TALO Exclusive Ruger Wiley Clapp Blackhawk 45 Colt / 45 ACP Sixgun

by Boge Quinn

photography by Boge Quinn

July 22nd, 2020

Full30.com Video Link


Click pictures for a larger version.







XS Sights Big Dot front sight (top) and Ruger V-notch adjustable rear (center & bottom).





Slab-sided barrel.





Bird's-Head grip frame with black Micarta "Gunfighter" style grips.



Sturm, Ruger & Co. first introduced the Blackhawk revolver in 1955, after the release of their successful Single-Six 22 sixgun, introduced in 1953. Like its rimfire cousin, the centerfire Blackhawk had a nostalgic look that evoked the venerable Colt Single Action Army sixguns, but with modern materials and a modern internal design that made the Rugers far superior mechanically to the original Colts. The original "Flattop" Blackhawks were offered in 357 Magnum on a "medium" frame size that was roughly the same dimensions as the Colt frame. In late 1956, Ruger introduced the 44 Magnum "Flattop" Blackhawk, built on a larger frame to handle the larger Magnum cartridge, which set the stage for Ruger's later introduction of the Blackhawk in my favorite centerfire sixgun cartridge, the 45 Colt. 

Ruger finally went to the next logical step: offering 45 Colt sixguns with a conversion cylinder to accommodate the wonderful 45 ACP cartridge. The 45 ACP is a great companion to the 45 Colt in a convertible sixgun, as the 45 ACP is a moderately powerful cartridge that can be enjoyed over long shooting sessions without punishing the shooter, is a fine defensive option for those who wish to carry a sixgun for such purposes, and relatively low-cost ammunition is (usually) readily available. Therefore, I own several Ruger 45 Colt / 45 ACP convertible sixguns, and I have even had a number of my Colt 45 sixguns custom-fitted with an extra 45 ACP cylinder. Beyond any practical application they may have, a 45 ACP sixgun, whether it be a Single-Action or Double-Action, is just plain FUN. And FUN is enough reason to own them!

The 45 Colt / 45 ACP Blackhawk has now taken its next evolutionary step, thanks to the folks at TALO Distributors, Inc. and noted gun writer Wiley Clapp. Mr. Clapp is one of America's finest and most-respected "old school" gun writers; he has a huge body of influential work to his credit, and has become a friend to Jeff and me over the past couple of decades. Over the last few years, Mr. Clapp has turned his hand to designing unique and practical handguns for some of our major manufacturers; in years past, we have reviewed the Ruger GP-100 "Wiley Clapp" 357 Magnum double-action revolver, as well as Colt's "Wiley Clapp" Stainless Commander and "Wiley Clapp" CCO Lightweight 45 ACP semi-auto pistols. Mr. Clapp has a way of combining the features most desirable to shooters in a unique and appealing fashion, and joining forces with TALO makes a lot of sense. TALO is a wholesale buying cooperative, which allows several wholesalers to combine their buying power to have manufacturers offer limited-run products which otherwise might never see the light of day; this allows shooters the opportunity to own limited-edition uniquely-featured firearms at reasonable prices.

The TALO Exclusive Wiley Clapp 45 Blackhawk, also known as the "Carryhawk", is just such a uniquely-featured firearm. Beginning with the 45 Colt Blackhawk, the Wiley Clapp Carryhawk offers a second cylinder in 45 ACP, a 4-5/8" barrel, a Super Blackhawk hammer, a Bird's-Head grip frame, XS Sights "Big Dot" front sight with V-notch rear sight, and the aesthetic touches of a matte-black finish and slab-sided barrel. I have already discussed the virtues of the additional 45 ACP cylinder, so let's look at the remaining features:

The 4-5/8" barrel offers a reasonable compromise between power and portability; some bullet velocity is lost due to the shorter barrel, but the ease of carrying the shorter barrel more than offsets the nominal reduction in power. Ruger has long offered the Blackhawk in a 4-5/8" barrel, and it has long been my favorite barrel length for a sixgun. It is worth noting here that some have reported the barrel length of the Wiley Clapp Blackhawk to be 4"; this is incorrect. The actual barrel length is 4-5/8", which is a good thing, as a 4" barrel would make it illegal for hunting in many jurisdictions which specify a barrel of greater than 4" be used.

The Super Blackhawk hammer has a slightly different profile than the standard Blackhawk hammer, along with a wide, serrated spur, which makes reaching and cocking the hammer much easier...at least for me. Some shooters, such as those with longer thumbs, might do just as well with the standard Colt-style Blackhawk hammer, but many shooters greatly prefer the handling qualities of the Super Blackhawk part.

The Bird's-Head grip frame is a somewhat controversial feature, as some love it and some hate it. I have been firmly in the "love it" camp for many years, and I find that many of those on the "hate it" side have never actually fired or handled an example; for these shooters, the Bird's-Head just doesn't have the look of the traditional grip frame, but I think it has a beauty all its own. The Bird's-Head grip frame is a fairly recent feature for Ruger, having been introduced on their Vaquero 45 sixgun in 2001, and it handles superbly in my fairly large hands; the recoil impulse allows the sixgun to "roll up" in the hand very smoothly, and the curve of the backstrap perfectly fits in the palm. The only place where the Bird's-Head fails to shine is with large-caliber heavy-bullet Magnum-level loads, but the same thing can be said for the XR3/XR3-RED "standard" or "plow-handle" grip frame; for these high-recoil loads, a more linear grip frame, such as Ruger's excellent Bisley grip frame, is indicated.

The sights consist of XS Sights' excellent "Big Dot" front sight, combined with Ruger's fully-adjustable rear sight featuring a shallow V-notch blade. While also not a traditional set of sights, not even on a more modern sixgun such as a Ruger, these sights are just right for the sixgun's intended purpose: self-defense against either four-legged or two-legged predators. The sight picture is not as precise as Ruger's more familiar target-style sights, but the front sight is very quickly acquired in nearly any lighting condition, which can make all the difference when a hunting trip or a night on the town goes South. If your interest is paper-punching, look elsewhere; but if your interest is carrying a sixgun in defense of your life, these sights are FAST on target!

As for the aesthetics of the barrel and finish...again, some will like it and some will not. I admit that the Carryhawk is anything but a traditional-looking sixgun, but its appearance is very appealing to me; since the Blackhawk is a thoroughly modern sixgun, it is only fitting that it have a thoroughly modern look. The matte finish, Bird's-Head grip frame, and slab-sided barrel (with flats milled into the sides) combine to create what I would call a very "businesslike" aesthetic. This is very fitting for a sixgun that is designed to be carried as a defensive sixgun.

Specifications - TALO Exclusive Ruger Wiley Clapp Blackhawk

Model / UPC #: 0477 / 7-36676-00477-5
Action Type: Single-Action Revolver
Caliber: 45 Colt / 45 ACP (extra cylinder)
Finish: Matte Black
Overall Length: 10-3/16"
Weight, Unloaded: 39 Ounces
Barrel Configuration: 4-5/8" Slab-Sided
Rifling Twist: 1:16", RH, 6-groove
Barrel / Cylinder Gap: 0.005"
Cylinder Configuration: Unfluted (both cylinders)
Cylinder Capacity: 6
Grip Frame: "Bird's Head"
Grip Panels: Black Micarta "Gunfighter" Profile
Front Sight: XS "Big Dot" White Dot
Rear Sight: Adjustable V-Notch
Trigger Pull: 4.2 Pounds
Safety: Ruger "New Model" Transfer Bar
Accessories Provided: Plastic Case, Instruction Manual, Cable Lock
MSRP as of July 2020: $889.00 US

Shooting the Wiley Clapp Blackhawk was a pleasure...mostly. Using standard-pressure 45 Colt loads, the sixgun proved to be plenty accurate, easy to shoot, and quick to acquire the sights. The same was true using the 45 ACP cylinder, and the sights were very close to point-of-aim for both standard-pressure 45 Colt or 45 ACP loads. I found that no major adjustments were required to bring the sights to target using these loads, which makes switching between the two calibers very easy. The differences arose when using Magnum-level 45 Colt loads; as should be expected, the heavy-bullet high-pressure loads were significantly off-target compared to the standard-pressure loads, and the recoil became less than pleasant. Simple physics require both of these variables to hold true, so there was no surprise, nor is this a problem; the Blackhawk is built to take the punishment, this is why God made adjustable sights, and the heavy loads were never intended to take up an afternoon of plinking. In a hunting situation where one might have to address an angry bear, loads such as Buffalo Bore's 325-grain Heavy 45 Colt +P might leave one thanking one's Maker for Tim Sundles.

When it came time to choose some leather in which to carry the Wiley Clapp Blackhawk, I didn't have to look far. I have a variety of holsters made for a 4-5/8" Blackhawk, so my choice was one made for me by Rob Leahy of Simply Rugged Holsters a couple of years ago. Dubbed the "Cattleman", this holster is a traditionally-crafted leather holster, "simple and rugged" as the name implies. This example is adorned with a carved Ruger logo spread at an angle over most of the holster, giving a modern look to the traditional holster design, perfectly suited to the "neo-traditionalist" aesthetic of the Carryhawk. I was initially a bit concerned that the tall, squared profile of the front sight blade might make it difficult to holster the Carryhawk using a holster made for a standard Blackhawk, but this was not to be the case; the front sight worked-in very nicely, and the sixgun slides in and out of the leather with ease.

As I wear bib overalls most of the time, I seldom wear belts, so I reached for a "Chesty Puller" rig from Simply Rugged. The Chesty Puller is an ingeniously-designed chest holster conversion system, designed by Rob Leahy to wear while fishing. It works perfectly as a woods rig, leaving both hands free while the sixgun is well-protected from brush by virtue of not hanging awkwardly off one's side, and it is made to work with any Pancake-style holster. To make the Chesty Puller system even more versatile, Simply Rugged offers a Conventional Adapter, making it possible to use the Chesty Puller rig with virtually any belt holster. It is a great system - rugged, comfortable, versatile, and affordable - and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The Ruger Wiley Clapp Blackhawk 45 Colt / 45 ACP sixgun is everything I hoped it would be: practical, powerful, easy to carry, versatile, and (dare I say?) beautiful.

Check out Ruger's extensive product line at: www.ruger.com.

View Limited-Edition TALO Firearms at: www.taloinc.com.

Buy Online through your local licensed dealer using the GUN GENIE at Davidson's Gallery of Guns: www.galleryofguns.com.

To find a TALO dealer in your area, click on the DEALER FINDER at Lipsey's: www.lipseys.com.

Order ammo online at Lucky Gunner: www.luckygunner.com, Double Tap Ammo: www.doubletapammo.com, and Buffalo Bore Ammo: www.buffalobore.com.

XS Sights: www.xssights.com.

Armscor Ammo: www.armscor.com.

Federal Ammo: www.federalpremium.com.

Simply Rugged Holsters: www.simplyrugged.com.

Boge Quinn

Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.


Click pictures for a larger version.





Sixgun comes with plastic carrying case, cable lock, instruction manual, and extra 45 ACP cylinder.



Custom-carved "Cattleman" holster from Simply Rugged Holsters.



45 Colt loads tested: Double Tap Standard Pressure 255-Grain Keith-style LSWC (top), Buffalo Bore Standard Pressure 255-Grain Keith-style LSWC (center), and Buffalo Bore 325-grain LBT-LFN +P (bottom).



45 ACP loads tested: Armscor 230-Grain FMJ (top), Federal 230-Grain Hi-Shok JHP (bottom).