Blackhawk (.357mag) 50th Anniv. vs Blackhawk

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simonz

Bearcat
Joined
Jan 11, 2002
Messages
3
Location
NH
Regrettably, I sold my New Model Blackhawk .357mag a couple of years ago on a trade. Now I would like to get another Blackhawk. I like the 4 5/8 inch model and see deals on both the "standard" Blackhawk (blue) and the 50th Anniversary model, both in 4 5/8" sizes.

1. What are the differences between the standard production Blackhawk and the 50th Anniversary model?

2. A couple of years ago the production Blackhawks started shipping with rubber grips. The earlier ones had cherry grips. Are there any differences in the very recent models other than the rubber grips?

simonz
 

Hokie73

Bearcat
Joined
Mar 27, 2008
Messages
39
Location
S.W. Louisiana
The 50th model has an XR3 grip frame as opposed to and XR3 RED grip frame, and it is built on a smaller cylinder frame as well; the same as the New Vaquero except with adjustable sights, and of course it has the flat top configuration.
The plastic grip panels cover up Rugers new integral lock.
 

flatgate

Hawkeye
Joined
Jun 18, 2001
Messages
6,784
Location
Star Valley, WY
The '55 version was designed to emulate the Colt Single Action Army but have "state of the art" sights as opposed to the "fixed" design of the Colt.

In 2005 Ruger re-introduced the Flattop .357! They did an INCREDIBLE job!
It's an amazing revolver. It's the same size as the '55 vintage guns which emulate the old Colt SAA's but the Ruger has decent, adjustable sights!

The "post '72" New Model Blackhawks are ALL made on the .44 Super Blackhawk sized cylinder frame. So, they are AMAZING Big Bores but way "over sized" for the .357 Mag.

IMHO, the 50th Anniv. .357 Blackhawk is one of Ruger's BEST deals since 1955! It's on the "medium sized" cylinder frame but is totally capable of shooting, after some significant gunsmithing, some really "effictive" cartridges.

Of course, this is all "My Opinion" since I'm a big fan of .40 Calibre and larger Blackhawks...

:D
flatgate
 

StanMemTn

Single-Sixer
Joined
Feb 3, 2009
Messages
214
Location
Memphis, TN
I got interested in single actions only a couple of years ago. The first Ruger to catch my attention was the New Vaquero in .45 Colt, then I thought I might just start off with a Single Six and add on a Super Blackhawk later.

When I saw the CDNN deals on 50th Anniversary Blackhawks, I thought it was too good of a deal to pass up. I really think that the .357 Mag Anniversary Blackhawk satisfies all of my sixgun needs for the moment.

I get a versatile sixgun (I can shoot .38 Special pretty reasonably), great adjustable sights, and very important to me- it still has that "Gun That Made All Men Equal" vibe due to the cylinder frame size and grip frame.

My shooting experience doesn't hold a candle to Mr. Flatgate, but his praise for the Anniversary Blackhawk gets a big +1 from me.

-Stephen
 

Rclark

Hunter
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
3,576
Location
Butte, MT
IMHO, the 50th Anniv. .357 Blackhawk is one of Ruger's BEST deals since 1955!
Couldn't say it better. I like my big bores (44 and 45) but this is a sweet little gun. One thing not mentioned above is it is all steel (grip frame and ejector housing), so is a bit heavier than the BH .357 even though the 50th is smaller. I really enjoy shooting it ... almost as much as my .45s :) . When I go shooting I usually bring the .357 and one of 45s. The .44s rarely gets to see daylight anymore.

One other thing, the 50th indexes for loading properly now. Remember with the ol' New Model BH if you hear the click, you went to far. With the 50th you hear the click and your ready to load....

Not to mention, if you ever wanted to own a 'flat top' .... Another reason to get the .357 50th....

As for grips ... I replaced them almost immediately with some wood grips.... I just couldn't stand the cheese graters.... Here is a link to a picture of mine:

http://www.rugerforum.net/showpost.php? ... ostcount=5


Here is a link to Taffin's article on the revolver :
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m ... n27101346/
 

JimMarch1

Blackhawk
Joined
Feb 19, 2007
Messages
525
Location
Tucson, AZ, USA
Yeah, all of the Ruger "mid frames" introduced since 2004 have been gems. The 50th 357 is mechanically the same as a New Vaquero in 357, but with adjustable sights. Grips are the same as a NewVaq.

Quality control on the mid-frames has been exception by any production gun standards and some of the best guns Ruger has made in years.

While the mid-frame 357s are technically "weaker" than their large-frame cousins like your old Blackhawk (built on the large "44magnum-class" frame), average out-of-the-box accuracy in the mid-frames is better.

They're also not "weak". The cylinder in the mid-frame 357s is beefier than that of the Ruger GP100 or S&W L-frame, and the action on the NewVaq/50th357 is stronger than anything DA. So it can cope with an unlimited diet of the nastiest 357 factory fodder available. These mid-frame Rugers are probably at least as tough as any N-Frame S&W 357.

When handloading the large-frame Ruger 357s, if you know what you're doing you can squeeze out a bit more performance versus the mid-frame but that's getting into edgy pressure levels and not really safe...you get to a point where tiny increases in powder lead to huge spikes in pressure.

I went with the NewVaq357 and then radically modified the sights. I also threw a SuperBlackhawk hammer on mine that will also fit the 50th 357 (as will a slightly modified Bisley hammer), did a free-spin which is abnormally simple in the mid-frames (see note below), put a spring kit in myself as well.

The mid-frames have a keylock underneath the grip panels. Unlike S&W and Taurus there are ZERO reports of it accidentally engaging and it does no harm at all to trigger feel. It can be removed but most people don't bother, myself included...and mine is my daily carry CCW piece.

To free-spin the mid-frames (NewVaq, Montado, 50th 357 and the new 44Spl):

Unload it, cock it, look at the rear underneath the hammer. There's a small set-screw facing forward (towards the muzzle) underneath the transfer bar. You can get to it with a small hex key without removing anything else - it helps if you have ball-end hex wrenches but some have reported success with straight hex keys. Remove the set-screw, the spring underneath it and the plunger underneath the spring. This converts the gun to free-spin with the loading gate open, and removes almost all of the "clicking noises" as you spin the cylinder with the loading gate open, sort of a "stealth reloading effect". If you don't like it, the plunger/spring/set-screw can be put back in any time you want. You don't even have to pull the cylinder, let alone strip the grip frame and action assemblies down.

What else...hammers, triggers and grip frames from the larger series can be bolted in. Barrel threads are the same as large-frame Rugers, helping reduce costs on caliber conversions. Belt Mountain has mid-frame base pins - specify your gun when ordering as the length is different from the large-frames.

The modern reproduction "micro" rear sight on the 50th Anniversary guns and the new 44Spl has received favorable impressions. Which is good because swapping to a Bowen "Rough Country" or target rear sight might be possible but fitting will be annoying at a minimum and might look funky if it's possible at all...the rear sight channel is different from most other Rugers (SA or DA).
 

Jayhawkhuntclub

Buckeye
Joined
Aug 28, 2007
Messages
1,241
Location
Kansas
My 357 anniversary is one of my favorites. I love it in spite of all the writing on the barrel. It shoots incredibly well. I love the 4 5/8" barrel length.
 

Rclark

Hunter
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
3,576
Location
Butte, MT
I love it in spite of all the writing on the barrel
Yep, to bad about the billboard. The 50th .44 has it rolled under .... like it always should have been. Still readable, but 'out of sight'.
 

tek4260

Buckeye
Joined
May 31, 2008
Messages
1,886
Location
carroll county ms
It has been my experience that the quality control on the 50th guns is far and above what you will get if you buy a regular Blackhawk. If I wanted a 357, there would be no other choice than the 50th.
 

Jayhawkhuntclub

Buckeye
Joined
Aug 28, 2007
Messages
1,241
Location
Kansas
Rclark":28tt40ma said:
I love it in spite of all the writing on the barrel
Yep, to bad about the billboard. The 50th .44 has it rolled under .... like it always should have been. Still readable, but 'out of sight'.
It's not just that, you also have the gold writing on the top, which isn't any better IMO.
 

JimMarch1

Blackhawk
Joined
Feb 19, 2007
Messages
525
Location
Tucson, AZ, USA
It has been my experience that the quality control on the 50th guns is far and above what you will get if you buy a regular Blackhawk.

I think that applies more to the 50th 44mag. Don't get me wrong, the 50th 357 is wonderful, but it's about the same as the rest of the mid-frames. Ruger might have put special attention on the 50th 44 for all I know, but they didn't need to on the 50th 357. The development effort put into how they build the mid-frames covered that.

The top difference is that large-frame cylinders (including, I think, the 50th 44) have their bores drilled with six bit/reamer sets at once. The mid-frame cylinders are drilled on a difference machine, different process - same bit/reamer drills each of the six bores in sequence.

You get zero variance between bores in the mid-frames as a result. Plus, since it's easier to track the state of one bit/reamer and easier to swap it as it nears end-of-life, the bores we are getting aren't just uniform, they're GOOD.

This is the number-one reason a mid-frame will usually outshoot a large frame, and the top reason I went with the NewVaq over the large frame.
 

rkrcpa

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 18, 2009
Messages
354
Location
SE Pennsylvania
The modern reproduction "micro" rear sight on the 50th Anniversary guns and the new 44Spl has received favorable impressions. Which is good because swapping to a Bowen "Rough Country" or target rear sight might be possible but fitting will be annoying at a minimum and might look funky if it's possible at all...the rear sight channel is different from most other Rugers (SA or DA)

Doesn't Bowen make a replacement for the Micro? I have never liked any factory rear sight be it Ruger or S&W. I want to replace the one on my .44 Flattop. If someone has one I'd like to hear about it.
 

JimMarch1

Blackhawk
Joined
Feb 19, 2007
Messages
525
Location
Tucson, AZ, USA
Oh yeah, look at that:

http://www.bowenclassicarms.com/parts_R ... j_Rear.htm

Flat%20Top%20HD%20rear%20sight.jpg


You can get it with a target-style or express-V blades too. Kewl.
 

Dale53

Blackhawk
Joined
Aug 29, 2007
Messages
925
Location
Hamilton, Ohio USA
>>>This is the number-one reason a mid-frame will usually outshoot a large frame, and the top reason I went with the NewVaq over the large frame.<<<


I don't have any idea how these revolver cylinders are bored. However, I have recently acquired both a .44 Lipsey Special and a 50th Anniversary .44 Magnum.

Both revolvers are bored nearly identical. They both check out at .431". Further, all of the cylinder throats are the same. I couldn't ask for more. My bullets are sized at .430" for both and BOTH of them will shoot under 1" at 25 yards with a 250 gr Keith. They do not seem fussy as to what powder charge, either. Two very nice revolvers for the enthusiast.

Dale53
 

JimMarch1

Blackhawk
Joined
Feb 19, 2007
Messages
525
Location
Tucson, AZ, USA
Dale, that's interesting. I've been wondering if Ruger hasn't transferred the manufacturing processes from the mid-frames (and the 44Spl is definitely mid-frame) to the large frames.

Unfortunately Ruger isn't talking about the cylinder boring issues directly. They DID tell one of the Quinn brothers (Gunblast.com) what was going on early in the mid-frame era, possibly unofficially as they have a lot of contacts at Ruger.

They're either checking the six-bit-sets much more carefully, or they've switched processes to the single-bit method on the large frames.
 

D R Greysun

Bearcat
Joined
Aug 16, 2007
Messages
21
Location
So. Cal.
simonz":1co0tnx8 said:
Regrettably, I sold my New Model Blackhawk .357mag a couple of years ago on a trade. Now I would like to get another Blackhawk. I like the 4 5/8 inch model and see deals on both the "standard" Blackhawk (blue) and the 50th Anniversary model, both in 4 5/8" sizes.

1. What are the differences between the standard production Blackhawk and the 50th Anniversary model?

2. A couple of years ago the production Blackhawks started shipping with rubber grips. The earlier ones had cherry grips. Are there any differences in the very recent models other than the rubber grips?

simonz

Very well explained:
http://www.gunblast.com/Ruger-NewVaquero.htm

D R
 

TexNekkid

Bearcat
Joined
Apr 2, 2004
Messages
52
Location
Arlington, Texas, Tarrant
Two other considerations:

1. The 50 year flattop has an XR3 gripframe, whereas the "standard" large frame Blackhawk has an XR3-RED. Folks with larger hands sometimes prefer the XR3-RED. Here's the lowdown on gripframes:

http://www.gunblast.com/Hamm_Ruger-SA-GripFrames.htm

2. The 50 Year Flattop doesn't come in stainless steel, which may be a consideration in humid environments or you intend to carry it afield in the rain.
 

Shoot44

Single-Sixer
Joined
Oct 11, 2008
Messages
150
Location
The Ozarks
Lots of really good info here, guys. Thnx! Especially appreciate that comment about the 'free spin' mod. I've wanted to do that, but had no idea it was that easy.
I also picked up a 50th Anniv 357, and as already mentioned, it is really a good shooter, and nice little gun. One of my most accurate ones, and that with the rather short barrel, as well. Had no idea it was that nice when I ordered it, but sure glad that I did. It is my only 357, and unless I see a really nice one in DA somewhere, may be the only one I ever have.

Here's mine with the custom walnut grips I made for it. Do NOT like those plastic things, and for me, Walnut and blue steel just go together.

357closeEd.jpg


No, they are not 'one-piece' grips; I use a 'hidden screw' type of mounting that has no external hardware on the right panel.

The only other 'mod' I made (other than the trigger spring) is to open up the width of the rear sight channel just a bit. Wasn't enough 'white' between it and the front sight blade for me. Better now.
 
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