opinions of the Ruger Blackhawk .357/9mm combo


February 22, 2004, 01:40 AM
My local dealer gave me a sub 400.00 palpark figure on one of these SA pistols. I kinda like the idea of a revolver capable of shooting three different calibers (.375, .38, 9mm). It sort of fill my .357/9mm void in my collection. Is there anybody here that owns or has owned one of these, and how do you like it.

Thanks, Robert.

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February 22, 2004, 03:42 AM
Let me start out by saying I've never had a 9mm cylinder, but did own a stainless .357 Blackhawk, manufactered around 2001 I believe from the serial number. It cut my right index finger real good while I was extracting shells the first time I shot it. Talk about sharp edges.....None of the old Rugers have ever done that to me. I didn't even know I was cut until I had put many rounds through it and my jacket was full of blood. The trigger was also about as creepy as my HP-22. I mean it was pretty bad. Nothing like my father's old Single Six or other old Rugers I've shot. The sights were pretty good.

I don't really see the point of a single action only 9mm revolver or even a .357 Blackhawk for that matter, since you can get a .41/.44/or .45 that will stand up to brutal loads in these calibers that is the same size as the .357 and weighs less.

Alot of people say the 9mm's are not very accurate out of the .357 revolver. I don't doubt this is true as the 9mm uses a .355 bullet while the .357 and .38 Special use a .357 diameter bullet.

A few people have reported marginal accuracy though. Still not good enough for plinking IMO.

I want to add, I did hear somebody mention in another thread that they saw a detonated Blackhawk in .357. Don't know whether it's true or if it is that it wasn't a fluke, but just thought it was worth mentioning.

Still the major load sights like Corbon and Buffalo Bore only recommend their heavy hunting loads in .41, .44 & .45 only be shot through Blackhawks, Redhawks, Freedom Arms and (questionably) Colt Anacondas.

February 22, 2004, 03:54 AM
The 357 Magnums will work fine. The 38 Specials work OK. The 9MM just ambles, wobbles and bumps down the barrel. The 357/38 cylinder is good and does allow two 357 diameter carridges to work well. The options are lightweight wadcutters, shot, +P 38s and heavy 357 Magnum hunting loads. The 355 9MM is going to work but, accuracy is pitiful. In a pinch though, it does provide a 9MM back up for your 9MM semiauto. It is a tack driving pistol in hot 357 Magnum loadings. It can gobble up +P 38s with no sweat. It can shoot 9MM in an emergency.

February 22, 2004, 04:29 AM
I've owned 2 over the years. Both were blued. one was a 4-5/8" and the other was a 6½". Both shot very well with 9mm.

That long jump from the mouth of the case to the forcing cone of the barrel affects accuracy much more than that paltry .002" in bullet diameter.

February 22, 2004, 04:47 AM
I forgot to mention the one I owned was a 6.5" model.

That long jump from the mouth of the case to the forcing cone of the barrel affects accuracy much more than that paltry .002" in bullet diameter.

Why is that? I would think the bullet hitting the rifleling (did I spell that right? I feel like a **** and I'm too lazy to use Merriam-Webster) grooves would have alot more effect on accuracy than a small jump that isn't necessarily even a jump....is it?

February 22, 2004, 05:06 AM
The shorter 9mm when fired in a .357 length cylinder has to travel farther through the cylinder throat before it gets to the forcing cone than the longer .38 special or .357 magnum does.

February 22, 2004, 05:10 AM
I understand what you're saying, but according to the "pro" shooters this doesn't matter because the rifling defeats all. Doesn't it? Or not....

The "pro" shooters hitting balloons at 200 yards with a snubnose .38 come to mind.

Of course some people that shoot .38 out of .357 revolvers report a degradation in accuracy and we know the bullets are generally of .357 diameter for .38 special bullet and .357 magnum alike. I do not have the skills or facilities to test this out for myself, so I don't know.

Does the traveling distance of the bullet to the forcing cone screw it up that much? In my own distorted mind I like to think that the lack of contact with the grooves screws the 9mm (.355 diameter bullet) up more than anything.

February 22, 2004, 06:07 AM
I own one with a 4 5/8" barrel. With 357 Mag ammo it's quite accurate but with the 9mm cylinder in it shoots like a shotgun. I plan on keeping it though just to play with at the range but if I'm carrying it for hunting it will have the 357 mag cylinder in it. I haven't shot any 38's through it yet but plan to once the weather warms up a little more and some of this snow disappears.

February 22, 2004, 07:29 AM
I also have a 4 5/8" BH 9mm/357 and until recently my experience had mirrored Dodge's. I finally noticed that while I have no problem with the base-pin jumping in .357, the 9mm makes it jump loose within one cylinderful, which makes accuracy go all to heck. I didn't notice this until recently, as it wouldn't pop all the way out. A Belt Mountain locking base pin fixed this.

I also looked for ammo the gun liked, and finally I did find some. Oddly enough, for my gun the el cheapo 115gr FMJ Blazer ammo did the trick, combined with a new base pin.

There is also an expectation factor to consider. I expect a blackhawk in 357, 41, 44 or 45 to be capable of cutting a cloverleaf at 20-25 yards. But I realized I don't have this expectation for my 9mm semi-autos, none of which are tricked out target models. When I pulled the range back to 10-12 yards and shot the 9mm BH side-by-side with the semi-autos, it equaled or beat them easily with just about any ammo (after I installed a locking base pin). I'm not sure quite what this means, but it did change my opinion of the gun.

So while I have posted negative reviews of the 9mm BH in the past, I have changed my mind. It is a fun gun to shoot and now I am more likely to take it to the range with the 9mm cylinder and leave the .357 cylinder at home.

February 22, 2004, 09:01 AM
I shot only 9mm from my BH convertible and thought accuracy was excellent.

February 22, 2004, 10:37 AM
I have a NM Blackhawk convertible. Accuracy w/ .38SPL & .357Mag is great, but 9mm isn't so hot. It's a good way to shoot cheap ammo, but I usually can find .38SPL ammo nearly as cheap as 9mm in my area.

One thing that is great about that 9mm cylinder is that you have a pre-timed cylinder just waiting to be reamed out into a new caliber. I'm still trying to decide if I want to convert it to .357GNR (.41Mag necked down to .357") or .357/.44 B&D (.44Mag necked down to .357"). The NM Blackhawk is made for .44Mag-type pressures, and the increase in performance would be welcome.

Decisions, decisions...:D

Gary A
February 22, 2004, 10:43 AM
I have both a 4 5/8 and 6 1/2 Blackhawk Convertible 357/9mm and have done more shooting with the 6 1/2. I am no great shooter and more of a plinker than a serious target shooter. With that caveat, I have noticed that I seem to shoot the 9mm cylinder as well, for my purposes, as the .357/38 cylinder, i.e. I can regularly pop soda cans out to 25 or so yards with the 9mm cylinder and an assortment of 9mm ball ammo. I find Blazer particularly accurate in my gun. Maybe it's just the gun. Maybe it's just my modest expectations, but I would not be without mine. I can shoot heavy .357s, light .38s, and cheap 9mm all from the same gun and simply have a blast doing it. Standard 9mm from the Blackhawk is like shooting .22s, or so it seems. Actually, I have noticed better shooting with 9mm than a lot of .38 special loadings with mine. I have no idea why.

Lobotomy Boy
February 23, 2004, 08:48 AM
Koveras, could you please provide a bit more information about purchasing and installing the locking pin? Thank you.

As for why shoot 9mm ammo, first, it is dirt cheap ($10.96 for Winchester Value Pack 115-grain FMJ at Walmart).

But there is another reason--imagine you run 100 rounds of 9mm through the gun. By the end of the session you are probably hitting pretty decently, even if the ammo is less than tack-driving accurate. Then you run 50 rounds of .38 ammo through the gun. By then you are shooting pretty well. Then you run 50 rounds of hot, accurate .357 shells through the gun, and you are shooting better than you ever have before.

I believe extensive practice with a wide variety of calibers and ammunition makes a person a better all-around shooter. The Blackhawk Convertible provides an inexpensive and convenient way to improve your shooting skills with every single session at the range.

And yes, for hunting my Convertible will always have the .357 cylinder in the frame, with the best ammo I can find. Practice is one thing, but making an animal suffer needlessly is just plain sick.

February 23, 2004, 09:17 AM

You can buy them from http://www.beltmountain.com/ or from Brownells.

I got the "Knurled Locking" model: $21.95 from the manufacturer.

They come with installation instructions that even I could follow, so you shouldn't have any problems. Since they are larger than factory, a little bit of fitting may be required, but that is covered in the instructions as well.

Lobotomy Boy
February 23, 2004, 08:12 PM
Thanks Koveras.

February 23, 2004, 08:41 PM
My BH with the 9mm installed is dead accurate. We shoot spinners at 50 yds all day long with no change in the sights.

February 24, 2004, 02:33 AM
I had the 4-5/8" convertable. .38's shot about 2-1/2" at 25 yards, 9mm-3-1/2", and what really bummed me out was that .357's would shoot 5 rounds into 2", and the sixth round would go 12" high at 25 yards. Must have been a bad chamber. Did great with .38's, so at first I thaought it was my fault, till I bench tested it. I took it back to my dealer and he gave me my money back, even though I had it for over a month. I should have just sent it back to Ruger, it handled so well. But 3-1/2" groups with 9mm fmj's was OK I thaught.

Ala Dan
February 24, 2004, 04:06 AM
Greeting's All-

I had one of the first Ruger Blackhawk "Convertibles"
to ever hit these parts of the world, sometime during
the 70's? I shot many rounds of .38/.357; but never
used the auxillary 9m/m cylinder, so I can't address
the issues you may encounter. The 4-5/8" barrel is
a winner; and I believe it would be my choice again,
if ever the opportunity arises! Too bad, I traded this
fine weapon in, as a partial payment on a 2.5" Colt

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

Dave Markowitz
February 25, 2004, 04:18 PM
Last year I picked up a 6.5" .357/9mm Blackhawk made in 1976. It works great with .38s and 9mm, but the chambers of the .357 cylinder are a bit rough and .357s are hard to extract. I keep meaning to contact Ruger to get the chambers polished so that the .357 empties can be extracted without removing the cylinder.

I've long thought that a Blackhawk convertible in .357/9mm would be my ideal TEOTAWKI handgun, due to its strength and ability to digest 9mm, .38, and .357.

February 25, 2004, 04:49 PM
Have long considered getting one of those garbage belly guns---what else can you just slap any ol round in and just plink away---seems like I always have partial boxes of ammo---would be nice to gather them all up and plink away with a single action on a hot afternoon.

Already have 1 .357 and 2 9mm's-----just not sure how to justify the cost of the convertable.

Buddy of mine had a 3-screw model way back when that shot all 3 loads quite well.

February 26, 2004, 02:51 PM
My (6.5") must have come from one of the better batches, 37-64378. At 25 yds, all 3 cals. are consistantly in the 3.20" circle (as long as I don't add the human factor ;) , removing it from the bench rest).

July 27, 2004, 02:49 AM
"One thing that is great about that 9mm cylinder is that you have a pre-timed cylinder just waiting to be reamed out into a new caliber. I'm still trying to decide if I want to convert it to .357GNR (.41Mag necked down to .357") or .357/.44 B&D (.44Mag necked down to .357"). The NM Blackhawk is made for .44Mag-type pressures, and the increase in performance would be welcome."

Any decision as to whether or not to try this on your convertible yet?

If so, what were/are your impressions?

This convertible is on my list, decision is between this and the .45ACP/Long Colt version.


Ben Shepherd
July 28, 2004, 12:41 AM
I've got an old three screw one with both cylinders. It's had less than 1,000 total rounds through it, so I don't want to go shoot the heck out of it.

But I did take it out and sight it for my eyes/loads. This is what I found:

2" @ 25 yards was easy with any 38/357 loads I tried(about a 1/2 dozen of each), the 9mm cylinder grouped around 3" with the loads I tried in it(ranging from 115 to 147 grain.) Point of impact was dependent on the different load, but the group sizes were very consistant.

August 1, 2004, 10:00 PM
For the extra $, the 9mm cylinder is worthwhile...there are many other calibers to which it can be converted cheaply, or you can leave it as is for 'emergency use'.
I guess Ruger .357 Blackhawks vary in quality. Mine, a 34-series stainless bought in 1979, has had a bit of TLC in the matter of polishing sharp edges (they never were TOO sharp anyway) and some light trigger work. Springs remain stock, and the rear sight has been peened to tighten it in its channel. From the box, barrel-cylinder gap was just over .002, all cylinder charge holes passed a range rod test and locked up with minimal movement. The gun shoots .38 Special wadcutters into a bit over an inch. Magnum loads (some too stiff to mention) are similarly accurate. I've used mostly the 160-grain Speer 'ashcan' jacketed lead or Hornady jacketed flat point bullet in this gun, but it also shoots the 185 grain Speer .358 rifle bullet very well, and that's what I carry in bear country. Use and care have made this the slickest of my SA's, and a favorite 'carry' magnum. I like the thick cylinder walls, and generally solid feel of this gun the best of all Rugers. I wouldn't trade it for a Freed-um Arms!

Lobotomy Boy
August 1, 2004, 10:20 PM
I bought the gun about five months back and it has since become my favorite handgun. I don't use the 9mm cylinder as much as I thought I would. It shoots noticeably better with the .357 cylinder. I don't shoot .38s as much as I thought I would, either. It shoots best with fairly hot .357 rounds.

I am going to have to change the stock grips, though. I need something with a bit more size. When I get around to doing that I will post for suggestions, but first I need to buy a new scope for my deer rifle. Fall is coming fast.

August 3, 2004, 09:36 PM
I had one and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Sorry I sold it.

I shot the 9mm cylinder almost exclusively -- accurate as hell.

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