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Discussion Starter #1
Many rounds ago I read an article about an engraved revolver that shot heavy bullets at unbelievable speeds. The man who owned it was a rancher that made amazing shots and was well respected by the firearms community. Recently Elmer Keith’s #5 was in the press again and it piqued my interest again. Having done some cowboy action shooting and developed a bad single action addiction I have a better appreciation for the #5 and the man who made “The Last Word.” I have never seen the #5 in person, but the glossy magazine images are enough to impress me. Maybe Mr. Keith had it figured out. I may never get to hold or even fire the #5 revolver or even the copies that were made at great expense. But could I get close enough to discover the wisdom that he used to design the #5.

I wish to start with a Ruger Blackhawk flattop revolver in 44 special or 41 mag. They both are available in a Bisley model. Then add a reshaped front sight and a base pin to match.

Or start with a standard Blackhawk and add a Bisley trigger hammer set. Again, adding the reshaped front sight and base pin.

Either way the grips will need to be replaced and fitted to my hand. I am aware that a #5 grip frame is available, but I am not up to bleeding that much cash yet. I have a Bisley Blackhawk and two Vaqueros with the plow handle grips and have not felt changing the grip is needed. But, I have not held or fired a revolver fitted with a #5 frame.

Now I request your wisdom. Please answer the following questions as briefly as you wish or share your insights to the project. Some of this I can do myself, some will be done by a friend who is a gunsmith and then there will be those items we leave to the pro’s. At some point I may enjoy the gun so much as to be done with the modifications and just shoot it.

The questions are:
#1 41 mag or 44 special
#2 Start with a Bisley or a standard Blackhawk
#3 4 5/16 or 5 ½ barrel
#4 Blue or Stainless
#5 Which grip, Bisley, plow handle or #5
 
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Discussion Starter #4
Yep, that's the article that got this started.
 

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Another thought I just had. Several years ago I came very close to having a No. 5 built by Jim Grover. If I’m not mistaken the cost was $1,200 starting from scratch. Although $1,200 meant much more to me then than it does now, I’ve regretted the fact many times that I didn’t just go ahead and do it. I could have been shooting that sucker all these years. Opportunity lost !
 

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You just want one or do you have an intended use for this ? Can't say what I would do till I know this . Only thing I can say now is I would go with .44 Special either way you go .
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Good Question Eddie. There are many small details that made Mr. Keith’s revolver very capable in his hands. The use a Colt Bisley hammer spur, the little latch that holds the base pin in place during recoil, the shape of the front sight, the rear sight being has as far to the rear as possible, the blended grip frame and the shape of the trigger guard. Consider the carved Mexican Eagle grip panels. Did he know where the head of the eagle nested in his palm and intentionally design the grip to help repeat how he held the revolver? If Mr. Keith was left-handed, disregarded the last sentence as the left panel is smooth.

After some research, I agree with you on using the 44 special. He was involved in the development of the 41 mag, but the 41 will require the use of the larger frame. The 357 frame is closer to the size of the #5. I intend to focus on the attributes that make a difference in the manner the gun shots. As for the engraving, bluing and details on the screw heads, do they affect the controllability of the revolver?

There are copies and replicas for sale of the #5. I am not interested in a barbeque gun or a mantel piece. I want to know what made Elmer decide which feature was a good idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Just an update on the project. Finally found and acquired a 44 special Flattop Bisley in blue. On the advice of Fermin Garza I will develop handloads to make sure the revolver is accurate and reliable before sending off for a front sight and other reworks. Thanks for the replies. Updates as they happen. In need of some powder therapy as the quarantine has run me out of reloading to do.
144660
 

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That’s a nice looking revolver as it sits. I sure wish my Flattop was a Bisley, but I had to be satisfied with just putting oversized grips on it. It’s still a nice gun though, and one I enjoy shooting. I’m sure your version of the #5 will be too.
 
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