Blackhawk Convertible


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aji
December 29, 2006, 02:54 PM
Am considering purchase of a Blackhawk Convertible in .357/9mm as this is my first SA revolver. My question relates to the calibers that can be used. I presume the .357 cylinder will accomodate both .357 and .38 special ammo. Will the 9mm cylinder accomodate only 9mm (Luger) or will it also fire .380 auto. Thank you in advance for your input.

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Jim March
December 29, 2006, 05:13 PM
The 357 cylinder will of course handle 38Spl (and 38+P).

The 9mm cylinder is however strictly limited to 9mm and 9mm+P.

Reason being, the 9mm shells headspace off of the forward shell mouth rim.

Both the 9mm and 380 shells have "rims" that are the same width as the main body of the shell. So the 9mm shells fall forward until they hit a "lip" machined inside the cylinder bores. This is also the same way 9mm autoloader barrels work. If you insert a 380 shell it will fall 19mm deep but being only 17mm long, the primer will be too far ahead of the firing pin to allow ignition.

Ooops.

A lot of people take the 9mm cylinders on these guns and have them machined to "something else". One choice I've heard of is to bore the "lip" deeper to 9mm "Magnum" (9x23) spec but to me, that makes little sense.

The 356GNR however makes a LOT of sense: it's a near-wildcat based on the 41mag necked down to 357. Gary Reeder brews these up, and you can ship him just the cylinder. Dies, brass and loaded shells are available. How does a 180gr load doing 1,700fps sound?

http://www.cartridgeperformance.com/product.htm#revolver

http://www.reedercustomguns.com/loadingmanual.htm

http://www.reedercustomguns.com/information/GNR_cartridges.htm

Yeah, you kinda have to handload but by GOD what a great excuse to get into it.

jojosdad
December 29, 2006, 05:35 PM
Thanks for the idea Jim. I was wondering what to do with the extra
9mm cylinder for my Blackhawk. Mr. Reeder only charges $150, too. http://www.reedercustomguns.com/information/services.htm
I just spoke with the shop and they said dies are $90.
They also said that the older Rugers, (serial #s without a "-" in them; e.g. 10000 as opposed to 10-100000), won't handle the pressure of the round.

Jim March
December 29, 2006, 05:50 PM
Can you clarify what Reeder meant by "older Rugers"?

The original 3-screw 357s were built on a frame similar in size to the Colt SAA, so yeah, they're a problem. From 1973 forward Ruger built 357s on a 44Mag-size frame and those are what the 356GNR is meant for.

The New Vaquero and 50th Anniversary Blackhawk 357 are scaled back down to Colt SAA size.

My understanding from talking to them is that I *can* get a 356GNR cylinder for my New Vaquero, but I have to run it at "S&W spec" loads versus "Ruger spec". So I could run a 180gr hardcast at 1,350fps instead of 1,700.

Now I can still see some merit and if I can ever find a source for a second 357 cylinder for my gun I'll consider it. I would get slightly more power at the top end but also reduced pressure in medium or low end loads. If I load, say, 158gr LSWC-HP slugs at 1,000fps from my 4.68" barrel in 356GNR cases, it would not surprise me if the pressures were so low fired cases would drop right out of an upturned cylinder. And such a load is really about all you need for personal defense.

-------

Back to the original poster: virtually ALL of the 357/9mm convertable Rugers floating around are built on the 44Mag-class post-1973 frame. I think it may be "all" but I'm not 100% certain. None of the modern mid-frame 357s like mine have been offered as convertibles and I doubt the pre-'73s were though I'm not certain. I don't think any of the 44Mag-size 357s from 1973 to present are "abnormally weak", I've certainly never heard of it if so. I believe all of those could take "full tilt" 356GNR no sweat.

Old Fuff
December 29, 2006, 06:14 PM
If you are going to consider wildcats, look into the .357 Bain & Davis (.44 Magnum bottlenecked to .357). The advantage is that .44 Magnum brass is much easier to find then .41 Magnum, and sometimes less expensive. The advantage of both larger necked down cartridges isn't in more power over the .357 Magnum, but the ease with which they drop into a chamber.

Ben Shepherd
December 29, 2006, 06:17 PM
Dang! Old Fuff beat me too it. 357/44 B&D. :evil:

Now there's a hotrod option for that 9mm cylinder.

357 max you say? Puhlease.......

Jim March
December 29, 2006, 06:23 PM
I've heard somewhere that the B&D cartridge has a tendency to jump back under recoil and remain pressed against the back of the frame, slowing the cylinder turn for the next round.

True?

Apparantly the GNR neck isn't as extreme and doesn't do this as bad as the B&D.

41Mag brass is still pretty easy to come by, esp. for a reloader.

You're abolutely right that any bottleneck cartridge will insert into the cylinder faster! That's one reason the 38-40 and 44-40 were popular SAA chamberings back in real "wild west[note]".

-----

Note: the "real west" wasn't all that "wild". If you take away all modern communications, photography and forensics gear from modern law enforcement (leaving them cars so they can at least travel the same speed as bad guys) every major city in America would look like pizza with the cheese ripped off inside of a year. In contrast "wild west" murder rates without modern police "stuff" were lower than modern murder rates despite major advances in cop tech.

Old Fuff
December 29, 2006, 06:39 PM
I've heard somewhere that the B&D cartridge has a tendency to jump back under recoil and remain pressed against the back of the frame, slowing the cylinder turn for the next round. True?

Yes and no...

It depends on how heavy the cartridge is loaded. You can get to the level of the original .357 Magnum and maybe a little more. After that the set-back may tie up the gun. Thay why I said that you wouldn't get more power then the .357 Magnum, but loading is much faster. In a T/C Contender it can be a barn-burner.

Jim March
December 29, 2006, 07:46 PM
Ah. Which explains why Reeder was able to exceed 357Mag (hell, slightly edge the 357MAX) with a 41Mag based shell. He's not having as much setback issues.

Still, the B&D looks like a GREAT answer for those into lower pressures and 357 performance below "normal" spec.

Old Fuff
December 29, 2006, 08:29 PM
Still, the B&D looks like a GREAT answer for those into lower pressures and 357 performance below "normal" spec.

Well if "normal" is around a 158 grain bullet going 1400 FPS out of a 6 1/2" barrel, the B&D probably won't give you any problems. On the other hand trying to do the same with a 180 grain slug likely would. These sort of numbers would be restricted to revolvers built on a Ruger .44 frame or a Freedom Arms. From a personal point of view I don't hot-rod either the .357 Magnum nor Bain & Davis. If I need more performance I turn to a .41 or .44 Magnum. Mild loads in the B&D are a pleasure to shoot, and you can load by pitching the cartridge toward the cylinder across the room... :neener: :scrutiny:

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