Dueling Ruger New Model Blackhawks

Dueling Ruger Blackhawks

Dueling Blackhawks (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

This year I’m trying my hand at cowboy action shooting. Cowboy action shooting is at least a four gun sport; two revolvers, a shotgun, and a pistol caliber carbine. This makes the initial price of entry into the sport quite steep, especially if you intend to be competitive. A full compliment of slicked-up guns, gear, and leather can run $6,000 or more.

In order to keep costs down, I looked around at what I already had on hand. I have quite a few Ruger revolvers, but one of them was suited well enough for the game, and wouldn’t be hard to find a mate.

Old and new Ruger New Model Blackhawks (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

A stainless Ruger New Model Blackhawk in .38 SPL/.357 Mag with a 4.62″ barrel is one of the guns I’ve had for some time, long enough that I’m not sure when I got it, but I know I got it used. According to the Ruger serial number chart, this revolver is 40 years old.

It was pretty easy to find a brand new one to match the gun I already had, and I was surprised at how similar the guns were to each other, even though they were made decades apart.

All of the basics are the same on these revolvers. Same barrel length. Same frame dimensions, hammer, and sight style. Their parts are essentially interchangeable. The finish is the same, although the new gun may be a tad shinier. I shot the old gun quite a bit, but didn’t carry it around much. It was on my hip for some javelina hunts and shows a little damage to the front sight, but overall it’s in great shape.

Damaged front sight (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

There are some differences to the two guns.

Most obvious is the grip material.  Both are wood, but the older revolver is a plain style and the new one includes the shiny laminate. As far as grip surface, neither provides any advantage over the other. When it comes to fit, however, the newer Blackhawk falls short of the older gun.

Older handle on top, newer below (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Considering that Ruger has become the master of low-cost/high value firearms manufacturing, the wide variation in wood-to-metal fit on their revolvers is a bit of a conundrum. I have quite a few of these guns, and they all vary. This new Blackhawk in .357 Magnum is probably the worst of the bunch, especially compared to the older Blackhawk, which very well may be the best of the bunch.

Ruger Blackhawk cylinder pins, older gun on top (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

There is also a slight difference in the cylinder pin style. The older model has a wide flat ring that butts up against the frame, whereas the new model deletes this feature. Both pins are the same length and the same diameter. In this weight and this caliber, no larger cylinder pin is necessary.

Ruger Blackhawk lettering, older gun on top (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

One advantage of the newer style is the placement of the large amount of text Ruger includes on the barrel.  The old style includes even more wording than the new one, and puts it on the left side of the barrel. Ruger now wisely places the text on the newer models on the bottom of the barrel. I’ve paid gunsmiths to have the text removed from previous barrels, but I wouldn’t bother having that done on Rugers with the text underneath.

If you look closely at the rear sight base, you’ll find that the newer gun is labeled with the Ruger logo, whereas the older gun’s rear sight base is left blank.

Ruger Blackhawk sights, older gun on left (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The guns are, considering how many years apart they were made from each other, very similar. Why would they change? It’s a great value and people love the product. Ruger’s just kept doing what works, and I’m glad they did.

When it comes to accuracy, our pair of Blackhawks are the same…and also pretty drastically different.

Nothing drives this point further than a .357 Magnum round I’ve come to recognize as capable of producing consistently small groups in several revolvers, the Barnes VOR-TX 140 gr HP. Shooting from a rest at 25 yards, the new Blackhawk produced an average of 1.75″ five round groups over four-shot strings. Switching to the older Blackhawk, the exact same round produced 2.5″ groups on average. Percentage wise, that’s quite the difference.

Ruger Blackhawk groups, older gun on right (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

My preferred pistol hunting bullets are made by Cast Performance. They all feature extremely wide meplats and a Brinell hardness of 18-21. Using this 180 gr bullet, heavily lubed, and pushing each round with 13 grains of Winchester 296, I fired both guns under the same conditions. The new Blackhawk printed groups of the same size of the Barnes round. The old Blackhawk saw a difference though, now printing groups equal to the newer revolver.

The older gun likes the heavy hard cast bullet. The new gun likes anything.

Looking at the numbers on the chronograph for this review, the new revolver launched a bullet 2% slower on average than the old revolver. That small percentage has a fairly wide deviation, depending on the bullet.  Lighter .38 SPL rounds launched at low to modest velocities showed no real difference. But the heavier the bullet, and the higher the pressure, the more the difference between the two guns.

This is most likely the result in the difference in cylinder gap. The cylinder gap on the old gun measures at .005″, which is right where we would expect. The new Blackhawk, however, measures in at .008″, a bit much.

Ruger Blackhawk muzzle (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Casting each barrel with Cerrosafe, the groove diameter measures to .357″ on both guns. The lands are a different story. Using a minus pin gauge, the lands of the new Blackhawk measure to .350″ and the older Blackhawk measures ever so slightly larger at .351″.

Ruger Blackhawk cylinder (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The end shake — the forward and backward movement of the cylinder — of both the old and new Blackhawk is still within the factory tolerances. The old Ruger’s end shake measured .002″. The new revolver’s measured .001″. Both are  smaller than the .003″ of a new Vaquero in .45 Colt I recently purchased.

Ruger Blackhawk top strap and forcing cone (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

As far as lock-up, as is typical of Ruger single actions, neither revolver particularly excels. There’s a good amount of play in either cylinder. Even in full lock-up, you can shake the gun back and forth and listen to the cylinder move. Let us all pause and give thanks to the forcing cone.

New model trigger pull (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

If you ever come across a gun review of a Ruger single action revolver and the author praises the quality of the trigger, please know you’ve entered the land of fiction. Both revolvers show the slop and squish these guns are known for. However, there’s a difference between the two. The newer revolver’s trigger pull average measures at 3 lbs 1oz. Contrary to what I would have thought after so many trigger pulls, the old revolver’s trigger measures more than a full pound heavier, at 4 lbs 3 oz.

For any revolver, the cylinder chamber throats should measure .001 to .0015″ larger than the bullet diameter, which should be of the size, or sized, to match the groove diameter of the barrel. Using a minus plug gauge, all six cylinders on both guns measure to a snug .358″, exactly where we would like them to be.

Aiming at a 50-yard target (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Just for fun, I took the roughly 1/4-sized deer shaped target included with the latest issue of RECOIL magazine out and placed it at 50 yards from my shooting bench. Shooting off a rest, I took one single shot at the vitals section marked on the target with each revolver, using the hard cast hunting load listed above.

Both guns were sighted for 25 yards. Both rounds struck the target, but the newer revolver struck a bit lower, barely taking a nibble out of the heart. With this round, I wouldn’t hesitate to take a shot at our little white tail deer at around 35 yards, and I’d be very confident I’d end up with venison shortly thereafter.

50-yard target (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

When it comes to reliability, I don’t see any reasons why the new gun wouldn’t last just as long as the old one. I don’t know how many rounds my older Blackhawk has had through it, as it was used when I got it. It has since had thousands of rounds of .38 SPL practice loads through it, and more than a few .357 Magnum hunting loads. The Ruger single actions are the best bang for your buck revolvers made, and much of that value is because of how generally overbuilt they are for the caliber.

I’ve been practicing shooting fast with each of these guns, and I’ll shoot them as-is for at least a few rounds before sending them off to be slicked up for competition. The cost associated with that is about $600 per gun, so I won’t make that change until I’m outrunning the guns in their factory form.

As they are now, it’s interesting to see how little has changed over the decades. Ruger has continued to make a product millions enjoy, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. We’ll see how I do with both of them over the coming year.

 

comments

  1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    A SA revolver is on the list, the Ruger is definitely a top candidate.

    1. avatar Squiggy81 says:

      If you’re looking at the Blackhawk, do yourself a favor and get a convertible model. I decided to save a few bucks on my first one and didn’t. Regretted it and sold it. Replaced it with the convertible. They aren’t that much more expensive, but the savings is huge when you go from 45 Colt to 45 ACP.

      1. avatar Rick Taylor says:

        I agree with that advice 100%. I’ve got a 45 convertable and a 357 convertable. Love them both.

        1. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

          What does the .357 cover too? I assume that like every .357 I’ve owned or encountered that it shoots .38s as is.

        2. avatar jwtaylor says:

          You can also get a 9X19mm cylinder. Accuracy will suffer a bit depending on bullet choice .

        3. avatar jwm says:

          Crimson. Ruger Blackhawk convertibles come with a cylinder for .38/.357 and one for 9mm. My brother has had one for at least 45 years. It was his only gun til his FIL passed and left him a shoebox full of Colts and Smiths.

        4. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

          Thank you all.

          I suddenly realize I need a new convertible 😉

      2. avatar RidgeRunner says:

        Interesting, but my .357s are .357s and my 9s are 9s and ne’er the twain shall meet. Never much gone in for switching calibers with one firearm, only occasionally shoot .38s in my .357s. To each his own, yo.
        Love this article and remain obsessed with Smith and Ruger wheel guns. Most recent purchases, in fact, were a used Ruger Super Redhawk in .44 with a 7 1/2″ barrel (need those scope rings!), and a REALLY used S&W Model 10 .38 police trade-in from Classic Firearms. I don’t have any single action, need to look at the Blackhawks. THESE Blackhawks featured, actually, and with Rugers I certainly don’t mind going used. Have the Model 10, plus a Security Six, Alaskan and the Super Redhawk all purchased used, and all prime.

        1. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

          I love conversions. I have conversions, both threaded and stock length for my Glock 23 in 9mm, .357 Sig, and the Advantage Arms .22 LR kit. I also have a threaded .40 barel for the day when I can get a suppressor. Even at the height of the Obama shortages I could always find some kind of shootable ammo.

          I always have eye out for a Tokarev 9mm conversion.

          .22 conversion for ARs and AKs are on my wish list.

          And I have been looking at the convertible Taurus .357 revolver. But this is so much cooler 😉

          Oh, well. As Mises observed “All desires are infinite, and all resources are finite.”

    2. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      RATS, Rugers Are The Toughest Six-guns.

    3. avatar Anonymous says:

      I prefer a little lower bore axis.

      1. avatar Peter Gunn says:

        And that’s the paradox of the SAA grip angle- it looks so odd, yet works so superbly. The beauty of the design manifests itself while shooting- what seems contradictory (high bore axis, short stubby grip, forward weight bias) synergizes perfectly in action. Recoil flips the gun up into the ideal position to cock the hammer with your shooting hand thumb, the odd-shaped grip allows it to pivot in the hand perfectly (without losing your grip), and the forward weight bias brings the gun right back down to a natural pointing position- almost magically. It truly must be experienced to appreciate.

  2. avatar Rhubarb314159 says:

    Quite fond of my DA Ruger Super Redhawk, too.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I just sent a Redhawk to Hamilton Bowen to have worked on and the barrel shortened. I am looking everywhere for a Colt anaconda barrel to have him swap out the Ruger barrel with that instead.

  3. avatar jwm says:

    .44 special or .45 Colt. Right now the only single action I have is a Ruger convertible Single Six. I don’t do CAS. If I did I would likely look into the .357. Allows for mild loads. Mild loads help in time and target groupings.

    Do they time CAS?

    What kind of shotgun and carbine? Do they allow the 97 Winchester in CAS?

    1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      What kind of shotgun and carbine? Do they allow the 97 Winchester in CAS?

      Time plus misses.

      Pistol caliber carbine, my suggestion is a 1873 short rifle, even if you have to save up for it.
      Yes the 1897 shotgun is used and allowed depending on category you intend to shoot in.

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I would have preferred 45s or 44s, but all the top competitors have told me to shoot 38 instead.

      I am just running a Stoeger Coach gun that I finished slicking up myself about 15 minutes ago.

      As for the carbine, I really want to run a new model original Henry. People tell me they are not very competitive, but I want to give it a try. I really love those guns.

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        jwt, I don’t shoot cowboy but I have a friend that. Is very into it. He shoots a pair of 5.5 inch Colt SAA. One is a second greneration. Some repleca lever action in .38 Spl. He gets pissed when I laugh at him. .38 Spl. Really?

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Neat, how do your scores compared to his?

        2. avatar Mark N. says:

          Since the game is all about speed, heavy loads and lots of recoil are to be avoided because the recoil slows down the next shot. For example, an original .45 Colt can be loaded up to 890 fps (equivalent to 40 gr. black powder), higher for a new gun (as high as 1200 fps with the right bullet and powder combo), but cowboy action loads run anywhere from 650 to 780 fps. Black powder loads are typically 28-30 grains by volume for the fastest and most accurate rounds.

          Applying the same rule to .38/.357, one would want to shoot .38s and not .357s.

        3. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          jwt, as I said. I don’t shoot cowboy. Don’t shoot competition anymore at all. When I did it was street leather with street handguns. This was before IDPA, or whatever it has morphed into, became popular. Mark did buy a Store Keepers model with ivory not long ago in .44 Spl. I gave him him an El Paso shoulder rig to wear in matches. The Wes Hardin rig. A little border trim. He’s never shot from it, but he looks sporty. I just laugh because, well, .38 Spl. Mark gets it even if you don’t.

        4. avatar jwtaylor says:

          GF, yeah I must be missing something. That shopkeeper 44 is awful hard to find.

        5. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          jwt, yeah, I guess you have to know Mark to get it. He’s the big bore guru. Except for J frames and cowboy revolvers you couldn’t give him a .38 Spl. All his other Colt SAA calibers begin with “4.’

      2. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

        They are being straight with you on caliber choice, get what you really want as you will end up with at least two or more sets of guns if you play the game long enough, some pards refer to the second or third set of guns their backups.

    3. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      If I did I would likely look into the .357.

      38 Spl./357 if one wants to be competitive in CAS is the caliber of choice, some of the top competitors have even went to the 32 caliber in pistols and main match rifle.

  4. avatar Jimmy Beam says:

    Nice. I love Rugers, and my Vaquero in .357 is absolutely beautiful.

  5. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    JON WAYNE TAYLOR

    Back in the early years of SASS only one six gun was used and pistol were staged not drawn from leather, that all changed in the mid 90’s as the thought was 2 six-guns made for more shooting thus more fun but at the cost of more money required to play the game.

    That said it’s still the most fun you can have with your clothes on and addictive.

    SASS #.3368

  6. avatar ChanceMcCall says:

    As someone who was very active in SASS and later CMSA, the guns do make a difference. I had over 10K wrapped up in the competitive guns when the gunsmithing work was finished. ( Bill Oglesby – “Badlands Bill” did all my work) and another 3K in saddle, etc.

    Be careful to note that SASS is pretty picky about the guns they will allow you to use in competition. I started out using my Super Blackhawk loaded with weak .44 specials but as the organization added rules, I was no longer able to use it or my Greener shotguns despite them actually being original period.

    With the right gunsmithing, Rugers make fine guns, but since I was involved Taylors seem to be the new choice of many of the competitors. I’ve shot a couple on a range and they are pretty impressive even right out of the box. Bear in mind that mounted shooting usually means different configurations of handguns than normally used in ground shooting.

    Ruger makes a matched pair especially for SASS competitions.

    For the rifle I’ve always shot the Marlin that was made specifically for Cowboy Action but even it benefitted from being slicked up.

    Before investing a lot in guns, I would recommend joining SASS (and or CMSA if mounted shooting is in your future) and reading the magazines – including back issues and using their forum. Just like many of the gun sports there is a lot to learn and far too many people end up changing out their guns and their rigs in the first year, especially if they are competitive.

    Cowboy shooting is a lot of fun and still a growing sport with many kids and women actively engaged.

    Charter Life Member CMSA
    Life Member SASS

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      “ I was no longer able to use it or my Greener shotguns despite them actually being original period.”

      Yup. Rule changes were happening when I got interested in the sport and I got discouraged pretty fast. It’s the reason I left IPSC and the rest.
      Same with 3 gun.

      Kinda miss those gangs of good guys.

      1. avatar ChanceMcCall says:

        The rule changes – including the clothing were the big discouragement for me as well. Fortunately, mounted shooting came along with CMSA and they were not so picky. I actually liked mounted better so I stopped going to SASS events. (This was before SASS decided to include mounted.)

        In all fairness, I understand SASS has let up a bit on the clothing rules at least, and has added several new competition areas. CMSA is far better on these issues but it is considerably more expensive because of the costs involved with owning specially trained horses and transporting them to the events.

        My problem today is too many injuries and advancing age or I would still be competing. I really loved mounted shooting since I started hunting off my horse when I was about ten – on our own land and before DOC began to take a very dim view of horseback hunting.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          The clothing and having to pick a stage name are the biggest discouragements to me. I mean, I am a Texan named Jon Wayne, I live on a farm and ranch, I wear boots, jeans and a cowboy hat most of my life, and I always have a gun.
          Apparently that is just not cowboy enough.
          For the matches I will trade one of the guns on me for two different ones, one leather holster for a different one, one cowboy hat for a different one, the button down shirt I usually wear for a button-down shirt with a different collar, trade my jeans and boots for pants and boots, trade my leather belt for suspenders and I can’t use my real name because someone else has taken it as a stage name. I’ll even leave my real police badge at home and trade it for a fake SASS badge!

        2. avatar "Lucky" Ned Pepper says:

          What’s the CosPlay got to do with it?

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I joined SASS a couple of months ago. I also have the Good Fortune of having Garrett Martin, a former world champ, as a friend who lives close by and has agreed to tutor me.

      1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

        JWT

        You have a great treasure in your friend, enjoy and have fun .

  7. avatar Peter Gunn says:

    Gosh, I sure miss SASS. It’s been right at 20 years since I’ve participated- good times, indeed! Went through a lot of hardware (and a lot of $) before getting my loadout right. Along the way I had Uberti (SAA, ’75 Remington, ’51 Navy conversion, 1873, Trapoor Spfld), Colt (SAA), Ruger (Vaquero Std, Birdshead, and Bisley), Winchester (1894), Rossi (92), Stoeger (’78 Hammer Coach), Norinco (1897)… and probably others I’m forgetting.

    I ended up doing my best work with a pair of 5.5″ Ruger Vaqueros with standard grip, case-hardened, in 45 Colt (in a Kirkpatrick Leather double drop rig), a Rossi 92 Carbine in 45 Colt, and a Norinco 1897 12ga. Had a nice converted Radio Flyer Wagon to pack mule my stuff around the action range, too. Fun. Fun. Fun.

    Honestly, I’d like to get back out there and do it again- I’ll just need to research pre-1900 wheelchairs to see what might be period-correct. BTW, Peter Gunn is my alias from SASS all those years ago.

    Thanks for the happy stroll through memory lane.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      If it has tracks and a diesel engine you could mount a Gatling gun on the wheelchair.

    2. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      Those early years were some great fun and we were all more flexible as these days nothing on the old body works as well.

      1. avatar Peter Gunn says:

        I hear ya, brother. If I get back out there, I’ll be sittin’ down the whole match;-)

        1. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

          I have a disabled friend and coworker who can barely walk even with a cane and a handrail to hold on to. She shoots SASS and refuses to give it up. She isn’t competitive, just having fun. Don’t let a disability stop you. Wheel on out there and do it.

        2. avatar RidgeRunner says:

          Getting old ain’t for pussies. Right now, I’m battling a trigger finger/knuckle that is acting up bad from a fight I got in—-30 years ago! Shoulda seen the other guy.
          I knew it was messed up then, and now it’s come back to haunt me, big time, all these years on. Guess I gotta see a professional about it. Can’t have my trigger finger messed up, it’s coming off at an odd angle.

  8. avatar GS650G says:

    Smith and Colt have their fans but Ruger has Followers.

  9. avatar enuf says:

    Owned a pre-1970 (I think, not sure exact age) Ruger Blackhawk, .45LC, 7.5″ barrel in blue for a while. That was an inheritance and eventually I decided to give it to a brother who had greater interest in the gun and caliber. No complaint with it, not a thing wrong about that gun I was just into other guns at the time.

    Would really like to see Ruger bring out a model along the Colt Model 1877 idea. Early double action but still Old West Era. Modern steels would, I hope, solve the breakage problem in the complex mechanism. Prefer blued not stainless. Various calibers from .22LR to however large will still allow six chambers in the cylinder. Originals were up to .41LC. Likely start such a model with a .357 Magnum/.38 Special, as that fits in with Cowboy Action Shooting.

    But I’d just want one for the enjoyment of the design.

    I’d trust Ruger to pull that off successfully at a price I could pay.

  10. avatar RGP says:

    I also got a new Blackhawk recently in .45 Colt. Action was typical Ruger out of the box and it was shooting off a sandbag rest around 1 3/4″ to 2 1/4″ groups at 25 yards. Upside, it had fairly tight chambers. Downside, it had too tight chamber throats. I replaced the cheesy plastic copy of Colt’s hard rubber grip with a set of smooth cocobolo grips that I had and otherwise went to work on it. Slight polishing on most of the action and inside of the frame, reduced hammer dog engagement by a little more than 50%, put in a Wolff 30 ounce trigger return spring, opened the chamber throats to .4525″, and polished the chambers and chamber throats and polished the forcing cone. A lot of people open Ruger forcing cones to 11 degrees, but they’re usually 5 degrees from the maker, which is gentler on cast bullets than 11 degrees.

    Work done on it, it now shoots one big hole at 25 yards off of a sandbag rest with either 315 gr WFNs or 280 gr RCBS 45-270-SAA’s over 13.0 grs HS-6. These bullets are a hardness of about BHN 15. “Hard cast” tends to start around a BHN of 18 to 20 and up and I still haven’t tested it with hard cast.

  11. avatar Geoff "Guns. LOTS of guns..." PR says:

    “Looking at the numbers on the chronograph for this review, the new revolver launched a bullet 2% slower on average than the old revolver.”

    You mentioned a larger cylinder gap for the loss of velocity, but since it also improved the accuracy of the new one by a not-insignificant amount, could better engagement on the rifling lands be partially-responsible for the improvement in accuracy of the new one, by better stabilizing the bullet?

  12. avatar Mark N. says:

    Uberti makes a SAA slicked up special in .38/.357 designed for SASS. It runs a bit over $700. Or you can save the money and slick up your own action; the Colt action, which is nearly identical to the action developed for the 1849 Pocket pistol and all those that followed, up and through the 1860 Army and 1861 Navy, is a very simple mechanism. Also a contender is Pietta. I have an 1873 SAA with a 4.75″ barrel that came slick out of the box, was improved a bit with polishing, and is my favorite revolver to shoot. Both of the Italian makers use solid walnut one piece grips that take very well to fine sand paper and some hand rubbed stock oil.

  13. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Neat article. My experience with Rugers is that new and old Stainless ade much the same.

    However, I find the new blued models are better built than the one from the 70s (transfer bar).

    The finish was often nicer on the older blue guns and the 3-screws are sometimes very nice. But many 3-screws show imperfections in the castings and have a plum color (which I kind of like).

    Even my original flat tops have some un-even castings but they shoot well.

    I wish you well in competition. I have never been able to slip-shoot a gun with adjustable sights as fast as a fixed sight model. You might add a Bisley hammer to allow more thumb room.

    Good shooting. Let us know how it goes.

  14. avatar Phil LA says:

    I like mine in 45 Colt. But I’ve never had complaints on the trigger.

    Nice article.

  15. avatar Derringer Dave says:

    I’ve done Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS), and I really hate to tell you this after you’ve spent all this money on Ruger Blackhawks, but they’re not allowed for CAS because they have adjustable sights. The rules of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) expressly forbid adjustable sights. You can only use period-correct sights, which for revolvers means a simple blade in front, and a groove in the rear. Your stainless steel six-gun can’t have screwed-in black rear sights or screwed in black front sights, especially not adjustable sights!

    Get a pair of Ruger Vaqueros instead. Ruger even makes them in SASS matched pairs with consecutive serial numbers. Vaqueros are not only SASS-legal, but they’re also the most popular gun for CAS competition. Cheaper than the Colt, and safer because they have a transfer bar, which means you can safely load six rounds — although for CAS competition, SASS rules still dictate that you can only load five rounds, keeping an empty chamber under the hammer. Using my CAS alias for this post, Derringer Dave!

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Well I keep trying to post this without success.
      The SASS handbook states that adjustable sight models are acceptable (page 6). But folks on the internet say they are not.
      What am I missing?

      1. avatar Peter Gunn says:

        Twenty years ago there was a “Modern” class for adjustable sight guns. Folks who showed up with adj sight revolvers had to “shoot modern”.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          But that’s in the most recent rule book. I keep trying to post the language but it doesn’t work.

      2. avatar Peter Gunn says:

        As I recall, the only difference in “shooting modern” is that you get scored in the Modern class- you are only “officially” competing with shooters in your same class. It don’t make a damn bit of difference, though- it’s the most fun you’ll ever have with your cowboy clothes on.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          I just called my local club affiliate and confirmed that Blackhawks are A-Okay. Modern no longer exists.

        2. avatar Peter Gunn says:

          Good to know. I reckon adjustable sights are the best way for these old peepers to find the steel if I giddy on up back to a SASS match. This thread has me seriously considering it. Thanks again, pardner.

        3. avatar jwtaylor says:

          No problem. Although the club manager and Mr. Garrett Martin told me that the Blackhawks are okay because they are at a disadvantage compared to the Vaqueros. But I agree with you, not because of the rear sight, but because of the big front sight. It’s a heck of a lot easier for me to see it.

  16. avatar Jeff Deskins says:

    Jon, it was great to meet you at our long range match yesterday. Hope to shoot cowboy action with you in the future. You did well for the first time with the 45-70 lever gun.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Thanks so much!

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