One of the most historically significant items up for auction at James D. Julia this season is Elmer Keith’s famous Single Action Army revolver – the “Number 5”, about which was written in 1929 an article by Keith, titled “The Last Word”. “Number 5” represented what Keith felt was the idea revolver at the time; a .44 Special Single Action Army with features of a standard SAA, a Bisley, and some features invented for the pistol itself. As part of their series on this auction, ForgottenWeapons has created a video overview of the pistol, which will inform both history buffs and potential buyers alike:
Elmer Keith, of course, was one of the most significant gun writers of the 20th Century, and is directly responsible for the development of both the .357 and .44 Magnum rounds, as well as the “Keith-style” semi-wadcutters. In rifles, Keith’s work also lead to the modern .338 magnum rifle cartridge.
It seems strange today that Keith would try to create the ideal revolver using the Single Action Army – a pattern that had existed for well over half a century by that time, when theoretically better designs were available. However, considering the continued popularity of similarly aged guns today, including the hundred-year-old 1911 semiautomatic, it’s perhaps not that unusual. Certainly, if a maker advertised their quest to create the perfect handgun, and began with the 1911, I doubt anyone today would bat an eye.