Askins was in the mainstream of serious pistol shooters back then (early 1930s) , in the days before hollow point pistol bullets were even thought of, and everything shot out of a revolver was a lead round nose bigger was always going to be better. Elmer Keith really liked the 41 Long Colt in smaller frame revolvers because it's lead round nose was bigger than a .38 Special round nose and they both left the barrel at more or less the same velocity. Anything less than a .40 cal revolver was looked on as not quite up to much besides pocket pistol use by the knowledgeable pistoleros of the day.
Really efficient hollow points for most calibers didn't really start to make a significant appearance until the 1970s, especially in the lower velocity rounds.
Last edited by Art; 03-25-2012 at 04:36.
I always thought that Elmer Keith was a proponent of the 44 S&W Special not the 41 Colt. The statistics that I have show the 41 Colt to be a fairly weak cartridge. I remember reading articles by Keith after the 44 S&W Magnum came out where he believed that he Magnum was loaded too hot. That's saying something for Keith. Most of his handgun loads were on ther "hot" side. Just as I remember it.I shall review my copy of SIXGUNS by Keith.
I think Keith's point with the .41 was that in the loadings available at the time it was superior to other cartridges in revolvers of similar frame size. The 44 and 45 caliber cartridges came in large frame revolvers. The .41 was available in smaller frame revolvers. He specifically mentioned it as being superior to the .38 special loads of the time. I don't think Keith would have said it was his first choice in a cartridge, just the best available for some purposes.
Originally Posted by Cosine26
Last edited by Art; 03-27-2012 at 03:15.
I reread Keith’s SIXGUNS and he did indeed recommend the 41 Colt, though I cannot imagine why. The 41 Colt Long fired a bullet weighing 195 grains at 735 fps with 238 ft/#’s of muzzle energy. The 38 Special Hi-Speed or 38-44 S&W Special fired a 158 grain bullet at 1125 fps giving 445 ft/#’s of muzzle energy. The 38 Colt Special Hi-Speed was available with the same ballistics and was offered with either a lead bullet or a metal pointed bullet (for penetrating car bodies). The lead bullet in the Colt load was flat pointed and would have been a better man stopper than the round nose. I know that the “stopping power” of the handgun loads has been a continuing debate.
The Colt Official Police revolver may have been a better choice than the New Service for the average person’s hand. Colt always showed that the OP was designed to shoot the 38 Special Hi-Speeds. (That’s what I carried in Korea). The S&W M&P was not so designated. I believe that the RCMP, when they replaced their New Services, opted for the OP. I believe that the New York State Police did also, though they may have opted for the 357 S&W –I know that the Mississippi High Way Patrol did.
This ballistic data is from the 1939 Shooters Bible.
I really do think that Keith's recommendation was based on the available platforms. The gun that really popularized the .41 Colt was the little Colt "lightening" double action revolver. It got a boost when in a famous at the time gunfight Luke Short Killed Jim Courtwright with a .41 "Lightning." John Wesley Hardin and "Billy the Kid" were also big fans of these little .41 revolvers and the popularity continued into the early swing out cylinder Colts. They weren't ever made to compete with the big .44, .45 and .40 (38-40) revolvers, they just had their own niche for a while. The .38 Special H.V. which as you note was loaded to low end .357 Magnum velocities, was intended only for the large "N" frame revolvers when it was introduced. I was once isssued a box of the last of the .38 Special H.V. stuff and it would clear your sinuses when shot out of a "K" frame "Smith." As I said I think Keith's recommendation of the .41 was related to the standard velocity .38 round nose only. I had a great uncle by marriage who was a pistolero of some note, My uncle has one of his last revolvers, it's a swing out cylinder early Colt "New Model" in .41 Cal. Like almost all of these early swing out cylinder Colts it isn't functional any more. It was much more practical for his purposes at the I suppose than the big frame Smith's or Colts. Oh, it has two notches on the bottom of the hard rubber grips. I guess some folks really did do stuff like that.
Last edited by Art; 03-28-2012 at 07:51.
It's the other way around. The Model 1877 in .38 Colt was the "Lightning", and the .41 Colt was the "Thunderer".
isnt it amazing how one simple question can evolve into a whole world of information that i never knew existed
"two notches on the bottom of the hard rubber grips"
that is cool, is the gun really no longer operational, and not safe to shoot, just sort of worn out??
The old D.A. Colts were very fragile. It's worn out which happened relatively quickly with those guns. At my uncles bidding I took it to a gunsmith who was familiar with these old revolvers and said he used to repair them but it was no longer cost effective and required the fabrication of little tiny springs and such. He said when he did repair them the likelyhood that something else would break relatively quickly meant that he wouldn't guarantee the work. I have seen quite a few of these old late 19th to early 20th century Colt D.A. revolvers and only a few were fully functional, and most didn't work at all.
Originally Posted by pelago
JohnnyP. I stand corrected the Colt Model 1877 DAs in .41 were popularly called Thunderer though I understand that Colt didn't officially use the name "Lightening" or "Thunderer" the retailers did. Interestingly I learned the .32 version was called the "Rainmaker" sounds like they had a weather thing going on. They were the same pistols though. The earlier "Thunderers" and "Lightenings" were even worse when it came to reliability than the later swing out cylinder guns and notoriously liable to break down. The Gunsmith I mentioned above, during one of my visits to his shop, said "I've got to show you something" and pulled out a "Thunderer" new in the box!!! Unfired since it left the Colt factory with just some discoloration on the side of the cylinder that had been down on the box for many decades. He said that an old boy found it while cleaning out his granddads house and wanted him to nickle plate it. I asked if he was going to do it and he said that he had done his duty and strongly advised the old boy not to do that but the customer insisted. He said truthfully that if he didn't do it someone else would, oh well.
Last edited by Art; 03-28-2012 at 01:36.