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Elmer Keith & the .41 Special

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by jski, Oct 7, 2019.

  1. Monac

    Monac Member

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    I have an oddball Herters double action revolver that is N-frame sized. Mine is in 357 Magnum. The sights on it resemble those of the single action Herters Powermag, and it is marked Germany. I have only found a few references to it, in the annual guidebooks like Guns Illustrated or Gun Digest, for the year 1969 only, IIRC. It never occurred to me they might have planned a .401 version of it, but it is certainly big enough.

    It seems very much like an early production gun - it has a wonky pull-forward cylinder release, the some of cartridge case rims don't clear the frame for ejection unless you have the cylinder turned just right, and I have seen pictures of two different hammer spring setups for it. One has a long flat spring powering the hammer directly (mine has that), and the other has a short but strong coil spring powering the short limb of an L-shaped lever, with the long limb driving the hammer. Weird.

    I think it must have just been entering production when the Gun Control Act of 1968 ended Herters mail-order gun business. The maker is not marked on the gun anywhere I could find, but it was probably whoever was making the SA Powermags.

    Here is link to some pictures (not of mine): http://www.ponyexpressfirearms.com/...er-mag-double-action-revolver-mfg-1960s-used/
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
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  2. Ratshooter

    Ratshooter Member

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    Looks like I was a little late. More like 1967 was the starting date for issue ammo.

    https://www.supervelammunition.com/our-story
     
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  3. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Member

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    See Pg. 280 of SIXGUNS. He actually mentions a cartridge of either .40 or .41 caliber, in a case the same length as a .44 Special, using Hercules (Alliant) 2400 powder, and a 200 gr. cast bullet at 1200 fps, "It could be named the .40 Special or .41 Special.".

    I firmly believe that everyone, prior to purchasing any revolver, should be required to read SIXGUNS after which they would be issued a Permit to Purchase a Revolver, sort of like a drivers license for a wheelguns.

    35W
     
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  4. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    My, that's rather homely. I had visualized something like the nice J.P. Sauer double action.
     
  5. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    Sorry, no permits to purchase anything please. The discussion is moot since the polymer framed semi-autos essentially killed (over time) any interest in a 40/41 caliber revolver for police use. The FBI developed what became the 40 S&W. LEO's started moving to it for their needs but it had recoil too and since moved back to the 9mm for the most part. But there is some variety of calibers used these days.
     
  6. Ratshooter

    Ratshooter Member

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    And that load is a bottom end 41 mag load and would have still been too powerful and have too much recoil for the average cop and police dept. That same bullet loaded to 900fps would have been better and more controllable to shoot. But the only thing thing would have made this better than the already available 44 special was if it were loaded into a mid size gun that was lighter weight than the N-frame sized guns used for 44 special.

    Elmer Keith killed off his own idea by loading it too hot. But I guess he can't help himself.
     
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  7. Lucky Derby

    Lucky Derby Member

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    Yep. Mid size (L frame sized gun) is what was needed along with a ".41 Special" . The .357 Magnum would never have become as popular with police as it did if it had remained in N frame sized guns.
    Of course this is all purely an academic discussion because the days of police revolvers has long past.
     
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  8. cheygriz

    cheygriz member

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    The .41 Spec never came about simply because there was no need.

    I think most forward looking designers could see, as early as the 60s, that revolvers for general use were on the way out.

    Compare the most optimistic loads for a .41 Spec with the 10MM, and the .41 fails. My Glock 20 weighs a fraction of what an N frame weighs, and has almost triple the firepower.
     
  9. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Member

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    I think few modern hangunners, especially those who haven't read SIXGUNS, don't understand that Keith was first and foremost a hunter. Thus his idea for a for a 200 gr. bullet at 1200 fps in a .40 or .41 caliber cartridge.

    I'd have to dig out some of my dad's old Shooters Digests, but I'm almost positive that at least one major ammunition company offered a Police or mid-range load for the .41 Magnum; that is a 200 gr. lead bullet at around 900-1000 fps.

    35W
     
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  10. cheygriz

    cheygriz member

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    I have, and have read, ALL of Elmer's books.

    IMHO, his writing is very entertaining, but, like most gun writers of that day, he is primarily a spinner of tall tales.
     
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  11. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    I thought that was the base Remington factory load with a lead bullet (the weight may have been 210 or 215grn, I forget.) That was always one of the problems with the .41MAG... either the very anemic Remington load, or full-house .41 Magnum loads... very little in between unless you handload.

    My oldest bestest buddy carried a 6" Smith 57 for armored car duty one summer, in a rigid Don Hume 'Jordan' holster.. I told him he was a better man than I. Carrying a 4" 57 isn't so bad, but I wouldn't want to do it full-time for duty.

    I call the .40S&W the '10mm Special.' It is to mid-range auto pistols what the .41 and .44SPC's are to the Magnums. As a .41MAG fan, I never warmed up to the idea of the .41SPC... at least not in the N-frame sized pistols. For that matter, I never really warmed up to the .44SPC... some people talk like it's the End All in handgunning, I didn't really see it. It's not a bad cartridge, mind you, but nothing that interests me. I do see the value of the .41 or .44SPC's in a downsized pistol like the L-frame or GP, however. The single .44SPC I owned was a Ruger Flattop... it was a right handy pistol, very svelte compared to my old .45 Vaquero, and carried a lot better. I still have the .45, however.
     
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