Personal defense, competition, and tactical use are among the reasons people buy handguns. When power is prioritized over magazine capacity, the .357 Magnum revolver remains an excellent choice. When accuracy, reliability, and pride of ownership are important, the Ruger Blackhawk stands alone.
Don’t discount the Ruger single-action revolver as a first gun. It is a fine baseline to learn the nuances of revolver shooting. The Ruger Blackhawk is heavy, reliable, almost impossible to break, and more accurate than most of us can hold.
I have owned quite a few Ruger single-action revolvers. While some have been .44 Special, .45 Colt, or .44 Magnum, my favorites are chambered in .357 Magnum. The .357 is a versatile caliber with a great deal of power.
With lighter .38 Special-level loads, the .357 revolver is a cream puff to fire and use. It is also very accurate. Full magnum loads are well suited to taking deer-sized game. With a range of velocity from 600 to 1,800 fps, the .357 Magnum is a versatile caliber.
Ruger single-action revolvers have done service as working guns that take game, teach marksmanship, and provide protection against wild animals. The Blackhawk is perhaps the most indestructible handgun ever made.
As an example, an acquaintance and avid outdoorsman once forded a creek with his Blackhawk. The Blackhawk was soaked, so he took the cylinder out and cleaned the revolver by a campfire. After he was done, he could not find the base pin!
He shoved the cylinder in place and using his camp knife, whittled out a stick into the form of a base pin. It worked! He later test-fired the revolver with the hand-cut, wooden base pin in place and it worked fine. Of course, he replaced the base pin, but this is another testament to the utter ruggedness of the Ruger Blackhawk single-action revolver.
Ruger Blackhawk Features
Sure, many of us grew up watching cowboy movies and like single-action revolvers. The Blackhawk is about as far removed from the original single-action as possible. The originals were iron, not steel. The Ruger is of the highest quality steel.
The Ruger features coil springs instead of the old leaf type. The Ruger’s adjustable sights are a model for long-range accuracy. The single-action demands the shooter consider his marksmanship and focus on the operation of the revolver, not simply pulling the trigger and sending a lot of rounds downrange.
The single-action Ruger Blackhawk is loaded by opening a loading gate and then loading the chambers one round at a time as the cylinder is rotated. There is no half-cock notch on the Ruger. It is safe to carry with six rounds and a cartridge under the hammer.
After loading the loading gate is closed, the hammer may be brought to full cock. A press of the trigger drops the hammer and fires the revolver. Hence the term ‘single-action.’ The trigger does one thing, it fires the revolver. This is a simple action and one that helps shooters learn marksmanship. The single-action is slower to load, fire, and unload than a double-action revolver, but sometimes power and accuracy are more important.
The easy packing, shorter 4.625-inch barrel Blackhawk has much appeal. My personal Blackhawk .357 is a 6½-inch barrel version. This makes for good accuracy potential and a full powder burn, which increases velocity.
Firing the Blackhawk
Recently, I was able to test the revolver with a good number of .38 Special and .357 Magnum loads. The rounds were fired from a solid pistol rest at 25 yards. Velocity was measured at 9 feet with an RCBS chronograph. I fired a five-shot group to measure accuracy potential. Groups were measured in inches.
|Federal Punch 120-grain||1,001 fps||1.7|
|Fiocchi 110-grain XTP||1,140 fps||2.0|
|Black Hills 100-grain Honey Badger||1,160 fps||2.4|
|Buffalo Bore 158-grain Cast Hollow Point Standard Pressure||1,145 fps||2.0|
|Buffalo Bore 158-grain Outdoorsman||1,160 fps||2.5|
|Federal Hydra Shock 129-grain||980 fps||1.8|
|Hornady 125-grain XTP||1,501 fps||2.1|
|Hornady 158-grain XTP||1,280 fps||1.9|
|Buffalo Bore 180-grain FP||1,409 fps||2.4|
|Winchester 145-grain Silvertip||1,399 fps||2.0|
|Hornady 125-grain XTP /H110 powder||1,650 fps||1.8|
|Hornady 180-grain XTP/H110 powder||1,280 fps||1.95|
As you can see, the Ruger Blackhawk .357 Magnum is capable of excellent accuracy potential. With heavy loads, it is suitable for taking deer-sized game. With the 180-grain bullet, it is an acceptable boar cartridge at modest range.
As for carrying the revolver, it is easier than you would think. Sometimes, when just walking around in the woods, I carry the revolver in the waistline, on the strong side, with the barrel laying across the body tilted to the left. The loading gate is open to keep the revolver stabilized. When I anticipate more movement while hunting, I carry the revolver in a simple Blackhawk! fabric holster. The revolver is secure enough, and the balance is good. The Ruger Blackhawk single-action revolver is a rifle on the hip (in some ways) and among the finest choices as an all-around, go-anywhere, do-anything outdoors revolver.
The Ruger Blackhawk is so legendary that it would be a insult to ask the readers of The Shooter’s Log whether they like it. Share your Blackhawk story in the comment section.