Ruger Blackhawk vs. GP100 reliability


PDA






Glock Novice
June 8, 2012, 01:15 PM
A quick question for the wheelgun gurus:

Though both of these models are ostensibly very reliable, would the Blackhawk naturally be more durable simply because of its SAO design? This is against GP100, which, though just as well built, is a DA/SA.

The intended purpose, for my novel, is as a farm/utility tool.

Many thanks,

GN

If you enjoyed reading about "Ruger Blackhawk vs. GP100 reliability" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
whalerman
June 8, 2012, 01:20 PM
Both are as reliable as a rock. The only difference is the single action capability of the GP. I have both. Do check out the grips. Some don't like the SA style grips. Both have bunches of holster options. You can't go wrong either way. Did I mention that both are as reliable as a rock.

Drail
June 8, 2012, 01:30 PM
The Blackhawk has a lot less parts. That should tell you something.

CraigC
June 8, 2012, 01:44 PM
Firstly, nobody says SAO. It is simply a single action revolver.

Secondly, assuming we're talking about .357's, both are plenty strong enough for the cartridge. It is ultimately meaningless but academically speaking, the Blackhawk (mid or large frame) is stronger in every regard. It does not have a swing-out cylinder and thus, will not shake loose in that area like a DA eventually will. It also has simpler lockwork which is inherently more robust. It also has a larger cylinder (both mid and large frame) and as such, you simply cannot stuff enough slow burning powder into the .357 case to hurt it.

Glock Novice
June 8, 2012, 01:47 PM
I appreciate the swift replies. Still torn: absolute reliability is paramount for this application, but I have no familiarity whatsoever with the SAA type weapon. I suppose it might be better to stick with what I.know, though the .357 to 9mm cylinder conversion is a nice extra. If anyone has the time to humor me, what is the most common failure in a SAA type revolver?

Glock Novice
June 8, 2012, 01:50 PM
CraigC, thank you for your well worded, concise answer. Exactly what I've come to expect from this wonderful community of like-minded enthusiasts .

CraigC
June 8, 2012, 02:18 PM
Not a big deal at all, we're all here to learn.

Failures are a rarity, enough so that I don't concern myself with it at all. Traditional Colt-style guns are notorious for failures in myths and legends but in the real world, it's a rarity with them too. Bill Ruger corrected all the perceived weaknesses with the Single Six in 1953 and further updated the design (some like it, some don't) in 1973 with the "New Model" action. Rugers of both eras are about as robust as they come so it's really nothing to concern yourself with.

LTR shooter
June 8, 2012, 03:55 PM
I really believe one would be hard pressed to wear out either revolver or shoot to the point where the gun no longer functioned.

I have a 1976 Blackhawk and for a 357 , it's simply massive! My 686 cylinder looks like something from a pocket gun in comparison to the one on the BH and I consider my 686 to be a pretty durable revolver. Also used to own a GP100 and wish I had not traded that one off. The best scenario is to have both Rugers!

Texan Scott
June 8, 2012, 04:14 PM
The Blackhawk is apparently considered an 'ugly tank' by some. (what's wrong with ugly tanks?) The GP-100 will likely need to be tuned up and refurbished... by your grandchildren. Chevy should build trucks that hold up this well.
Get the one that fits your hand best and shoot with confidence.

clang
June 8, 2012, 05:39 PM
Either one will last a couple of lifetimes. I would recommend stainless steel for more weather protection.

mavracer
June 8, 2012, 05:40 PM
Your comparing a framing hammer to a claw hammer. In the years and 10s of thousands of rounds. I've seen a couple GPs that were mistreated erode and crack forcing cones and I've seen a couple blackhawks break a transfer bar one had a documented 17,000 rounds through it.

whalerman
June 8, 2012, 07:11 PM
It will come down to two considerations. One, how does it fit in your hand. Secondly, do you want the double action option. Other than that, forgetaboutit. Either will last forever.

Glock Novice
June 8, 2012, 08:08 PM
Many thanks for the thoughtful replies-- I think I see a trend here. The truth is that this is meant to be a functional future heirloom of sorts. No matter what, it's going to ride in a SimplyRugged flap holster and be cleaned in the wee hours of the morning, before the livestock are fed. I have deep-seated personal preference for dull and durable tools over fragile shinies. Not particularly proud of this, but it's the truth. If any current or former owners have further advice in regards to the idiosyncrasies or maintenance of the Blackhawk for a SAA neophyte, it would be greatly appreciated. I've already done plenty of research, but I appreciate the input. Anecdotes or facts are equally welcome.

On the other hand, such a request may be fodder for a fresh thread. In this case, the mods are welcome to close this one. Not that you need my permission.

MCgunner
June 8, 2012, 08:33 PM
I do like a simple single action for rough outdoor duties. No crane, no ejector rod, no crane locks, none of that useless stuff to bend in a fall or something. Neither is concealable, really. That's why they make the SP101 and the LCR. :D

This one's in .45 Colt. I do own a blued .357, too. It's not really a "dull" tool, but it is durable, and suitable for the formal BBQ after the cows are tended to. :D

http://i50.tinypic.com/2j4sqxx.jpg

Glock Novice
June 8, 2012, 08:44 PM
You Texans sure know how to do utilitarian in style. I'll never forget visiting an old friend in Abilene, TX and learning that truck ownership is about learning what you can't fit on an F-250 :eek:. I've already been beat around by my LCR enough, probably why I'm looking into something with a bbl length of at least 5". Cannot, however, argue with that concealability, or the sweet, sweet DA trigger pull.

mavracer
June 8, 2012, 11:31 PM
This one is just shy of 55 years old and going strong still eats hot and nasty fire breathing 1500fps+ reloads like candy.
http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii261/mavracer/SANY0896.jpg

Glock Novice
June 9, 2012, 07:59 AM
MavRacer,

That's an incredible track record. What parts, if any, have you replaced?

JohnM
June 9, 2012, 08:18 AM
That's an incredible track record. What parts, if any, have you replaced?

Why would you suspect a 55 year old 3 screw BH would be needing parts replaced? It's just broke in.

CraigC
June 9, 2012, 09:44 AM
I've got a 48yr old Single Six that has seen at least 30,000rds in the 12yrs I've owned it and it has not had any parts replaced due to breakage.

mavracer
June 9, 2012, 10:29 AM
I've only owned it for a couple years and have only beat on her a little maybe 500-600 rounds and only 100 or so have been hotties.I have no idea how much it got shot in the first 50. If my single six that dad bought before I was born (I'm 46) is any indication it would be impossible to tell. I would guess it's had well over 100K through it and you can't tell. The only thing I've replaced is the grips;)

CraigC
June 9, 2012, 10:37 AM
The only thing I've replaced is the grips
Yep, that's all they really need. Mine's a later XR3-RED version that I swapped an XR3 grip frame onto with fancy claro walnut, plus a steel ejector housing and bullseye ejector. Been trying to wear it out with no luck. :)

mavracer
June 9, 2012, 02:05 PM
Thanks for starting this thread I've spent the last couple hours reminising about that old single six and my misguided youth. I beat the crud out of that little Ruger. I drew down on more trees and dirt clods than phizer makes pills. I didn't have an x box so I spent hours playing cowboy and soda can on the farm.

MrDig
June 9, 2012, 02:17 PM
I have a GP 100 6 inch. It seems pardon the expression Bullet Proof. I really enjoy shooting it. I am considering another with a 4 inch Barrel. Finding a New Smith and Wesson 4 inch Barrel .357 at the same price point is unrealistic, and a gun with a warranty makes the GP100 the gun to buy imho. Unless I was thinking of Cowboy action shooting then the SA Rugers a the choice.

Arizonagunrunner
June 10, 2012, 12:05 AM
GP100 will out last a Blackhawk any day. Both will more then likely outlast their owner, but a GP is like the M1 Abrams of 357 handguns. The only other 357 that is better to withstand a torture test would be a Redhawk in 357.

CraigC
June 10, 2012, 12:22 AM
GP100 will out last a Blackhawk any day.
How do you figure that??? A Blackhawk, mid or large frame, is stronger and more robust in EVERY SINGLE WAY than a GP.

RaceM
June 10, 2012, 09:57 AM
@Glock Novice- I'm with you. It ain't gotta be pretty, it just gotta work. I regret having gotten rid of my Blackhawk years ago, but am really enjoying my GP (it's my go-to gun). Only caution I have is to stay away from Blazer aluminum cased ammo. Burnt a line in one chamber on the Blackhawk when a case split. Otherwise you won't go wrong with either gun.

Ala Tom
June 10, 2012, 04:02 PM
To me, the difference between a DA and an SA is in the shooting, both in the accuracy of the first shot and the ease and accuracy of adding a few more as at a running coyote. I'll take an SA and get him on the first shot. You guys have convinced me to replace the Ruger .357 I sold last year. I'll go for the 6 1/2 barrel.

Waywatcher
June 10, 2012, 05:29 PM
How do you figure that??? A Blackhawk, mid or large frame, is stronger and more robust in EVERY SINGLE WAY than a GP.

This is true.

The crane is the serious weak link on GP100.

foghornl
June 10, 2012, 05:50 PM
Pick the one that "Fits" your hands and your style the best. I happen to prefer Single-Action revolvers....have a 50th Year .357 Blackhawk, a 50th Year Single-Six Convertible, and a glossy stainless 'Sheriff's Model' .357 Vaquero.

Only have 1 double-action revolver.. a .38Spl snubby in a brand ahhhhhh not so well liked Rohm/RG

As to the reliability question, hmmmmm. Your grandchildren MIGHT have to send it in for a tune-up.

The Blackhawk is also offered in the "Convertible" model, factory fitted with the 9MM cylinder

Glock Novice
June 10, 2012, 05:51 PM
4.62 inch, stainless, .357, and I'm looking for an extra 9mm cylinder. I'll post pics as soon as I can get my grubby hands on it. Many thanks again for all of the help, sounds as if I might not be the only one fortunate enough to benefit from the great advice offered in this thread.

RaceM-- Thanks for the heads up, I'm definitely going to avoid burning Blazer in my new hogleg. Man, that feels good to write.

This thread already has me thinking about my next purchases: I'm considering a Single Six if I can get a hold of one. I have a feeling my kid brother would be shooting at least as much as I :D. I'm still hung up on the GP100, too.

Any recommendations for sturdy grips?

mavracer
June 10, 2012, 06:48 PM
As for sturdy grips most stabalized wood is very good. Micarta are tough as nails too and can be sexy too. The whole wanting a single six and a GP100 welcome to the club.
Blackhawks tend to be like tater chips too.

whalerman
June 10, 2012, 06:54 PM
Yes, that crane is a serious weak link on the GP100. After 100k rounds I'd be reeeel nervous. Make that 150k rounds. C'mon folks. The real decision here is the action. Do you want double action capability or not. If not, get a Blackhawk. Both will last forever. Next thing you know we will be attempting to factor in whether our farmer friend will be shooting into the wind. That will cause backpressure and maybe wear out the barrel at an increased rate.

Jim Watson
June 10, 2012, 07:39 PM
A friend wore out a Blackhawk .45 with many, many heavy loads. Ruger overhauled it so cheaply as to make it a non-issue.

I think a GP100 is so sturdy as to make the "weak link" of a hand ejector's crane immaterial.

I would cock the GP for a SA shot at a coyote at 60 yards, but I would value the DA for a shot at a rustler at 6 yards.

Hondo 60
June 10, 2012, 08:47 PM
Glock Novice -

The gun for you is the one that fits your hand!
Both guns are rocks that'll last for several generations.

I had a Blackhawk, but I have small hands, so I sold it.
The SAA Colt clones (like Uberti) are about 2/3rds the size of a Blackhawk.

CraigC
June 11, 2012, 12:04 AM
I think a GP100 is so sturdy as to make the "weak link" of a hand ejector's crane immaterial.
Either will likely outlast most shooters and their children but as I said, academically speaking, the Blackhawk is more robust in every way. As Bowen writes of the Redhawk/Super Redhawk compared to the Blackhawk, the big DA's will handle more pressure but also shoot loose first.


The real decision here is the action. Do you want double action capability or not.
Personally, there's a lot more to it than just what has to happen before I squeeze the trigger.

Confederate
June 11, 2012, 11:36 PM
No...the Blackhawk is not more reliable than the GP-100, or the Security-Six. Reliability has more to do with the tolerances of a revolver, and if both revolvers are built to spec, and most of them are, then you will get equal reliability from both. The Blackhawk is more difficult to load and unload and if you get a high primer that causes a cylinder to bind, you're in a lot more trouble than if you have the same problem in the double-action revolver! Also, if you have other cylinder problems (like having a cartridge split), you won't be able to fix it nearly as easy as you will if it happens in the double-action.

Before buying the GP-100, go to a store and heft it for awhile. Compare it to the Smith 686, which I consider to be a better revolver, and check out a decent used MINT Security-Six, which I think has better balance.

A good .357 should be able to be carried on hiking trails and while camping, which is why I'm not crazy about the GP-100. I like the balance of the 686 and the Security-Six, plus the extra shot of the 686-Plus if you can find one. The extra $$$ is well worth getting a 686 and you can rationalize it by considering the fact that you'll be getting an action job with the 686. Plus the accuracy is a little better with lighter weight bullets in the 686 in my opinion.

Anyway, good luck. Post photos whatever gun you get!

bergmen
June 12, 2012, 12:34 AM
4.62 inch, stainless, .357, and I'm looking for an extra 9mm cylinder. I'll post pics as soon as I can get my grubby hands on it. Many thanks again for all of the help, sounds as if I might not be the only one fortunate enough to benefit from the great advice offered in this thread.

RaceM-- Thanks for the heads up, I'm definitely going to avoid burning Blazer in my new hogleg. Man, that feels good to write.

This thread already has me thinking about my next purchases: I'm considering a Single Six if I can get a hold of one. I have a feeling my kid brother would be shooting at least as much as I :D. I'm still hung up on the GP100, too.

Any recommendations for sturdy grips?

You might as well plan on ending up with all three, you absolutely will not regret it. I started with the Single Six back in 1976, eventually got the Blackhawk (in .45 Colt) and then the GP100.

Love 'em all.

BTW, there are scads of grips for Blackhawks, just do a search. Check out Altamont first, they have gorgeous grips at very reasonable prices.

Here's a rosewood set I got for $38.00:

http://inlinethumb03.webshots.com/46914/2237454970053667879S600x600Q85.jpg

Dan

Rexster
June 12, 2012, 02:01 AM
Either a Blackhawk or GP100 should last a lifetime. The reliability of a GP100 can potentially be affected by unburned powder residue landing on the inside surface of the extractor star during the reload, which can prevent the extractor from returning fully into position. One of my GP100 sixguns is prone to do this, if I use dirty-burning ammo. Two of my older GP100s have grooves under the extractor t make this event virtually impossible; Ruger discontinued this feature somewhere along the way.

A way to make this malfunction unlikely is to hold the sixgun at an angle while spanking the ejector. If the sixgun is held fully vertical, the extractor acts as a horizontal shelf, directly below the chambers. Wet oil or grease can act to make debris cling to the metal; keep your sixgun dry. Further insurance? An old toothbrush! Savvy sixgunners, back in the day of duty sixguns, learned to keep a toothbrush in a pocket during day-long shooting schools or competitions.

To be clear, I am not picking on the GP100. I had a Redhawk, and at least one S&W revolver, that also had such close tolerances, they would also bind if much unburned powder debris got under the extractor. Obviously, an SA sixgun is immune to this particular issue.

whalerman
June 12, 2012, 01:31 PM
I would run a careful check on the serial number to see if the revolver in question was made on a Friday or a Monday. That might make all the difference in the world. And has anyone considered a metallergy test on the batch of steel?

BCRider
June 12, 2012, 01:46 PM
A lot of how well you do depends on your natural grip on either gun. I've now got a variety of both SA and DA guns.

For myself the DA grip found on the S&W K frame guns set up with target grips was a natural fit. I held and shot these guns perfectly from the first cylinder worth of shots.

On the other hand learning to grip and shoot the SA "plowshare" style produced a lot of confusion and fumbling before I finally got it right. I do OK with either style now but it did take a fair amount of practice and trying different holds to get consistent with the SA style.

As always YMMV. Lots of folks say that the SA plowshare style grips are the most natural they have held and shot.

"Playing" in CAS events has also gotten me to where I can draw, cock and shoot the SAA style gun quickly. If your farm guard duties could possibly require a fast shot you will want to work on this same sort of practice.

Since you will be carrying in a holster a lot be sure you get a holster which can be cleaned effectively. Grit trapped in the leather itself is the biggest danger to any gun kept in the holster. A flap style that aids in avoiding the grit getting into the holster in the first place might be a good idea. Otherwise a holster which can be wiped and brushed out frequently is a good idea.

Waywatcher
June 12, 2012, 06:28 PM
Yes, that crane is a serious weak link on the GP100. After 100k rounds I'd be reeeel nervous. Make that 150k rounds. C'mon folks.

I had one that went wobbly* at 3000 rounds, with 90% of the loads being .38 special.

*Wobbly enough that it started hitting the barrel extension when rotating.

It got replaced with a Blackhawk. The axis of rotation on a SA revolver is a solid piece of steel that goes through the front of the frame and well into the rear. The axis of rotation on a GP100 is a thin hollow tube that is integral to the crane--meaning it is vulnerable whenever the revolver is opened for loading or cleaning.

I have both, and having disassembled both, am much more confident in the structural integrity of the Blackhawk.

whalerman
June 12, 2012, 06:48 PM
I have never heard of that happening before. Certainly not at 3000 rounds. Not saying it didn't, just saying. There are risks in getting up in the morning. If he loads the gun there are risks. However, I believe they are minimal in such hardy guns. He should make his decision on fit and whether or not he wants the double action capability.

If you enjoyed reading about "Ruger Blackhawk vs. GP100 reliability" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!