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Elmer Keith's 600 yard shot

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by smartshot, Oct 12, 2010.

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  1. smartshot

    smartshot Member

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    People always talk about effective ranges for handguns and the max distances are always, 7 yards, 50 yards, 200 yards etc...How come Elmer Keith killed a mule deer from across a canyon at 600 paces with a 44 magnum revolver with open sights??? Anyone else think that people who write all these articles have no practical experiences to show actual limitations? So my question to you all....how far would you shoot, lets say a mule deer, with a 44 mag "Keith Load?"
     
  2. Husker_Fan

    Husker_Fan Member

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    I guess it depends on how steep and deep the canyon is. I've hunted in some places where a 100 yard shot might be 400 yards by foot.
     
  3. Drail

    Drail Member

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    Keith only took that shot because his client had wounded the animal with some badly placed rifle shooting and Keith did not want it to get away. Keith could hit a bowling ball at 400 to 500 yards consistently with a handgun. He spent his entire life shooting. He admitted that the 600 yard shot was probably partly due to luck but he didn't lie or exagerate anything about his accomplishments. He has been called a liar ever since he printed that story. I have done a little silhouette shooting at 200 and 300 yards with a 7.5 in. Bisley and I believe it is quite possible, but I would not take such a shot without a very good reason though.
     
  4. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    +1.

    And Keith's own description of the event isn't pretty, and is worth a read: He missed on the first shot, hit him at 600 yard with the 2nd, but the bullet hit the deer in the jaw and exited the nose. Keith's 3rd shot knocked the animal off a ridge, out of sight, but very much alive. After 2 more shots from the client's rifle, the animal was still alive, "walking along all humped up very slowly", and it took a final (by my counting) 7th shot (again, by my counting, 6 of which hit the animal) to finally drop the animal.

    In the end, I wouldn't consider this episode as evidence for this kind of effective range.

    http://www.handloads.com/articles/default.asp?id=34
     
  5. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    EK made it VERY clear that he was trying to put down a suffering animal.



    Could I do it? No.

    Could Elmer Keith, yes.

    While I never had the pleasure to meet the man, nothing that I have never read would lead me to believe that he would not be forthright about it.
     
  6. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Same here.
    I think if Elmer said he did it, he did it.

    I don't doubt it a bit.

    Consider the man lived his life in prime game country with a six-gun on his hip every waking day.

    He had more opportunity to practice long range shots on jack rabbits, hawks, rocks, etc in a year then most any of us will live to see in a lifetime. And it has been my experience that the more long range hand-gunning you do, the "Luckier" you get!

    There was a time when I was a teenager on a farm that I was burning several hundred rounds a month out of a Ruger Flat-Top.

    A lot of them were at an old Model A Ford truck cab in a ditch about 400 yards from the cow barn. I'm here to tell you the door on that truck cab had so many holes through it it looked like Swiss cheese.

    I can also tell you that a coyote would have been in great danger had he ventured by that old truck cab, because I already knew the exact hold-over to hit him.

    rc
     
  7. Rusty Shackleford

    Rusty Shackleford Member

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    If the round is physically able to travel that far (and .44 definitely is) then there is someone in the world, somewhere, who can make hits with it at that distance in the right conditions. Why wouldn't it be Elmer Keith?

    Also, like Husker Fan said, if it is 600 yards distance, but the animal is waaaay below you elevation wise, you don't really have 600 yards worth of hold over. The only distance that matters when accounting for elevation adjustment is the HORIZONTAL distance only. Vertical distance has no effect on the trajectory. People shooting bows from a deer stand are always keeping this in mind.
     
  8. otcconan

    otcconan Member

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    We ARE talking about Elmer Keith, here. Not you or me.
     
  9. John Parker

    John Parker Member

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    I've always wondered why he didn't use the client's rifle to kill the animal. I know that zero varies from person to person, maybe that was why? Anyone have an answer?
     
  10. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    I don't doubt Elmer's account either. And I believe it's likely if anyone could hit something with an iron-sighted revolver at 600 yards, it would've been Keith.

    The thing is, the short internet versions I keep reading seem to be sanitized versions of Keith's own: By his own account, Keith didn't kill the mule deer; the guy who originally wounded the deer eventually did. Though trying to put down a suffering animal, his 2 long hits succeeded in wounding the animal more. I'm not trying to take anything away from Keith's marksmanship or capability as a hunter (it was a less-than-ideal solution - but likely the best one - to a crummy problem, and he did what needed to be done, and was likely the best man for the job). Instead, my take is simply that since even an Elmer Keith couldn't pull off the shot that would've been the ideal solution, maybe Keith's famous shot ought not be used to define the effective range of a .44mag revolver.
     
  11. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    I think of it as "what a master can do it he has to"
     
  12. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Here is the story as told by Elmer Keith:

     
  13. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    Yep - that's the account I linked to in my initial reply. ;)
     
  14. Marshall

    Marshall Member

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    I wouldn't take much more than a 100 "normal yard" shot.
     
  15. Rexster

    Rexster Member

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    John Parker: "I've always wondered why he didn't use the client's rifle to kill the animal. I know that zero varies from person to person, maybe that was why? Anyone have an answer?"

    I think you got it right when you said that zero varies from person to person. At 600 yards, I would not expect one man's zero to be anywhere near another man's zero.

    My opinion is that Elmer Keith was honest in writing the article. He did not claim to have nailed the animal on the first shot, and clearly related that he was trying to stop an animal wounded by another person. There are folks who still gather each year to commemorate Elmer Keith, and long-range handgunning is part of it. I would have to search for it; I think the link I had saved was on another computer that has now bitten the dust.
     
  16. Rexster

    Rexster Member

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    Every now and then gunwriter John Taffin writes articles on the famous 600-yard shot. That is another thing to search for online. I think Mas Ayoob, Craig Boddington, and at least a couple of others have addressed this in print, too.

    I know I won't stand in the open and let anyone lob shots from a sixgun at me from 600 yards!
     
  17. smartshot

    smartshot Member

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    thanks for your responses, I read that article every now and then....it seems to get better with age
     
  18. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    With most people at the trigger you would be relatively safe. Some guys here, (David E, Old Fuff come to mind) might get you on the first shot.
    :what:
     
  19. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Not me!! I rang a gong at 600 meters once, but it was an accident, and by no means - the first shot. :D

    Now 200 yards... Maybe... ;)
     
  20. David E

    David E Member

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    By happy coincidence, I went to the range today. After I was done with the primary practice, I went over to the 100, 200 and 300 yd bays (all from the same firing line) to fire a few rounds.

    I had my S&W M&P Pro 9mm and handloaded 147 FMJ's @ 950 fps. (not exactly a dead-on laser at distance) At the 100 yd berm there was a steel IPSC "amoeba" target. I rested on the bench and actually connected on the first shot. :)

    Skipping the 200 yd berm, I tried my hand at the 300 on the same type of target. I hit it on the first shot, too...................if you don't count all those "sighter" shots......;)

    It's fun to shoot long range with a handgun and it's not as hard (or impossible) as many folks seem to think. It helps tremendously to be able to spot your misses so you can adjust your sights accordingly.

    Next time the opportunity presents itself, take advantage of it.
     
  21. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    Keith was known for his long range handgun shooting. He must have been an incredible shot. As I recall, he also shot a carbou at a substantial distance with a 41 mag. He tended to walk his shots to the game which is what most of us would do from a practical point of view.
     
  22. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    with a J frame snub :eek:

    I am not standing around downrange at any distance :what:
     
  23. MikePGS

    MikePGS Member

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    I don't doubt for a minute that Elmer Keith hit that shot.
    It's funny, people also doubted that Carlos Hathcock shot a soviet sniper through the scope. They even went so far as to say it was "busted" on Mythbusters (a show I don't like to begin with). So many people complained that they retested it and this time said it was plausible, or whatever rating it is they give something that could be true.

    It never occurred to me that someone like EK or Carlos Hatchcock would make something up in order to impress people. If you're EK or Hathcock just being yourself is impressive enough.
     
  24. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Colt, dear boy, a Colt... :cool:
     
  25. David E

    David E Member

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    I had one with me (and a Colt, too!) but I'd shot up all the .38 ammo I'd brought before heading over to the long bay.

    Next time........
     
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