Ludicrously Huge .45-70 and .50-70 Revolvers

Created in 1973 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the .45-70 cartridge by the US military, the Model 100 revolver is a behemoth of a six-shooter. It was made by Earl Keller and Gene Phelps of Indiana, under the name Century Mfg, Inc (no relation to Century International Arms). The design is a Single Action Army Colt scaled up, and was made with a bronze frame, and with a cross bolt safety added. They were initially chambered for .45-70, but this expanded to include .50-70 (“The Mother Load”), .375 Winchester .444 Marlin, and .30-30 Winchester.

Phelps and Keller parted ways in 1976, with Keller continuing to make the guns the same way and Phelps changing to stainless steel and abandoning the cross bolt safety. In total, something close to 3,000 guns were made in total between the two.

Sold for $3,738 (pair of regular ones) and $2,588 (engraved) at the December 2019 RIA Premier auction.


  1. I was hoping that they’d let you shoot it. Is Nick Moran going to review the drive and a half they use to tow that cannon?

    • Then you’ll be happy to hear that the guy who invented auto-correct recently passed away. May he rust in piss. 😉

  2. I fondly recall Elmer testing that, way back when.
    I’m still lusting after the 10 gauge though.
    Thanks for the review, Ian!

  3. I’m trying to figure out what one of these would do that a .500 or .475 Linebaugh or a .454 Casull wouldn’t.

    Oh, yes- give you a hernia trying to carry it in a holster all day.

    In terms of muzzle energy, .45-70, .50-70, .444 Marlin and etc. were not designed to achieve maximum velocity in anything much shorter than a 20″ barrel. I would expect massive blast and flash from these critters when still-burning powder conflagrates at the muzzle as the bullet leaves. I just don’t expect that bullet to be going fast enough to show appreciable additional muzzle energy over a .500 or .454, which after all are designed to achieve full velocity in revolver-length barrels.

    As for the engraved one, it reminds me of a revolver I had when I was five. It had springs in each chamber and you shoved plastic “bullets” in the front, held in by a front end “recoil shield” until they lined up with the barrel.

    I had three of them at different times. One was black with a silver cylinder, another was green with a silver cylinder, and one was gold with a black cylinder.

    And all were “engraved” about like this thing. Of course it was no doubt a lot easier with injection-moulded styrene plastic.



    • “(…)1973 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the .45-70 cartridge by the US military(…)”
      Suggest that marketing strategy was based on personal fondness of potential buyers, rather than technical merits. Honestly, my first though was that it is Ludicrously Huge and ridiculously ineffective in terms of ratio between muzzle momentum/energy to fire-arm mass. Then I needed to check when .454 Casull was created; it was 1958, so it did already exist in 1973. But I am not sure when first long-arm (carbine or rifle) chambered for .454 Casull was put into production? If it was after 1973, then Model 100 had back then one advantage over .454 Casull revolver: availability of companion rifle/carbine.

  4. Jerry Miculek has a couple of videos of him firing one of these. One of them is slow motion. They are from 4 years ago. Was viewing You Tube thru an Amazon Fire Stick, it puts the videos in chronological order. Watched yours and saw his by accident.

    • Is there any direct relationship between either of the successor companies and the modern Magnum Research BFR? The BFR does offer a number of rifle chamberings including .45-70 and .450 Marlin as well the big magnum revolver cartridges like .500 S&W and the Linebaugh loads.

  5. These were made in Evansville Indiana it’s near where I grew up. Not so many of these floating around but I was able to check one out in my teenage years when I used to hangout at a local gunsmiths shop after school. The gunsmith I knew used to talk about these revolvers quite fondly. Seeing this brings back memory’s.

  6. There was a guy in Tyler tx selling a 2 or 3 gun set of these a couple months ago. Saw the pics on guntrader and almost fell out my chair. Dang things make my ruger .454 and my uberti walker look like pocket guns.

  7. I had the fortune of meeting Mr. Keller when I attended the University of Evansville. Quite a character. The guns are actually well balanced and shot well. Consider yourself lucky if can get ahold of one!

  8. I currently have both the .45-70 and .50-70 Century Manufacturing revolvers. They are bigger and heavier than most revolvers. They are not practical for defense or carrying around. However they are very well made and a lot of fun to shoot. That’s their purpose. Also, remember that .454 Casull and .500 S&W are pistol magnum loads. Back in the day .45-70 and .50-70 were black powder loads. Even with smokeless powder these cartridges are not meant to achieve the velocity of high caliber magnum loads. I shoot mine just for fun and to share with other shooters I meet.

  9. Earl Keller was (is) my Uncle. I have the 3rd one he made. I am going to shoot that bad boy soon. He left it to my Grandfather who left to my Father who left it to me. It is a beautiful gun. I wish I could get my hands on the cover of the magazine they (45-70 & the other one) was on. If anyone could help, I would be grateful.

  10. I have one of the guns made Dr. Majors SN #692. I used to shoot 405 gr. bullets but the recoil would cut the screw on the front sight blade, I then loaded 300gr. bullets and it tamed the heavy recoil.

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