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Ruger Old Model Blackhawk Single Action Revolver Review

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Ruger Blackhawk Review Introduction
Ruger Blackhawk review - left side of 357 magnum Old Model single action revolver.

Ruger Blackhawk 357 magnum Old Model single action revolver (left side).

Photo copyright Russ Chastain
Back in 1955, a young firearms company introduced its first centerfire gun. The company was Sturm, Ruger, and Co., and the gun was the Ruger Blackhawk single action (SA) revolver, chambered in 357 Magnum. Later chamberings included 41 Magnum, 44 Magnum, 45 Colt, and 30 Carbine, but the 357 was the mainstay of the Blackhawk line. "Convertible" guns were also sold, with two cylinders: 9mm Luger with 357 Mag, and 45 ACP with 45 Colt. No Blackhawks were made in 9mm or 45 ACP except for the Convertibles.

The Blackhawk was the second model of revolver offered by the six-year-old company (the first was the Single Six SA .22-caliber rimfire revolver). The Blackhawk found a ready market, and became a success in short order. Popularity of old-west style Colt revolvers was high, and the Blackhawk looks, points, and feels much like the Colt Single Action Army.

They're Not All the Same

Bill Ruger was a tinkerer, and loved to fiddle around with his designs (which were mostly variations of others' designs). This resulted in many of the company's guns evolving over the years, and the Blackhawk is no exception.

The gun pictured above was built in 1970 per the serial number. Stamped on the left side of the barrel are "STURM, RUGER & CO., INC." and "SOUTHPORT, CONN. U.S.A." in two lines. The left side of the frame is stamped "RUGER .357 CAL." and "BLACKHAWK" in two lines below the cylinder, with the trademark phoenix logo stamped to the right of the words.

This particular gun is an example of what's probably the most common Blackhawk, with a hump in the top rear of the frame to house the rear sight. Originally, the Blackhawk had a flat frame top with the rear sight inletted into it, and is thus known as the "Flat Top." Early Flat Top Blackhawks are more rare, and thus are more costly as a rule.

(Read the review of a Flat Top Blackhawk 44 with 10" Barrel)

This gun is not a New Model. We'll discuss those on the next page.

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