Four decades ago, Newton Minow called television the vast wasteland. At that time we had three or four networks; now we have cable and satellite dishes and hundreds of channels to choose from and very little has changed. The vast has just become more vast. There are a few bright examples in the darkness with the History Channel being one of the best. Much of the history related refers to firearms and I especially enjoy seeing the guns of the famous and infamous as well as re-enactments such as then Lt. George Patron's gunfight with the revolutionaries in 1917 Mexico.
There are many museums housing famous firearms with two of nay favorites being the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, and the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco, Texas. My spirit definitely went back in time as I looked at Theodore Roosevelt's Big Medicine in Cody and the sixguns and semiautomatics of many famous Texas Rangers in Waco. I was also accorded the pleasure of being invited to the late Col. Rex Applegate's private museum in which resided firearms of many famous people such as Ad Topperwein, Gus Peret, John Henry Fitzgerald, Ed McGivern, Col. Doug Wesson, Bill Jordan, Charles Askins and Elmer Keith.
Most museums understandably have their firearms displays under glass, however I was allowed to handle all the sixguns in Col. Applegate's Museum and have also handled all of Elmer Keith's sixguns. A further pleasure was afforded when I was allowed to shoot a pair of .44 Special Colt Single Actions once belonging to Keith and write them up in the March/April 1997 issue of American Handgunner. This week I held another piece of history in my hand and was actually allowed to shoot it also.
Enter Harold Croft
In the late 1920s, Harold Croft of Pennsylvania, packed a suitcase full of sixguns and took the train all the way across the country to Elmer Keith's small ranch in Durkee, Oregon. At the time, Croft was having lightweight pocket pistols built on Single Action and Bisley platforms while Keith was more interested in full-sized single actions for long-range shooting and everyday packing. Croft's ideas for perfect sixguns had been turned into reality by gunsmiths Sedgley and Houchins, with the former doing all the frame work and the latter doing sights, stocks, and action work. Croft took four Featherweight .45 Colts, with numbers M1 and M3 on Single Action frames while M2 and M4 started out as Bisley models. To produce the Featherweights, the recoil shield was hollowed out,...