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The Classic Ruger Blackhawk,
First produced in 1955, the Ruger Blackhawk was a result of the popularity of cowboy revolvers in the 1950’s. This arose as a result of popular westerns that dominated both film and television. In an era when John Wayne was one of the most popular actors on the big screen, Americans were certainly western crazy and shooters in particular demanded western style guns. Unfortunately the single action revolver market was drying up as Colt had discontinued production of its single action revolvers before World War II. At that time most manufacturers were producing double action revolvers.
In 1955 the recently founded Sturm Ruger Company introduced the Ruger Blackhawk, a six shot single action revolver that was a modernized take on the old Colt Single Action Army “Peacemaker” design. To update the Colt SAA design, a number of modifications were made. Perhaps the most important was the introduction of a transfer bar mechanism. The older Colt SAA had a simple firing pin attached to the hammer which struck the primer and discharged the round. The problem was that if a person carried a Colt SAA with the hammer resting on a loaded chamber, a small bump or nudge could easily cause the revolver to accidentally discharge. Many a lawman, villain, and cowbow learned to carry their single action revolvers loaded with only 5 rounds, with the hammer resting on the empty chamber. Those who didn’t sometimes shot themselves on the foot.
Ruger upgraded the Colt SAA by adding a transfer bar to its firing mechanism. A transfer bar is simple a bar located in between the hammer and firing pin.
Rather than directly striking the firing pin, the hammer hits the transfer bar, which then transfers the energy of the hammer to the firing pin. The transfer bar will only be in position when the hammer is cocked, if uncocked it rests tucked away below the firing pin. The revolver can only be fired with the hammer striking the transfer bar. Thus when uncocked it will not fire, prevent bumps and jolts from discharging it.
The addition of a transfer bar made the Ruger Blackhawk much safer than the older Colt SAA. However there were some other important modifications as well. One important modification was the addition of adjustable front and rear sites, whereas the Colt SAA only had a simple fixed front sight. The flat leaf springs of the Colt SAA were replaced with more durable coils springs. Rather than spinning the cylinder when the hammer was at half cock like on the Colt SAA, the cylinder on the Blackhawk only spins when the loading gate is opened.
Perhaps the most important feature of the Ruger Blackhawk is its caliber. Rather than chambering it for the old cowboy cartridges like .44-40 and .45 colt, the Blackhawk was originally chambered for the popular .357 magnum, which meant that it could also chamber the popular .38 special. In 1956 Ruger introduced the “Superblackhawk” chambered for .44 magnum. The choice of caliber was what made the Blackhawk one of the most popular single action revolvers of the 20th century, as it used ammo that was popular for the times and plentiful. Later the Blackhawk would be produced in .30 carbine, .32 H&R Magnum/.32-20 Winchester convertible, .327 Federal magnum, 9mm luger/.357 magnum convertible, 10mm auto/.38-40 Winchester convertible, .41 magnum, .44 special, .45 colt, and .45 acp/.45 colt convertible.
He started taking off his clothes!!