March 04, 2011
The new wheelgun handles just like you would expect a Blackhawk that has the smaller grip frame to handle.
Three of my favorite aspects of Ruger's rugged Blackhawk have finally been put together in one revolver. I'm talking about the .41 Magnum chambering, the Flattop topstrap, and the original-size XR3-style grip frame. This new version is obviously made by Ruger, and it is distributed solely by Williams Shooters Supply, Inc. of Quincy, Illinois. As soon as I found out about it, I had to get one. I've had mine for about three weeks as I write this, and I've been "playing" with it every day since it arrived. I have to say I'm absolutely thrilled with it.
The new wheelgun handles just like you would expect a Blackhawk that has the smaller grip frame to handle. It happens to fit my medium-size hand like it was made for me. And it shoots as you would expect a Ruger Blackhawk to shoot, too. It hit point of aim at 25 yards with Winchester 240-grain Platinum Tip ammo right out of the box. And it averaged 2.13 inches for five-shot groups with three out of four factory loads I fired from a sandbag benchrest. I certainly have no complaints with that kind of accuracy.
The gun is being offered with 45/8-inch or 6-inch barrels, and I chose the shorter tube because I intend to carry this one in a holster on my hip while I go about my chores at the farm. All the pertinent features of this cool sixgun can be found in the accompanying specifications list, but I will take a few minutes here to remind readers of its heritage.
|Manufacturer:||Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc., www.ruger.com|
|Distributor:||Williams Shooters Supply, Inc., www.willshoot.com|
|Cylinder Capacity:||6 rounds|
|Barrel:||4.625 in.; rifling: six grooves, 1:20 RH twist|
|Overall Length:||10.25 in.|
|Weight, empty:||45 oz.|
|Sights:||Micro adjustable rear, ramp front|
|Trigger:||6.0-lb. pull (as tested)|
The original .357 Magnum Blackhawk, introduced by Ruger in 1955, was built on a smaller frame than the New Model Blackhawks, which appeared on the scene in 1973. Those original guns also did not have the protective sight shoulders of the later guns; hence, the nickname "Flattop." The original Flattop .357s were offered with 45/8-, 6.5-, and 10-inch barrels, and they were produced until 1962. In 1962 the version with the protected rear sight replaced the original Flattop. In 1956 Ruger started building .44 Magnum Blackhawks with the Flattop topstrap, but they had a heavier frame and cylinder. They, too, were made until the early 1960s.
In 2005, as part of the celebration of 50 years of producing the Blackhawk in its various versions, Ruger brought out a special small-frame Flattop edition of the .357. That version had the Flattop topstrap, adjustable Micro rear sight, and 45/8-inch or 6.5-inch barrel, plus it had a newly redesigned grip frame that was very similar in size and feel to the original XR3 grip strap. The action was the New Model Blackhawk action, complete with transfer-bar firing mechanism, but with a couple new twists. The company incorporated a then-new action lock inside the grip frame at the base of the mainspring and hammerstrut. When the action lock was engaged by a key, the hammer couldn't be fully cocked and the transfer bar did not lift into firing position. Also with the .357 Magnum 50th Anniversary Flattop Blackhawk, much like with the original gun, when you opened the loading gate and rotated the cylinder, you could hear a click when the chamber was lined up with the loading chute. For some reason unknown to me, the cylinders of intervening New Model Blackhawks did not line up with the loading chute when you heard that click.
Then in 2006 Ruger brought out a Flattop Blackhawk in .44 Magnum to commemorate 50 years of building .44 Magnum revolvers. It had all the features of the .357 50th Anniversary gun, but its main frame was noticeably longer than the .357 50th Anniversary gun's main frame. (0.12 inch longer by our measurements.) Its cylinder was also longer than the .357's. Obviously, these changes were done to accommodate the longer .44 Magnum cartridge.
Since then special runs of New Model Flattop Blackhawks (blued and stainless) have been produced and chambered in .44 Special for Lipsey's and Talo. (There's even a Flattop Bisley available through Lipsey's.) Now we have the .41 Magnum Flattop built for Williams Shooters Supply (not associated with Hank Williams Jr.), and for me, it's the one to have because I much prefer the .41 Magnum over both the .357 and the .44 Magnum.
If you're like me and love the Flattop Blackhawks and have cr
aved one in .41, now's your chance. But you had better hurry; I have a feeling these will go fast. And bear in mind, Williams Shooters Supply sells only to licensed dealers, so you'll want to have your local dealer order one right away.
|Ruger Flattop Blackhawk Accuracy|
|Factory Load||Muzzle Velocity (fps)||Extreme Spread (fps)||Standard Deviation (fps)||25-yard Accuracy (inches)|
|Winchester 175-gr. Silvertip|| 1128 || 101 ||40|| 2.50 |
|Speer 210-gr. Gold Dot|| 1269 || 51 || 18 || 1.88 |
|Winchester 240-gr. Platinum Tip|| 1109 || 62 || 24 || 2.00 |
|Federal 250-gr. CastCore|| 1097 || 70 || 25 || 5.25 |
|WARNING: The loads shown here are safe only in the guns for which they were developed. Neither the author nor InterMedia Outdoors, Inc. assumes any liability for accidents or injury resulting from the use or misuse of this data. NOTES: Accuracy is the average of three, five-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest. Velocity is the average of five rounds measured 12 feet from the gun's muzzle.|