgun fanatics. The farthest target is approximately 600 yards in recognition of the famous shot Keith made on a mule deer buck in southeast Idaho many years ago, using a .44 Magnum S&W.

Insider actually hit that target once a few years ago, during a practice session. We missed several times in the attempt and didn’t dare try it for score, since shooters are allowed a grand total of 12 rounds for score. Targets start at 100 yards and graduate out from there.

If Keith were alive today he might have some interesting observations about polymer handgun frames, short/fat magnum rifle calibers, and attempts to ban whole classes of firearms. Alas, he has been gone now for 35 years, but the principles he set down about long-range handgunning are as applicable today as they were when he was living at that ranch along the North Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, or down in the house in the city of Salmon.

The ‘Team Match’ June 7-9

There’s another shooting match on the horizon, an eight-stage event slated June 7-9 at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet, Texas.

According to information online, the Team Match “is a fundraiser for The D.C. Project, a nonpartisan initiative of women who meet annually with their legislators in Washington, D.C. to educate lawmakers on firearms safety and 2A values…”

Sounds like a good idea, eh?

The two-day match is preceded by a Friday night banquet, with silent and live auctions. There’s a cash payout for the top three places of four divisions, according to the website.

NSSF Industry Summit Next Week

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the firearms industry umbrella organization—not the National Rifle Association as most anti-gunners and their media soul mates would have everyone believe—and next week their annual Industry Summit will be held at Colorado Springs.

The June 3-6 gathering is billed as “the premier forum for leaders in the firearms industry, providing a platform for information and idea exchange.”

It’s an annual event that attracts manufacturers, retailers, distributors, representatives from state wildlife agencies and other industry members.

NSSF also sponsors the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas.

Houston Break-In Ends Abruptly

A Houston, Texas church pastor and his wife were understandably unwilling to discuss the incident in early May when a man identified as Roberto Sanchez allegedly broke into their home late one Saturday night, causing them to fear for their safety.

It was the suspect’s bad luck that the couple “retrieved firearms” after being awakened and, according to KTRK News, when they went to investigate noises in the rear of their home, they spotted the suspect forcing his way through the back door. That was when they both opened fire.

The couple quickly summoned aid and the police. The suspected home invader died at the scene.

By no small coincidence, the pastor was scheduled to give his farewell sermon the following morning, according to the New York Daily News. He reportedly did not attend that church service.