Ruger Super Blackhawk: singularly unsubtle .44 Magnum

I’ve long been a fan of .44 Magnum revolvers. Like many of us, I first saw one of these in the Dirty Harry movies. The venerable Model 29 carried by Inspector Callahan had been around almost two decades before the first film but what most people don’t know is that it was not in fact the first .44 Magnum on the market. It was beaten to market by several months in 1956 by Bill Ruger’s Blackhawk. The story of how this happened remains shrouded in mystery but the commonly-held assumption is that a Ruger employee found some brass on the range where the round was being tested and brought it back to the armory. Regardless of its genesis, the Blackhawk has secured a place in American firearms history that is still being written.

When Kevin told me he was going to sell his New Model Super Blackhawk, I knew I had to have it. I had already shot it many times and given its history I could not resist. From what I can tell the pistol was manufactured in 1987. The gun is very rugged. The frame is extremely solid and is built to shoot full-power .44 Magnum loads all day long. This was in fact Kevin’s “Bush Gun” when he lived in Alaska. There are not many pistols in the world that can be depended on to stop a Brown Bear but with 300gr FMJ bullets traveling at 1,200 fps, the only real question is “can I make the shot?”

The pistol has a really beefy cylinder too, which it needs of course to handle the high pressures of the round. It also has an adjustable rear sight and a scope rail on top. For safety there is a trigger bar separating the hammer and firing pin, protecting against impact-related accidental discharge. Being a single-action-only pistol and with a one-round-at-a-time loading and unloading scheme, it is not a gun for rapid firing and reloading, although I’ve seen Cowboy shooters do an impressive job while “fanning” the hammer.

I have to say that this is in fact one of my favorite guns. There’s just something about shooting it that is very gratifying. The trigger is light and crisp. The recoil of full-power loads is considerable but the results are equally impressive. From a home defense perspective this pistol is outstanding, provided you can become comfortable handling it. It is small enough to wield in close quarters but powerful enough to stop any threat. In fact, the sight of the weapon alone would give most intruders pause. The fireball from the muzzle blast is also spectacular, especially in low/no light.

Arguably the best feature of this revolver is that it is inexpensive. It is also very accurate, reliable and durable. And you never know when you might run into a Cape Buffalo in your yard 😉

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