Is the Keith outdated.......


June 19, 2012, 04:04 PM
or considered passe by reloaders these days? As of late all the craze and fuss seems to be all about WFN/LFN bullets. Since I've been reloading for revolvers I've come to appreciate the virtues of the Keith bullet design. The Keith bullet IMHO is the perfect all around do everything bullet. It pains me however that actual Keith bullets are hard to come by (unless you cast your own) and when you do find them they cost a small fortune:fire:

Most sixgunners worth their salt know full well about the benefits of the Keith bullet. So why is it that this classic bullet design seems to have been pushed into obsolesence? Granted WFN and LFN bullets have their place but they fill more of a niche role than anything else. For those that are unaware of what consitutes a real Keith bullet read here it may open some eyes and shed some light on the genius that was Elmer Keith.

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June 19, 2012, 04:08 PM
passeNot around here.
I have old Lyman molds for .357, .44, and .45 and thats about all I shoot.

The WFN and such are probably great for truly big game hunting.

But the biggest game around here is a whitetail deer, and a .44 or .45 Keith will shot through one lengthwise.


June 19, 2012, 04:19 PM
How well do they work in a lever?

I have only used truncated cone, as I load the same bullet from .38 SPCL through to my .35 Remington, and the TCBB bullets I have used cycle well in the Marlin...

June 19, 2012, 04:22 PM
And it will dang near do the same to moose as well rc.

June 19, 2012, 04:30 PM
Just received 1000 Keith style 44 cal bullets. Plan to order a 1000 45 cal Keith style bullets in a day or so. Guess there not passe here.

I have run semi-wad cutters through my Marlin 1894C without issue. But, I do not speed cycle the action either.

I could see a possible jam if I were John Wayne holding off the indians.

To that end, I could see that the various timed shooting events have trended to bullets that are easier to chamber. Semi-wadcutters do not lend themselves to rapid reloads where tenths count.

June 19, 2012, 04:42 PM
Just received 1000 Keith style 44 cal bullets. Plan to order a 1000 45 cal Keith style bullets in a day or so. Guess there not passe here.

Who did you order from if you don't mid me asking?

June 19, 2012, 06:49 PM
Missouri Bullets.

June 19, 2012, 07:05 PM
"outdated" is a meaningless term unless we're talking about fashion. I still use Keith SWC cast bullets in all of my guns. And yes, they will work in some lever guns. I have two Winchesters (completely stock) that will happily feed them whether cycled slowly or as fast as I can. Others may need some work.

June 19, 2012, 07:12 PM
Missouri Bullets.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but those are not Keith bullets. Here is a picture of of some bullets lined up. From L-R they are .41 cal 210gr Siera JHC, Commercial cast .411" 215gr SWC same as pictured on Missouri Bullets web page but .410" instead of .430", otherwise identical, a real .411" 220gr SWC Keith bullet, and finally a Hornady .410" 210gr XTP-HP.

Take note of the diferences between the real Keith bullet vs the common commercial cast variety. The forward driving band is of full caliber and of equal width as the other riving bands. This important as it helps align the bullet properly with the bore, as well as engaging the rifiling so as to reduce slippage on the lands. The majority of the bullet weight is outside of the case with the real Keith bullet as well. Allowing for less pressure for a given powder charge that you would use with the Missouri bullet. Finally the base is flat not beveled. Elmer Keith would probably be spinning in his grave if he knew his name is affixed to a bullet design he had nothing to do with.

June 19, 2012, 07:16 PM
Not really. If anything, thanks to a mould maker named Miha in a small European country, they are getting better.


hang fire
June 19, 2012, 08:31 PM
IMO that is not a Keith design, just another SWC.

Here is Lee’s version (not my pic) of the Keith 358429 in their custom six cavity mold.

My Lyman 358429 is a single cavity mold bought back in 1963, throws WW at 173 grains and one I will never get rid of.

June 19, 2012, 08:40 PM
IMO that is not a Keith design, just another SWC.

Which bullet are you refering to hang fire?

June 19, 2012, 08:49 PM
The more I shoot & cast the more I find my Lyman 358446,358156 barebottomed,357429 the old version & a 429421 that drops FAT in the top of the box .

These will do anything the calibers are capable of ,maybe even "enhance" it a bit !!

Here`s an interesting tidbit I run across in my researches Mr. Keith raised Holy Heck with Lyman to keep the length of the 357429 the same length as the 429421 !!! & it is!

June 19, 2012, 09:17 PM
Not really. If anything, thanks to a mould maker named Miha in a small European country, they are getting better.

No, I didn't cast this beauty.

June 19, 2012, 09:27 PM
Real Keith bullets have a flat base, not a beveled base.

Beveled base bullets with rounded driving bands are a figment of Magna automated casting machines the commercial casters have to use to make a living.
They make the bullets fall out of the mold blocks easier, and increase production without constently hanging bullets in the molds stopping production.
Nothing more.

A real Keith has a flat base for better chamber throat and bore sealing, sharp shoulders on the driving bands, better throat alignment in the cylinder, and less chance of gas cutting and bore leading.


June 19, 2012, 09:39 PM
Beveled based boolit also lets em get away with a poorly filled actual base as the seal is actually above it.

June 19, 2012, 09:43 PM
Yes, that too.


June 19, 2012, 10:29 PM
I dont cast, so where is a good place to find a Real Keith bullet? Anyone make em anymore?

June 19, 2012, 10:37 PM
I dont cast, so where is a good place to find a Real Keith bullet? Anyone make em anymore?


hang fire
June 20, 2012, 02:48 AM
RE: 336A

This one.[/QUOTE]

June 20, 2012, 05:20 AM
Also too, the "real" Keith bullets have a square, or nearly so, lube groove of considerable depth.

The large size of the lube groove is less about neccessary lube, but it allows the bullet to obturate to a shorter length under firing, and this acts to pressurize the lube making it more effective.

I'm lucky to have two true Keith style moulds; one is a Lyman 429421, the other the RCBS version. Both shoot well. The RCBS casts slightly larger and therefore is better with sizing to .431 which I find shoots better in most revolvers.

re: feeding in l/a rifles... I had a Marlin M1894 that would feed the SWC's if I seated the bullets to the foward edge of the forward bearing surface and heavily roll crimped them. (like the factory Remington SWC ammo).
I have a Win.Mod94 "Legacy" that will also feed the RCBS .452" SAA-270gr SWC (Which is also a "Keith" bullet), likewise seated.

41 Mag
June 20, 2012, 05:37 AM
Not sure if the one pictured above is the 44 or 45 version of the MP 503 version. I do know that great pains were taken to get as close as possible to the original dimension.

I have the 41-258, and the 44-503 versions. These were supposed to have been modeled after the HG designed molds. In looking up the reference on them I found the following,

H&G's description - #503-.44 Caliber. 250 grains. "Keith style", designed by Elmer Keith. Plain base, one square grease groove, one heavy crimp groove, semi-wadcutter shoulder, gently rounded nose taper, to slightly rounded meplat.

I cannot take any better pictures of the 503 than this from the GB post,
Miha HG 503 .44 HP mold (

H&G's description - #258-.41 Magnum. 220 grains. Keith style bullet, design by Elmer Keith. Similar to Elmer's #503 design in .44 caliber.

The MP Version 258, (")

There is also a 45 - 503, which was designed around the spec from the 44-503. In simply looking at the pictures of one, it might have a bit shorter nose on it, but still in all carries the rest of the attributes of equal driving bands, and one lube groove. As with the other two, it also came with the option of HP pins, which give it quite a bit more versatility.

Whether or not they were cut to the exact dimensions or not, I cannot say, and don't think anyone else is saying so either. Since I don't have access to one of Mr Keith's personal molds I also cannot compare them.

I can say this however, the best thing about the MP molds is the option to pour three different HP versions and the Solid in a "Keith Type" bullet. Having poured and shot quite a few of the ones listed above, I can honestly say, that I doubt very seriously that Mr. Keith would have any issues what so ever putting some of any of them downrange.

June 20, 2012, 06:47 AM
Last deer I shot with one out of my S&W 25-5 didn't think so. Tasted good too.

June 20, 2012, 07:10 AM
As I understand it, true 'Keith' also has a meplat that is 70% of caliber...

My question about a Keith in a lever action isn't so much about 'cycling' per se, but interest in what the bullet looks like after the round is chambered...

Just wondering if the 'sharp' leading band gets a spot shaved, or if the meplat gets a ding at 12 o'clock due to it's large size and carrier angle...

June 20, 2012, 09:33 AM
hang fire,

You know not of what you speak. To quote Glen Fryxell, who has forgotten more about cast bullets than we are ever likely to know:

Dave Scovill (of Handloader Magazine) took this evolution one step further and took the .45 Keith SWC back to its roots -- full-length and 3 equal width driving bands. Thus was born the RCBS 45-270-SAA. My mould drops bullets that weigh 282 grains when cast of wheel-weight alloy. Now THIS is a real hunting bullet! Editor Scovill likes to shoot his bullet over either 16.5 grains of 2400 or 13.0 grains of Blue Dot. The most accurate load I have found to date is 13.0 grains of HS-6, which generates 1050-1100 fps from my Blackhawks (do not shoot this load in SAA‚s, I would guess this load is probably running around 22,000 psi, which I consider to be maximum for the S&W N-frame .45 Colts, obviously the Rugers can handle these pressures with ease). A Keith meplat, coupled with over 280 grain of bullet metal, traveling at the speed of sound -- there are very few critters in North American capable of stopping a bullet of that description. I really like this bullet.

Since this bullet is basically nothing more than the bullet that Dave Scovill designed based on EK's original design, it is indeed a "Keith bullet" in every way.


hang fire
June 20, 2012, 10:28 AM
Is my thought that Keith handgun boolits carried most of their weight forward of the crimping groove.

June 20, 2012, 11:49 AM
I used to cast Keith bullets commercially but gave it up last year. The business did really well until the components got hard to find. After barely surviving for a year I closed the doors and moved on. I did however keep all the equipment should I ever change my mind.

The bullets are excellent choices for just about anything you could want and they are all I shoot out of my own revolvers.

June 20, 2012, 12:05 PM
The basic criteria for what constitutes a "Keith" bullet are generally considered to be: 3 equal width driving bands, a broad meplat, a radiused ogive, beveled crimp groove, and a square-cut lube groove.


June 20, 2012, 12:16 PM
Whether we're referring to the generalized term or the specific term, I have yet to read a post proclaiming Keith *style* bullets are outdated.

I prefer them myself. I'm a bit flustered because I ordered a bunch of round nose flat point bullets before testing my lever rifle on my current stash of LSWCs. I figured the shoulder on the cartridge wouldn't sysle well. Turns out it shoots the LSWCs fine.

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