Pre-owned Smith&Wesson 1956 Pre29 4 inch Factory Case 4 screw 44 magnum.
This could be as close to Elmer Keith as you may ever get.
Back in the 1950s a stumpy, vociferous and opinionated cowboy from Salmon, Idaho, was once again stirring the pot of arms and ammunition manufacturers. For decades Elmer Keith had been touting powerful revolvers for lawmen and outdoorsmen. It was Keith, along with Phil Sharpe and Doug Wesson, who developed the .357 Mag. in 1935. Keith’s strategy was simple: Take a heavy-for-caliber cast bullet-often of his own design-and crunch it over a generous dollop of (then) Hercules 2400 powder. Light it off with a magnum primer and see what it would do. Recoil was never considered. He and an ad hoc group of big-bore pistoleros, calling themselves the .44 Associates, had began experimenting under the same strategy with N-frame .44 Spl. Smith & Wesson revolvers as far back as the 1920s.
On Dec. 29, 1955, the first .44 Mag. revolver came off the Smith & Wesson line. That revolver went to R.H. Coleman. A second .44 Mag. was completed in January 1956, and it went to Maj. Gen. Julian S. Hatcher of the NRA Technical Staff. A third .44 Mag. was completed on January 27, 1956, and was sent to Elmer Keith.
Initial reports were favorable to the new revolver, and orders were brisk. Though catalogued at the beginning as being available with either a 4- or 6 1/2-inch barrel, the first 500 .44 Mags. were made with a 6 1/2-inch barrel. It would be several months before a 4-inch .44 Mag. was offered. The 8 3/8-inch barrel was made available in 1958. That same year 500 copies of the .44 Mag. were made with 5-inch barrels and are eagerly sought after by collectors for their rarity.
After 1955 the top side plate screw was eliminated, and from that time until 1961 the revolvers were known as 4-screw guns. 1957 saw the Smith & Wesson .44 Mag. get the name we all know today-the Model 29. That is when the factory decreed that all revolvers were to have their model numbers stamped on the yoke. The Model 29 continued to have strong sales, eventually edging out the Model 24, a.k.a the Model 1950 Target in .44 Spl. from the line in 1966.
This revolver is not stamped 29, it is a 4 inch 4 screw which places it as being built in early 1957(1957-1958: S176000 to S181999) While it was shot and used it is in extraordinary condition as the pictures show. This is unarguably a center piece for any S&W N frame collection. S&W started model numbering in 1957….and indeed, the Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson says that they changed the Pre Model 29’s to model numbers at S179000 in 1957. But…it also says (under the heading) “Four-Screw Pre-Model 29s…”….”revolvers with serial numbers as high as S184000 may be found as pre-Model 29s without the model number stamped in the yoke.” (Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson, 3rd Edition, Pg. 162)
Carl Hellstrom, then president of Smith & Wesson, presented Elmer Keith with one of the first factory 4″ .44 Magnums. It was part of Keith’s working collection and is also fully engraved, and ivory stocked with an eagle carved on the right grip, and a brass presentation medallion on the right grip. Makes me wonder how close was this gun was in relation to the Elmer Keith factory 4″. At the very least the same craftsman that built it built this one as well.
Keith owned at least 5 documented pre29s.
Serial numbers S147220,S153830, S161577(The Hellstorm gun) S178263 and S181464.