Friday, March 25, 2011

The Ruger Blackhawk

The Ruger Blackhawk was the gun that reintroduced single action revolvers to the shooting public. Sure, Colt had periodically made their Single Action Army on and off since it was introduced in the late 19th Century, but the Ruger was the first modern single action- though that does sound like a bit of a contradiction.Single actions seem like a curious affectation to many; why not buy a double action revolver? After all, you can still fire it single action, if you like. But a single action is a simpler design, with a lot less to go wrong. And it's a connection with history.

My first single action Ruger was their percussion version, the Old Army, in stainless steel. I bought it in stainless as I figured it would be a lot easier to maintain, and it was; just pop off the grips and put it in the dishwasher. (Seriously!) But in stainless it just didn't look right. I know stainless steel guns are more practical, and increasing in popularity, but I like blued guns- particularly when it comes to classic designs.

I'd sold the Smith and Wesson 442 that I wrote about previously which left me with a lot of .38 special cartridges and reloading components and no way to shoot them. I could have sold them as well, but the .38 and its big brother the .357 are just about the most versatile cartridges out there. You can buy one gun that shoots both, and buy or load ammunition ranging from mild wadcutter target loads up to heavy  magnum loads suitable for hunting deer and large razorbacks. 

A few weeks after selling the 442 I visited a small mom-and-pop gun shop to look at a single-shot Anschutz rifle (more on that later) when I spotted a Blackhawk in .357 with a 6.5" barrel. To me, this is just about the perfect length; long enough for good accuracy and reduced muzzle blast, and still short enough to carry in a holster afield.  Sure, you can't do quick draws the way you can with a 4" barrel, but I'm not into Cowboy Action shooting.

I spent some time checking the gun out. It showed signs of use, but no dings or other obvious damage. Bore and cylinder? Clean, no signs of erosion. No gas cutting in the backstrap. Cylinder didn't wobble when turned. Locked up solid when the gate was shut. We negotiated a bit on price and came to a mutually agreed upon figure.

So far I've only had it to the indoor 50' range, where it did a fine job grouping the commercial Winchester white Box .38 Specials and the old .38 wadcutter handloads I had on hand. I'm anxious to take it outdoors when it warms up, and see how it does at 50 yards shooting off a rest. Might even take it deer hunting one day.