THE RUGER BLACKHAWK

Don Findley RCA 155

 

With the success of Ruger’s .22 caliber Single Six revolver introduced in 1953, demands were growing for a single action in a center-fire caliber, a caliber with more knock down power, a round for hunting. Bill Ruger had an answer for that demand, the Ruger Blackhawk.

 

Production for the new single action Ruger Blackhawk revolver in .357 Magnum began in 1955. The “Blackhawk” name came from one of Ruger’s favorite automobiles, the Stutz Blackhawk. Retail list price for the Blackhawk was $87.50. By years end (1955) Ruger had shipped 1,512 single action .357 Magnum Blackhawk revolvers.

Specifications & options for the 1955 Ruger .357 Blackhawk

  • Ammunition: .357 Magnum. Will also fire all types of .38 special.
  • Barrel: Length, 4 5/8 in., 6 groove, 16 in. twist.
  • Frame: Heavy, flattop target style cast chrome-molybdenum steel.
  • Springs: Best quality music wire springs throughout, no leaf springs.
  • Weight: 39 ounces.
  • Overall Length: 10 1/8th in.
  • Sights: Partridge style, ramp front blade, 1/8 in. wide & matted to eliminate glare. Rear sight, Micro brand, adjustable by click screw for windage and elevation.
  • Ignition mechanism: Independent allow steel firing pin mounted in the frame.
  • Grips: Genuine hard rubber having exceptional resistance to impact; black gloss finish, sharp diamond checkering.

    Genuine ivory, optional, at $16.50 extra.

    Genuine stag, optional, at $8.50 extra.

    Genuine walnut, optional, at $5.00 extra.

  • Finish: Polished all over and blued.
  • Presentation cases and engraved guns will be available also, contact your jobber or write Sturm, Ruger & Co. for details.

 

A Blackhawk in .44 Remington Magnum was added to Ruger’s single action line in 1956. Barrels in .44 caliber and matching cylinders were fitted to the .357 Blackhawk frame for the first prototypes. The .357 Blackhawk could not safely handle the powerful .44 Magnum. A larger frame and a redesigned. A heaver cylinder pin, was incorporated in the new .44’s design. The cylinder pin (or base pin) is held in place by a spring-activated cross-bolt. As with the earlier Ruger revolvers, cylinder frames were cast in chrome-moly steel. Grip frames were cast aluminum. Grip panels were varnished American walnut. By popular demand from a growing single action fan base, a selection of different barrel lengths was offered in 1959: the .357 could be purchased with either a 4 5/8, 6 ½ or 10 inch barrel; the .44 in 6 ½, 7 ½, or 10 inch. “A barrel length for every shooting requirement”

 

Three Ruger Blackhawks have earned a coveted NRA Silver Medal: BKH3 serial number 10, BKH3 serial number 100 and uncatalogued .44 Flattop serial number 5001. To be awarded an NRA Silver Medal is a very difficult accomplishment for any post World War II firearm.

 

In late 1962, Ruger made its exceptional revolver even better. A new frame was designed with patented integral ribs incorporated in the top of the cylinder frame to protect the rear sight. Not only was the rear sight better protected, the frame was now stronger. The original XR3 grip frame was replaced with an XR3 RED frame. The new grip frame has a “fuller” profile designed to minimize recoil. The steel Micro sight was replaced with an unmarked aluminum sight. An aluminum ejector rod housing replaced the old steel housing. Grip panels were now oil-filled walnut. The introduction of this model marked the end of the Flattop era. The .44 Flattop had already evolved into the Super Blackhawk.

 

Blackhawks in .41 Remington Magnum were introduced in 1965 and a .30 Carbine Blackhawk in 1968. Ruger offered a Blackhawk in .45 Long Colt in 1970. Blackhawks with an extra cylinder began to appear by 1968: .357 / 9mm, .45LC / .45 ACP. Cylinders can be interchanged without tools. Blackhawks with factory installed brass grip frames were offered in 1972 on every model except the .30 carbine. These post-Flattop Blackhawks were known as “old models” or “three-screws” (collector’s terms).

 

According to Ruger Factory records, cumulative totals combined for all Blackhawks shipped from the Ruger factory by the end of 1972 was 328,387. This figure does not include Super Blackhawks.

 

The Ruger single action revolver like the old Colt single action was traditionally carried with 5 rounds in the cylinder with the hammer resting on the empty chamber.  In 1973, after several years of intensive engineering and testing Ruger made firearms design history. Sturm, Ruger & Co. introduced a line of single action revolvers that could safely be carried with all six chambers loaded, the Ruger New Model. The Ruger New Model single action revolvers are the most mechanically advanced revolvers on the market. As the hammer is cocked, a transfer bar comes into position between the firing pin and the hammer thus eliminating the possibility of a misfire. Two hardened pivot pins replaced the familiar three frame screws. Production and shipments of New Model Ruger single action revolvers began in January of 1973.

To celebrate the nation’s 200th year every Ruger firearm produced in 1976 was roll marked with the legend: MADE IN THE 200th YEAR OF AMERICAN LIBERTY.

The New Model Blackhawk in .357 Maximum was introduced in 1982. The new magnum has a larger frame than the standard Blackhawk with a “dragoon” type trigger guard. The Ruger catalog listed the Maximum in 7 ½ and 10 ½-inch barrels in blued steel only. On a trial run, less than a half dozen were produced in stainless steel. Ruger employees ended up with the stainless guns.

 In honor of 50 years of continuous production of the Blackhawk .357, a special commemorative Blackhawk Flattop was produced during 2005. The Flattop was back! The .44 Flattop was honored in 2006 with a similar offering.

 

 

 

Ruger produced the two millionth Blackhawk in 2005. The number reached 2,000,000 with a New Model Blackhawk in .45 Long Colt caliber, blued with a 5 ½-inch barrel. It is a one-of-a-kind revolver, heavily inlaid with three colors of gold in a classic floral vine motif. Embellishments were applied at the Ruger Studio of Art and Decoration by master engraver Paul Lantuch. Sturm, Ruger & Co. donated the 2,000,000th Blackhawk to the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) to be a part of their auction to assist in raising funds for their legislative, legal, and political efforts. The event was held on April 13, 2007.

 

The New Model Blackhawk is offered in a variety of configurations; stainless steel, or blued, or a combination of both, in almost every caliber ever designed for a handgun and with a multiple choice of barrel lengths. A Bisley model in a variety of calibers and barrel lengths in blue or stainless is also available.

 

2020 marked the 65th year of continuous production of the Ruger Blackhawk single action revolver. The Ruger Blackhawk has introduced generations of firearms enthusiasts to single action revolvers. In the face of stiff competition, both domestic and foreign, Ruger continues to dominate the single action market with durable, dependable Made in America revolvers.

Ruger NM Twoo Millionth Blackhawk .45 Caliber Engraved and Gold Intaid by Master Engraver Paul Lantuch