Ruger Flat-top CYLINDER frame dimensions

Help Support Ruger Forum:

SL1

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 26, 2009
Messages
39
I have done a search and read a LOT of information about the GRIP frames for the Blackhawks models, but can only find the words "medium" and "44" applied to the CYLINDER frames.

Would somebody please explain what difference there is between the cylinder frames of the old "New Model Blackhawk" and the new "Flat Top Blackhawk" as produced for Lipsey? Weight difference (not confounded by different GRIP frame weights)? Height difference? Length difference?

I am trying to figure out if I want to buy a heavy steel model the is physically smaller or a lighter model (ONLY because of the GRIP frame and ejector housing being aluminum) that is probably stronger but is somewhat larger, physically.

Looking at the pictures on the Ruger web site doesn't seem to help, because they apparently have scaled the pictures differently between the two models.

Thanks for any help.

SL1
 

weaselmeatgravy

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 28, 2001
Messages
3,207
Location
Colorado native, Vermont transplant
The NM .357 Mag flattop has a smaller cylinder frame than the NM .44 Mag flattop (same as with the original flattops made in the late 1950's and early 60's).

The Lipsey's .44 Special flattop uses the smaller .357 cylinder frame.

The grip frames on all 3 are the same size, and miminc the vintage XR3 style grip frame used on the original flattops except the NM flattop grip frames are steel instead of aluminum.
 

SL1

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 26, 2009
Messages
39
weaselmeatguy,

Yes, I keep reading that. But HOW much different are the frame sizes? I can't see ANY difference in the pictures on the Ruger website.

Doesn't anybody have actual dimensions or at least differences in weights (of the cylinder frames only, not guns that combine different grip frames with different cylindeer frames)?

SL1
 

flatgate

Hawkeye
Joined
Jun 18, 2001
Messages
6,784
Location
Star Valley, WY
53156332.jpg


flatgate
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2002
Messages
9,088
Location
Ohio , U.S.A.
yeah the old books have the original dimensions and stuff, but these "new" NEW models have thrown out all of this and keep going back and forth, using this frame for that and vice versa...gets LOT confusing, look at the grip situation, a total cluster %#@& when anyone asks for a pair of grips for their gun........even when they call and write and order from the factory, they get the 'wrong' thing...seen it more often these days at the shows.....
one needs to actually stop and measure the different new cylinder frames these days...the pictures will tell you NOTHING................
 

SL1

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 26, 2009
Messages
39
if Flatgate thinks I can read that book here just because he posted its cover? If he has it, and it has the information I requested, then why not just answer my question? I don't see a reason to buy a book to see if I am interested in a particular gun model.

The Ruger website is confusing, partly because the models listed don't allow a direct comparison. I can infer from their .45 LC blued and stainless models that using the aluminum grip frame and rod housing reduces the weight by 5 or 6 ounces for the current "New Models" that are on the ".44" frame. But, frankly the "45 ounce" weight they list for the new "Flat Tops" seems like it doesn't save any weight reduction due to the size of the cylinder frame, compared to the supposedly larger framed "New Models". Maybe their website has the wrong weights for those "Flat Tops" because Brian Pearce's article in Handloader listed lighter weights.

But, still, it looks like a blued steel "New Model" with aluminum grip frame and ejector housing is lighter than the new "Flat Top" with all steel construction. So, is the new "Flat Top" really smaller in physical size?

I am trying to decide if it is really that much better to carry the "Flat Top" than the "New Model". Frankly, if I wanted a carry gun to be all steel, I would want it to be all STAINLESS steel so that I was getting the most from the additional weight. If I am going to go for light weight in a blued gun, then why not get the "New Model" since it is lighter? Or, is physical size really that different that it makes carrying the heavier all-steel "Flat Top" better, somehow?

Maybe I'm missing something (and that is why I am asking), but it seems to me that Ruger would have been better off making a blued version "Flat Top" with aluminum grip frame as one model and a stainless all-steel version as another model, rather than the blued all-steel version that they made for Lipsey.

SL1
 

DGW1949

Hunter
Joined
Apr 10, 2005
Messages
3,972
Location
Dixie
I can't speak for Flatgate, but.....
My Grandma used to do me that way. If the answer I wanted was in a book, she handed me the book. I soon figured-out that she did that for several reasons....the biggest reasons being that often, one question leads to another...and she wasn't always going to be around to answer them for me.
In short, she was teaching me how to teach myself.
That aint a bad thing.

I don't have a new Flatop 357 to measure, nor do I have a NM Blackhawk.
As far as your questions about size and weight differences..... bear in mind that when we are talking carry guns, percieved weight and balance means as much (or more) than figures on paper.
So what I'm saying is that even if someone comes along and post some measurements for you, you might want to give some thought to visiting a gun shop in order to handle the guns for yourself.

Them's just my thoughts. No offense meant to anyone.

DGW
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2002
Messages
9,088
Location
Ohio , U.S.A.
well that 's part of the problem, as I alluded to, they make "specials" for this distributor or that , none are catalog items, they may be made up from pieces parts (ala the Mark II & IIIs) and on and on...there is NO semblance of manufacturing "lingo" (size designation,like the S&W 'J,K-L,N or other frames.......) as well as a 'dash' number, for engineering changes ,within any frame /model size.....gets really confusing, when a person comes up and asks for a part or grips for WHATEVER "new" NEW model made within the past 3-4 years..........
for the most part, YOU have to go to a 'full service Ruger dealer" who may carry the FULL (entire) line and be able to pickup and handle, compare model to model, and even then they may NOT carry the "distributor specials ( and there are MANY of them......) hell, I am the "RUGERGUY" and I don't know them all......... :shock:

(PS< the book pictured above does NOT show ANY of the latest, up-to-datest models and /or pictures of their prespective frames,no update for that book....) :roll:
 

SL1

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 26, 2009
Messages
39
Well, Flatgagte didn't exactly "hand me the book" so that I could read it. Since it isn't updated for the models I want anyway, it doesn't seem like much of a "service" to suggest that I go find one and read it.

I can't go to a store and handle the Lipsey .44 Special Blackhawk for myself, either, since nobody actually has one in stock.

I was hopinf some of the affectionados on this site would have both guns and could take some measurements for me. But, I guess that isn't going to happen.

I have sent Ruger a question, and they made the customary automated response that they would get back to me in 3 woring days. We'll see how well that works for me - - I will let you know next week.

In the mean time, I have made some progress by going through old copies of Handloader. The trouble is, some of that information does not match the information on Ruger's website.

If I get what I am looking for, I will post it here.

SL1
 

GaryA

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 27, 2001
Messages
230
Location
Belleville, IL, USA
I can't go to a store and handle the Lipsey .44 Special Blackhawk for myself, either, since nobody actually has one in stock.

It does seem likely, though, that a store might have a Blackhawk and also might have a New Vaquero or an Anniversary .357. That comparison should tell you what you want to know about the frame size difference.

BTW, Flatgate is pretty well-regarded around here for his knowledge and the help he has given many. I think you might be dismissing his answer a bit prematurely and perhaps a bit flippantly. Your call, of course, but since you are new, it doesn't seem like the best idea to "diss" one of the old-timers for not providing an answer to your liking. You might have a different question for him somewhere down the road, you know.

The size differences are not dramatic enough, in my opinion, to affect carry in any way. I find the .45 blued Blackhawk with 4 5/8 barrel to be a perfect balance of size and weight with it's aluminum grip frame.

BTW, Ruger posted weights in catalog or online are not always, shall we say precise or even accurate, but the all steel Anniversary model is indeed heavier than the larger-framed aluminum grip-framed Blackhawk.
 

Aggie01

Blackhawk
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
988
Location
Texas (DFW)
I could care less about weight. I have steel grip frames on all of mine because I like the way they balance.

Getting a certain piece because of what it weighs rather than how it handles is kinda like picking a handload because it's the speed/bullet you want, no matter how it shoots.
 

SL1

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 26, 2009
Messages
39
RClark,

Thanks for the link. It provides a little more information for me. Part of the problem is that the New Vaquero, the Anniversary .357 Magnum, and the Lipsey .44 Special seem to have slightly different specs, at least with respect to the cylinder lengths. And, of course, the weights differ as well.

Aggie01,

I am trying to figure out why people keep writing about how much better the small frame is for carrying. That seems to be the appeal of the Lipsey and Anniversay Flat Tops. But, weight doesn't seem to favor the new Flat Tops for carrying, and I can't tell about shooting balance or recoil control without shooting one. But, then, there is the "feel" of the grip shape, too. So, basically, I am trying to figure out HOW a Lipsey .44 Special Flat Top is "better" than a New Model .44 Magnum. If I COULD just hold both, that would probably help a lot. But, it's a mail-order proposition for the Lipsey gun, with a long waiting period after I pay for it. So, that isn't an option in this situation.

GaryA,

I think I mmight agree with you that the new model Blackhawk might be as good or better for carry as the smaller but heavier Flat Top. It is apparently stronger as well as lighter, and the weight is lower in the holster when it is on the belt.

With respect to "dissing" Flatgate, I don't think I did that. If he feels I did, then HE can PM me. All I really did was point out that a picture of a book cover isn't an answer to my question. That doesn't seem helpful to me, so I don't understand why he would do that. If I were the one with the book and somebody else had asked the question, I would have put the requested information from the book in my post, rather than the picture of the cover. I have spent hours doing calculations and writing explanations for others on various forums when I had the time and felt inclination to be helpful. So, I don't think that I was asking for more than I am willing to provide when the shoe is on the other foot.

SL1
 

GaryA

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 27, 2001
Messages
230
Location
Belleville, IL, USA
I think I might agree with you that the new model Blackhawk might be as good or better for carry as the smaller but heavier Flat Top. It is apparently stronger as well as lighter, and the weight is lower in the holster when it is on the belt.

SL1 - although I don't have a .44 Magnum, I think it might be worth noting that the .44 Magnum Super Blackhawk will not be lighter than the .44 Special Flattop because the .44 Magnums all have steel grip frames. I believe the earliest .44s did have aluminum alloy grip frames but they went to all steel fairly quickly, I believe to moderate recoil. The "lighter" comments do apply to the blued .357 and .45 Blackhawks. Stainless Blackhawks have steel grip frames in all calibers. I was speaking generically and based upon my examples and should have been more clear.

BTW, I think the link supplied by Rclark is terrific in words and pictures to illustrate the differences.

Re "dissing": I wasn't trying to berate you but did want to point out that Flatgate is pretty well respected around here but he certainly doesn't need me to come to his defense.
 

Aggie01

Blackhawk
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
988
Location
Texas (DFW)
Now that I'm at the house - I don't have the benefit of a good scale, but I have a 5.5" 44 mag bisley and a 5.5" lipsey's 44 special. I can tell a difference in the two. Balance, not so much weight. The Bisley balances a little further to the rear.
The classic appeal of the XR3 grip frame isn't lost on me, but I had that grip frame on my flattop 44 mag, and it gets uncomfortable in a hurry once you start pushing 300grain bullets over 1200 fps.

I "KNOW" there is a weight difference between my 44 mag bisley and 45 colt bisley, but I sure can't tell it when I'm shooting/carrying them.

I refuse to get hung up worrying about less weight than I shed when I fire two rounds and reholster the gun. I did weigh an unfluted and a fluted cylinder once, and I seem to recall it was less of difference than it was to carry 280 grain bullets instead of 240's.

In your first post, you note that one consideration is strength. If you want to shoot 44 mag loads, get a full size 44 mag. If you want to shoot .45 colt - hey you are stuck if you want adjustable sights for now.
If i wanted to shoot full power ruger only 45's or 300grain + 44 mags, Id go with a fullsize bisley. If i wanted pleasant "heavy" (Keith/Skelton) 44 special lods, I'd get the mid frame. I know this is a fact, because I wanted and got both. :)
 

Rclark

Hunter
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
3,565
Location
Butte, MT
Part of the problem is that the New Vaquero, the Anniversary .357 Magnum, and the Lipsey .44 Special seem to have slightly different specs, at least with respect to the cylinder lengths.
Where did you find that? I would have thought the same cylinder would be used for all medium frame revolvers and the frame itself would be the same. Makes sense to me from a manufacturing standpoint. Just like a Blackhawk is a Blackhawk no matter what caliber it is bored in.

Yes weights would be different ... But that only matters if you intend to carry it everywhere. If using for target shooting, I wouldn't worry about it. In fact heavier is 'usually' better to steady your aim and absorb some recoil.... On the otherhand I like my .45 Colt BH because it is lighter and makes a dandy trail gun.
 

batmann

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Messages
307
Location
Indianapolis, IN USA
Perhaps if we try to simpiify this way.
The 'Flat top' models and and the New Vaquero are the same size frames and have the same size diameter cylinders. They are considered 'Mid size' by Ruger and are roughly the same size as the Colt SA.
The Blackhawk and Super Blackhawk are built on 'Large' frames and have larger diameter cylinders and are built for high presure, big bore loads .
Think of a GP 100 to a Redhawk for comparasion and you will get the idea.
The advantage to the 'New' Vaquero over the old is it is downsized for the SASS shooters who don't need the extra size and bulk.
Ruger expanded the frame size to include the 50TH in .357 and recently in .44 Spl. They are great 'packing' pieces as they are less on the bulky side IF you don't need the extra power of a .44M or a full house .45 Colt.
If you buy one and want grips, simply use the 50th size and it will fit all the new midsize grip frames.
I hope this helps.
 

SL1

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 26, 2009
Messages
39
Aggie01,

I'm in the "get both" camp, too, except at this point I only have the .44 Magnum. It is a 7.5" Redhawk, and is a bit much to carry around in a holster. I was thinking that I could get a more handy .44 Special and still use the same bullets and powders with both, just keeping the top loads lighter for the Special. (Heck, MOST of what I shoot is not full-power loads). The 25,000 psi loads Brian Pearce publishes for the Lispey .44 Special are certainly enough for a trail gun, unless you are expecting Alaskan Brown Bears. Most of what I shoot in the Magnum are more like SAAMI Special level loads.

SO, I am really just trying to figure out the "handy" part without being able to actually get my hands on exactly what I am considering. Maybe now that Ruger has added the .44 Special Flat Top to its catalog, somebody will actually STOCK on around here.

SL1
 
Top