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Old April 18, 2013, 01:17 PM   #1
2ndsojourn
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Extra cylinder for Ruger 357 Blackhawk

One of the guns I inherited from my grandfather years ago is a Ruger Blackhawk .357. It appears to have never been fired and new in the box. (Since it was 'NIB' I just kept it that way but I'll probably shoot it soon.) Anyway, included with it is a spare cylinder that appears identical to the one in the gun and I'm not sure what it's for, other than to have a spare cylinder. And it's not like it's a quick-change Clint Eastwood style, as you have to depress a spring loaded button with one hand to withdraw the rod with the other to remove the cylinder. So, what's the spare cylinder for? Just to have a spare?
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Old April 18, 2013, 01:23 PM   #2
JNad
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You likely have a convertible model. measure the headspace on cylinder number 2 and see if it is only as deep as a 9mm. You could do this by attempting to insert a .357 snap cap or other dummy round. If that didn't go in far, you could then attempt a 9mm dummy round. The second cylinder of a convertible model would look identical outside to the .357 cylinder. However, the chambers are only cut as deep as the mouth of a 9mm cartridge.

If you have a convertible, you can enjoy some near zero recoil and cheaper shooting with 9mm and not worry about loading the front of your .357 chambers with crud from shooting .38 spcl.
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Old April 18, 2013, 01:31 PM   #3
newfrontier45
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If the Blackhawk is a .357 then the spare cylinder is probably chambered for the 9mm. I don't remember when Ruger first started offering .357 convertibles but they've been making them since the early days.
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Old April 18, 2013, 03:23 PM   #4
JNad
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If it does happen to be a spare .357 cylinder, have a gunsmith check the timing on it. If your Grandfather bought a second cylinder, but didn't have it timed, it could damage your forcing cone (or worse) if it is incorrectly timed. So double check it if it would happen to be a spare .357 cylinder.
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Old April 18, 2013, 04:20 PM   #5
oldgunsmith
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Ruger didn't sell extra cylinders without factory installation. Look through the chambers. If it's 9mm there will be an obvious difference between it and the .357 cylinder.
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Old April 18, 2013, 05:00 PM   #6
KenL
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If I remember right from my convertible Blackhawk, both cylinders have the last 3 digits of the revolver's serial number etched in them with what looked like one of those electric pencil thingys. I believe it's on the rear of the cylinder.
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Old April 18, 2013, 07:12 PM   #7
2ndsojourn
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Ah! Thanks! That's it. I didn't have any snap caps or anything to measure the headspace with but a 357 cartridge only fits in one cylinder and a 9mm only fits in the other. And upon closer examination, the chambers of the 9mm cylinder are not machined the full diameter all the way through.

And yeah, Ken, the last 3 digits of the serial # and a 'G' are etched on the rear face of the cylinder. So it appears to have been factory matched up for correct timing.

Thanks folks.
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Old April 18, 2013, 07:29 PM   #8
James K
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The 9mm cylinder has shoulders in the chambers so the cartridge can headspace on the case mouth.

FWIW, lots of folks consider the 9mm Luger (Parabellum) a powerful round, but in that big Ruger, it acts like a popgun, especially compared to hot .357 loads fired with the other cylinder.

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