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Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk 44 Magnum Single Action Revolver Review


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New Model Super Blackhawk - Introduction, Right Side
Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk single action 44 magnum revolver, right side.

Right side of Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk single action 44 magnum revolver. I've obscured part of the serial number, for security reasons.

Photo © Russ Chastain
Sturm, Ruger and Co. hadn't been around very long before its first centerfire gun hit the market in 1955. It was known as the Blackhawk, and it didn't take long for it to find success. Only a year later, the powerful 44 Remington Magnum cartridge hit the streets, and Ruger jumped at the chance to produce the first single action revolver for the sensational new cartridge. Thus was born the Flat Top Blackhawk 44.

Some folks are never happy, Bill Ruger among 'em, and within a few years the 44 Blackhawk was revised, remodeled, and renamed the Super Blackhawk.

The New Model is Born

William Batterman Ruger was a tinkerer who couldn't stand to leave a design alone for long, and in 1973 Ruger's single action guns were all replaced by New Model variations. The New Model guns use a transfer bar to prevent the hammer from ever touching the firing pin directly, and this makes it safer to carry the revolver fully loaded with six rounds.

In the old Colt single action revolvers, after which the original Blackhawk was modeled, the hammer strikes the firing pin directly, driving it into the primer of a cartridge located in the chamber directly in front of it. It is possible for this style of gun to fire unintentionally, if the hammer is at rest on the firing pin and is struck sharply or if the gun is dropped and lands on its hammer. That cannot happen with the New Model's transfer bar design.

Therefore, the New Model was touted as safer when it was thrust upon the shooting public, and naturally many folks happily hopped on board - but there were some holdouts who preferred the old-fashioned action for a number of reasons (better trigger pull, proper cylinder indexing, etc).

The New Model may have prevented an errant round or two from being fired - there's no way we can know. But we know for certain that it did cause the cylinder to index in entirely the wrong position for loading and unloading, and in my opinion, this is the New Model's greatest failing.

This Gun

The gun in the photo above was built in 1981 or thereabouts according to Ruger's website. An uncle of mine was the original owner of this popper, and when he started talking about trading it in at a gun shop back in the 1990s, I scraped together some dough and bought it from him. It was my first large revolver, and I think I shelled out $250 for it. It was one of my first gun purchases, my previous few guns having been gifts.

Notable Features

The serial number (partially obscured in the photo) is stamped on the lower right portion of the cylinder frame. No other markings are evident on this side.

The ejector rod housing, attached to the lower right side of the barrel, is made of an aluminum alloy, rather than steel.

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