The Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum

Two revolvers, the black barreled Super Blackhawk on the top and white-handled single action Ruger on the bottom on a white background

Bill Ruger introduced the rugged and reliable Blackhawk revolver-action revolver. Colt revolvers were practically unobtainable, and Colt was slow to reintroduce the Single-Action Army. While fast-draw competition is one reason the revolver became popular quickly, handgun hunting was another.

Silver barreled, brown handled Super Blackhawk on a tree trunk
Burlier than a Dragoon and more powerful is the Super Blackhawk.

A Bit of Blackhawk History

The .357 Magnum.” href=”” target=”_blank”>.357 Magnum Ruger Blackhawk was then, and remains today, an excellent all-around hunting revolver. With the introduction of the .44 Magnum cartridge, things got interesting; Ruger brought out the .44 Magnum Blackhawk in 1956. That revolver resembled the original Blackhawk and was a good revolver, although not ideal for handling the .44 Magnum cartridge. Ruger was keen on history and modeled his firearms after classic guns of the Old West. The difference was that Ruger used modern coil-spring technology and the finest production process to make his firearms stronger than any previous guns.

The Ruger Blackhawk was a light-packing gun with plenty of punch, although it kicked hard with Magnum loads. Ruger changed the grip configuration by lengthening it and produced a squared trigger guard. The result was a revolver with some resemblance to the Colt Dragoon. The Super Blackhawk also featured an ultra-strong cylinder without flutes.

Ruger also added a special hammer spur and wide trigger, creating one of the strongest and best-accepted modern revolvers ever manufactured. The Super Blackhawk features a ramp front sight and fully adjustable rear sight. The original revolver also was polished to a high standard. The newer guns are also very nice, and the older Super Blackhawk revolvers were a high point of production. However, a tremendous advantage is that the newer guns are available in stainless steel.

Black Blackhawk, barrel pointed down and to the left on a white background
The Blackhawk is a classic design that has taken care of business for more than 50 years.

The original Super Blackhawk (pictured) is a very capable handgun and one that has worn well with age. The Super Blackhawk is often very accurate and among the few revolvers I can fire about as accurately off hand as off of a solid bench-rest firing position. For example, recently I sighted in the Super Blackhawk with Federal American Eagle 240-grain JSP, an affordable loading that is often accurate in any .44 Magnum revolver.

At 25 yards from a rest, I placed five rounds into a 1.2-inch group, the norm for the Super Blackhawk. I would like to say my carefully crafted handloads do a little better; unfortunately, they usually do not. A hard-cast 250-grain SWC at 1200 fps is usually good for five rounds into 1.5 inches. My favorite powder is H110.

The balance of this six-gun with a 7.5-inch barrel is outstanding. The balance is neither handle- nor barrel-heavy; it is ideal. As for value, the Super Blackhawk has been the best value on the market for some time. The only revolver that may be stronger is the robust and reliable Ruger Super Redhawk, and it would take a lot of shooting to prove the Super Redhawk is stronger.

Bill Ruger revived the single-action revolver and placed it in ascendancy in the hunting field. The plow-handled single-action grip lets the revolver roll more in recoil. The single action is usually more comfortable to fire than a double-action revolver of the same or similar weight.

Gold .44 Magnum cartridge on a dark-gray-to-light-gray background
The .44 Magnum is a terrific cartridge.

As for the cartridge, the .44 Magnum has quite a history. Among the first centerfire .44 caliber cartridges to earn great fame and renown for its accuracy was the .44 Smith and Wesson American, later known as the .44 Russian (because of the thousands sold to imperial Russia). The .44 Smith and Wesson was used to drop buffalo; buffalo were huge and hunters accomplished the deed by galloping alongside the beast and shooting it in the ear.

The .44 Russian developed about 700 fps—no powerhouse—although it was a superbly accurate cartridge. In 1907, S&W lengthened the .44 Russian  into the .44 Special. The Special is not appreciably more powerful and came in strong, double-action revolvers, which led to much experimentation. Handloaders, led by Phillip Sharpe, Elmer Keith and others, developed loads that jolted a 250-grain, hard-cast SWC bullet to 1200 fps. Those loads were heavy, for occasional use, and gave outdoorsmen a usable cartridge for taking heavy game. In 1956, Remington developed the .44 Remington Magnum. Advertised as jolting a 240-grain JSP to some 1400 fps in the long-barrel Smith and Wesson revolver, the load came close to that reality.

There is no animal in North America, save perhaps the narwhal, that has not been killed with the .44 Magnum revolver. Even the polar bear has fallen to the mighty .44. In Africa, Elmer Keith took elephant with a brain shot. A good, steady hand and a bullet with good penetration work wonders.

In my experience, the .44 Magnum kills all out of proportion to its paper energy figures and gives fuel to my disregard for paper energy. Inside of 50 yards, the .44 Magnum kills quicker and cleaner than a .30-caliber rifle. My last boar hog, at 280 pounds, fell quickly to the .44 Magnum.

As for accuracy, a heavyweight, hard-cast lead bullet (Laser Cast/Oregon Trail) over a heavy charge of Winchester 296, H110 or 2400, is often brilliantly accurate. Some of those loads are accurate to 100 yards. I believe modest loads serve Magnum revolvers best for most practice sessions. The 250-grain bullet, at 1000 fps, is a great practice loading, and the factory Blazer load is a good choice for inexpensive practice.

Two revolvers, the black barreled Super Blackhawk on the top and white-handled single action Ruger on the bottom on a white background
There are other single-action Ruger revolvers, but the Super Blackhawk is head and shoulders above them all.

The .44 Special is light shooting and accurate in the .44 Magnum. There are more powerful handguns than the .44 Magnum; the .454 Casull and monster .500 Magnum come to mind. However, the .44 Magnum was first with the most and remains the most powerful handgun most care to use for practice and hunting.

If you have mastered the .44 and feel limited, then go ahead and try the others. The .44 Magnum, however, is a must-have handgun for serious shooters. The Ruger Super Blackhawk is still among the strongest, most accurate and most durable of revolvers.

It is a modern classic.


Typical .44 Magnum performance, Ruger Super Blackhawk with a 7.5-inch barrel

Load Velocity
240-grain JHP 1400 fps
300-grain JHP 1200 fps

Do you already own a Ruger Blackhawk? What are your thoughts on the new version? You ready to get one? Share your thoughts in the comments 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 (23)

  1. I’ve got a 44 magnum super black hawk with a 33/4”barrel 3 screw 80-149xx I think it would be a 1970 model year.

  2. I have a Super Blackhawk 44 mag 71/2 in barrel ser. # 80-23429. How can I find the date of manufacture?
    Thanks, Jim Ethridge

  3. I have a super blackhawk 44mag and tried to get rid of it but people want you to give it to them but no can do.I really like to shoot it but ol man author is playing havick with my right hand

  4. I’ve got a Super Blackhawk 10-1/2 in. 44 mag.
    and just love how the gun shoots. Never shot a Redhawk but wouldn’t trade that for anything.
    Well almost anything. Very well balanced and it recoils back instead of up. The barrel stays flatter because of the length.
    Great gun.

  5. I just got a new model Super Blackhawk today and love it. I have had a few .44 magnums in the past, an original S&W Model 29, and a Colt clone made by Iver Johnson. I have know many who have owned Super Blackhawks, and have shot them and wanted one ever since. When this one came up for sale I jumped on it since I have no .44mags left. I no longer sell my guns so this is yet another keeper. Mine is the Stainless 5.5in barrel fluted cylinder model. I am in love with .44mag all over again.

  6. @Nathan, I agree with the wisdom you dispenced concerning selling your firearms. I feel strongly about all that i own and regret the few i sold over the years.
    If i like it enough to buy it, i have now leaned toward holding on to them.

  7. I recently purchased a Super Blackhawk .44Mag, and since I load all my own ammo, I started with a 240 gr, cast swc. I used Imr 4227, 14.0 gr, Winchester LP primers, and on my first time out with it I was able to put 6 rounds thru a target center after only 12 rounds warmup shots. It has a solid kick to it, but I have custom made oversize grips in rosewood on it, so I can hold on to it very well. I also have a Vaquero in .45 LC, and another vaquero in .357, very satisfied with all my Rugers.

  8. I have a 51/2 inch S/B . I love it although I have not shot it much lately . I am now planning on shooting it much more and hope to hunt some hogs with it in the coming year. It is a beautifully balanced gun and deserves a lot more attention than it gets. Long live the Ruger Super Blackhawk.

  9. I own a new super black-hawk 51/2 inch barrel. it shots extremely low and right with the factory Winchester 240 grain.any suggestions

    1. I have both the Blackhawk in 357 and the Super Blackhawk in 44 mag. In my opinion there simply not a better built and more dependable gun. Anyone that has not had the opportunity to spend some time at the range with a Ruger single action does not know what a pleasure they are to fire.
      Although I do carry a SR40c and love the gun nothing compares to the feel of the Ruger SA. Because of it’s dependability and accuracy, prepers would do well to consider a Ruger SA for part of their arsenal.

    2. Try using a solid bench rest. Does it still shoot low and right? Until I mastered my flinching, I shot low and right alot. Got a flinck? Try leaving some of the chambers empty and then spin the cylinder. Wait for it to stop and lock the hammer back. What happens when an emptt comes up? Good luck.

  10. Im the guy that bought one that someone let go. In the mid 80s I bought a SB 44mag at a local pawn shop for 250.00. This one has pacmyer grips, that I like, and is the 7.5″ blued version. Id have to be very desperate to let it go.
    awsome pistol.

  11. Have had one since 1974and would not get rid of it for anything. Mine has the luxurious blueing. It always works

  12. Thanks for article Bob, I picked up a new model at a gun show in the early 90’s from a guy that used it exclusively for feral hog hunting. I never even loaded or fired the thing for about 9 years, then finally decided to buy some ammo and try it and a Winchester Model 94 I picked up at the same show(it was brand new) both in 44 Mag. Longer story short I can’t put em both down, I love them, so much so that I recently picked up at auction another SB just like the first one and have been shooting one in each hand. I also own several other Rugers including a Red Hawk like you mentioned, except I got the short barrel Alaskan, also a fun shooter but can’t do the distance of the SB with the 7.5 inch. Thanks again for a great article.

  13. I have owned my Old Model SB since the 80’s, it truly has the best blued finish I have ever seen on a firearm. Every time I take it to the range and shoot it people compliment the polished finish it has. (The old model’s finish blows the new model’s finish away hands down) Like mentioned above, it is a very accurate and well balanced firearm which shots any loads you feed it perfectly. (It is a fun firearm to shot, I’ve always been a fan of single action revolvers 🙂 The only thing I have done to mine is switch out the factory wood grips with Pachmayr rubber grips.

    I use mine to go boar hunting with using 300 grain loads quite often. Using this load actually caused one of the three side screws to shear it’s head off. Other than that incident my SB has run flawlessly…

  14. The SB pictured is a beautiful gun. I bought one for 112$ around 1970 that was finished like the one in the article. I’ve had several SB 44s and a few S&W model 29s 44 mags. and they are wonderful hand guns. There are many newer larger guns and some smaller but the SB and S & W 29 seem to be perfection in size for this round. As this article states when you shoot something with them they do incredible damage. I shot a cinderblock wall with a 240 gr. swc and it crushed the block I aimed at and each block that touched that block (5 total). We tried 41 and 357 mags. and they couldn’t come close to the damage and rifles and autos just put hole through the wall. The combination of accuracy, power and the size of a gun the 44 mag SB is difficult to top.

  15. I remember the day, many years ago, I was extremely tempted by an SB in .357, stainless, with 4 5/8 barrel. But it was 375.00, and I had just spent 500 on a Colt Officers model.
    I wish I had given in to temptation.
    My favorite round by far is the .357/38 spcl, and that Ruger is gorgeous. Not just utilitarian, but pretty as well. Sigh

  16. I too agree with Bob, and feel much better about you guys admitting doing what I did. I too, let one go for $250, and have deeply regretted it since 1988. We live and learn. I have had three or four rifles in mind to purchase yet for the past year or so, and two shotguns, but as far as handguns go, I might just have to make it a quest to find another Hi Standard HD Military, and another Super Blackhawk to put things back in order. Thanks for the article Bob.

  17. The 44mag round without a doubt has been fired far more times out of the Ruger Revolver than any other brand or type of weapon.
    THE 44 Mag round has been chambered in semi autos, single shot rifles and pistols, bolt and lever action rifles, and a small ammo developer in Washigton state is owed a lot for his devepopment of that rounds full potential.
    OLDER Marlin Levers are most capable partners to the Ruger 44 on the hip; due to twist and manufacturing of Barrels .
    You can load some truly devestating and accurate 150 yard hunting rounds in one of those levers.
    Sometimes there are events that just seem to happen, as if they were meant to be, and the Ruger with the 44 mag round is one such happening.

  18. Owning both the 44 magnum and the 357 magnum I can agree with everything that Bob says. I love all my Rugers but find the SAs to be the most enjoyable to shoot. Both the 357 and the 44 are great hunting cartridges and I consider the old 375 magnum to be the best all around cartridge ever developed.

  19. I had a Stainless 44 SB for many years. Also a huge regret letting it go. A lesson to all younger shooters, unless you actually hate a particular gun, keep them all.

  20. Its one of those guns that will handle all loads for its caliber, under pretty much any conditions save rusted shut,and do it over and over.
    I dont know that I would prefer it in a firefight against multiple aggressors,but any guns serves better than no gun.
    Rugers quality is established beyond the need for any comment.
    I let one go back in the 70’s and regret it still.
    One of The Greats.

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