Keith, An Autobiography




This is the story of a remarkable life, told by the man who lived it. Elmer Keith is perhaps the most widely known small-arms authority in the world today. His published books cover the field, and Sixguns by Keith and Shotguns by Keith are nothing less than classics. His hunting experiences span out continent from the Arctic Circle to Mexico, and much of Africa as well. However, this is not primarily a gun book, though a fair amount of powder gets burned along the way.


Keith was born in Missouri, but his story really starts in western Montana, where the Keith family moved in the early years of this century. He saw the Old West depart and the New West take its place, and he played a part in it. He saw all there was to see, and he remembered everything he saw. With an almost total recall fro incident and detail, Keith not so much relates his story as recreates the epoch on which it was based. He provides a vivid account of the way people lived in the West for half a century - and the way they died, too - as the old frontier faded into the shadows of time.


Keith can be critical. He never cared much for people who proved unreliable, or who credited themselves with too much importance. However, his respect and affection for the men and women he knew who played the game of life according to the stern old Western code is endless. He gives them the credit that is their due.


Some of his stories may sound exaggerated. They are not. No scientist has more respect for the exact truth than Keith, whether he is talking about guns or about people. I am qualified to pass judgment on this aspect of his book, for I grew up on a small ranch, a hundred miles or so south of his country, during the time he writes about, and I witnessed some of the episodes he relates.


Elmer Keith was responsible for many important developments in firearms and loads, but as long as people are interested in firearms there will be changes and innovations, and there will surely be gun experts in the future as in the past.


However, there never will be but one Elmer Keith.


Judge Donald E. Martin

Salmon, Idaho

Circa 1974




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