Review: Ruger Blackhawk

Three Ruger Single Six revolvers

Today, much of the market seems to revolve around tactical gear and personal defense. That is important, nothing is more vital than taking responsibility for our own safety. Americans typically respond to threats with a raised first rather than whimpers. While survival is predicated more upon prior training than the gear we use, gear is important. However, sometimes ordinary gear is overlooked and some of this gear is excellent.

Black Ruger Blackhawk right profile
The Blackhawk is a legendary firearm well worth its price.

I have often thought the beginning handgunner, wishing to learn marksmanship, should begin with a quality .357 Magnum revolver with adjustable sights. The majority of loads expended should be mild .38 Special loads. And if that handgunner becomes a handloader, and he/she should, no cartridge is better to learn with than the straight walled .38 Special—with the .44 Special and .45 Colt close behind.

Personal defense isn’t the only reason for owning a powerful and accurate handgun. The single-action revolver is a fine target gun and also a great game getter. Humans have a protean faculty for adaption and the single-action revolver may be pressed into defensive action more often than folks think. There are better tools for some missions, but for just shooting and taking game, nothing beats the Ruger Blackhawk single-action revolver.

Loading gate of a revolver handgun
The single action is loaded through the loading gate one cartridge at a time.

There really isn’t anything like the Blackhawk. The cowboy guns are not in the same class for strength and durability. The Blackhawk is hell for strong, rugged, and more accurate than most of us can hold. Ruger is an American icon and among our most respected makers, and this history is built on the single-action revolver.

Many shooters enjoy firing these revolvers. As an example, my son is a Captain in military intelligence. His personal defense handguns include a Novak custom 1911 and a custom grade Bar Sto .38 Super Commander. Most of the time his sidearm is the Beretta 92. His first handgun, and his favorite shooter, is a Ruger Single Six .22. He still enjoys a good cowboy gun. (I know, the steel and performance are much better than a cowboy gun, but that is what we call them.)

I have seen him firing at 100 yards with the big-bore Blackhawk, and he knows how to handle the single-action revolver. The single-action revolver was an important stepping stone to marksmanship. As for myself, the Ruger Blackhawk as been an important part of my outdoors life. When you need to stop an animal, and you have only one shot, the Blackhawk never fails if you do your part.

Transfer bar on a revolver handgun
The transfer bar ignition system ensures safety if the revolver is dropped.

No matter what the climate the Blackhawk never fails. I have always felt, how hard you hit matters more than how many times you hit. The Ruger has been delivering since 1955 in hard-hitting calibers. The .357 Magnum and .45 Colt Blackhawk revolvers are hard hitters—especially with heavy bullet handloads, but the .44 Magnum is my favorite.

I use the standard Blackhawk. I like the Super Blackhawk, but the standard black single action has a lot of appeal and does what I need accomplished. While the Vaquero is the deal for cowboy shooting and quickly addressing bad buy targets, I like the Blackhawk. Again, hitting for real, hitting hard, and with real accuracy are hallmark traits of the .44 Magnum Blackhawk.

When you have to ear the hammer back for each shot, you tend to be careful with your shots. In marksmanship training, making that one-shot hit is more important than a series of fast shots. The single action is a great trainer. It is still my favorite hunting revolver, and I do not see that changing. In my opinion, high capacity handguns have caused a general deterioration in marksmanship. The single-action revolver reinforces marksmanship.

Three Ruger Single Six revolvers
There are a wide variety of traditional and modern Ruger Single Six revolvers.

Modern, New Model Blackhawk revolvers are safe to carry fully loaded with all six cartridges. There is a bar riding between the hammer and the firing pin at all times unless the hammer is fully to the rear. When the hammer is cocked, the transfer bar falls away, and the hammer will strike the firing pin when it drops. This is a safe system that eliminates any chance of an accidental discharge if the revolver were dropped.

The single-action revolver is loaded one cartridge at a time through an open loading gate. Not fast, but deliberate, and many of us enjoy this manual of arms. You don’t have to worry about spent cases flying all over, they are easy saved in the ammo box for later reloading.

The Ruger revolver is friendly to hard cast bullets such as those offered by Magnus. The .357 Magnum is a mild kicker in the heavy Blackhawk revolver. This revolver is a fun plinker with .38 Special loads such as the Winchester 158-grain cowboy load. Accuracy is excellent and this combination is well suited to small game.

Ruger Vaquero
The Vaquero features fixed sights. While good for some uses the author really appreciated the adjustable sighted Blackhawk.

With heavy Magnum loads the revolver isn’t uncomfortable to fire at all. Unlike the double-action small-frame revolvers, this big single action has plenty of weight and also a well-shaped grip handle that makes for comfortable firing. As an example, I recently tested Winchester .357 Magnum 158-grain JHP load. This is a choice load for deer at moderate range. This load clocked a strong 1300 fps, and sent five shots into 1.5 inches at 25 yards. That is a credible performance.

I have also handloaded the formidable Hornady XTP bullet in this caliber. 125 grains at 1600 fps and a 158-grain XTP at over 1300 fps is very accurate. I have also experimented with long-range fire and the Hornady 180-grain XTP at just over 1100 fps with excellent results.

If defense against large animals is part of your scenario, the Buffalo Bore 180-grain hard cast SWC will break 1335 fps from the short barrel Blackhawk and over 1400 fps from the 6 ½-inch barrel revolver. That is a true Magnum load and the type of load that led to the statement ‘a rifle on your hip.’

Gospel Singer Paul Jordan's Ruger Super Blackhawk
This stag gripped Super Blackhawk belongs to Gospel Singer Paul Jordan.

My favorite Ruger Blackhawk, and my favorite .44 Magnum, is the Ruger Blackhawk with 6 ½-inch barrel. I recently fired this revolver with Winchester’s 240-grain flat point .44 Special. The barrel hardly moved as this 800 fps load is fired. At a long 25 yards, the lead bullets clustered into less than two inches. And it was fun!

I have also fired Winchester 240-grain hollow/soft nose in .44 Magnum. 1200 fps is a lot of muzzle stomp, and this is an accurate loading. I have also experimented with Hornady’s 200-grain XTP factory load. For deer at moderate load this bullet makes sense. There is nothing wrong with a 250-grain cast SWC and I have loaded quite a few of these.


The .44 Magnum Blackhawk remains my favorite big bore revolver and a formidable hunter. The Ruger Blackhawk isn’t a black tactical, but it is black tough and a super strong revolver well worth its price.

Are you a fan of the Single Six, Blackhawk, or Vaquero? What is your favorite model? Do you have a favorite load? Share your answers in the comment section.

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (57)

  1. Vincent, I also live in AZ now just north of Tombstone. My place abuts BLM land where I can shoot every day by just climbing under the barbed wire. Never did convert my 3 screw as the first cocking notch keeps the hammer from resting on the firing pin and cannot be released by pulling the trigger alone. Never did get into the fastdraw thing. I just like to hold things that go Bang when you pull the trigger. BTW, thanks for the reply.

  2. Richard, I purchased my .357 Mag 6.5″ Ruger Blackhawk in 1965! I use to quick draw with it, so a bit of the blue has worn off on the inside tip, but otherwise it is in perfect condition. These guns were called 3 screw revolvers, and had to problem the old Western folks had back in the 19th century in the Old West – the gun would go off it jilted too much when a cartridge was in the camber (cylinder). I sent mine off to Ruger about 4-5 years ago, and they upgraded it for free, so now I can have a round in all chambers without fear of it going off accidentally. Have you had your upgraded? I did try to get Ruger to supply me with a 9mm cylinder for my .357 Mag Blackhawk, but they said they no longer provide that.

    As for its accuracy, I use to shoot about 100 yards in Minnesota (where I bought mine) at muskrat mounds when out in the woods, or deer hunting. I could get within 2′ with free shooting (standing), and much closer if I rested my shooting hand on something. This gun is very accurate.

    Since then, I purchased another Ruger single action Blackhawk with more power – a .45 LC Stainless 5.5″ Flattop convertible, which shoots both .45 LC and .45 ACP with a cylinder swap. Shooting low level .45 ACP rounds is like shooting 3.38 Special rounds in my .357, for both the relatively low cost and low power. But when I shoot the very high power .45 LC rounds (from Buffalo Bore), there is definitely a lot more power than the strongest .357 Mag rounds available.

    As for the difference in accuracy, it is very hard to tell. I do have to adjust the sights for differences between 45 ACP vs. 45LC, and to a much lesser degree between 357 Mag vs. 38 Spec. I now live in Arizona, and shoot outdoors, and generally shoot 25 yards or 50 yards. At 75 yards, my 1′ square targets are too hard to see!

    Vincent (01-07-2018)

  3. I purchased my Blackhawk 357 mag with 6 1/5 bbl. in 1964- the same year it was made. Being only 18 at the time my dad gladly signed the paperwork and I ponied up the huge price of $89.95. I can’t imagine another revolver being as accurate and reliable as “My Ruger”. After 53 years it is still my favorite sidearm and will hit any thing I point it at . Haven’t tried it blindfolded yet but wouldn’t be surprised if it hit the mark then, either (ha ha).

  4. Hello Blake,

    I am a long time owner of the .357 single action blued Blackhawk, and about 5 years ago I researched the market for a Ruger .45 LC convertible and purchased a Flattop. Back then, that was

    that was available in a stainless convertible. I have shot many, many rounds in the .45, both .45 ACP and .45LC loads, from cowboy loads up to the second most powerful load Buffalo Bore makes for the .45 LC. When I shoot the very high powered rounds, I have to use both hands because there is a huge kick upwards, and after a full load (6 rounds) my hand is a little sore and the gun it hot!

    As for your question, I think the right term (unless Ruger has recently changed it) is that you are looking for a Ruger Bisley .45 LC convertible. I researched the difference between a Bisley and a Blackhawk, and the only difference is the grip. So, if you have not tried both grips already, I suggest you do that. The Bisley should be able to handle the hottest loads in a .45LC caliber that Buffalo Bore makes, compared to mine, which is a Flattop, so it is just a little bit weaker (thinner) since the bar across the cylinder on mine does not have the raised bump just before the rear sight.

    So, to fins a Ruger with all the requirements you specify is a bit difficult.
    Here is a link that list .44 Mag and .45 LC Ruger revolvers, so you have to run thru the list and look for what you want. I doubt that there is one listed as you specified. Also note that some of these guns that are listed here are listed in correctly, such a Super Blackhawk 45 LC – there is no such thing! Super Blackhawk is for 44Mag, and perhaps up in power.

    Here is a link to a Ruger .45LC 7.5″ Stainless, but there is no mention of a second cylinder:

    Here is a list of grips both the various revolvers Ruger makes, and it get very confusing. I had to order three times (returned the first two) to get the right size, even though I sent them a sketch of the grip!

    Here is another link to Ruger that shows 45LC convertibles, and I do not see any in 7.5″:

    So, after my research, it does not look like there is any Ruger Blackhawk or Bisley in 7.5″ stainless AND convertible.

    If you plan on using the revolver mainly for hunting, then I suggest to get the Ruger stainless Blackhawk/Bisley in 7.5″ and forgo the .45 ACP. Of course my research may not be complete.

    On a final note, the difference between the most powerful .45 LC load and the one I can shoot safely is about 85 ft. lbs. of ME. I have a very complete ballistics file I send out almost every month for free, and this caliber and 29 other handgun calibers as well as 18 rifle calibers are listed with full ballistics info with actual online listings availability from all over the web. vlavalle ix.netcom .com.

    Vincent (01-01-2018)

  5. I am looking for a ruger bisley 7.5 inch 45 lc stainless preferred with the spare .45 acp cylinder email me at blaketh08 @ yahoo . Com

    Remove the spaces, any help is appreciated

  6. I love my 44mag, Blackhawk, 10.5 inch barrel and my Ruger GP100 .357mag (4 & 6 inch barrel). All three are extremely accurate.

  7. Ruger Blackhawk was the first handgun I ever fired. My grandfather bought one in .357 back in 1966 at the hardware store (my has CA changed!). First shot caught me by surprise as it flew out of my hand in an arc over my shoulder and I caught it with my offhand. My granddad laughed his butt off. I went back to shooting my .38Spl Chief Special which I bought the same day as Frank. And we walked down the street back to the house carrying them in the open and nobody thought anything of it.

    The Blackhawk in .30 cal was shown on a hunting show being used to drop a bear from some distance. It had a scope mounted on it. Guy used a fallen tree as a rest, and the bear dropped with a single shot.

  8. A single action Ruger in .44 mag was impossible for me to stop from rotating in my hand and the hammer bit me, every shot.
    .357 Blackhawk, 45 LC and APC [ Ruger Old Army with conversion cylinders] no problem.

  9. I own a Ruger .41 Mag. For target practice I use Cowboy load which doesn”t kick to much. Not much difference between the .44 & .41

  10. You might want to check with Ruger about how that transfer bar system works. Ruger states that it only comes up when the trigger is pulled. It is obvious from the photo that the cutout in the hammer would prevent the firing pin from being struck without something like the transfer bar moving up and transferring the impact.

  11. What happened to a comparison with the .41 Mag. I have one and it’s one of the best pistols I’ve shot. I’d love a .357 single six too. I’m a diehard Roger fan but forget the .41.

  12. I still have my 6 1/2 inch 41 mag and still really enjoy shooting it. This is my #1 hunting hand gun for game up to the size of elk.

  13. still have my .45 Blackhawk 7.5″ barrel and my .357 Security Six 4″, both of which I bought in Morehead, KY, in the university between the Marine Corps and the Army.

  14. I did not see the Bisley grip frame variant mentioned either in the article or the comments. Especially for smaller hands, skinnier wrists, single handed firing, etc. the Bisley “plow handle” grip frame is just the ticket. Mine is in .41 Rem Mag. In Ruger’s current catalog they list this grip frame with the Vaquero (.357 Mag, Model 5130; and .45 Colt, Model 5129), New Model Super Blackhawk (.44 Rem Mag, “Hunter” Model 0862), and New Model Blackhawk (.44 Rem Mag, Model 0831; and .45 Colt, Model 0447). Information on this style grip frame may be found in many of the online firearms forums such as the Ruger Forum at

  15. 30 cal carbine is my favorite. I also have the 357 an 44 mag but the 30 cal is my choice. My 30 cal saw service in Vietnam. It complimited the M1 carbine. Only one type of ammo and much more accurate than the 45 cal 1911.

    1. Gerald, the .30 cal ammo IS the ammo for the M1 Carbine. It is a rifle ammo due to its cartridge length. The power is a bit more than a heavy loaded .357 Mag with up to 978 ft. lbs. of ME, and the .357 Mag tops off around 907 ft. lbs. As for comparing it to the .45 ACP, that is a bit like comparing apples to oranges. The .45 ACP is a short handgun ammo, and tops off around 700 ft. lbs. of ME with the Super 45 ammo, and most normal .45 ACP ammo produces only around between 350-510 ft. lbs. of ME.

      I have all this ballistics info in my ballistics file, so read my long post here and email me if you want to learn the real story on ammo ballistics. It is very enlightening!

      Vincent (03-05-2017)

  16. Concur with versatility of BH convertible, either in 9mm/257 or .45acp/45 long Colt. Big-boy versions of convertible Single 6 in .22rf/.22mag.

    Also have for years liked the fairly-unknown 7.5″ BH in .30 carbine, same round as the M1 carbine, round somewhat similar to 357 Getting hard to find the AMT Automag III in same cal.

  17. @ Vincent ,
    You can think as you like not going to argue with you when i have actually seen the performance of both in the field so go hunt with a .357 i will not anymore i like quick ,clean DRT kills .And the 45 LC hand loads i use never fail me the 3 bucks on my wall taken with that pistol and load will attest to that if they could lol.

  18. I share the author’s favorable opinion of the Ruger Blackhawk, but… the author’s description of how the transfer bar system works is wrong.

    The transfer bar raises to it’s full height when the hammer is all the way back and the trigger is all the way back. The transfer bar doesn’t fall away allowing the firing pin to be struck by the hammer, but instead it is the hammer that must strike the transfer bar in it’s fully raised position, which transfers the blow of the hammer to the firing fin through the transfer bar.

    When the transfer bar lowers(when the trigger is released), the hammer cannot contact the firing pin.

    1. You are absolutely correct concerning the transfer bar and I KNEW THAT. It somehow came out wrong when I typed it!

      Thanks for reading.

  19. .Bob’s information is right on. The strength is why they have a separate section in most reloading manuals just for Blackhawks and Thompson Contenders. I have built a collection of Blackhawks over the years. I currently have a 22lr / 22mag single six, a 32 H&R magnum, a 30 carbine, a 357 magnum with the 9mm conversion, 41 magnum (my favorite) , 44 special, 44 magnum, and 45 Colt. I reload for all of them (yes, even the 22’s). I regularly shoot most of them When they come out with a new caliber I’ll have to add it to the collection. They are just a fantastic firearm.

    1. Dan, yes you can “reload” .22 LR and .22 WRM, but it isn’t like loading your typical centerfire rounds.
      Google the topic and you locate an outfit that sells for doing it.
      I bought a set recently.but haven’t gotten a chance to try it out but am looking forward to it.

  20. OH YEA VINCE ,
    i DID MENTION I WOULD HAVE PREFERRED IT IN 44 MAG BUT I GOT IT AT A STEAL ALMOST BRAND NEW IN 45 LC. But i can get damn close to 44 mag performance with a 250 grain bullet from the 7.5 inch barrel .

  21. Nice article, I enjoyed the read. I’ve owned a 3-screw model Blackhawk in .357 for 40 years, and have a New Model Single-Six Convertible in .22LR/.22 Mag. There’s just something about the feel of it in your hand that makes you realize the grip of either a good single-action or a good 1911 just feels right. Nothing else introduced in the last 50 years gives me that same feeling. I agree that learning and shooting with a single-action encourages much more attention paid to marksmanship. In many corners that has really become a lost art.

  22. First, I wish to thank Bob on a very nice article about the Ruger Blackhawk single action handguns. I have been an owner of the .357 Mag Blackhawk for over 50 years. I have been looking for this kind of review for some time. I own the 5.5 “ stainless steel version of Ruger Blackhawk, as is shown in Bob’s pictures in the .45 LC Convertible handgun, and 6.5” Blued .357 Mag Blackhawk.

    Now I have to enter my comments here regarding Bob Campbell’s article on the Ruger Blackhawk single action revolvers. I have over 50 years of experience with them, notable the .357 Blackhawk which shoots both the .357 caliber and the .30 Special ammo. I have also had a Ruger Black hawk .45 LC convertible that shoots both the .45 LC ammo as well as the .45 ACP ammo with a cylinder swap. Today’s .357 Ruger Blackhawk comes in a convertible option as well, where it will then shoot 3 calibers: .357 Mag, .38 Spec., and the 9mm with a cylinder swap. I tried to get Ruger to make me a 9 MM cylinder for my 55 year old 3-screw .357 about 3-4 years ago, but they will not do it anymore. I had sent in my gun to have it upgraded so it is safe to carry 6 cartridges and not fire when dropped or hit.

    But in response to other people’s comments today, here are my comments from an experienced Ruger Blackhawk owner. First, there is no gun or rifle that is good for everyone or every application. But the Ruger Blackhawk and Super Blackhawk (the .44 mag version) handguns are among the most versatile and powerful handguns made. Of course, there are more powerful handguns, such as the Desert Eagle, which was mentioned by Bumper, which is NOT even a revolver!

    Bob’s article did suggest that the Ruger Blackhawks do make good hunting handguns, and that the .357 Mag Blackhawk is very versatile in its ammo power range and would be great for hunting certain game sizes, which would include deer hunting. The .45 LC Ruger Blackhawk and the slightly more powerful Super Blackhawk would be powerful enough for bigger game, like bear and moose. I understand that there would be a lot of doubters here to believe my comments, but I have research many years, and I have created a ballistics file for most handgun calibers, as well as some rifles, including the military type assault weapons of today.

    The basic idea I wish to convey regarding the Blackhawk power is that the 5.56×45 NATO rifle ammo has NO more power than the .45LC (at it max power ammo available today on the open market), and that 7.62 x 39mm rifle ammo has the same power as the max .44 Ruger Super Blackhawk, AND that only the 7.62×51 NATO rifle ammo has about 50% more power than the highest 44 Mag ammo. This should put in prospective how powerful these handguns are. The .357 Mag ammo tops out at about 900 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy (all at a 5 or 5.5” barrel), the .45 LC tops out at about 1,350 ft. lbs., and the .44 Mag at about 1,550 ft. lbs. With almost no exceptions, it is only the Ruger Blackhawk/Super Blackhawk handguns that can shoot these high power rounds. For explicit comparison, the 5.56 maxes out around 1,350, the 7.62×39 max’s out at around 1,670, and the 7.62 NATO at around 2,630, which is clearly an advantage power wise over these handguns.
    And by very versatile, the .357 Mag handguns shoot .38 Special ammo as well, with no cylinder swap. The power rating on .38 Spec ammo starts at around 200 ft. lbs., and goes up to around 330. So when combined with the .357 Magnum loads, this power range from one hand gun is over 4:1 from the same handgun without switching any parts! This is phenomenal. The only other caliber that has close to this power range is the .45 LC, with very low power ‘cowboy’ loads, up to full heavy loads. The .44 Mag is similar to the .45 LC range, although most light loads are quite hard to find, and in the .45 LC they are very easy to find (the ‘Cowboy’ loads). This should clearly show that these handguns are indeed quite powerful.

    As for the next issue raised – that being the kick, the .357 Ruger Blackhawk has a kick at the most powerful load, but definitely quite controllable. Perhaps, a small person who has not fired anything but plinking ammo may find it a surprise and hard to handle, but not for anyone experienced and at least a reasonable sized person. The real impact of firing the high powered .357 Mag ammo is the sound! It is very load and shoots a flame of from 1-2 feet out the end of the barrel (noticeable only at night). But my .357 Ruger has a 6.5” barrel, so perhaps a 4.5 version may have more noticeable kick. So, what is most important? Do you want a quick draw handgun (short barrel), or quick access and movement handgun for self-defense, or do you want to carry & conceal the handgun as the primary function? If so, you will have more kick, and less power and accuracy at distances. These are all trade-offs.

    I also wish to clarify about the Ruger Vaquero. In general, the Vaquero model is more of an old Western style six gun, with no adjustable sites. In the .45 LC model, there are two versions. The ‘New Model’ is not designed to shoot the heavy loads, and is more for plinking, quick drawing, and show. In most cowboy live shows, if there is a Ruger present (usually not), it will be a Vaquero. But the old model was capable of handling the heavy .45 LC loads. But ALL the Blackhawk models could and can handle all or just about a;; heavy ammo loads. I have a Ruger .45 LC flattop, and have stayed away from any loads over 1215 ft., lbs. of muzzle energy.

    And now for Howard, who commented on getting the .22 Ruger Six with the WRM exchangeable cylinder, I wish to point out that .22 Mag ammo is fairly expensive, typically around $.30/round. But the standard .22 LR ammo is usually around #.10/round. Compare this with the 9MM ammo, which is typically $.15-$.25/round. The .22 mag ammo is rather powerful, and is comparable to the 9mm standard loads, but the .22 LR is very weak (typically 100-125 ft. lbs., as opposed to about 320 ft. lbs. for the .22 Mag). The .45 ACP ammo is as low (frequently) as $.30/round, and the .38 Spec ammo is just a bit lower ($.25-$.30). So, unless you shoot mainly .22 LR ammo, there would not be much savings over these other caliber options. So, I would suggest a Ruger .357 Blackhawk with a 9mm spare cylinder, which Ruger is selling now. This way you can plink either .38 Special or 9mm ammo, and have a heavy caliber load in the .357. If you are not going to Carry & Conceal, then I suggest that you get the longer barrels. There are several options: Blued – 4.62”, 5.5”, 6.5”, 7.5”.
    Blued Convertible – 4.62”, 5.5”, 6.5”
    Stainless Convertible (from Williams Shooters): 4.62”, 5.5”, 6.57”
    Stainless Convertible Flattops (from Lipsey’s): 4.62”, 5.5”

    If anyone is interested in having a copy of my free ballistics file, email me at vlavalle@ ix.netcom .com. This file has links online for purchasing ammo as well as all the ballistics info.

    Vincent (03-02-2017)

  23. i HAVE THE NEW MODEL BLACKHAWK IN 45 LC. I USE IT TO HUNT DEER WITH A HANDGUN SCOPE AND 7.5 INCH BARREL WITH A 300 GRAIN XTP BULLET LOADED WITH WIN 296 . Knocks deer down at 100 yards if they are standing broadside hard to miss with the pistol scope and 7.5 inch barrel .Recoil is stout but it will take any game in NE US woods . Great guns that never fail .

    1. Damian, your Ruger sounds great! I have a Ruger .45 LC convertible, and in stainless steel, and it only comes in length of up to 6.5″, and when I bought mine it came in only 5.5″ barrel length. But even at the very highest loads I shoot, the kick is definite but not what I would call severe. I can only gather that the kick you get with the 7.5″ barrel is even less. I have never hunted with it, but it should do fine with most NA large game animals.

      But hunting success may also depend on the ammo you are shooting. Are you making your own loads? It sounded like you do. A long time ago I use to reload ammo for my Ruger Blackhawk ,357, but have not in the last 30 years. Today I find that purchasing already made ammo is often just as inexpensive, many, many options, AND a lot easier! The highest load I have shot with my Ruger Blackhawk ,.45 LC is the Buffalo Bore 3C, which produces 1,214 muzzle ft. lbs. This is a 260 gr bullet. But there are also a 300 gr BB cartridge, but it has lower MV, with a slightly lower ME (1,169 ), and two loads with a 325 gr bullet, at either 1,219 or 1,267 ft. lbs., all from BB. Of course, all of these cartridges are pricey – from $1.05 – $1.72 per round!

      I suggest you email me and I will send you my ballistics file, which gives online links for all ammo listed as to where to buy the ammo, as well as all the ballistics info. This file covers 26 handgun calibers. My .45LC can shoot 45 ACP ammo with a cylinder swap, and that is fun to shoot as well. I have a special category for the hot .45 ACP loads, called the 45 Super. These loads get as high at 771 ft. lbs. of ME, which is FAR more than any 9mm ammo. But I suspect that your Ruger 7.5″ Blackhawk does not have the .45 ACP cylinder, so this may not be of interest to you.

      Vincent (03-03-2017)

    2. Load all my own hunting ammo i have tried both factory and my hand loads they leave the muzzle of my 7.5 inch barrel at 1250 fps with a 300 grain xtp mag bullet and with H110 OR WIN 296 POWDER 21.5 TO 24.0 GRAINS depending on which powder wlp primers . i have shot both factory and my hand loads into ballistic gel and wet stacked tightly wrapped wet news papers my hand loads did more damage and seemed to just lift the gel off the blocks and throw it backwards and no bullet break up perfect mushroom the factory loads tend to go right through over 15 inches of gel or break apart in the newspaper and as for cost i can load 20 rounds for less than 8.00 compared to over 30.00 for a box of factory loads. When i have taken deer with this pistol it does not play and if it does exit the animal it is at about 60 cal now and just stops all signals to the animals brain they most times drop on the spot .I have shot them from 25 to over 100 yards since it is scoped with a 2 to7 power hand gun scope just hold over a tad at 100 it hits dead center shoulders and busts them both up he cannot run with a broadside shot and is devastating on bone and flesh and no this 1 is in 45 LC only i had the convertible at one time it got stolen at a gun range down in tenn many yrs ago . But in Ohio the barrel must be 6 inches or longer to be legal . Buffalo bore ammo is no way cheaper to buy then loading them myself and my loads do the job better . I have the LEE SHOOTER cost calculator on my pc it tells me a box of 20 loaded as said above is about 8.00 on a bad day for me to load lol If i buy the bullets by the 500 it is even cheaper and get the 8lb jug of win 296 or H110 i prefer the 296 it burns cleaner and little faster then the H110 so i just cannot see how factory loads can come close to the savings and performance since my variables in speed( FPS ) are nil if every load is exact . I will stick with what i know gets the job done in my pistol compared to what is offered from factory .If i were to go to a 250 grain bullet it is approaching 44 mag speed at over 1500 fps and performance now but i like the bigger slower moving bullet and could probably stretch the range out to a possible 150 yards or more with the very long barrel .

    3. @ Vincent ,
      Whew took a half hour to read that lol have had blackhawks in .357 mag and had the 5.5 inch convertible .45 and now own the version i mentioned in my post .
      I have to disagree on the 357 mag for deer sized game to the heavy .45 LC loads from my 7.5 inch blackhawk with 300 grain xtp bullet leaving the muzzle at 1250 fps with win 296 powder on my chrono. I have used several models of .357 magnum pistols on deer i felt it was not enough gun to me on deer size game at least these big whitetails we have in Ohio using the heavy loads even .I like a big slower moving bullet that leaves the energy in the game not go right through and shocks em into dropping pretty much on the spot where as they ran up to 75 yards even with a heart shot with a .357 mag many times which is why i went to the .45 colt and i got a great deal on it as well but would have rather it be in .44 mag .JMHO after using both. A. 44 mag would be even better but the .45 colt loads i use are close and are hand loaded and to me have always done the job better than any .357 i ever used . I as well have a desert eagle 44 but how did it make this post on single action pistols lol? Now the .357 maximum i heard was much better for deer then the .357 mag but i have yet to see it for myself.

    4. Damian, You are quite right about the .357 Mag not being ‘quite’ powerful enough for taking down deer, although at close range with the max load (which I mention previously) should work just fine. I am talking about 20-30 yards or less. But what load of .357 ammo were you using? My guess is that is was not a particularly heavy load. And no handgun will shoot clear thru a large animal, unless you do not hit anything solid, like hitting the neck on a deer. It is rifles with their very much higher MVs that will be able to rip thru most animals you will find in NA.

      But as for the .45LC ammo you are loading yourself, it is not very powerful for that caliber. 300 gr at 1,250 MV generates only 1,041 ft. lbs. of energy, which isn’t all that much different from the hottest .357 Mag at 907 ft. lbs. (PRVI ammo of 158 gr at 1,608 MV). But of course, the bore is bigger than the .357, which is relative to taking down game as well. But the really hot .45LC ammo varies in power between 1,215 (260 gr) to 1,267 (325 gr) to 1,299 (260 gr) ft. lbs. Try one of these in your Ruger .45LC Blackhawk and let me know about the kick!

      As for the comparison of the 44 Mag to the .45LC, you are right in that they are close as well. But due to the 100th of an inch difference in caliber size, Ruger is able to make the 44 Blackhawk (called the Super Blackhawk) a thicker cylinder and slightly heavier frame. So, the power of the .44 Mag goes up to a max of 1,533 ft. lbs. (Buffalo Bore with a 340 gr bullet at 1,425fps MV), which is 18% more powerful than the most powerful .45LC load. I opted for the .45LC for its history, and that I could shoot .45 ACP ammo as well.

      Again, I mention your getting my free ballistics file which shows all of this, as well as where to buy it all online. Just email me – which I gave on my first long post a couple of days ago. I have almost 20 followers I send this out to each month (all from this forum!), with up-to-date prices and availability (such as if not in stock). I release this file every month as a PDF file, which would be very hard to read and use on Smart Phone since the data is so voluminous, so you would need a large tablet or a real computer.

      Vincent (03-04-2017)

    5. COR-BON 170 GRAIN .357 MAG AMMO is what i used and still was just not enough gun for deer to me . If want to shoot them at 20 yards my barnett crossbow kills em quicker n cleaner than any pistol could with a rage broadhead i use big bore handguns on deer size game now always .

    6. Think the deer hanging on my wall and seeing what my handloads did when they were shot in shoulders will disagree with that statement i have used both as i said no way was the factory ammo better then my homebrews on the deer i have taken with it . And my .357 blackhawk did go right through the deer shot with it so again i disagree unless shoulder shot went straight through. You are not going to convince a long time hand gun hunter and a long time reloader that my reloads are not more powerful then the factory loads i have used in my black hawk handgun . I just have taken too much game with them to be convinced of that 1 as far as the 45 LC offerings on the market .

    7. Damian, Thanks for more info on your success with hunting deer with your Ruger .45LC Blackhawk. It sounds like this is a good choice for your use. But I never said that it would be preferred to use a .357 Mag to hunt with over a .45LC load. Just looking at the ballistics stats I gave will show this easily, and that the .45LC is considerable more powerful. But the .357 Mag can be quite powerful also, and it is only 15% less powerful than the loads you are putting into your .45LC cartridges – 907 vs 1041 ft. lbs.

      I did however try to lookup the .357 Mag ammo you said you used, the Cor-Bon 170 gr ammo. I could not find this anywhere online, and I even went onto the Cor-Bon website. Perhaps you have ammo from long ago. I do with my 357 Mag ammo – armor piercing bullets from the ’60’s. But more to the point, Cor-Bon does NOT make any high power .357 Mag ammo. Here is what I found on their site and other’s selling Cor-Bon ammo: (1) 140 gr at 1,300 fps => 525 ft. lbs., (2) 180 gr at 1,200 fps => 575 ft. lbs., (3) 200 gr at 1150 fps => 587 ft. lbs. Of course, they make more than just these three, but these are their most powerful .357 Mag cartridges that I could find. This would imply that the .357 Mag rounds you tried before were relatively weak ones.

      Now compare these ballistics to real high power .357 Mag ammo: BB (1) 140 gr at 1,500 fps => 699 ft. lbs., (2) 158 gr at 1,475 => 763 ft. lbs., (3) 180 gr at 1,400 fps => 783 ft. lbs., (4) 125 gr at 1,700 => 802 ft. lbs., and finally the Privi of 158 gr at 1,608 fps => 907 ft. lbs. So, you can see that what Cor-Bon offers in this caliber is almost half the power of the Privi ammo.

      I also use to load my own cartridges way back in the ’60’s & ’70’s. It was fun by took a lot of effort, especially in trying to make all the cartridges the exact same load. But today, I find that the plinking ammo is almost as cheap as reloading. Of course, reloading the high power ammo will no doubt save a lot, but I shoot mainly plinking and target practice, and the high power stuff sparingly, due to the cost, and the impact on the gun, and my hand too! I can get the .357 Mag ammo for as little as $.30/rd (reloads), and the .45LC between $.40-$.45/rd. What kind of costs do you incur when reloading both of these calibers? I looked into reloading when I got my Ruger .45LC convertible, and just getting into the reload equipment was quite expensive.

      Finally, my comment on keeping the distance rather short when hunting with the .357 Mag handgun was more for being sure of a kill, and not an outer distance limit. It also would depend on what ammo you are using (definitely more powerful than what you were using), both in its power and if hard cast or not, and how good your aim is, and also if you have a scope. When I bought my original .357 Mag Blackhawk, my friend bought the .22 and the .44 Mag models as well, and put a scope on one of them, and it looked great!

      By the way, I added all these new Cor-Bon ammo rounds to my ballistics file. I now cover 26 handgun calibers with 797 entries, and 17 rifle ones with 171 entries.

      Vincent (03-04-2017)

    8. @ vincent ,Well i bought that .357 mag cor-bon amo 170 grain from SSK ind and JD JONES and this was at least 7 yrs ago i quit using the .357 to hunt deer after even those loads did not perform as expected so they existed then dude in 170 grain hunting loads here in wintersville ohio and the box said heavy hunting loads well did not do the job and penetration depends on the bullet you are using for example i were to hunt bear with this pistol i would go to a hard cast bullet for deep penetration so if you use hard cast bullets they go zipping right through any whitetail walking our planet that is just fact . I know my 45 colt will with right bullet and if i do not hit bone still goes right through .

    9. .45 colt (or acp )is over 2.2 hundredths -of an inch larger than
      .44 cal. (.429/.430 ” vs .452 ” )
      Weird , but .44 spec. & .44 mag. are really .43 caliber !

    10. Chris, you are quite correct about the .44 Mag bore, with it being .429, but the.430 bore is for the .44 Special.. As for the .45 bores, the .45 ACP’s and the .45 GAP’s bores are both .451, the .45 Auto Rim is .452, and the .45 LC comes in two bores: .452 for jacketed bullets, and .454 for all lead bullets. I would have to assume that the bigger all lead bore is so the rifling will work better.

      But all of this info is in my ballistics file, which you can get if you email me. I have emailed it to 2 people from this forum subject already.

      Vincent (03-08-2017)

  24. “There are better tools for some missions, but for just shooting and taking game, nothing beats the Ruger Blackhawk single-action revolver.”

    As far as taking game goes, basically any rifle or shotgun of appropriate caliber/gauge would be a better choice. This is not a knock on the Blackhawk specifically, but rather a realistic assessment of the practicality of hunting with a handgun versus a long gun.

    Similar to bow hunters, handgun hunters don’t choose a handgun because it’s the best tool for the job – they choose it for the higher level of difficulty.

  25. Owned a Super Black Hawk in .30 Carbine, once. Loved it, but the muzzle blast, even with hearing protection was horrendous. Accurate as hell though. Used to hunt ‘white tail’ deer in OK. Had a dear friend that loved it and even let him hunt with it. The noise didn’t seem to bother him, so, one Christmas, gave it to him. Miss the single action, but don’t miss the ringing ears, even using hearing protection.

  26. O.K. so ruger IS a great company and everyone should patronize it, BUT unless you are a masocist why on earth would you shoot a Blackhawk or its double action cousin the Redhawk when there is something that has a lot less recoil in .357 and .44 magnum AND is just as accurate if not more so.
    Yes, I’m referring to the Desert Eagle. Mine is the older model in .44 magnum. It has just a touch more recoil then a .45 ACP 1911 and shoots to point of aim at 50 yards. What else is there to say!

    1. Desert Eagle?? I dare say you are missing the entire point of the article. It’s about the mystique of a modern old fashioned SA wheel gun. The manual cocking, the careful shot placement, the relative ease of teaching gun safety, manual of arms and handling of a newbie, and the usefulness of the weapon for hunting and hunter protection.

      It was not suggested that there isn’t some weapon better suited for any individual task, just that many of us grew up with Westerns on TV and we still like cowboy style guns, and they remain functional and useful weapons. I wouldn’t want one in a fire fight, not the Python I carried as a cop. We have better now, I carry a SIG P229 40. In the woods it’s a 10mm Wilson Combat or 45-70 guide gun – but we ain’t talking that :c)

  27. Over the years, I have owned several Ruger Blackhawk or similar Ruger single action revolvers, and they have always been good, solid pieces. From the convertible Single Six .22LR/.22RM on through the Blackhawk .357Mag, .41Mag, .44Mag, and .30Carb to the convertible Vaquero in .45Colt/.45ACP, they were all fine performers that were very reasonably priced. Every Ruger firearm I have owned, be it revolver, pistol, rifle, or shotgun, has been a well built, reliable instrument.

    Bill Ruger has certainly earned a place of note and honor in the American firearms industry.

  28. One of the first guns I ever bought was a Ruger .357 Blackhawk. Wish I still had it.
    I now have a Blackhawk .45 Colt/.45 ACP convertible, bought about 10 or 12 years ago.. Although I have developed a bad hand tremor in my old age and have had to sell a lot of my handguns, that Ruger is one I’ll never get rid of.

  29. Unless the Blackhawk is the opposite of the Vaquero, the transfer bar rises into position when the hammer is cocked, and transfers the hammer impact to the frame mounted firing pin. When the hammer is down, the transfer bar is also down, so that the hammer can’t reach the firing pin. This as opposed to Colt SAA guns where the ‘firing pin’ is part of the hammer, and when in the down (un-cocked) position would rest on the primer of the cartridge in the uppermost chamber. That’s why Colt and Colt clones should be loaded with five rounds only, with the empty chamber under the hammer. It’s – load one round, skip the next chamber, then load four more; bring to full cock, then lower the hammer – onto the empty chamber. I have both Rugers and Colt clones, and load both in the Colt fashion – that way I don’t have to think about “What am I carrying today.” Maybe some day I’ll think about buying a decent semi-auto…..

    1. Correct. The article got that point reversed. All Ruger new model guns with transfer bar work the same way. Due to a protrusion on the face of the hammer, it cannot contact the firing pin unless the transfer bar is up. The TB goes up as the hammer is cocked and stays up as the hammer falls only if the trigger is held back. If the trigger is simply bumped so as to release the sear, but not held back, the transfer bar falls as the hammer falls so acts as a safety in this manner.

  30. I’ve never been a huge fan of single action revolvers, but I can’t tell you a good reason why, either. I have owned two of them over the years.
    One, the Ruger Six in .22 WRM with a .22 LR exchangeable cylinder and it gave credible performance and a LOT of fun in its own right.
    The second was the Ruger Vaquero in .357 Magnum which I took in trade and later traded again.
    Both guns were fine handguns in their own right and I now wish I had kept them if nothing else but for the Fun appeal of them.
    One day in the, I hope, not too distant future, I’d like to again buy a Single Six with the interchangeable .22 caliber cylinders. With the cost of WRM ammo approaching centerfire ammo, far more LR rounds would be fired, I’m sure.
    I’d also LOVE to find a “reasonably priced”(??) revolver in .45 ACP like the great S&W (I could go with a single action and enjoy both ACP and Long Colt rounds), 5” barrel and a large (!!) supply of both Half-Moon and Full-Moon clips but I’d wager I’ll be long gone before one makes it into my stable of handguns. Pity, too.
    If only I’d known then what I know now as the saying goes, right?

  31. Bought myself one of these the week before the 2016 election (just in case) in the .357/9mm convertible. Wow! What a fine piece of equipment. Love it!

  32. had one of these model 0308 at 4,62 inch. felt right in the hand, pointed quickly & was comfortable, with either 357 or 38 or 9mm. wish i still had it.

  33. You should have mentioned the convertible Blackhawks with extra cylinders – .357/9mm and .45LC/.45 ACP.

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