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View Full Version : Why on earth did Ruger abandon the Old Army!


deerslayer303
January 15, 2013, 09:05 PM
I'm sitting here just reading and I got to thinking. Seems to me that Pietta and Uberti sell a ton of revolvers. So why do you think Ruger abandoned its Old Army! It doesn't seem to me that the thing had any less of a following than the reproductions. Was it the price point? Just curious. I think this cap n ball thing is alot more popular than I ever thought it was.

B.L.E.
January 15, 2013, 09:30 PM
My best guess it that the company felt it didn't sell enough to justify producing it.
The death of Bill Ruger might also have had something to do with it.

bedbugbilly
January 15, 2013, 09:46 PM
+1 to BLE . . . . .yes, there is no doubt that the ROA was/is a good BP handgun but I think you have a number of factors that enter in to it . . . . first, did the sales really warrant the manufacturer of it by Ruger. Second . . . there's the price of a ROA . . . it's was more than the price of the Italian copies . . . yes you can argue "quality" . . . but it all boils down to the price of the handgun being low enough that most folks can afford to buy one and get in to shooting.

A good example - the Ruger Single Six or the Ruger Bearcat - pricey and a lot of folks don't have that kind of $ to shell out for a handgun . . . but, they can for a Heritage Rough Rider at less than $200 (versus $500). Can you compare quality? Probably not but the lower priced one allows a person to shoot and have fun and not have to do without milk and eggs.

I'm not knocking Ruger for dropping it or their prices nor am I knocking Heritage - I own Rugers and a Heritage RR and love them all.

A lot of folks also lean towards the Italian as they are at least somewhat "historically correct" while the ROA is an animal of it's own design. Makes a diffeence on the use you have for it - if you're a hunter or serious target shooter - you would probably like the ROA - if you are a reenact, Civil War Buff, Old West Buff, etc. - they you'd lean towards the Italian copies to be more historically correct.

Another factor is that the way things are now, I'm sure Ruger can produce and sell more units of their cartridge firearms than they can if they re-introduced the ROA. If you've got plenty of orders for modern handguns and rifles and can keep your people more than busy building them - you're main aim will be to introduce new designs and models that will sell to a broader customer base.

arcticap
January 16, 2013, 01:24 AM
After about 40 years in production the market was pretty saturated with used ROA's that probably hurt the sale of new ones.
And ROA wasn't as popular as it once was because of the good quality and low prices of the Italian imports.
Well, except that the stainless imports seem to be priced relatively high.

Doc Hoy
January 16, 2013, 02:05 AM
....The size of the market for the ROA was and perhaps still is quite small.

It was a handgun that could not be used by reenactors.

It had a mystique for hunters but IIUC the season during which a cap and ball handgun could be used for hunting is and always was quite short in a substantial section of the U.S. I know that in Chester County, PA, you had the option to hunt with primative weapons or with bow for one day and most cartridge or shotgun hunters opted for the bow. I can not say for sure that the ROA was considered a primative weapon in PA.

It never was a serious contender for self defense or home defense even though there is plenty of rationale for applying it to those tasks.

It is not a pistol that appeals to the tinkerers because they don't break and if they do, the revolver is expensive enough that folks just bought the parts from Ruger and fixed it. I've owned a total of three and never had to do anything to them.

Price was at the high end of the C/B revolver spectrum as "BBB" said so this alone reduced the size of the market.

Indeed I wonder that Ruger decided to market the revolver in the first place and that it lasted as long as it did.

I bought my first one sometime around 1985 in Naples, Italy for 85.00. I gave it as a gift NIB to one of the finest gentlemen I ever met. I own two now and I won't part with either of them. I am always in the market for additional specimens even though I don't shoot the ones I have very much.

They are like an ugly flat chested girlfriend. Looks fade, flesh sags but the qualities that matter endure. You love them for right reasons.

B.L.E.
January 16, 2013, 06:47 AM
Indeed I wonder that Ruger decided to market the revolver in the first place and that it lasted as long as it did.



I have heard that it was one of Bill Ruger's pet gun designs.
That's why the demise of Bill Ruger may have had something to do with it.
Sort of the same situation at FoMoCo, they had to wait till Henry Ford I died before they could drop the flathead V-8. Although, the ROA has far fewer design flaws than the old Ford flathead V-8 did.

Logan5579
January 16, 2013, 08:26 AM
When I first got into C&B shooting I was looking for a good revolver and looked at the ROA. Since the Pietta 58 Remington clone was cheaper, that ended up being my first gun. I've always wanted a ROA over the years and every time I start thinking about one I look at the prices and talk myself out of it, or I start saving up for one and end up needing my cash stash for something practical like tires for my wifes car or something like that. I rarely hear a bad word about the ROA though and if I caught one at the right price, I'd snatch it up in a heartbeat...provided I'm not broke at that moment. :rolleyes:

mykeal
January 16, 2013, 10:29 AM
It's really very simple.

Ruger changed manufacturing policies to more modern methods. Specifically, they used to tool up for a certain model and then run a complete year's production of that model at one time, storing everything that didn't have a buyer in a warehouse. Then they'd tool up for another model and run that model's year long supply. In order to use this philosophy economically, you need to have a very good estimate of your sales for the upcoming year, and thus of the price point each model will sell for.

The change was to a more modern plan, based on the 'just in time' philosophy: manufacture each model just ahead of the next month's supply requirements. That requires a very flexible production and supplier line but is less expensive and less risky to operate.

Ruger recognized that the ROA required a larger set of unique tools and support equipment than other models, and they determined that the resources could better be used making other models. Using a 'just in time' philosophy for the ROA kept manufacturing resources tied up and not usable on better selling, more profitable models.

Bill Ruger's passing may have made the decision available, but what really killed the ROA, and what will likely keep it out of production, was the switchover to a new production line philosophy.

Doc Hoy
January 16, 2013, 11:17 AM
...And it makes complete sense on multiple levels.

10851Man
January 16, 2013, 11:24 AM
I think we might all be involved in a civil war re-enactment if the government continues to adopt Nazi & quasi Communist policies...FWIW

deerslayer303
January 16, 2013, 11:33 AM
All of you guys' rationale makes alot of sense. But what ever the reason. I STILL emailed the CEO and expressed my concern for a reintroduction :D. I'm a fan of the ROA, It is a pistol of modern times, and who knows maybe ONE day IT TOO will be reproduced by an italian firm.

10851Man
January 16, 2013, 01:35 PM
Because it was so ugly...:D

BirchOrr
January 16, 2013, 09:39 PM
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I must bite my tounge...

:D
Birch

deerslayer303
January 16, 2013, 10:03 PM
^^^ yeah what he said......:D

B.L.E.
January 16, 2013, 10:22 PM
I suspect that Ruger's legal staff won't allow them to reintroduce it unless they come up with a transfer bar safety system for cap and ball revolvers.

Ruger ain't a cottage industry anymore and that means lawyers go after them. There's a reason that most traditional style muzzleloaders today are the product of a cottage industry. Corporations that are worth suing won't touch them with a ten foot pole. There's just too many ways idiots can hurt themselves with them.

mykeal
January 16, 2013, 10:34 PM
Actually, the transfer bar design does play a significant role in the demise of the ROA. See post #8 above. Not including the transfer bar made the changeover from other revolvers more complicated and expensive.

4V50 Gary
January 16, 2013, 11:36 PM
Too bad Ruger doesn't make a black powder based on the Super Blackhawk frame. Just get rid of the ejector rod and require the cylinder to be loaded outside of the frame like the Uberti Cattlemen.

Logan5579
January 17, 2013, 09:07 AM
Might outdo the walker for powder charge...could 60grs fit in a cylinder that size? If it would, just think of the muzzle blast! It would be impressive! :D

eastbank
January 17, 2013, 09:48 AM
i started shooting black powder in the early 60,s and went thru several italian 58 remingtons and 60 armies untill i found ones the ran right and stocked up on a few main springs,bolt lock up springs and flat hand springs as they were prone to break. they were cheap because of the value of the dollar was high and now with the value of the dollar at a long time low the repo,s are very costly. i own several 58,s and one good 60 army along with three ROA,s and love them all. eastbank.

4V50 Gary
January 17, 2013, 04:53 PM
Logan - after I wrote that suggestion, I decided why not incorporate what Mykeal said and send it to the CEO of Ruger? We'll see in a few years if Ruger makes a Super Black Hawk cap 'n ball.

deerslayer303
January 17, 2013, 04:56 PM
Yes please do drop a line to the CEO, tell him we want another ruger cap and ball DANGIT :D Maybe we should pass a petition around to all the B.P communities and send it to them. Probably wouldn't be worth a hill of beans :mad:

4V50 Gary
January 17, 2013, 05:17 PM
deerslayer - suggestion was submitted last night. Ruger will act on it if it doesn't cost much to convert and it will prove profitable. If Ruger can make more Super Black Hawks and sell them as is than as cap 'n ball, they won't make them.

deerslayer303
January 17, 2013, 05:21 PM
Gary, I think your suggestion for modifying an existing platform will probably be thought about more than my suggestion of reintroducing the ROA. Good on you sir for sending it in to them. I would buy one, heck a loading press is already in the works for me. How about a 50 cal Super Blackhawk cap and ball revolver :eek: Ok now I'm dreaming.

Logan5579
January 17, 2013, 06:11 PM
With all the crazy ideas the politicians are throwing around right now, there seems to be a real interest in BP from some ppl who never looked at it before. This type of platform might really appeal to some who wouldn't buy a 51 navy for example.

El Bango
January 20, 2013, 11:24 PM
I always wished for a Ruger BR revolver in a .36 or even a .40 caliber on a Single Six frame...hey a guy can dream.Michael:cool:

wap41
January 26, 2013, 07:42 PM
I'm sure ruger would do great if they brought back the ruger old army in .50 cal.I'd stand in line to get one.

mykeal
January 27, 2013, 11:39 AM
I'd stand in line to get one.
At what price? $600? $700?

woodnbow
January 27, 2013, 03:15 PM
They could set retail at $700 and have folks lined up waiting for 'em...

Hawg Haggen
January 27, 2013, 03:38 PM
But would enough folks line up to make it worth their while? I doubt it.

stepmac
January 27, 2013, 04:44 PM
Bill Ruger was a dreamer and he was fascinated by the old BP pistols. He decided to make the best one ever made and he did it. If you are a BP pistol shooter you NEED one of Ruger's Old Army pistols. You can load that baby up to nearly 44 mag performance. (always using BP of course)I love mine and she shoots HARD.....or you can make it shoot soft. The charm of shooting BP.

When SASS happened they shot old west looking pistols and eschewed the Ruger, which, of course is far better than any of the others.

No one thought Bill Ruger's No 1 would sell, but I have three and wish I had 20 of them. Ruger No1's are some of my very favorite rifles to shoot.

But really, you need one of those Ruger Old Army's. They are a ball to shoot. Of course it's slow going, but who cares? A day on the range is always a great day!

wap41
January 27, 2013, 05:02 PM
I don't think $6-700 for a 50cal would be out of line at all.There is a gunsmith that will convert your ROA to a five shot 50 cal for about $1200.So $6-700 would be a deal in my opinion,

Hawg Haggen
January 27, 2013, 05:09 PM
When SASS happened they shot old west looking pistols and eschewed the Ruger, which, of course is far better than any of the others.

You need to do some research before you go spouting off untruths. When SASS was started Rugers were more easily available than repros. SASS rules allowed Ruger Blackhawks and ROA's. They still do, even tho some single actions and pump shotguns that were used up until 1899 are not allowed. IMHO they should not be allowed because SASS rules state firearms in use from 1860-1899.

B.L.E.
January 27, 2013, 06:25 PM
SASS allows Ruger single actions even though they did not exist back then because they fit "the spirit of the game" and provide no real competitive advantage to the shooter.
ROA's are allowed however if it has adjustable sights, it has to compete in "modern" along with the flat top Blackhawks and Colts with adjustable sights.

robhof
January 27, 2013, 07:23 PM
As for being the best? Tingle actually made a few B/p revolvers that used 50gr of powder and were supposed to have been stronger than the ROA, this was before the ROA and the cost of the Tingle killed it too. I've seen only one at auction and the starting bid could buy a nice house in today's market.

olmontanaboy
January 28, 2013, 09:49 AM
It was a first class revolver and you had to pay the price for it. Many people want cheap and will settle for hit or miss quality in a percussion revolver. If I could own only one gun and it had to be a percussion revolver I would fight to get the Ruger.

stepmac
January 29, 2013, 02:21 PM
Hey, Hawg; lighten up thar ol'boy! My point was not that the ROA is not allowed in SASS shooting, but that shooters like the original looking guns better.

For straight old fashioned BP pistol shoot'n I think the ROA is the best gun ever made. I shoot Remingtons and the Ruger and like the Ruger better. It is a heavy, hard shooting pistol. I sometimes load half jacketed bullets in mine over 40 grains of FF and she really talks with that load. I usually load 22 grains of FF and a 457 round ball in my Italian Remingtons. They shoot fine too, but I don't load them as hot as I do the ROA.

stepmac
January 29, 2013, 02:24 PM
I don't know why anyone would re-bore the ROA to .50 cal, but whatever floats your boat. Nor do I understand why anyone would want a pistol more powerful than a .44 mag, but; same boat, same lake.

deerslayer303
January 29, 2013, 05:32 PM
I don't know why anyone would re-bore the ROA to .50 cal, but whatever floats your boat. Nor do I understand why anyone would want a pistol more powerful than a .44 mag, but; same boat, same lake.
Same reason anyone would buy a Walker, Or a 45-70 Revolver......JUST BECAUSE!!:D

Hawg Haggen
January 29, 2013, 05:53 PM
Hey, Hawg; lighten up thar ol'boy! My point was not that the ROA is not allowed in SASS shooting, but that shooters like the original looking guns bet

I dunno, a lot of folks in SASS like them. I'm not one of them however.:D

thickice
January 31, 2013, 09:08 AM
When SASS was started Rugers were more easily available than repros. SASS rules allowed Ruger Blackhawks and ROA's. They still do, even tho some single actions and pump shotguns that were used up until 1899 are not allowed. IMHO they should not be allowed because SASS rules state firearms in use from 1860-1899.
__________________
Just curious, which pre-99 single action revolvers are not allowedin SASS?

Captainkirk
February 1, 2013, 10:13 PM
I read "somewhere" (online) that the Ruger folks have been trying to kill the ROA for a decade or more, but Bill Ruger said (approximately; my quote is out of context) "As long as I'm alive, the ROA will be produced."
The decision to drop the ROA came shortly after his death.

mykeal
February 2, 2013, 04:26 PM
The decision to drop the ROA came shortly after his death.
I guess 'shortly' means something a little different to some folks. Bill Ruger died July 6, 2002. The Ruger Old Army was discontinued in 2008.

4V50 Gary
February 2, 2013, 08:27 PM
If anything killed it, it was marketing. Marketing would forecast what the consumer market wanted and what was on hand. They would then schedule the production. This was what I was told when I used to take the Ruger Armourers' schools at the factory.

The volume was probably not there to justify the production set up costs. More money could be had in making other things. Businesses are there to make money, not lose it.

rclark
February 3, 2013, 07:16 PM
The volume was probably not there to justify the production set up costs. More money could be had in making other things. Businesses are there to make money, not lose it. That is my guess too. I would buy another one if they were released. They are wonderful BP revolvers. I only have one. Like to get a 5 1/2" sometime and one with a fixed sight. So I can see there is still a 'niche' market.... Just not a big enough one to gear up for. Seems people want more 'slab sides' guns than the good 'o revolver and us BP shooters are on the low end of the revolver scale to cater to.

Fingers McGee
February 3, 2013, 07:42 PM
The volume was probably not there to justify the production set up costs. More money could be had in making other things. Businesses are there to make money, not lose it.

ding dingding. We have a winner. MONEY is why they discontinued the ROA.

thickice
February 3, 2013, 11:18 PM
HAWG, you didn't answer my question about which pre 99 single actions aren't allowed in SASS.

Hawg Haggen
February 4, 2013, 12:01 AM
HAWG, you didn't answer my question about which pre 99 single actions aren't allowed in SASS

I didn't see it. I had to go back and look to see what you were talking about. I should have left out the sa part. My bad. AFAIK all the single action revolvers that meet caliber restrictions are legal.