The original Ruger
Blackhawk .44 Magnum is one of my all-time
favorite handguns. It was introduced by Ruger back in
1956, along with the brand new .44 Magnum cartridge. To this
day, I have never found a .44 Magnum that I like as well as the
old original Blackhawk. The Blackhawk was to later become known
to shooters as the Flattop, referring to its flat-topped frame.
The original Blackhawk .44 was not finished as well as the Super
Blackhawk which replaced it, but I have always liked the
handling qualities of the original much better. It had a
grip frame that duplicated the one first introduced by Colt on
their 1851 Navy revolver, and later used on the Single Action
Army sixgun. Ruger dubbed it the XR3
grip frame, and to my hand, was the best-feeling grip
frame that Ruger ever made. It was replaced in the early 1960s
with a redesigned version, that has never felt as good to me.
The original .44 Blackhawk was dropped from production in 1962,
with less than 30,000 produced. For a lot of detailed,
accurate information on the original .44 Blackhawk, I refer the
reader to Bill Hammís
excellent article titled: Ruger Blackhawk .44 Magnum
Now, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the
original Ruger .44 Blackhawk, Ruger has introduced a New Model
.44 Blackhawk that is the spittiní image of the original, with
a few modern concessions. It is, however, the sixgun that many
of us hoped would be produced for the Golden Anniversary of the
.44 Flattop. Of course, the new Flattop is built using the New
Model internal lockwork that allows the sixgun to be safely
carried fully loaded in all six chambers. It also has Rugerís
new internal key lock that was first introduced on their New
Vaquero. This lock is underneath the grip panels, is
unobtrusive, and allows Ruger to sell its guns in jurisdictions
that are governed by idiots who insist on such devices. Anyway,
the lock doesnít bother me at all.
Thankfully, the new .44 Flattop has a grip frame
shaped like the original XR3 Rugers and Colt sixguns, just as
God intended. The difference is that the new grip frames
are made of blued steel instead of aluminum as on the originals,
resulting in a more pleasing appearance and a better balanced
revolver. The new Flattop .44 weighs 46 ounces, compared
to the originalís weight of 39 ounces. The grip frames
feel identical in my hand, and the grip panels, while not
interchangeable due to pin location and the internal key lock,
are shaped the same on both sixguns.
The fit and finish on the new Blackhawk is very
well done, and is in fact better than on the originals. The
metal to metal fit is very good, and the grip panels fit the
grip frame almost perfectly. The Anniversary Blackhawk
comes shipped in a hard plastic 50th Anniversary case,
which also contains a small booklet relating the history of the
Ruger .44 Magnum. Like most of the originals, the new
Flattop wears a six and one-half inch barrel. On the top of the
barrel is roll-marked; "50 YEARS OF .44 MAGNUM" above
"1956 TO 2006". The lettering is gold colored, and
looks good against the dark blue-black finish. The grips are a
checkered hard black rubber, and wear the Ruger eagle emblem on
each side. The trigger pull on the test gun was pretty good
right out of the box; much better than on most Ruger Blackhawks
that I have handled in the past few years. The recent New
Vaquero that I tested had a good trigger pull as well.
It seems that such things are improving at Ruger. However, I
like a bit lighter pull weight than the test gun had from the
factory, which measured just over four pounds, so I lifted
one leg of the trigger spring from its stud, dropping
the pull weight down to two and one-quarter pounds. Overall, the
Flattop has a very handsome appearance. I like the return of the
Micro rear sight mortised into the perfectly flat frame
top. It has that clean, classic appearance.
Loading the .44 Flattop is like on all new Model
Ruger single actions. Simply opening the loading gate releases
the cylinder to rotate clockwise to load each chamber.
Also, and thankfully, the chambers line up with the loading gate
easily now, as they do on the New Vaqueros. This makes for much
easier loading and unloading.
The Flattop proved to be very accurate,
exhibiting the ability to place five rounds into about an inch
with great regularity at twenty-five yards, using a rested
position. It is refreshing these days to be able to still
buy accurate revolvers.
Many are now built for only "combat accuracy", but
this new Ruger is a target and hunting grade sixgun.
I was very pleased with the new Anniversary .44
Flattop. It is a fitting tribute to Rugerís long association
with the .44 Magnum cartridge. It returns to the Ruger family of
revolvers the best handling grip frame ever placed on a .44
Magnum sixgun, in my opinion. The original .44 Blackhawk has
been out of production for forty-four years. The Super
Blackhawk that replaced it was a better gun in every way, except
handling. Now, with the Flattop .44 back in production to
commemorate the 50th Anniversary, I hope that it is in the
lineup of Ruger sixguns for many years to come. I like it.
Check out the extensive line of Ruger firearms
and accessories online at here.
For the location of a Ruger dealer near you,
click on the DEALER LOCATOR icon at: www.lipseys.com.
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buy this gun, Click on the DEALER FINDER icon at:
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