According to what has been documented over the years, word has it that an employee from Sturm, Ruger & Company found a spent .44 Mag case in a scrapyard in Connecticut, leading Bill Ruger to believe competitor Smith & Wesson was up to something in the way of a big-bore handgun. With his foresight, Ruger was then able to field a larger, single-action handgun to handle this new cartridge, surprising Smith & Wesson by introducing it to the shooting public almost at the same time as S&W’s popular Model 29.

When it came to single-action handguns, Bill Ruger was ahead of his time.

As a kid, I’m sure you all remember the famous Western movies and shows on television. Naturally, everyone of shooting age cried for a single-action gun to fill their fantasies of participating in quick-draw competitions, which seemed to be sprouting up everywhere, especially in California. Colt had simply miscal-culated the industry, having discontinued its Single Action Army before World War II. So, being at the right time and place with a substitute, a new company emerged around 1953. Called Sturm, Ruger & Company, one of the first guns out of the gate was a trim revolver called the Ruger Single-Six, chambered for the equally popular and inexpensive .22 LR cartridge. Needless to say, demand outstripped the supply this new company could produce in Southport, Connecticut, which then led to the development of a centerfire gun called the Ruger Blackhawk.

Blackhawk Takes Flight
The larger Ruger Blackhawk was one hot item and from its introduction to 1993, over 1.1 million guns were sold! In an effort to please all, Ruger chambered the gun in the .38 Special/.357 Mag, .41 Mag, .44 Mag, .45 Colt, .45 ACP, .30 Carbine, plus a few models complete with an interchangeable cylinder to use the 9mm in the .357 Mag and the .45 ACP with the .45 Colt guns. Barrel lengths measured between 4.63 and 7.5 inches, depending on the gun and chambering, and for materials, each Blackhawk was made from carbon steel with an anodized aluminum grip frame and ejector rod housing on the original blued models.

Bill Ruger always had that uncanny knack for bringing out the right gun at the right time, and the Ruger Super Blackhawk was no exception. With his Blackhawk well on the way to fame and fortune for the company, Ruger, in his ultimate wisdom, now turned his attention to designing a gun especially for the stout .44 Mag cartridge that could compete or even overshadow the likes of the celebrated S&W Model 29. I purchase mine around 1972, and with a serial number starting in the 80-41XXX series, all these years of testing handloads, full-house factory ammunition, shooting just for fun and plinking with lesser .44 Special loads have failed to materialize any defects in timing, looseness or downgrading in the accuracy department. From the get-go, this gun was made for a lifetime of shooting pleasure.

According to my research material, four major design changes reflect the difference between the initial Blackhawk single-action guns and the newer Super Blackhawk. To start, the hammer spur has been widened almost to target status and serrated. Appearance wise, the non-fluted cylinder jumps out at you; for strength and safety, you simply can’t build enough around each .44 Mag cartridge, and this surely fills the bill. I always like the Dragoon-style triggerguard on some of the early custom rifles, and Ruger incorporated it into the Super Blackhawk with some extra room for winter gloves. Finally, and the most obvious to some dyed-in-the-wool Blackhawk fans, is the integral sight rib that surrounds and protects the fully adjustable rear sights. Of course, that high-gloss polish and bluing that set the gun apart from the rest of the Blackhawk tribe, something that is missing from production guns today and for collectors, apparently started around serial number 4XXX.

Pages: 1 2 3 4
Show Comments
  • Steve

    This gun does, however, have a flaw. I own a Super Blackhawk in Stainless steel that I bought new last year. The gate detent spring kept popping out of place and jamming the cylinder. I had to send it back twice to Ruger before they got it fixed right and they absolutely stood behind their product. I took it to a local gunsmith that told me this flaw was very common for this gun. Also found a lot of complaints about this on the web. I hope Ruger addresses this problem.

  • konica135

    Since SR was in CT and S&W in MA, 80+ miles apart, the genesis of the Super Blackhawk is a little bit of a myth.