September 24, 2010
Thirteen seems to follow me around. It's my wife's favorite number, one of my daughters was born on August 13, and I purchased my Ruger Super Blackhawk 13 years after it was introduced--and in the last year the company made the famous three-screw single-action handgun.
Though it's hard to believe I've had my gun for 37 years, it's even harder to believe this Super Blackhawk has been in continuous production now for half a century. Birthdays like this never go unnoticed, and Ruger has brought out a special edition to celebrate the occasion. And while it doesn't come in the spiffy mahogany presentation case the first Supers came in, Ruger has certainly done justice to this gun.
For starters, both the front and rear of the cylinder are highlighted with a gold line. In addition, the usual stamping telling us where to get a free or replacement instruction book has been moved to the underside of the barrel next to the injector rod. (That's a good place for it, and I hope this stamping stays there.)
The anniversary Super Blackhawk is treated to gold lines fore and aft on the cylinder and a high-polish blue finish. The hammer is left in the white and chromed.
In its place, the words, "50th Anniversary Super Blackhawk--2009" are inscribed in gold lettering stretching out from the rear of the front sight base to the end of the barrel at the frame. The gun is finished off with a beautiful polishing and final bluing that will suit both collectors and shooters alike, and the grips on this anniversary model are nicely figured cocobolo.
Holding this gun is sheer pleasure. The looks, lines and balance are superb, as is all the detailing. The adjustable rear sight is integrated into the top of the frame, creating a clean line and preventing the sight from snagging on the draw.
The sight assembly is fully adjustable for windage and elevation, and my only thought here is Ruger should redesign the windage screw with a slot that will fit more than a jeweler's screwdriver. The front sight consists of a Patridge blade attached to a one-piece base.
The hammer spur measures a full half-inch across, has deep serrations and is polished and chromed for durability.
Likewise, the trigger is finished in the same manner--again, almost target width--and broke at four pounds even with just a hint of slack. The dragoon trigger guard is easy to look at and functional, with no finger bite when the gun comes back in full recoil.
The gun has a wide, almost target-style hammer spur, and the nicely contoured rear sight sports the Ruger logo.
The New Model Super Blackhawk is made to handle the power and pressures of the .44 Magnum cartridge, and it has a massive cylinder that measures 1.740 inches across and is void of flutes.
The locking notches on the cylinder are off center of the charge holes for strength and durability. Timing on my sample revolver was nearly perfect but not quite, as evidenced by drag marks on the periphery of the cylinder.
The ramped blade, one-piece rear sight assembly is welded to the 7.5-inch barrel.
Tradition shooters of the single-action handgun like their guns without external safeties, and Ruger has certainly honored their concerns in a number of ways. First, it has incorporated its patented transfer bar on the so-called New Models. A transfer bar in the frame lifts upwards when the trigger is pulled, allowing the hammer to transfer energy to the firing pin--a safer design than the older-model Blackhawks, one that eliminates the safety notch found on other single-action guns.
Ruger has also redesigned the gun as to do away with the loading notch where you pull the trigger to the rear to release the mechanism so you can turn the cylinder and load the gun. When using the loading gate, the hammer and trigger must be fully forward to load the gun.
Opening the gate stops the motion of the transfer bar, trigger and hammer, allowing the cylinder to be unlatched from the locking bolt.
The grips on the anniversary gun are nicely figured cocobolo.
Over the years, Ruger has had an ongoing program wherein you can send your pre-1972 single-action revolver to its facility, and it will update your gun at no charge to the present day "New Model" status. On the return, Ruger will include all of the original parts to preserve the collector value of these vintage guns.
Barrel length on the Super Blackhawk is 7.5 inches. Some collectors have referred to longer and shorter barrels that allegedly have been installed on these revolvers, but my research showed that while a few 10-inch guns were shipped, shorter barrels are nonexistent.
This may be a special anniversary edition, but the Super Blackhawk's performance, balance and handling are unchanged. My range time with the revolver included shooting from a rest and casual offhand firing, and I could not have been more pleased with the gun.
The special anniversary Super Blackhawk, which is available only in 2009, comes with the carrying pouch pictured in the lead photograph.
The usual stamping on the barrel has been moved to the underside of the gun and replaced with gold lettering the length of the barrel.