Aside from the No. 1 rifle, I think the Blackhawk single-action revolver is Bill Ruger's finest gun-design achievement. I have an Old Model Blackhawk built in 1970 and a New Model Super Blackhawk made in '78, and I love shooting them.
First introduced in 1955 as a .357 Magnum, the Blackhawk has been chambered to a wide array of cartridges and has undergone several design changes over the years—most notably the 1973 introduction of the New Model guns. These have a transfer bar that prevents the frame-mounted firing pin from striking a primer unless the trigger is pulled. This safety feature allows New Model Blackhawks to be carried safely with a full six rounds in the cylinder.
New Model guns also have a loading gate that interlocks with the cylinder latch. This permits the gun to be loaded or unloaded by opening the loading gate with the hammer down instead of having to draw the hammer to half-cock as on the originals.
The powerful Super Blackhawk made its debut in 1974, and one of the latest iterations is the New Model Super Blackhawk Hunter. It is offered in .44 Magnum, but the focus of this article is a Davidson's Gallery of Guns exclusive chambered to .41 Magnum. Why? Because I have a soft spot for the .41 Magnum. My Old Model Blackhawk is a .41 Magnum, and it's not just one of my favorite handguns, it's one of my favorite guns period.
The New Model Super Blackhawk Hunter's most notable feature is its ribbed 7.5-inch barrel that incorporates machined-in cuts to accommodate Ruger's excellent scope ring/base setup. Two rings ship with the gun.
Many people who buy one of these revolvers will scope it, but of course the gun comes with iron sights: a fully adjustable rear and a ramped front with orange insert. The front is set in a dovetail in the barrel's rib, so you can easily replace it if you want. And while the rear is fully adjustable, be sure to have a super tiny slotted screwdriver on hand to change the windage.
The rear sight is simple to remove for scope mounting. Turn out the elevation adjustment screw, then drift out the small pin at the front. Note there are two springs underneath. They fit into circular cutouts in the sight body and the topstrap, and while they're in there fairly snugly, they're not captured in any way, so be careful not to lose them.
Super Blackhawk Hunters are built of stainless steel and feature Ruger's good-looking black laminate stocks. If you pull the stocks, inside you'll find the gun's coil action springs—one of Bill Ruger's improvements over the flat springs used in Colt single actions of the day.
The resulting action is smooth and easy to operate. Part of this is due to the design of the Super Blackhawk hammer, which has a wider spur—it flares to a half-inch wide at the rear—and less upsweep than the hammer on standard Blackhawks. This, along with the nicely done serrations, makes it surer and quicker to thumb.
The Super Blackhawk Hunter has a good trigger. The one on my sample broke at three pounds even, with a variation of only an ounce or two over 10 pulls. There's very little creep or overtravel.
The frame on the Super Blackhawk Hunter is about a quarter-inch longer in the grip than on my Old Model gun, and the stocks are ever so slightly thinner than those on both of my Blackhawks by about 0.1 inch. The combination of the longer frame and thinner stocks made the Super Blackhawk Hunter fit my hand really well.
And when it comes to shooting comfortâ€¦well, for a magnum handgun I don't think you can beat a sensible cartridge like the .41 Magnum paired with a gun that weighs 53 ounces bare—66.5 ounces with a Burris 2x20mm handgun scope aboard. Don't get me wrong. I don't particularly mind the recoil of the .44 Magnum in my New Model Super Blackhawk, but the .41 is so much more controllable and pleasant while still being a powerful and effective cartridge.
The Super Blackhawk Hunter was enjoyable to shoot during accuracy testing from a rest as well as firing offhand with and without the scope. And it's accurate as well. Sure, at 25 yards with a scope you should get small groups, but I had several one-holers with the Winchester and Hornady 190-grain loads. I also fired a few three-shot groups at 100 yards with the Hornady 190s, and the gun could do two inches at that distance with that load when I did my part.
If you enjoy hunting with revolvers or simply want a gun that not everyone else has, the Super Blackhawk Hunter in .41 Magnum is worth a look. It's accurate, powerful and fun to shoot—a triple crown winner in my eyes.