The New Model is Born
Bill Ruger was a tinkerer and 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.
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.
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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