Ruger Blackhawk vs Vaquero frame strength

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by c.dunwoody1234, Jul 31, 2019.

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  1. c.dunwoody1234

    c.dunwoody1234 Member

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    Greetings everyone,

    I'm looking into purchasing a Ruger single action revolver, and cannot decide which one to purchase. Is there any difference in the frame strength of the current production new Blackhawks or Vaqueros? I’ve heard that the Blackhawks may be able to handle higher pressure loads than the Vaqueros? Is this correct? Another question I have is, are the grip frames and trigger guards made of steel or aluminum? I’ve heard that on the stainless guns, the grip frame and trigger guard is stainless steel, whereas on the blued guns the grip frame is aluminum. Could anyone verify this?Also are stainless guns weaker than blued?
    Thanks!
     
  2. MidRoad
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    MidRoad Contributing Member

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    It depends what you're talking about.

    New vequeros are on the mid frame and can't take full tilt 45 colt, IIRC 23k psi (45acp +p)s is safe in them, but at the top of what they should be used with.

    Old model vaqueros are on the full size frame and can handle the hot 45 colts

    New model Blackhawks are the same larger frame as super Blackhawks and they can handle the hot 45 colts and 44 mags etc

    New model Flattop Blackhawks are on the mid frame (same sizeish as the new model vaqueros) and are in the same boat as new model vaqueros load wise.

    50th anniversary flattops IIRC are the same frame as the larger blackawks but don't have the ears that protect the sights
     
  3. MidRoad
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    MidRoad Contributing Member

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    As to grip frames

    Stainless guns use stainless
    Blued Blackhawks use aluminum (and aluminum ejector rod housing)
    Flattop Blackhawks use steel grip frame
    Super Blackhawks are all steel frames
    Vaqueros use steel frames
     
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  4. c.dunwoody1234

    c.dunwoody1234 Member

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    Thanks, I was looking at the new Vaquero, and there only appears to be one style of Blackhawk on the ruger site right now?
     
  5. c.dunwoody1234

    c.dunwoody1234 Member

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    Thank you, so even the blued Vaqueros used steel grip frames?
     
  6. MidRoad
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    MidRoad Contributing Member

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    If it's a vaquero, super Blackhawk or , new model flattop it should be a steel grip frame
     
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  7. MidRoad
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    MidRoad Contributing Member

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    Look under the convertible section, there's alot more options. Convertibles are really sweet. IMO if you want to target shoot and don't care to shoot full tilt 45 colt. A new model flattop convertible is ideal. You can still shoot a 255gr @1000 fps safely which will take anything you need it to short of a big bear if you hunt. Vaqueros are nice ,but it's hard to argue with adjustable sights.

    https://www.ruger.com/products/newModelBlackhawkConvertible/specSheets/5240.html
     
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  8. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    Picture is worth a thousand words department:

    Frame strength has very little to do with how 'strong' a revolver is. Or how less likely one is to blow up from a load too powerful.

    It is all about the cylinder, not the frame. The cylinder is the part that must withstand the pressure of a cartridge firing, not the frame. All the frame does is hold the cylinder in place. And yes, the frame and the internal components must be strong enough to withstand the battering of recoil, but that is a separate issue.

    This photo tells the story.

    All three of these cylinders are chambered for 45 Colt. Left to right, an 'original model' Vaquero cylinder, a New Vaquero cylinder, and a 2nd Gen Colt cylinder. Sorry, I did not realize how dirty the Colt cylinder was.

    Ruger stopped making the 'original model' Vaquero in 2005 and replaced it with the smaller New Vaquero.

    The 'original model' Vaquero cylinder is 1.729 in diameter. The New Vaquero cylinder is 1.673 in diameter. The Colt cylinder is 1.652 in diameter.

    Look at how thick the metal between chambers is. The web of material between chambers of the 'original model' Vaquero is about .063 thick. This is the same size cylinder in a standard Blackhawk, and the amount of material between chambers will be the same. There is about .042 of material between chambers in the New Vaquero cylinder. There is about .042 of material between chambers in the Colt cylinder too. So right away, that tells us which cylinder is strongest. But that is not quite the entire story. If you look very carefully you will see the cuts for the cylinder locking slots on both Rugers are slightly off center on the chambers. The same cuts on the Colt are dead center on the chambers. The off center cuts on the Ruger cylinders are a design feature. What this means is that there is less metal between the bottom of the cut and the chamber in a Colt than in the New Vaquero. Typically when a revolver cylinder blows up from an over pressure event, the rupture starts at that thin bit of metal under the locking slot cuts. Then the rupture propagates forward and back, splitting the cylinder.

    Old%20Vaq%20New%20Vaq%20Colt%202nd%20Gen%20Cylinders_zpsemgdgbc5.jpg




    So. Bottom line, the standard Blackhawk and 'original model' Vaquero frames were bigger to house a bigger cylinder. Colt and New Vaquero frames are smaller to house the slightly smaller cylinders.

    P.S. everything I said above relates to 45 caliber. With smaller holes, such as in a 357 Magnum, it does not matter. There is plenty of steel surrounding the chambers in any 357 Magnum Ruger or Colt to take factory spec ammunition.
     
  9. 35 Whelen
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    35 Whelen Contributing Member

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    Midroad and Driftwood have both hit the proverbial nails on the head with regards to strength.
    Cylinder diameter and chamber thicknesses aside, all one but needs to remember is this: The Flat Top Convertible is chambered in 45 ACP whose SAAMI pressure limits are 23,000 psi in +P offerings. So it would stand to reason that the 45 Colt could be loaded to similar pressures in these revolvers. Brain Pearce of Handloader magazine puts the New Vaquero's and Flat Tops in this pressure catagory. To put this into perspective, one can load a 280 gr. cast SWC to around 1100 fps and stay within 21-23K psi, plenty of power for most hunting applications.

    35W
     
  10. Crunchy Frog

    Crunchy Frog Member

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    This is only relevant to the .45 Colt chambering because of the existence of what is often called “Ruger Only” load data.

    All of the .41 Magnum Blackhawks and .44 Magnum Blackhawks and Vaqueros use the large cylinder.

    The (medium cylinder) New Vaquero or New Model Flattop Blackhawks in .357 Magnum are plenty strong for SAAMI spec ammo, so no issue there.

    Ruger makes the Flattop Blackhawk and previously made the New Vaquero in .44 Special, I am comfortable shooting reasonable level loads.

    Personally I find the medium framed guns to be well proportioned. I can live with the fact that there are limits to the pressures they will handle.
     
  11. murf

    murf Member

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    and when all else fails, run saami pressures in your blackhawks/vaqueros!

    murf
     
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