Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ruger Old Model Blackhawk Project part 1

I answered an ad on ARMSLIST for a Ruger Old Model Blackhawk revolver parts project.
The gun was in pieces, but included a brass birds head grip frame.
I did some research and couldn't find where anyone had made a brass birds head for an old model, but I wanted it regardless.
Here are the pictures from the ad:

While inspecting the parts I noticed the grip frame was indeed for a new model Blackhawk, it will not fit this old model frame (it has to do with the change in the trigger return spring). I bought the lot anyway, mostly because I wanted that brass grip frame.

A brief history on the "Old Model" Blackhawk:
        Originally introduced in 1955 as the larger brother of the .22 Single Six, the .357 Blackhawk was designed after the Colt model of 1873 Single Action Army. The mechanism and size of the guns were nearly identical.
In 1973 Ruger redesigned the internal lock work to include a transfer bar safety system. The change meant only two pins were needed as pivot points (for the hammer and trigger). The newly designed guns were called the "New Model Blackhawks".
Many people call the old model Blackhawks "three-screws" for the three screws used as the pivot points for the internal parts.
The change to the New Model also increased the frame size of the Blackhawk to the larger .44 Magnum frame. Some consider this good as the New Model Blackhawk is overly stout for the .357 cartridge. Others believe it is unnecessary heft. I guess that makes these old models more desirable to some.

Here is an advertisement from 1972, the year this Blackhawk was built.

It might be important to note that when Ruger redesigned their Vaquero cowboy gun, a change was made to the old model .357 Blackhawk midsize frame (whereas the original Vaquero was built on the New Model large 44 frame). This limited the choice of calibers on the New Vaquero to .357, .45 Colt & .44 Special, no more .44 Magnum.

So this old model .357 Blackhawk uses a smaller frame than the New Model (closer to Colt specs) and uses some unique parts, that I will need to find. 

This gun was built in 1972 (the last year for old model Blackhawk production) and sports the original 6 1/2" barrel.

I thought the old model might make a cool project for my blog.

I had been following some projects of a gunsmith by the name of "Sharps40". He documents his projects on Firearmstalk forum (as well as some other forums). His work had me hankering to start a Blackhawk project of my own.

Here are three of Sharp40's projects:

 You can see the write up here


 See the write up here

see the write up here




After having thought about what I would do with the gun I came up with the following options:

1. Restore the gun to original condition. I already have a good condition old model grip frame and some other parts, so this is the least expensive option (and probably the most prudent). Like this:

2. A Calvary Dragoon, I would install either a Super Blackhawk or a Bisley New Model steel grip frame (using a Clements trigger), add a lanyard loop to the bottom and some plain walnut grip panels then re-blue or "antique" the whole gun.
Perhaps my end result would look something like this gun:
 or maybe have it satin-nickel plated to look like this?



3. A Sheriff's model: cut the barrel to 3 1/2" - 3 3/4" (that seems to be the shortest you can go and keep an ejector rod system), modify the birdhead grip frame to work or modify an old model grip frame into a "round butt" configuration. Give the cylinder a "black powder chamfer", maybe scallop the recoils shields, checker the ejector rod button, then blue the gun. 
Something like this one is from Gary Reeder

4. Deluxe: Nickel plate the gun and nitre blue the screws and small parts, then install custom grips made from Ivory, bone or stag (obviously this would be the most expensive option).
 

Stay tuned for part two 



References
Sportsman's Vintage Press
Gun Blast
Firearmstalk