Ruger's S/A nomenclature hurts my brain


September 30, 2010, 12:25 PM
I have been scouring Ruger's site and searching on this one and cannot for the life of me figure this out.

I know the Vaqueros are now being made on the smaller ('medium') sized frame, and would like to try one out. I have a .41 mag Bisley Blackhawk (Accusport) and it's a fine gun; the big grip and frame suit the loads I like to shoot in it. I had a .357 Blackhawk w/6.5" barrel on the old (large) frame and found it to be a rather cumbersome beast for the caliber. I have a strong preference for adjustable sights and would like to try a blackhawk in the 'medium' frame size.

So, which blackhawks are in this smaller size? Is it just the .357 50th anniversary edition? Is there a .44 special? A .45 colt? Anything forthcoming or hidden away as a dealer exclusive? Is there some way to tell from the descriptions on Ruger's site?

Also, does anyone know what kind of weight difference this frame difference makes? Thanks for the help!

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September 30, 2010, 12:50 PM
Believe me, there is A LOT to keep up with.

In New Models (post `73) you want the 50th anniversary .357 Blackhawk. The current .44Spl guns are also built on this same medium frame. These guns are all steel and the .357 is quite heavy.

All .45 Blackhawks to date have been built on the large frame, though there is a mid-frame .45 in the New Vaquero (2005-present). The original Vaquero was built on the large frame (1992-2005) with some cleanup runs since its discontinuation.

All Old Model (pre `73) .357 Blackhawks were also built on the medium frame but tend to be lighter due to an aluminum grip frame. Post `62 models also sport an aluminum ejector housing. Pre `62 "flat-tops" have a steel ejector housing.

September 30, 2010, 01:01 PM
Surely SOMEBODY has lost their job at Ruger over this cluster of opaque designations? Sheesh.

Looks like the .44 special in a 4 5/8 might be an interesting one to try. I've been wanting an excuse to get into loading .44 special for a while!

September 30, 2010, 02:40 PM
I recently purchased a mid frame 44spl Blackhawk with a 4 5/8" barrel. Its a fun gun to shoot. Very handy size. Is still a bit heavy but that weight comes in handy with heavier hand loads.

I have a New Model Blackhawk in 357mag and when I compared the mid frame to it all I can say is wow what a difference. The mid frame is just plain handier. The standard frame is real beefy and much heavier. I have always liked my standard frame blackhawk but I can sure see why the newer mid frame guns are so popular.

It is confusing the way Ruger gives them the same name "New Model Blackhawk" without any description to what it really is. If not for some magazine articles and these forums I would not have known the difference and probably not been to interested in the 44spl Blackhawk.

It pays to read and ask questions.


September 30, 2010, 03:12 PM
I have a New Model 41 mag Bisley (blue, 7.5"bbl) that seems to me to be the correct weight/balance in my hands. I also have a Flattop 44spl with a 4 5/8"bbl that feels right in my hands. I have an Anniversary 357 (4 5/8"bbl) that is way to heavy for a 357, but luckily, I bought that to be converted to a 41spl and will end up being proportioned appropriately for the caliber.

I think the Anniversary 357 with an aluminum grip frame would be the optimal configuration for a 357 magnum. Too bad Ruger doesn't build one that way.

September 30, 2010, 08:47 PM
To further confuse things, the .44 Special New Vaqueros built for Lipsey's are marked simply “Vaquero”, with no mention of them being the New Vaqueros at all.

Jim K
September 30, 2010, 10:09 PM
"the .357 is quite heavy"

Yep; so heavy I traded in the one I bought. I like a little weight in a .357, but not that much.


Erik M
September 30, 2010, 10:59 PM
I have found myself in the same situation, trying to locate a decent pair of grips made for the New Vaquero. XR3, XR3 red, yeah Im not confused :(

October 1, 2010, 03:16 AM
Grips for the New Vaquero are readily available, I have a set of Holly grips from that I really like.

Erik M
October 1, 2010, 11:23 PM
TYVM for the link RKRCPA. The guy making those grips certinly has extrordinary talent.

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