In 2009 - 2010, Ruger began producing their Blackhawk single action revolver in .44 Special

In 2009 – 2010, Ruger began producing their Blackhawk single action revolver in .44 Special

Those who love the .44 Special were eSpecially (pun intended) excited when Ruger brought out the Blackhawk “Flat Top” for the first time in that cartridge in 2009 – 2010. Of course, we could always shoot .44 Special ammo in a Super Blackhawk .44 magnum, but that is a bigger, bulkier, and heavier handgun.The little Flat top .44 Special with its 4 5/8″ barrel is a joy to handle and shoot. Mine is accurate, and shows almost no recoil with the 200 gr FMJ ammo I had on hand – even when shooting one handed. Of course, if you load the Special with a hard cast 240 – 250 gr bullet at 1200 fps, it rivals the .44 mag in killing power on deer sized game, and will suffice for hogs, as well. I was very pleased with my first shooting session, even with the FMJ ammo, and I have ordered new Starline Brass – and also reloaded the cases I fired plus a few I dug up from when I used to shoot .44 Special some in my magnums for a couple of dozen rounds with a mild charge of Titegroup powder behind 240gr lead semi-wadcutter target bullets.

For a long time I have “wanted” a Charter Arms Bulldog revolver as a self defense gun – not because Charter makes such a great gun (although they are much better than many give them credit for being), but because the little snub nosed double action revolver is chambered for .44 Special, making it a pretty potent companion. Even at the relatively mild loading of the Special, you get a cartridge equal to or surpassing a .45 ACP in knock down power, and the size allows it be be concealed almost as easily as a 1911. In addition, the double action revolver is probably the perfect “carry” handgun, as far as both safety and speed to get it into action, since you only need pull the trigger to fire at once, but it is much less likely to be involved in an accidental discharge. While the Flat Top Ruger is a single action, it retains most of the desirable features of the Bulldog in a handgun of better overall quality that holds 6 rounds instead of the Bulldog’s 5 – and the name Flat Top is just as rugged sounding as Bull Dog!

I am having trouble researching the manufacture date and other info on this pistol right now, as a lot of Ruger reference material was printed before the gun was manufactured. The cylinder on this one is “in the white”, as the previous owner removed the bluing to make it easier to polish out those annoying “turn marks” on the cylinder that most revolvers – especially New Model Blackhawks – are so prone to get. It actually looks pretty good – almost like a stainless cylinder – and sets off the finish of the frame which is really black, not blue, especially with the white resin grips. I may leave the cylinder as is, or I may see this as an opening to have some engraving done, or a color case hardened finish put on just the cylinder!

Note: Got this info this morning from a member of the Ruger Forum who is VERY knowledgeable on all things Ruger –


Best thing I can tell you is that you have one of the best models Ruger ever made; great cartridge, the mid size frame is the best-size-for-cartridge, it has all steel construction (no alum alloy parts), and they shoot very well. Some even feel that their fit and finish are above the ordinary because they were originally a special Lipsey’s distributor exclusive model which seem to get a bit more care than regular production items! If part of the original Lipsey’s order, it shipped by 12/2009, and will have a serial # under 520-20044 (MINE IS 520- 26014). But if it was ‘on the cusp’ of losing the lock, it likely didn’t ship until after 2012 when the lock was deleted.

You’re correct, the 44 Special mid size Flat Top Black Hawk was introduced in 2009. And fortunately they were not made before the barrel warning was moved to the bottom (THE WARNING ON MINE IS ON THE BOTTOM). The earliest issue had the 2nd line which includes the word “Newport” in a larger font than the 1st line. On later models, both lines used the same size small font (THIS IS THE CASE ON MINE).

A 520 serial # prefix labels this gun has having an internal lock. Likely however, it had been assembled during the transition and Ruger ran out of grip frames for the lock, before they ran out of cylinder frames still stamped #520…… After the lock was deleted, the prefix was changed to 521……….
The only other explanation is someone has switched the grip frame to the non-lock style, either way that’s a good thing!!

It likely has a blue hammer with polished sides (YES) and a stainless steel trigger, post 2013 production has stainless hammers and triggers.

The white grips are aftermarket. That’s also a good thing in my opinion, because the optional factory simulated ivory grips do not look as much like ivory as yours do. The NVB on the back indicate they are the XR3 size grip frame for the ‘New Vaquero’ and flat top ‘Blackhawk’, the only two current models that use that size grip.

Hope this is helpful”

Yes, the information was VERY helpful – at least to me.

This fine Handgun is in the Ruger production line now, so anyone wanting a dependable and “fun” gun to shoot that can also go hunting or spend time as a self-defense arm might want to give this one a look!

About MikeH

Texas hunter and fisherman for 50 years, published outdoor writer since 1979, licensed charter boat operator from 1982 to 2013. Past Member, Board of Directors, National Association of Charterboat Operators, current member Environmental Advisory Committee to the DOE and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Married to Dorothy since 2000, one son, Michael who is recently married and living in Nederland, Texas. My wife and I live in Oyster Creek, Texas, near Freeport, and have a hunting property outside of Brazoria, Texas.
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  1. MikeH says:

    We have something in common, then, because I couldn’t not resist writing this piece. Excellent product by an excellent AMERICAN company.

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