Building a Lightweight revolver

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IrvJr

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 29, 2002
Messages
137
Location
NH, USA
I've seen some nice examples of lightweight revolvers (including Long Shot's most excellent short barreled Vaquero with the S&W rear sight and the scalloped hammer) and would like to put together my own lightweight big bore gun.

To start, I am thinking about getting a Ruger Montado (45 LC with the 3.75" barrel) and swapping out the grip and ejector housing with factory alloy components. eventually I'd like to get a titanium cylinder fit to the gun, but for now I'd settle for the factory steel cylinder.

I have some questions about this proposed conversions. Where can I get an alloy Blackhawk grip frame? I saw that Brownell's and MidwayUSA have the all steel versions, but I couldn't find the alloy parts. Do I have to order this from Ruger directly? Also, what other parts do I need to switch out if I am removing the factory steel grip frame from a New Vaquero and replacing it with an alloy Blackhawk frame?

Also, I would like to switch out the steel ejector housing with an alloy one. Does anyone sell a shortened alloy housing that I could install on the Montado (with its 3.75" barrel)? If not, what would be the best way to shorten a standard factory aluminum housing? Unfortunately, I don't have access to a machine shop - can this be done with hand tools? I figure I could cut the housing with a hacksaw, but I'm not sure how I'd round the end off to make the end of the housing fit in the hole the the frame.

Thanks in advance!
 

JHRosier

Single-Sixer
Joined
Nov 14, 2004
Messages
116
Location
New England, USA
I'm as big a Ruger fan as anyone here, but if I wanted really light and powerful I would consider the S&W 329PD.
163414_large.jpg

.44 Mag & 26 ounces.
I have heard that it isn't much fun to fire, but I will never know. :wink:

Jack[/img]
 

Yosemite Sam

Hunter
Joined
Mar 18, 2002
Messages
2,113
Location
Cape Cod, MA, USA
If I were to ever buy a new S&W again, that one would probably be it. Or the 396 Night Guard (5 shot).

However, I think the OP is asking from the sheer joy of the DIY angle. Plus it's a single action BH...

I think the problem is that for years people have been making steel replacement parts for Rugers because more people wanted steel parts than aluminum. Now light weight is king, and we're seeing all sorts of people looking for alloy parts. I'm afraid I don't know of any aftermarket suppliers.

Getting someone to make that Titanium cylinder is going to be a neat trick... :)

-- Sam
 

REP1954

Blackhawk
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Messages
959
A one off cylinder in titanium would be very costly even if you can fine someone to do it. They would most likely build the titanium cylinder to the same size as the original cylinder and thus you would loose any weight savings. S&W puts a lot of research and time into thier guns before releasing them to the public with anything as high tech as the scandium/titanium guns. Kind of hard to beat what S&W has already done for the price and reliability. I called Bowens about 3 yrs. ago on some titanium work and was told they were not interested and doing any titanium work at that time. hey who knows time changes alot of things.
 

2 dogs

Buckeye
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
Messages
1,404
Location
South Texas
What you propose to build woudl be pretty expensive if you want a titanium cylinder. Try a 329. Its very light and it will only take a few shots to cure you from wanting anything lighter....

I have an alloy framed OMFT custom 4 3/4 incher by Horvath. Its pretty light and when shooting big loads in it the hammer spur comes back at the web of my hand in a very bad mood. Its easier to shoot than the 329 for me. I wouldnt want to shoot anything lighter than that.
 

IrvJr

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 29, 2002
Messages
137
Location
NH, USA
Hi Fellas - thanks for the replies. I have been looking at the 329PD. It's a sweet gun. I have a titanium J-frame and it's a great CCW piece. It's so light that the first holster I bought (some Bianchi leather holster) felt like it weighed more than the unloaded gun (I think it actually did)!

However, Yosemite Sam is right. I'd like to put together a shade-tree DIY lightweight single action revolver.

I think I can handle the grip swap out. After doing some more research, I think I only need to change the grip frame, main spring and main spring strut. I just need to locate an alloy grip frame. I guess I'll start by checking out the Classifieds here.

As for the ejector rod housing, I think that if I had access to a lathe I could trim a factory aluminum housing down to size, but unforunately I don't have access to one at the moment. Maybe I could get someone to cut one for me for not too much money.

I guess the 329PD might be the way to go - and I still might end up taking that route. However, since I like my Ruger's so much, I might try to do a home-brew lightweight Montado. I guess the titanium cylinder is out of the question for now.
 

tek4260

Buckeye
Joined
May 31, 2008
Messages
1,886
Location
carroll county ms
Place a wtb ad in the classifieds here and you will be able to get your parts. On the ejector housing, cut it to legnth(remember to keep it long enough for the stub to fit into the frame!) and using the end you cut off as a guide, file the end back down to the factory shape. Aluminum is quite easy to file, just go slow and check fit often :D
 

IrvJr

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 29, 2002
Messages
137
Location
NH, USA
Thanks Tek4620! Great suggestions. I gotta get started on this project!

tek4260":258fvpym said:
Place a wtb ad in the classifieds here and you will be able to get your parts. On the ejector housing, cut it to legnth(remember to keep it long enough for the stub to fit into the frame!) and using the end you cut off as a guide, file the end back down to the factory shape. Aluminum is quite easy to file, just go slow and check fit often :D
 

Jimbo357mag

Hawkeye
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
10,350
Location
So. Florida
The Montado is a stainless Vaquero. The aluminum Blackhawk gripframe and ejector housing is going to be blue. You could take the blue off and polish the aluminum to somewhat match the stainless. You could order those parts from Ruger. I believe they are as follows, from the instruction manual.
http://ruger.com/products/_manuals/blackhawk.pdf

aluminum ejector housing. XR12200

aluminun gripframe. XR00300

...Jimbo
 

REP1954

Blackhawk
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Messages
959
I would try to find some of the earlier aluminum parts the finish is much easier to remove.
 

Lloyd Smale

Blackhawk
Joined
Aug 10, 2003
Messages
555
Location
munising MI USA
i took a 45 colt vaquero (large frame) and had clements scalop the recoil sheild fit it with an alumium grip frame and ejector housing. cut the barrel to 4 inch and black powder champer the cylinder. It makes for a light gun that will still take big loads. My go to load in it is a 320 ballictic cast lfngc with 24 grains of 110. felt recoil is more then my 500 linebaugh but then the gun weights about half what the linebaugh weights. I allways hoped someone would make an aluminum bisley grip frame so i could build a little lightweight 475 on it. the standard grip frame is a bit much even for the 45 colt with heavy loads.
 

Axehandle

Buckeye
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
1,427
Location
North Alabama
Everyone remember the 50 cal Vaquero with all the lightening touches that Hamilton Bowen did? It is a 50AE isn't it? That .500 bore removed a lot of "unnecessary" material.... :D
 

Aggie01

Blackhawk
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
988
Location
Texas (DFW)
Mr. Bowen's ultra lightweight revolver in .50 AE weighs 26 ounces.
not only does it have a .500 bore, the muzzle diameter is only .700.

Even Mr. Bowen says (paraphrased) that the titanium cylinder is likely too much of a good thing, and a steel one would be fine.
 

IrvJr

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 29, 2002
Messages
137
Location
NH, USA
Thanks all for the great comments. I really like that lightweight 50AE gun that Hamilton Bowen built. I think it would be too much recoil wise, but I think a .44 or .45 version would be just right.

I am going to have to see if I can find a Montado. They seem to be popular. I haven't been able to locate a .45 Montado online or locally...

Thanks again for the great comments. I wish Ruger would build a lighter weight SA revolver for packing/hiking/CCW.
 

Short Barrel

Blackhawk
Joined
Mar 2, 2006
Messages
515
Location
MT
I'm not sure how important a titanium cylinder is to you but I bet you could buy a 329 S+W for the cost of that cylinder.Ever notice that many companies did away with titanium guns? Titanium has tripled in cost in recent years.

This is the little,lightweight I put together a couple years ago,starting with a Sheriff's Model Vaquero.I don't think there are aluminum short ejector rod housings.You may be able to fit one up with hand tools but that is normally done on a lathe.

I didn't feel confident doing that myself so I had Jim Stroh do it when he installed my sights.The gun started out weighing 40 oz and I think it is now 34 oz.That is heavier than a S+W 329 and lighter than a Mtn Gun.

I use 2 loads in it.One is a 300 gr soft point @ 1200 fps and the other is a 335 hardcast @ 1000 fps..Those are factory speeds not actual speeds in this short barreled gun.Those aren't raging hot loads but they are stout enough for most any work.With these loads,the 34 oz gun generates the same recoil as a standard,240 gr,.44 Mag load in an average, 3 lb gun.I find that very manageable.

The greatest weight savings came form installing the aluminum grip frame.The ejector rod housing saved a little and the scalloping,a little but not that much.

It was a fun little project and resulted in a lighter than normal SA but enough weight to hold steady and manage the recoil of hunting loads.
SheriffsModelVaquero035.jpg
 

IrvJr

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 29, 2002
Messages
137
Location
NH, USA
Short Barrel - That is a wonderful gun! The grips are awesome. Did you make them yourself? That is the kind of revolver I'd like to put together.
 

paul105

Single-Sixer
Joined
Oct 6, 2005
Messages
143
Location
Montana
Several years ago, Dave Clements had a light weight 50 cal (50 short of some sort) single action for sale on his message board. Someone had commissioned the revolver and subsequently backed out. It was based on a Ruger frame IIRC, and was outfitted with space age materials (don't remember the specifics) to lighten it up. It was like 28 oz. I asked Dave what velocity could be reasonably expected with a 400gr+- bullet – he said about 850 fps – the gun would take more, but the shooter probably couldn't. He emailed me pictures which I can't find. He wanted $3,000 for it, which at the time was a little over the top for me. Kick myself for not buying it, although I've shot the S&W 329 enough to satisfy myself that the fast recoil these ultra lightweight revolvers generate aren't for the faint of heart.

IrvJr I know you are looking to build something, but you can get a Freedom Arms M97 Round Butted with a 3 ½" bbl that weights right at 34oz in .45 Colt. They can be loaded with Ruger only loads (as long as 1.600" oal isn't exceeded) and handle recoil extremely well. Here is one compared to a 3" S&W 386.

M97SW386-2.jpg
 
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