Ruger .45 in 4 5/8" or 5 1/2" Barrel?


June 10, 2013, 11:03 AM
I am ordering a Ruger Blackhawk Convertible Revolver in .45 Colt and 45 ACP. but would like to ask you folks for some input regarding barrel length. I will be using it for general plinking (if you can actually apply that phrase to a .45), occasional carry in the woods, and was thinking about trying tp participate in some organized Cowboy action shooting after I retire in several years. The majority of use will be with my .45 ACP reloads. I already have revolvers in .357 magnum and .38 spl., both SA and DA, but this will be my only .45 other than a 1911 pistol.

I have never had a .45 Blackhawk in my hand. The only one I have ever held is a friend's .357 with a 6 1/2" barrel; it is a sweet shooter, but the long barrel seems unwieldy for holster carry.

I only have pictures to go by when ordering from my local FFL, and I am sure I will be satisfied with whatever barrel length I get. The single preference data point I have is that the 5 1/2" barrel looks a little nicer to me than the 4 5/8" one since it extends a bit beyond the ejector housing. Does anyone have any practical input on the pros and cons of one barrel length or the other? Thanks for taking the time to read this post - I really feel I can't go wrong either way.

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June 10, 2013, 11:29 AM
I like the 4 5/8" barrel, but it's a subjective thing, just like the looks. I don't think the 5.5" would shoot any better for me. My .45 Colt shoots 2" groups at 50 yards off the bench and that's about all I can do with ANY handgun and iron sights. I've hunted with it a few times, haven't got a shot with it...YET. I plan to hunt more with it in the future. I have a 6.5" .357 with which I've taken a few deer and hogs out to 60 yards. I have carried that gun around the mountains in New Mexico, too, wasn't THAT unwieldy in an Uncle Mike's belt holster. A 4 5/8"er is, of course, a bit more compact. :D If you're worried about carry afield while hiking or something, I'd suggest the blued steel version as it has an aluminum grip frame. My stainless .45 is a little heavier than the blued version, but it ain't that hard to carry, either. :D The weight is appreciated with heavy loads.

Gary A
June 10, 2013, 11:41 AM
I very much like the look and the balance of the 5.5 inch guns but for my purposes I go with the (to me) handier 4.62 inch guns. I also like the way they look and balance. I am not a big guy and the shorter barrel is just a lot handier for me for a variety of uses. A 4 5/8 inch Blackhawk .45 Convertible is far and away my favorite handgun. I don't think you can go wrong with whatever you choose. The shorty does have a nice "bulldog" look to it, IMO.

Re-reading your post, if the 5 1/2 inch looks better to you, you may have answered your own question. There really is little practical difference. I agree with McGunner that the blued (all the standard blued convertibles are large frame with alloy grip frames) version is the proper weight and balance, especially if the majority of use will be with .45 ACP. A perfect balance of weight and power.

June 10, 2013, 12:31 PM
I prefer the short barreled guns. I don't find most 5" guns to be attractive at all.

Arkansas Paul
June 10, 2013, 12:39 PM
Ruger .45 in 4 5/8" or 5 1/2" Barrel?

I have never had a .45 Blackhawk in my hand.

I would suggest holding both in your hand, and see which one feels right to you.

June 10, 2013, 02:48 PM
I would suggest holding both in your hand, and see which one feels right to you.

In a better organized world I would be able to, but no one local has either model in stock, and I do not want to burn up gas driving around to find one. My local dealer told me they are 'allocated', which he says means that there is already a dealer waiting to purchase every one that Ruger ships out right now.

I have convinced myself I will be happy no matter which of the two barrel lengths is on the blued revolver I buy, especially since it will be the only one I have ever had in hand so there is nothing specific with which I can compare it. I know no one will be able to tell me what I would like best (even my wife of 38 years gave up trying to figure that out). I appreciate all who share their experience and give me something more to think about. Thanks again!

June 10, 2013, 06:13 PM
The 4 5/8" works for me. Long enough to be easy to shoot. (

.... and compact enough for easy carry. (

June 11, 2013, 02:25 AM
Personally, I've always thought the 5.5" barrel looks more proportional and aesthetically pleasing and I also prefer the slightly longer sight radius. Just a preference though, as you said you really can't go wrong with either.

June 11, 2013, 02:55 AM
I also like the 5.5" barrel in a SA revolver. I have one I really like, it's an original Ruger Bisley Vaquero in .45 Colt with a 5.5" barrel. It's probably my favorite SA revolver I own.

June 11, 2013, 03:10 AM
For me, a barrel longer than 6 inches starts being a bit cumbersome when carrying it, having to sit down etc. In Ohio, in order to use a handgun for deer hunting, the barrel has to be at least 5 inches long. For these reasons, my preferred barrel length is 5 inches in a handgun.

If the pistol is to be used for concealed carry only, then I'm happy with shorter barrels.

June 11, 2013, 06:13 AM
My own preference has always been with the 4 5/8" barrel. I just think it makes the gun look properly balanced rather than having that extra barrel length extend beyond the ejector rod housing.

June 11, 2013, 08:13 AM
at less than an inch I don't think it matters, I went with a 5.5" because my state says I need a 5" barrel to hunt with my gun. Anything less than 6" carries easy to me and anything 4" or longer on a revolver is enough sight radius.

June 11, 2013, 10:00 AM
I have both 4 5/8 and 5 1/2 inch Blackhawks. I like the looks of the shorter one, but I shoot better with the longer one. Both are great guns.

June 11, 2013, 10:21 AM
As others have stated, it's personal preference. I prefer the 5.5, especially for hunting or "Ruger only" loads. I've never done the CAS thing, but I would think that the shorter barrel would be better for any game that involves a "fast draw" component. I find it difficult to sit in a vehicle with the longer barrelled gun in a belt holster. As others have mentioned, if hunting is ever going to be a possibility you should look into the regs for the state where you hunt.

June 11, 2013, 10:21 AM
I just bought a 4-5/8 barrel because I liked the looks of it. .357/9mm. Nice gun, and lots of fun to shoot.

June 11, 2013, 10:46 AM
The simple answer.. BOTH. I bought my 5.5" 1st. the 4 5/8".. I'll get here in a little while. :)

June 11, 2013, 12:23 PM
The simple answer.. BOTH. I bought my 5.5" 1st. the 4 5/8".. I'll get here in a little while. :)

The next Blackhawk Convertible will most likely be chambered in .357 magnum and 9x19mm.

I tell my shooting buddy that 'he has it bad' when I catch him talking about the handgun he is looking to get after he orders the one he wants to buy after he takes possession of the one that is currently being shipped to our local FFL dealer!

June 11, 2013, 12:55 PM
"Both" is never a wrong answer. ;)

June 11, 2013, 01:05 PM
My preference is the 4 5/8". But that is all it is a preference I don't think it makes a hill of beans difference in actual performance.

June 11, 2013, 07:28 PM
Before buying my 5.5" SS 45 convertible bisley blackhawk, I shot several blackhawks with barrels from 4.5 to 7.5". I found that the 5.5" just felt and looked best to me. That being said, which ever one you choose, you WILL end up buying another SA revolver down the the point is really moot;) Blackhawk revolvers are an addiction!

June 11, 2013, 07:39 PM
Everyone feels the additional velocity of the added 7/8 is insignificant? I am considering a 5.5" .44 mag.

June 11, 2013, 08:11 PM
I'm partial to 4 and 5/8 when it comes to single actions.

June 11, 2013, 09:20 PM
I really love my .45 convertible.

The shorter Barrels just look...incomplete to me. 5.5 inches all the way. aside from looks, my 5.5 feels well balanced and shoots great!

June 11, 2013, 09:36 PM
I like the 4 5/8" a smidge better for looks, But they both balance good to me and I agree that the only correct answer is ultimately both.
Everyone feels the additional velocity of the added 7/8 is insignificant? I am considering a 5.5" .44 mag.
There are enough variables that the added 7/8" doesn't necessarily guarentee any added velocity, on average it'll probably be less than 50 fps.

June 11, 2013, 09:40 PM
I likw the quickness and pointabilitiy of my 4 5/8ths. I like the sight radius and accuracy of my 7 1/2.
I have taken deer with both.
Perhaps the 5 1/2 would be a compromise. ?

June 11, 2013, 10:44 PM
I love the look of my 5 1/2 New Vaquero but prefer to carry that length as crossdraw. I do the same with a Ruger GP-100 5 inch. Pulling out that much barrel strong side takes some practice and maybe the flexibility of a young man. Otherwise, you have to carry it gunslinger low on a separate gun belt (not concealed of course).

The picture is a 5 1/2 New Vaquero in a cross draw Triple K holster on a Hunter belt. One shows the full gun. Note that this holster is long enough for a 6" gun. ( (

June 12, 2013, 12:56 PM
Thanks for all the replies and pictures. Several aspects of the choice were mentioned about which I had not thought. The Illinois DNR lists the minimum revolver barrel length for deer hunting at 4 inches, so that is not an issue. Sitting in a vehicle with the Ruger holstered was another thing I had not considered.

I like the looks of both of the barrel lengths, each in its own way. That is obviously the most subjective consideration, along the lines of who is better looking (trying to relate to a variety of reader ages): Gene Tierney or Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Hurley or Jennifer Anniston, Mila Kunis or Katie Holmes?

The 5 1/2" looks a bit sleeker and better proportioned to me, but the 4 5/8" has a meaner bulldog look as one post noted. It was fun to think about the options, but, as so many things often do, it ultimately came down to what was actually available at this time. I just got back from visiting my new revolver at my local dealer - it is a 4 5/8" barrel blued Blackhawk Convertible .45, the one we could get without an indefinite waiting period.

The State of Illinois is concerned that I might do something rash, so I must wait 72 hours before taking possession of my new purchase. I will post a couple of pictures once I can take it home on Saturday.

Thanks again for all the input. I appreciated and enjoyed the replies and posts very much.

Snake Plisskin
June 12, 2013, 03:09 PM
I just got this this really nice used Blackhawk , I like the 4 5/8" ones myself so I am biased. (

June 12, 2013, 03:18 PM
I just got this this really nice used Blackhawk , I like the 4 5/8" ones myself so I am biased. (

You mean they come in differnet finishes, as well as different barrel lengths and calibers? Other than my income limitations, how will I ever know when to stop?

hariph creek
June 12, 2013, 03:29 PM
I prefer the Bisley grip. With the Bisley grip, I prefer 5-1/2". Just feels right.

With a Blackhawk I like the balance of 4-5/8".

June 13, 2013, 01:52 PM
I bought my first black hawk in 1975, a 4 5/8" _357/9mm blue. After I got tired of fast draw, I sent it back to ruger and had a 6" fitted for hunting. I also still have the original short barrel. So all is possible, if you don't like it later. I like the longer sight radius for 100 yard stuff. My ruger has digested over 20000 hand loads without even a hiccup!
Good luck

June 14, 2013, 10:37 AM
I got quite a few of the single action rugers from the late 80s to current production, many finishes, barrel lengths, calibers, grip frames, etc.
I seem to keep coming back to the first one I bought, a 4 5/8" blue .41 magnum.

June 14, 2013, 11:38 AM
So all is possible, if you don't like it later.
If you don't like it later you'll have to sell it, trade it or have it shortened by a gunsmith. Ruger doesn't do that any more.

June 14, 2013, 07:59 PM

What do you use yours for? I'm contemplating a hog pistol and do see your point about appearance, just trying to make a purely pragmatic decision.

June 14, 2013, 08:28 PM
The brushed .44 is one of my favorite sixguns and I use it for everything. As just a packin' pistol for woods bummin', backup while hunting or as a dedicated hunting pistol. It's accurate, well-balanced and handles fast. If it's in iron sight handgun range, it's in trouble.

June 14, 2013, 09:38 PM
Ruger doesn't do that any more.

i've actually gotten mixed signals from ruger on rebarreling. not sure if this applies to actually shortening or not. one person told me as long as the barrel length (in the right caliber and firearm) is in production, they would do it. recently when i called to schedule the work, the tech told me that all barrels are being slated to production only at this time.

4 5/8" is the path i'll take.

June 14, 2013, 10:24 PM
Thanks Craig,

I'm not in a position to customize the frame for a Bisley, and am definitely in Super Blackhawk territory, so I'll live with the plow handle. I think you've convinced me to go 4 5/8 though. Quicker handling is worth big points to me.

I was previously thinking 5.5.

June 14, 2013, 11:05 PM
Mine is a 4-5/8. But, that's just because that was the only .45 convertible in stock.
My .44 Spl Flattop is a 5.5.
I ordered that one from a local FFL. I'd been wanting a Charter Target Bulldog with the 5" Bbl. Then, I saw the Ruger. So, I ordered the Ruger.

I think the 5.5 looks good on the flattop.
I think the 4.625 looks good on the Regular BH.

June 14, 2013, 11:50 PM
My knock around the woods Blackhawk is a 4-5/8" 41 Mag. Short enough to be compact and long enough for good sight radius. I have them in most common lengths from 4-5/8" to 7-1/2". I prefer the 4-5/8" tube for general utility.

June 15, 2013, 12:34 PM
It turns out the 4 5/8" Blackhawk looks just right. It feels great in hand, too.

June 15, 2013, 12:36 PM
Ruger brothers, or at least cousins.

June 15, 2013, 12:40 PM
Extended Family Portrait

June 15, 2013, 04:12 PM
My RBH .45s were bought way back when they came with three screws. I got a 4-5/8" , which is my favorite carry gun, and a 7-1/2" which is more specialized. I liked the shorty so much I replaced the ejector rod housing and cylinder pin release with stainless steel ones. (

June 15, 2013, 07:30 PM
The non-flattop .45 Blackhawk, with it's aluminum grip frame, feels more balanced with a 4-5/8" barrel. Longer than that, and it gets muzzle heavy. The .44 Spl flattop has a steel grip frame and balances well with the 5.5" tube. I'd still like to get a steel grip frame for my .45 BH.

June 15, 2013, 07:33 PM

I never get tired of seeing this one CraigC. So nice!

June 16, 2013, 12:12 AM
Thank you!

June 21, 2013, 03:56 PM
It turns out the 4 5/8" Blackhawk looks just right.

Was out yesterday with my shooting buddy and ran about a hundred .45 ACP 230 grain FMJ reloads through my new Ruger Blackhawk. It had plenty of 'pop', ran great, and is more accurate than I with the .45 ACP.

The real revelation came when I loaded it up with some .45 Colt Aguila CAS 200 grain LRN-FP cartridges. It put big old holes in the paper right where it was aimed, with some of the sweetest feeling recoil I have ever experienced. The cowboy loads cost about 92 cents per round for a box of fifty, so I definitely need to get a set of .45 Colt dies and find some 200 grain lead bullets for reloading my new caliber. Lots of powders to choose from so the research begins this weekend.

June 21, 2013, 04:16 PM
I have both 4 5/8 and 5 1/2 inch Blackhawks. I like the looks of the shorter one, but I shoot better with the longer one. Both are great guns.

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