Forkin Custom Classics .44 Special Ruger New Vaquero


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

February 27th, 2007




Ben Forkin is a custom gunsmith who plies his trade in  White Sulphur Springs, Montana.  Ben specializes in revolvers and leverguns, particularly Marlin conversions to the .50 Alaskan cartridge. Studying at Trinidadís famous gunsmithing school and then working for the legendary Tennessee custom gunsmith Hamilton Bowen, Ben got his training the right way, and it shows in his work. I have seen, handled, and shot some of Ben Forkinís custom guns before, and have always been impressed with his fine workmanship and attention to subtle detail.

Ever since Ruger brought out their New Vaquero, the one that is nearer in size to the original Blackhawks and Colt Single Action Army revolvers, shooters have been hollering for one chambered for the .44 Special cartridge. The .44 Special is indeed a fine cartridge, with good lineage and a stellar reputation for good accuracy.  It is also ideally suited for the frame and cylinder size of the New Vaquero sixgun.

Shooters need not complain anymore, as Forkin Custom Classics is now doing .44 Special conversions on the New Vaquero. Ben builds these sixguns as they should be, line boring the chambers for perfect alignment with the barrel, setting endshake to a minimum and fitting a Belt Mountain base pin to tighten things up. He also bevels the front of the cylinder in the old black powder sixgun style. The gun featured here had received that treatment, and the small details make all the difference. The old caliber markings have been removed, and the frame correctly marked. The Ruger factory warning label about reading the manual has been removed, and Forkinís roll mark pressed into the top of the barrel. The trigger pull has been smoothed and a hidden overtravel stop installed. The trigger pull measured just over three and one half pounds on the gun pictured here. The whole sixgun has been polished and reblued. This gun has the tightest barrel/cylinder gap that I have ever measured on any revolver. It would not accept my thinnest feeler gauge, which is only two one-thousandths of an inch (.002") thick. Even this tight, the gun ran smoothly throughout testing with both jacketed and cast lead bullets.

The Forkin Vaquero displayed excellent accuracy. Many times it would cut just one ragged hole at 25 yards.  The group shown consists of firing twenty-four shots as quickly as the weapon could be loaded and fired in the Ransom machine rest, and measures just two inches, with most going into about an inch and one quarter. This is a very accurate sixgun, finely fitted and finished, and built by a true craftsman: Ben Forkin. Ben is also a Shootist, a friend, and one of the nicest gentlemen that you will ever meet. If you have a  Ruger Blackhawk, Vaquero, Redhawk, Super Redhawk or Ruger .22 pistol that needs some custom work, Ben is the man to call. Also, if your Marlin levergun needs slicking up a bit, from just an action job to a full-blown custom conversion,  check with Ben Forkin. I highly recommend his work.

Contact Forkin Custom Classics at:

Ben Forkin
Forkin Custom Classics
PO Box 444, 205 10th Ave SW
White Sulphur Springs, MT 59645

Phone number is 406-547-2344.

You can email Ben at:

Jeff Quinn

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Forkin Custom Classics .44 Special Ruger New Vaquero.





A nice aesthetic touch: cylinder features a custom black powder style cylinder bevel.





Belt Mountain base pin is installed to tighten up the sixgun.





Cases easily clear cylinder on ejection.





Forkin Custom Classics .44 Special Vaquero is right at home in this fine custom rig from Sixgunner Leather.





Two-inch 24-shot group, fired from a Ransom Rest at 25 yards, proves this to be a very accurate sixgun!



A favorite factory load is Speer's Gold Dot 200-grain offering.