Single Action Grip Frames Explained

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Jeff Quinn

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Bill's work on that subject is the most complete resource anywhere in the free world. I don't know what the Russians have.
Bill, hopefully you will get to update that before too long!

Jeff
 

flatgate

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" I have a 1986 New Model 357 SS Blackhawk. Looking to replace the factory grips and here is my issue: Grip frame is marked XR-3 on the RIGHT (not the left) side of the grip frame. When comparing the frame to pictures on the Bill Hamm site, my frame looks exactly like the picture of the new model super blackhawk frame but without the squared trigger guard - is this possible?"

Ruger's grip nomenclature has been "out to lunch" for many, many years. It's confused scores of folks, especially those that don't have 26 Ruger Blackhawks in their safe...... :roll:

Yes, is very likely that the "short barreled" Super Blackhawk grips would fit your '86 vintage .357. The 7-1/2" and 10-1/2" New Model Super Blackhawks utilize the larger grip frame that has the famous (infamous to some) square-backed trigger guard.

The info is there in Mr. Hamm's article and one must carefully read the text and study the graphics.

JMHO,

flatgate
Randy[/quote]
 

Hondo44

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flattop44 said:
Ruger is making different Single Actions faster than I can count 'em so if there is new info on those please let us know and I will try to update the article so folks can be informed.

FT44/aka Bill

Hi Bill,
Thanks for the great work on this issue. I've observed the following updates:
1. Blue steel NM XR3-RED frame size marked XR-3. I've only seen the alloys marked XRN-3RED.
2. Stainless Steel NM XR3-RED frame size is no longer just KXR-3:
Earliest = KXR-3, Next = KXR-3 with a separate N, Late = K in circle XRN-3
3. Blue steel Old Armies are: XRN-3

Hope that helps,
 

caryc

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Bill's article is indeed a very good technical info resource. But unfortunately too many people try to interpret those ridiculous frame marking just because they want to buy a new pair of grips.

It's not really that complicated. In the 50+ years that Ruger has been in business, they have used basically three sizes of grip frames on their single actions. I'm talking basically plow handle style grips here. There have been a few oddities along the way but not that many were produced and if you have one of those, you should find it in Bill's reference article.

But, to get to the basics, if you want to buy a new set of grips, you can find out what you need by referring to the drawing below. Just draw yourself a three inch square and place one of your stock grips in it. It will fit like one of the drawings below. I don't pay any attention to those frame markings.

F-gripsquare3.jpg
 

caryc

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As I showed you with the drawing there are only three sizes of Ruger plow handle type grips. The gun you show in the picture with the black grips has the XR3-RED profile frame on it. Measure the width of it. You will find that it is .500" and not .437".

You want grips that fit the "regular" Blackhawk (not the flattop Blackhawks) or the Vaquero. Note that I said "Vaquero" not "New Vaquero".

Still don't believe me? Draw yourself a three inch square and see how your grip fits in it. It's really not rocket science. I don't know how to make it any plainer than that. Oh yeah, your grip frame is also aluminum. The new XR3 is steel only.

As far as what Ruger marks on their grip frames, don't even look at it. It will drive you nuts.
 
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As Caryc says, his first 3" square "XR3-RED" is the correct one for your gun. I believe if I were having a set of custom panels made I would just let the grip maker have my gun or the at least the grip frame so they would fit perfectly and no guessing or discussion would be needed. Of course JMHO.

Bill
 

GasGuzzler

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Ruger made it a little complicated by labeling some frames and not others and all the mismatches, etc. related to RUGER's own labels. Maybe it would be fairly easy to see how the average user would expect to have some sort of consistency from the manufacturer of the gun and not rely on (what we here know is an expert) a private party. I agree, don't get mad. It's confusing....not what you wrote EVER but how Ruger did it. I would like to find a nice XRN-3RED grip frame only but no one here talks that way.........because they know what you have described. See?
 
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Hondo44

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1. Blue steel New Model XR3-RED frame size is marked XR-3. I've only seen the alloys marked XRN-3RED. XR3 w/o the dash was the very 1st Old Model alloy grip!

2. Stainless Steel NM XR3-RED frame size is no longer just marked KXR-3:
Earliest = KXR-3, Next = KXR-3 with a separate N, and Latest = K in circle XRN-3.

Much of this has nothing to do with the grip panel size but rather new castings which had different height "ears" around the hammer base; and there's about 5 different heights out there.

So when ordering grips, Cary's way is the only way!

And when buying grip frames, one must state alloy or steel and which model SA the one you want originally came on!
 

caryc

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One should realize that there are Ruger owners out there that are not collectors. They may have the first and only hand gun they ever purchased. So when you tell them that a Super Blackhawk and a Vaquero can have the same grip frame, it's hard for them to believe or that a flattop Blackhawk and a New Vaquero have the same grip frame.

Some people think that every different caliber Ruger revolver is it's own gun in a sense that it was designed from the ground up. They don't realize that Bill Ruger was smart enough to use parts like grip frames, barrels and even internals on many different models.

As I said in 60+ years Ruger has used only three different sizes of plow handle grips.
 

GasGuzzler

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Both of the last two posts before mine here might be the two most informative in this vast topic. Yes, I and many others have read the whole thing front to back but sometimes it takes certain words to make sense. I'll bet others got it finally now too. Guess what else....there will be someone else in the near future ask the same question again.

Thanks Jim and Cary (that looks a little odd, huh?). The details make sense.

I'd like to find a worn SS grip frame or an alloy one without dents no matter the condition of the blue (or would that be anodized) for a 1978 BN36 but I have no idea what to ask for. I can make either look like chrome with enough time as per my 10/22. See?
 

Hondo44

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Hi Gas Guzzler,

Your B36 is a the large size main frame. Look for either one in red below.
They came on the following New Model guns:
All blue single sixes, .22 and .32 calibers (except the 32 Mag Baby Vaquero style and Bisley 22s & 32s).
All full size Blackhawks (except NM Flat Top Blackhawks, and Bisleys).

Identification Numbers Marked on GRIP FRAMES (not including Super BH, Brass, Birdshead or Bearcat):

BLUE NM:
Large steel = A (in box) XR-3
Large alloy w/o lock marked: Early = NXR3-RED, Late = XRN-3RED. With lock XR & L
Small steel XR3 (Colt size) (cut for indexing pawl system, no extensions into main frame & only 7/16" thick) = A (in box)
Short steel 'Baby" Vaquero .32s = A (in box) XR-3. If ordered as parts = 302 A (in box)

BLUE OM:
Early Colt size alloy to 1962 = XR3
Late, large alloy to 1972 including Old Army alloy and Hawkeye alloy w/wide trigger slot = XR3-RED
Old Army steel 1985 with wide trigger slot = XRN-3

STAINLESS NM:
Large: Earliest = KXR-3, Next = KXR-3 with a separate N, Late = K (in circle) XRN-3
Small XR3 size (cut for indexing pawl system, no extensions into main frame & only 7/16" thick = K (in circle)
Short = KXR-3

STAINLESS Steel Old Army = KXR-3


There are a few dealer exclusive model exceptions. If I missed any someone is bound to correct me.

Rugers that have locks:

Aluminum XR3-RED's with L in the Cat. #. These are starting to show up w/o locks or L in cat #. 8/23/12.
The blue and stainless XR3 (Flattop & New Vaquero).
KXR3 RED, Bisley, blue steel XR3 RED SBH and SBH dragoon do not.
 

LSCG

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ok i'm a little confused, I was looking at my brother's new model Super Blackhawk today and I happen to notice the frame is marked XR3 on the right side with a little A inside of a box in front of the XR3, Jim if I read your above post correctly this means the frame is an Early = NXR3-RED, Late = XRN-3RED?

here's some specs on the pistol,

new model Super Blackhawk.
44Mag.
serial number 85-*****. which I believe would make it mid 1987
steel frame (it's starting to turn a nice plum color :) ) marked A (inside of a box) XR3
5 1/2" barrel
can't do the 3" square test because it came with sambar stag grips when my dad bought it back in the 90's and the fit isn't great.

any ideas?
 

Hondo44

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Hi LSCG,

Some of the casting marks are really bad, but if you look real close at the casting mark you should see that it's not XR3 but rather XR-3 (or at least a space between the R and 3) which would be correct for the 5 1/2" SBH. It's this one from above:
"BLUE NM:
Large steel = A (in box) XR-3"

It's not the Early = NXR3-RED or Late = XRN-3RED, those are both aluminum frames. SBHs all have steel frames regardless of size. Correct, made in 1987.
 

LSCG

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just checked and you're right Jim, there is a space between the R and the 3, which means it's not an OM frame right?

Zane.
 
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caryc

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Old model grip frames have the hole behind where the trigger would be for the trigger return spring.

New model grip frames have the spring at the top of the frame. A dowel pin holds it in place and the two legs hook over a pin at the top of the frame.
 
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Mohillbilly

Bearcat
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Nov 19, 2006
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There were a few single sixes made in .32 H&R that had a shorter than normal grip frame. I can't be for sure the ones I saw were in stainless ,don't remember if there were any blue ones .... I do know that a standard plow handle frame would fit the gun frame as well .....
 

Hondo44

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Actually, the majority of the Vaquero style .32 single six magnums came with the short grip frames while only 500 blue and 500 stainless guns came with the standard length grip frames.

And true, the two sizes of grip frames do interchange.
 

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