Handgunner’s Heaven

Elmer Keith Museum — An Imaginary Visit
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Here’s Elmer sitting behind his desk. When you pushed a button, he’d turn around
and start talking to you, telling stories.

Close-up of our favorite cowpuncher.

Up until a couple of years ago, there was a place paying homage, in my opinion, to the Grand Old Man of Handgunning. For you youngsters, his name is Elmer Keith. I suggest you hunt up any book, magazine or computer writing of his and get yourself intimately acquainted with his works, thoughts and readings.

It’s been said Elmer spoke the original thoughts and all others have simply regurgitated his words in one form or another. Thinking about it, it’s not far from the truth.

With no formal education, Elmer had great instincts and understanding pertaining to the firearm world. He didn’t just concentrate on one discipline either, he knew how to shoot, load or discuss anything pertaining to sixguns, autoloaders, black powder rifles, revolvers, shotguns and paper-patched lead bullets for Sharps single-shots rifles. If it went bang, Elmer knew how to shoot and handload for it.

He was a great outdoorsman, outfitter and packer. He guided for years and knew the life cycle, food habitat and environment of every critter living in his area.

The famous #5 of which “The Last Word” was written in American Rifleman, April 1929 issue.

Elmer tested and wrote about all guns. Here’s his Century Arms .45-70 revolver.

One of many 4″ model 29’s Elmer owned with his trademark steer-head ivory stocks.

Elmer’s matching pair of S&W model 57 4″ revolvers.

The Museum

With much help from our own John Taffin, Cabela’s in Boise, Idaho carved a niche in their store to house the Elmer Keith Museum. I knew about it, and wanted to go for years and finally got the opportunity when I went out to visit my buddy Dick Thompson and his sidekick, Callshot. I was fortunate enough to make the journey two times.

For those who know anything about Elmer, it was a breathtaking experience to see pictures, game heads and yes, firearms of the famous writer.

As time went on, the family wanted to liquidate the assets, and had everything auctioned off. So for those of you who never had the opportunity, I figured I’d share my pictures with you to get some insight into one of the pioneers of shooting, hunting and development of handguns, rifles and cartridges.

Here’s Elmer packing out a ram in the rugged country of Idaho. Notice his simple pack-board?

Here’s the same pack-board from the photo. I thought this was extremely cool!

Elmer and his brother Silas with two mule deer. Elmer took his with a Sharps rifle.

A rack of Elmer’s rifles. Second from top is his famous .400 Whelen, a gift>br> from Jim Howe’ of Griffin & Howe.

I hope you enjoy this little “visit” with Elmer. It was something to see in person. I hope I’ve lit a spark for you to continue reading, researching and replicating some of the loads, guns, holsters or hunts Elmer experienced. It’s fun walking alongside the footprints of our founders, and who knows, you just might learn something along the way.

Another rack of rifles. The bottom rifle was Jim Corbett’s .450-400 double rifle,
a major-league cool factor! Below it is the leather case it came with.

Sign depicting same.

Above the Corbett rifle is Elmer’s Sharps .45-100-550 rifle. Need I say more?

Some of Elmer’s trophies.

Some fine Sheep he took!

A trio of mulies the master took.

Elmer’s Outstanding American Handgunner of the Year trophy from 1978, the first year it was awarded.

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