Collecting Rugers - Part 1


by Bill Hamm


I  have enjoyed collecting guns and specifically Rugers for many years.  During that time I have learned several good lessons.  Some of those were quite costly but those are the ones that really stick in your mind never to repeat again.  I think of it as paying for my education.

I have listed some general pointers for the beginning collector to consider that I think will help in building a good quality collection.  They are certainly not all inclusive but hopefully will be of some help.

1.      Collector Versus Accumulator - There is nothing wrong with accumulating guns, all types of guns; we have all been there.  Myself, I love guns, period!  If that is what you enjoy, that is fine, but if you want to become a true collector of a certain gun(s), I believe it requires focus.  In Ruger collecting, it does not matter what you decide to collect or how you approach it, but I suggest you have a plan. 

2.      The Initial Plan - An example of a plan would be that you decide you want to collect one example of each major type of the Ruger early autos and old model revolvers. Your plan would lay out and list what that would include.  Standard Autos and Target models, Red Eagle and Black Eagle grips, different barrel lengths; next the Single-six Revolvers, flat loading gates and round loading gates, black rubber and walnut grips, different barrel lengths; next the Blackhawk .357 Revolvers, etc., etc.  If you have limited funds, figure that into your plan.  You do not want to mortgage the farm - or at least not all of it!  Then you go about your search.  Try not to sway too much, instill discipline in yourself, try to stay on your plan.  This is usually very hard for us gun lovers! 

3.      Plan 2 - Once you have fulfilled the above or are nearly there you need to decide what is next, how do you expand?  For example, you may decide that you really like a particular series of gun, let’s say the Single-Sixes.  You want to expand that particular part of your collection, really get into the different variations of these guns.  You should then focus on that area.  First, find out all you can about the Single-Sixes -  read, read, read !!  Ask fellow collectors, look at gun displays at gun shows if available, etc.  Then list all the guns that would make up a complete collection of the different variations of those guns.  An example is that there are four major variations of the flat loading gate or “flatgate” guns, etc.  Then begin the hunt!  Again, you may have limited funds, so figure that into your plan. 

 4.     Books, articles, etc. - You just cannot read too much about the guns you decide to collect!  Most of the authors are true collectors themselves and are sharing their many hours of hands-on research, knowledge, and experience.  Use this to your advantage.  There are several good books on Ruger collecting.  While some are out of print they can still be found, and their cost will pay for themselves many times over.

[Ed. Note: see below for list of Bill's recommended reference books and where to find them - Boge Quinn]

5.      Listen and learn - Try to get to know fellow collectors who are interested in Rugers and especially the same type of Rugers that you are.  You will find most of them willing and even eager to share their knowledge and experience.  Be humble, ask questions, do not be embarrassed, everyone has to learn.  At the same time do not be a  “pest”, remember you can not learn everything from them overnight, so use good judgment and taste when having discussions with them.  Remember,  much of your knowledge needs to be hands-on experience.  I have many collector friends who have taught me so much - and they are still teaching me today.

6.      Collector associations - Join a collector’s association.  This is a good way to meet people with the same common interests.  You learn contacts and often find some good guns for your collection.  The Ruger Collectors Association and Red Eagle News Exchange are two good Ruger information sources.

[Ed. Note: The Ruger Collectors' Association is the oldest organization for the Ruger collector and/or enthusiast. Membership includes the Association's sporadically-produced newsletter and invitation to members-only events. For more information (or to apply for a $25.00 annual membership), write to: Ruger Collectors' Association, Inc., P.O. Box 240, Greens Farms, CT  06436

The Red Eagle News Exchange is a quarterly publication filled with new information, updates, and articles about collecting Ruger firearms and memorabilia. This is an excellent resource for the Ruger collector and/or enthusiast, and the wealth of information sent to new subscribers as a free gift with a $20.00 paid annual subscription is alone well worth the money. Highly recommended. For more information or to subscribe, write Red Eagle News Exchange (Chad Hiddleson - Editor), 1945 Clover Avenue, Perry, IA  50220, or call (515) 465-2057 - Boge Quinn]

7.      Display your guns - The Ruger Collectors Association has two major annual theme shows.  Many gun show promoters all over the country have “display tables” available at reduced table rates.  I suggest you show your guns off.  You do not have to wait until you have the perfect collection.  You may meet someone from the general public that sees your display and happens to have a real good gun for your collection.  You do not always get them but it has happened more than once for me.

8.      Sources - I have found some of the best sources for good collectible guns to be gun shows, local newspaper, gun publications, estate sales and actions.  The Internet adds another broad dimension.  Fellow collections are a valuable source to obtain leads for those special guns.

[Ed. Note: one of our favorite web sites is the Internet Gun Classifieds page, - Boge Quinn]

Now buy those books, listen to the knowledgeable collectors, join a club, and begin building your collection.

In my next article on Ruger collecting I will share more specific pointers about the guns themselves and some lessons from my education.

Bill Hamm


  Ed. Note: The reference books listed below are recommended by the author. They are out of print but good places to find them are gun book dealers, gun shows, and from other collectors.  Some of these books can also be purchased directly from the Ruger Collectors’ Association once you become a member. Some of these books are available from known reliable sources, and I have noted them along with the source and their current price - Boge Quinn

  “Ruger and His Guns”, by R. L. Wilson. Currently available new or used from

“Know Your Ruger Single Action Revolvers 1953-63”, by John C. Dougan. Can be special-ordered used from

“Know Your Ruger Single Actions:  The Second Decade, 1963-73”, by John C. Dougan. Can be special-ordered used from

“Complements of Col. Ruger; A Study of Factory Engraved Single Action Revolvers”, by John C. Dougan. Available used from All Books in Chattanooga, TN - email:

“A Blacksmith Guide to …. Ruger Flattops & Super Blackhawks”, by H. W. Ross, Jr. Available used from All Books in Chattanooga, TN - email:

“Ruger Blackhawk Revolvers in .357 and .44”, by H. W. Ross, Jr.

“Ruger Automatic Pistols and Single Action Revolvers”, by Hugo A. Lueders edited by Don Findley.  Currently available new from

“Encyclopedia of Ruger Semi-Automatic Rimfire Pistols - 1949-1992”, by Chad Hiddleson.  Currently available used from

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Author Bill Hamm with one of his prized rare Rugers, an unfired .44 Flattop, serial #10. Click picture for a larger version.

Read more about Bill on the "About Us" page.