This picture is of an older Ruger Super Blackhawk single action revolver, with the 7 1/2″ barrel, chambered in .44 magnum – as many feel a single action revolver SHOULD be. When I bought this gun recently, it was in rather rough shape, cosmetically, but mechanically functioned like brand new. The first thing I did after a few test rounds were fired was take it to Texas Custom Guns, in Alvin, Texas, to have it redone with a Cerakote finish. Cerakote is a ceramic-based coating that has excellent wearing and corrosion resistant properties. It can be had in an amazing number of colors – even some that have no business being found on a hunting revolver – but I chose what they call their “Stainless Steel” finish. It actually resembles the Ruger Target Grey of my .480 Redhawk more than SS, but I think it is very attractive, and certainly an immense improvement over the old, weathered finish.
Texas Custom Guns offers full gunsmithing services as well as custom rifles and Cerakoting. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call at 832/971-7140. The location is 208 E. Dumble, Alvin, TX 77511
To set off the “make-over” of this gun, I ordered a set of walnut finger groove grips from Badger Custom Grips. These grips not only make the gun much more attractive, and give it a close to custom appearance, but they guard the shooters hand against being “dinged” by the square back trigger guard used on the SBH’s with the 7 1/2 or 10 inch barrels.
David at Badgers has made other fine grips for me, and is currently working on a set for my Bisley. contact him at badgercustomgrips.com, 1409 Old Pendleton Rd., Easley, SC, 29642 – or call 864/608-0032.
The next Ruger I also bought used, but this one needed no work from me to improve it’s looks – or performance. A “Hunter” model, it has the heavy, full length barrel top rail that incorporates the same Ruger scope mounting system as is used on the Redhawks – except on the barrel, and not the top of the frame. An often overlooked advantage to the Ruger scope mounting system on the Super Redhawks and Super Blackhawk Hunters is that if open sights were ever needed – like in case of a scope malfunction – the scope and rings can be fairly quickly removed by loosening the two screws holding the rings to the barrel (or frame, if a Redhawk). As long as the gun is “sighted in” with the open sights, you can quickly be back in business. If you just wanted to take the scope off, and decide to replace it, simply re-attaching should be sufficient. Since none of the mounting parameters will have changed, it will be sighted in with the scope as it was before removal. I have seen custom Ruger Hunter models where the front sight was removed and an insert pushed into its slot to make the rib appear unbroken. While this does look very good – at least to me – it takes away the open sight option. This gun is also a Bisley model, which means it has the Bisley grip, hammer, and trigger. The Ruger Bisley is heavily influenced by the original Colt Bisley target model, which in turn was modeled after the English Bisley target revolvers, but the grip is favored by most shooters using heavy recoiling revolvers. Custom revolver smith Hamilton Bowen maintains that without the Bisley grip, guns in calibers like the .475 and .500 Linebough could not be fired by a human. It is much straighter than the standard Blackhawk, “Plough Handle” grip, resulting in a straighter “push” during recoil, instead of the gun “rolling up” in your hand as it is designed to do with the standard Ruger grip frame. Although I haven’t yet shot a Bisley grip enough to have a firm opinion on its effect on recoil, it certainly does not make it “worse”! The Bisley hammer is lower than standard Ruger hammers, which is handy when using a scope on your gun. The Bisley trigger has a bit more slender profile, and the trigger guard is rounded instead of squared off.
This Bisley Hunter is heavier than a standard Super Blackhawk, weighing almost exactly the same as my .480 Redhawk – just under 4 1/2 pounds, with both guns having scopes mounted but no ammo loaded. Weight helps mitigate recoil, of course, and with the Bisley grip this gun is probably more pleasant to shoot than a standard .44 magnum SBH.
Received my new Lacewood grips for this revolver from Badger Custom Grips (badgercustomgrips.com) just in time to finish my shooting trials with them in place. With just a bit of tweaking, these grips fit much better than the factory grips, and look immensely better! Knowing that not all grips frames will be exactly the same, yet not wanting to remove mine and send them in for a really proper fitting, I have been amazed at how the grip makers I’ve dealt with so far can do a better fitting job than the factory. Of course, the factory does’t “fit” grips, they just screw on a set out of a box. For a truly custom fit without doing it yourself, you have to have the grip frame or the complete revolver in the hands of a custom shop. Lacewood has become my favorite wood for really attractive and distinctive revolver grips, although Spalted Maple is very nice, also.
OK, now we need to shoot these beauties, as I had never fired the Bisley, and only fired a few rounds through the SBH before having it Cerakoted. I loaded both revolvers with my hand loads using “310gr” True Shot hard cast bullets from Oregon Trail. The quotes around the bullet weights are because on my scale, the weight ran more to 305 – 307gr – even with gas checks. I used a nominal charge of Titegroup powder that multiple loading manuals said should give me 1071fps. Time only allowed 2 shots from each revolver that morning, and the velocities from my chronograph showed a 1088 and 1074 from the Bisley, against shots yielding 1085 and 1077 from the SBH. Pretty darn close, even considering both had the same barrel length – 7 1/2″ – and also considering my actual charge weights varied by plus or minus .4gr. Since I was looking for a load with this bullet producing 1000 – 1100 fps for hog hunting, I think I have found it. Also encouraging to me was that though I bore – sighted both scopes at home, no scope adjustments were made when shooting – yet the 2 shots from the Bisley were both in the bullseye at 25 yards, while the shots from the SBH were just a tad high and left – all 4 would have been kill shots on a hog. No further adjustment will be necessary to the 2X Weaver on the Bisley, and only a little adjustment to the T/C 2.5X x 7X on the SBH. In what I term my “Pig Stand”, the feeder is about 25 yards from the stand, so I sight in for that range, then check my POI at 50 and 75. Normally, no further adjustment is needed. I might run the velocities up in future loadings, but if shooting a few swine with basically sub-sonic velocities gives me good results, I may not – especially since I have the .480 Ruger if I want more power.
The shots in and just above the center ring were from the two .44 mags, the other three low and left – scattered – were from the .480 Ruger, also a first effort with only a quick bore sight session, before further alignment. My scope sighted Ruger revolvers have been the easiest guns of any kind to initially “get on paper” I’ve ever fired!