A new Old Model owner here with OM questions

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NewportNewsMike

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Mar 28, 2010
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Although I have a number of New Model Blackhawks, I had never owned an Old Model until recently.

My find was an OM Blackhawk 357 that dates (via Ruger S/N lists) to 1972. It has never been converted, but has a couple of items that need attention. It is a great shooter, although the trigger pull is an eye-opening - pay attention now that it is cocked - about 2-pounds, maybe a little less.

It has an XR3-RED alloy frame which (according to the info I can find) is correct for the 1972 time period. But I am not sure it is the grip frame it left the factory with – the current gripframe’s “ears” are higher than the frame itself, and not a good flowing smooth interface.

All five of the gripframe-attaching screws are terribly chewed up. Looks like some one worked on it with a butter knife. The edges of sunken holes in the gripframe for these screws have also taken a beating. But nothing that new screws and a little gripframe touch up will not fix.

Another problem it had (which has luckily worked itself out) was that some previous owner had installed a trigger shoe (a Herters #5), and had evidently Loctited the screws. At some time in its life, someone had stripped the heads of the Allen screws holding the trigger shoe. My attempts to remove it were fruitless – and with it installed I could not strip the gun to inspect the inner workings. So, lets go shoot it and see how she does. About the 10th or so full 357 load, the trigger shoe just fell off during recoil. Good show, saves a trip to the gunsmith to have it drilled off.

Next challenge showed up while shooting it for the first time. (By the way, it is a “sweet” shooter, nice tight groups.) But the groups are not centered for my eyes and loads. The elevation adjustment works nicely but some previous owner had apparently Loctited the windage adjustment screw. It is impossible to turn. So a complete new sight of some sort is in order.

Now, with all that background, here are my questions to the group:

What are the downsides to having Ruger’s conversion done?

If I decide to send it in, I would like to keep the original parts in case I want to change it back. What parts should I hang on to when I send it in?

Was the original trigger pull that light – 2 lbs or so? Or has some one worked on it? What the best guess what that work was? Springs? Changing angles on sear surfaces? Or something else? What do folks do to “tune” OM triggers?

What is the trigger pull like with the “conversion” in place? Most folks do not seem to like it. Is it really that horrible?

After the “conversion”, what is the loading procedure – is still “load at the half-cock position” or is it the “load by opening the loading gate, like a NM”?

Any other questions I have missed that I, as a new OM owner contemplating conversion” should be asking?

Thanks for sharing your OM knowledge.
 
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NewportNewsMike said:
Although I have a number of New Model Blackhawks, I had never owned an Old Model until recently.

It has an XR3-RED alloy frame which (according to the info I can find) is correct for the 1972 time period. But I am not sure it is the grip frame it left the factory with – the current gripframe’s “ears” are higher than the frame itself, and not a good flowing smooth interface.


Thanks for sharing your OM knowledge.

The alloy grip frames are not hand fitted to the cylinder frames as are steel grip frames. They are finished first (anodized or powder coated) then put on a gun for the first time.

For the same reason you don't see the last three numbers of the serial number on the grip frames as you do on the steel grip frames.
 

David Bradshaw

Blackhawk
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Sep 11, 2012
Messages
933
NewportNewsMike.... call Ruger Customer Service (603-865-2442) in New Hampshire. Ask if they still return original lockwork after retrofitting New Model lockwork. So far as I know, it has always been Ruger policy to return original parts. Otherwise, no one would send in an "old model."

The New Model is far superior for trail use, as the PASSIVE SAFETY system enables you to load and unload without touching hammer or trigger, and to carry with a loaded round under the hammer.

Trigger pull of a Ruger single action is readily tuned by knowledgeable hands. Letoff of New Model trigger generally heavier than trigger of "old model."

A trigger shoe is an abomination, an anachronistic warp of static target shooting, use of which device thankfully began to fade mid-20th Century.

If you worry about you old model lockwork, remove it prior to sending revolver to Ruger.
David Bradshaw
 

wwb

Hunter
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David Bradshaw said:
........

If you worry about you old model lockwork, remove it prior to sending revolver to Ruger.
David Bradshaw


Better yet, don't send it in. The trigger pull on the conversion is terrible, and there isn't much that can be done about it.

Load one, skip one, load four, full cock and lower the hammer..... the hammer is now resting on an empty hole.
 

NewportNewsMike

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Specifically, which parts should I hang on to and not send in?

Hammer, trigger, and base pin seem obvious parts to keep, but what else should hang on to?

Keep everything but the grip frame, frame / barrel, and cylinder?

I am not sure what gets replaced in the conversion -
 

SATCOM

Blackhawk
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Oct 10, 2002
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Location
Augusta, Georgia
Converted lockworks has extremely poor (heavy/gritty) compared to orginal.

Yes Ruger have kept orginal parts in the past! Six parts hammer, trigger, cylinder pin, prawl, spring and rachet arm.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/121075057983?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649


Orginal OM Ruger single actions are just as safe as New Models and converted OMs.
Load one, skip one, and load four hammer is now down on an empty chamber. This procedure has been around for 125 years. Gun safety is a mind set not additional parts.

All of the "Safety" stuff on revolvers was about dropping a fully loaded gun on a hard surface with ONLY the top of the hammer strikeing first.

All that being said if you were orginally trained on a NM, limited experience with OM, AND were going to shoot both type guns in the same session then I would concur with David's Passive System comments as well as all of his advice.

Cast aluminum grips frames have always been consistant in size/shape. Your protruding horns are not normal nor acceptable. Why? I have no clue.

Contact Ruger to receive free shipper to return you OM. You often will recieve at no cost, a conversion that you can undo, new grips, grip frame, 5 new grip frame screws, and new ERH if yours is buggered up.

FYI
The two buggered up holes on the top of the grip frame are caused by what sequence used to remove all 5 screws. Coming apart, take top 2 screws out first then three bottom screws. When putting it together, bottom three screws first (and insure tightened) then top two screws.

SATCOM
 

No-1

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Feb 17, 2013
Messages
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Don't send it in to Ruger - I was going to send an early Bearcat for conversion but was told they stamp the frame to indicate the conversion was done. Certainly hurts the collectability.
 

GasGuzzler

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DFW Area, Texas
The grip frame is not stock as suspected. The height of the ears is in fact different depending on when cast. The grip frame is most likely much newer than the gun. This is no reason to fret. ASSuming the gun's blue and the allow parts' anodizing is in otherwise good shape and you want it to all match, you could still file down the ears to make them match, finish them smooth, then use some sort of aftermarket treatment to touch up the color. I am sure advice will follow from those more experienced.

Sending it in for conversion will make it notchy and more than double the pull weight in most cases. It's a crapshoot on getting the original stuff back but odds are in your favor if you wanna gamble. It will cost about $120 to get the parts in used condition on eBay if you don't get them back. You could take those parts out before you send it in too if you can get the thing apart.

The XR3-RED is the correct GF for that gun AFAIK.

2 pounds is about right for a SA revolver....a little heavy to many people that don't actually carry one on the side for regular maneuvers.

So someone put an "insert" OVER the trigger using a set screw to hold it in place?

You can get replacement grip frame and pivot screws from places like Numrich.
 

NewportNewsMike

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GasGuzzler said:
So someone put an "insert" OVER the trigger using a set screw to hold it in place?

Yes. Actually it had two set screws, and was not specifically for a Ruger. It was marked Herters, and was a #5 model. They made a series of them that were usable for a number of similar trigger configurations. If you wanted one, you found your model of gun on the "fit list" and then ordered that #.

As was commented earlier, trigger shoes were big in the target shooters world. It was a way to duplicate the S&W Target Triggers that were all the rage on their revolvers built for bullseye shooting.

If you are not as old as some of us, you may not be with familiar with Herters. During the Forties, Fifties and Sixties, one of the biggest (at least as far as I know) mail order outdoor supply places in the US was Herters (in Wascea, Minnesota). They had a catalog that included some brand names but mostly their own branded products, including boats, guns, duck decoys, archery equipment, sleeping bags, tents, camp cooking equipment, fishing equipment, and everything else in between - if you used it in the outdoors or hunting and fishing, Herters carried it. Kinda like a Cabella's or Gander Mountain today, but in a time when there was no Internet or really any other type of national exposure.

They were an importer of foreign made firearms, as well as a seller of US-made firearms. And remember, this was before the Gun Control Act of 1968. If you saw a nice Ruger in the catalog, and wanted it, you sent them the $40 dollars (or whatever the price was) and a few days later, it showed up on your doorstep - delivered by the mailman.

There catalog was a treasured item - it was an exciting day whenever a new one arrived. I was in the Boy scouts at that time and a Herter's sleeping bag was a treasured possession.

The family that ran it were into big game hunting in Africa and around the world. There were always the latest hunt result pictures in each new catalogue.

For a little history on Herter's see "http://thedossiers.net/george-leonard-herter/". A fascinating story.

To all those that have provided their opinion / guidance to my questions - Thank you.
 

CraigC

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The fit of Ruger's aluminum grip frames to the receiver is rarely perfect. Sometimes it's bad. That happens when the two parts are finished separately and that's how Ruger has always done them, separately. The all steel guns are fitted and finished together and that is why they typically fit much better.

2lbs is perfect.
 

Calthrop

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Direct heat on those set screws will loosen them up. A wood burner or the like will do the job. I have put OA steel grip frames on OM guns to good effect. The added weight makes handling easier. If you have a thin trigger you can put a wide one on.
I have also seen OM Super GF's on short barreled guns. A gunsmith can remake the dragoon trigger guard to be round. That setup is easy to shoot and more grip to boot.
 

Hondo44

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Fortunately, the trigger shoe fell off. But the trigger screw can be removed first and then remove the trigger with the grip frame. Install the same way. Wide SBHawk triggers can be installed that way without cutting the slot in the trigger guard wider.
 

NewportNewsMike

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Hondo44 said:
Fortunately, the trigger shoe fell off. But the trigger screw can be removed first and then remove the trigger with the grip frame. Install the same way. Wide SBHawk triggers can be installed that way without cutting the slot in the trigger guard wider.

This is a great piece of info - that had never occurred to me. Thanks.

I am going to try the heat and acetone tips (not at the same time - may be too exciting) to see if the sight screw will loosen up.

If it does not, I have a Plan B. Looking at some old Blackhawk parts list (in the back of the Ruger manual), I see that the P/N for a complete sight assembly for the OM Blackhawk is MR-35. Looking at the Numrich website, they do not list the Blackhawk sight as being available. BUT, MR-35 is also the P/N for the sight assembly for a Ruger Security Six revolver. Numrich shows OK availability for this Security Six sight.

Who knows, Ruger MAY even have some old stock MR-35's laying around.

Thanks again to all who have taken the time to share their OM knowledge. It is all helping to get this OM all spiffed up and back on the road again.
 

NewportNewsMike

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Here's an update on getting the windage screw "unstuck".

As suggested, I applied heat (from a soldering gun tip) to the sight which had been removed from the gun frame.
I applied heat until I could no longer hold the sight bare handed.

IT WORKED - screw came right out after being heated.

One item down - several more to go!
 

SAJohn

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Using the wrong (full hardening) type locktite strongly suggests that "Bubba" did some of the gunsmithing. I've done more than a few trigger jobs on Ruger old model single action revolvers. 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds is what I always wind up with. To get to 2 pounds or lower generally means tampering with the main and/or trigger spring which I don't think is a good idea. (I do modify the trigger spring on new models.)

Another thing good old Bubba can do on a trigger job is to change the sear engagement angle. This can cause a hammer to slip off full cock with just a small jar. I have only ever seen one single action revolver with the sear angle so "hooked" that it required changing and it wasn't a Ruger.

Just in case, I would do a safety check. With your revolver unloaded take the hammer to full cock then give the gun and the hammer a little shack and whack test. Also push forward on the hammer and pull aft and let it drop back down to full cock. If the hammer falls during any of this, you have a serious safety problem. John
 

Calthrop

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I must crow a bit. To-wit: NNM has exceeded the avowed limits of male expectations, at least in this family. He has read instructions. He then decided to followed them. Sir you have raised the bar for all male kind. You have dispelled the myth I have so diligently sought to implant. I realize your actions rested on motivation alone and lack of supervision or surveillance. I therefore congratulate you for your effort and will not mention this incident to non-subscribers of this board. Ha! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
 
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If you're talking about a trigger job, the trouble is that everyone wants instant gratification. If you just want to wear the action in naturally, it can be done very quickly. Check the picture below.

All you need to do is sit in front of the TV with a good western movie and holding the gun as pictured, use your trigger finger to pull the trigger. The hammer releases against your thumb. Just use your thumb to cock the hammer back again and repeat.

You can relax and do this 30 to 50 times in a minute. Times that by the length of a movie and you'll be surprised how quickly you'll wind up with a butter smooth trigger with no creep. It really works and there is no chance of screwing up the action by over doing something. Lots cheaper than doing it with ammo in the gun.

DSC03326_zps1bfc3450.jpg
 
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