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Old September 14, 2001, 05:22 PM   #1
Jim March
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Homebrew modifications for Ruger SAs

I'm now pretty dang sure I'm buying a Ruer SA soon. So in doing some web-digging I've come across some neat tidbits that all belong together.

Gunblast.com's "Poor boy trigger job" should be at the top of the list:

http://www.gunblast.com/Poorboy.htm

I also ran into a great homebrew tuning guide aimed at the SASS beginner with simply too much info to list:

http://www.curtrich.com/ruger.html - HIGHLY recommended read.

NC Ordinance has a bird's head grip frame of unusual layout, based on the Colt Lightning frame:

http://www.gungrip.com/ruger.asp

In comparison to the new Ruger Bird's head frame (see also http://www.gunblast.com/Birdshead.htm ) the NCO precisely places the hand for every shot - or at least, that's the rep of other "Lightning frame" guns, I haven't seen the NCO part yet.

I would suspect that the Lightning grip would work great for .45ACP power levels or below, such as "Cowboy loads", mild .357s, etc. Once you get into .44Mag, or "Ruger ONLY" .45LC loads, the grip can't "roll up" in the hand the way the Ruger and Qualitas grip frames can.

Power Custom makes three cool parts for "New Model" Ruger SAs:

1) A "freewheel pawl" that allows multi-directional spin with the loading gate open and hammer down. It's cheap, and reportedly comes with good installation instructions.

2) A revised hammer/trigger setup that allows half-cocking, at which point the chamber will line up with the loading gate when you hear the click. This is especially useful for SASS crowd shooters who are forced by the rules to carry five-up in the old Colt SAA fashion even though the gun has a transfer bar and is perfectly safe six-up.

3) A BISLEY hammer/trigger setup that provides the same half-cock features as above, but drops the hammer reach with a Bisley-type hammer which is still sized to fit a Blackhawk/Vaquero-type grip frame. The Ruger Bisley part can be ordered and fits all New Model SAs, but needs to be clearanced to fit Blackhawks and similar. The Power Custom Bisley hammer is a drop-in for all of 'em.

http://www.powercustom.com/parts_revolver.htm

Belt Mountain base pins can "tighten" a Ruger SA's action cheaply and quickly, if it's got some factory slop. Many also include a hex set-screw to prevent them coming loose under heavy recoil. A short-head "Sheriff's Model" pin is also available, and effectively lengthens the ejector rod stroke by about half an inch or so on any model:

http://www.beltmountain.com/

Finally, the best source of tech info on the .45LC I've seen yet is Linebaugh's data, basically everything under "GUNNOTES":

http://www.sixgunner.com/linebaugh/default.htm

Anybody got more? Let's compile it all right here .
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Old September 14, 2001, 05:32 PM   #2
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Thanks Jim, I've been thinking that a Colt Lightning style grip would look great on a new model Ruger, but I hadn't found a source for the grip until now.
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Old September 15, 2001, 08:32 AM   #3
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Jim March: Thanks for posting this information. Let us know which Ruger SA you get and how you like it. I sure like mine! Dennis
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Old September 15, 2001, 10:16 AM   #4
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Look for the 3 part series called Ruger Bisley - Trigger Improvements. Very good information, great photos. There are also many other useful articles here:

http://www.realguns.com/archives/newarc.htm

Good Luck...

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Old September 15, 2001, 08:38 PM   #5
Jim March
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Joe, GREAT link! Thanx!

The combination I'm considering right now:

Vaquero or Bisley Vaquero in 4&5/8ths barrel, .45LC. If I can find one with a 2nd cylinder in .45ACP, cool, and I have a slight preference for stainless. But I'll take whatever I can find that's *tight*, has a small gap, tight cylinder bores, good cylinder/barrel alignment and little play at full lockup. I'm going to figure out whichever local dealer has the biggest selection, and then go to that dealer with an inside-diameter micrometer in hand, buy the best one he's got.

Then add:

1) Belt Mountain stainless Sheriff's model base pin - allows longer ejection strokes, plus locking hex screw and tighter fit.

1) NCO Lightning grip frame.

1) cylinder hone tool.

1) Power Custom freewheel pawl.

1) Ashley Express small dot Tritium front sight - for an AR15. I'm going to cut it to the proper vertical height, cut a channel up the base wide enough for the factory front blade to fit in, then I'm going to drill two small holes all the way through the factory blade and the body of the Ashley sight, and then bolt it up - this after divining the correct vertical for my loads via the original sight. If the windage needs tweaking, make the cut in in the bottom of the Ashley sight wider so that you can use shims to adjust windage. I may have to use the Ashley BIG dot sight because the metal of the sight base underneath it would be wider allowing for more windage adjustment. Also, if I ever get into SASS, the Tritium front sight could still be unbolted, leaving the stock blade, albiet drilled in two places .

The Ashley sight would be a bit taller than normal, because I want the inner Tritium dot to be right in the bottom of the rear channel. The upper half of the front sight's white enamel outer ring would then form a "sunrise" pattern. The reason is, if I'm in total dark but shooting at an illuminated target, by raising the front sight carefully until I can barely see the Tritium I'd have proper alignment even though the only part of the gun visible is the Tritium dot. This is contrary to Ashley's recommendations (whole front dot just over rear sight) but I think it'll work for me.

I may turn the rear square notch sight into a slight "V". One good reason to go stainless is that this could be done without re-blueing afterwards.

Load would be Cor-Bon's 200grain JHPs at around 1,100fps, if they shoot OK. I'd accuracy-test them against Winchester Silvertips and a few other candidates. Buffalo Bore is about to ship a personal defense 45LC very similar to Cor-Bon's...if accuracy is better, fine, if not stick with Cor-Bon, esp. when the PowerBall in 200grain ships.

In .45LC, the "speedloader" would be a plastic tube with a cork in the end, carried underarm. At some point I'll want a .45ACP cylinder to play with.

Oh yes, one other thing: on this barrel length, the end of the ejector housing is a small circle just beneath and left of the barrel as you look down the business end. I believe in making BG's do a double-take as they look down the barrel, so the end of the ejector housing will be painted with a little yellow smiley face .

Also sort of a "tribute to TFL" .

I may do a custom cylinder and alignment job later, maybe a custom barrel although I doubt that latter, the factory twist rate is fine for the loads I plan on using.

This is my idea of the ultimate CCW SA.
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Old September 15, 2001, 10:08 PM   #6
Jim March
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Joe, that article was VERY interesting...

What I get out of it is thus: since the Wilson fixtures are borderline useless and exact data on doing all this is hard to come by, the $175 or so Power Custom wants for a total replacement hammer/trigger properly made seems a lot more reasonable than it did when I first saw that price. As a bonus, PC will sell you either hammer setup for any Ruger SA.

That's in *addition* to getting an operations drill identical to an SAA if desired and hence easier five-up loading for SASS matches.

I think I'm going to go with a PC hammer/trigger setup instead of paying $115 for a marginal Wilson jig set with almost no instructions.

Finally, I find this a disappointing commentary on Wilson. Their rep is that they build a great 1911, but after-sale service and support is iffy. This is NOT from personal experience, only reading about other's experiences...but this seems to match that "style".
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Old September 17, 2001, 01:44 AM   #7
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http://www.qpr-inc.com/qualite.htm

Colorado's own bird's head specialty grip maker.. ive handled these weapons and they are COOOL.. a bit more than a 'homespun" trigger job but thought you might like the info.. these are the guys that advertise in Dillon's Blue Press.

Rob
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Old September 17, 2001, 06:27 AM   #8
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I installed the Power Custom Free Spin Pawl in my SBH ... NICE ... It comes with very good instructions and it drops right in. The only adjustment I made was to de-burr the edges. Not that there was any real burr there but more to break the sharp edges on the sides (snag prevention). Whith this installed the cylinder will spin freely either direction with no clicking sounds. The instructions warn you that some mechanical ability is required. So if you are not all thumbs you should be ok as long as you can take it apart and re-assemble it in one sitting.
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Old September 17, 2001, 04:13 PM   #9
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Thanks for the links. The Free Spin Pawl looks like a good mod.

I too am looking into a Ruger SA but I've opted for the Bisley in .44 Mag. I've already got a Mod 29 and didn't really feel like adding another caliber to my ammo stock by moving up to the .45 Colt.
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Old October 12, 2001, 02:37 AM   #10
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BTTT

Anybody got more tips/parts?
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Old October 12, 2001, 10:32 AM   #11
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No tips, as mine are still stock. Just wondering if you'd like to borrow some to shoot before you decide what to buy? I have a B-V .45 in SS, a Blackhawk .45, a Bisley .357, and a Super Single Six.
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Old October 12, 2001, 12:54 PM   #12
Jim March
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Naw, s'okay, I own a single six double-caliber .22 and I've shot many of the others. And I won't have cash to spend for a while now, sigh.

Oh well.
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Old October 12, 2001, 01:03 PM   #13
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Quote:
I own a single six double-caliber .22
Mine's got a 9 1/2 in. barrel.
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Old October 13, 2001, 12:57 AM   #14
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Hmm, looks like there's a new model. According to this week's Gun Week, Ruger's announced a "Bird's Head Grip" Vaquero, with a 3.75 in. barrel.
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Old October 13, 2001, 01:58 AM   #15
Jim March
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Yep, there's a review and pics on gunblast, the URL is already in this thread up above: http://www.gunblast.com/Birdshead.htm

First issue is that I hope it's 7.5" long as measured parallel to the barrel, for the Calif market .

Second, I'm not sure I like their bird's head grip. I'd have to feel it of course. I suspect that for modest power levels around 45ACP or less, the NCO Lightning frame would be nicer . More than that might beat the hell out of the web of your hand.

Anyways, if you started with a 4.6" barrel model which can often be had at discount and add the NCO frame, you'd be at around the same price as the Ruger factory bird's-head. Or you could get a double-caliber Vaquero which is available in the 4.6" tube but NOT the Sheriff's models, and add the NCO frame...so far, the Sheriff's have been single-caliber only and adding a second fitted cylinder later can be pricey. So far, the double-caliber setups I've seen include:

.45ACP and .45LC

.357 and 9mm

.38-40 and .40S&W (the latter can easily be converted to 10mm or 10mm Magnum!)

The Qualitas grip frame also has a decent reputation, and can probably handle bigger recoil than the NCO.
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Old November 5, 2001, 02:25 AM   #16
Jim March
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Kernel came up with a good one on another thread - it seems Brownell's sells the Ruger parts you need to convert a Blackhawk or Vaquero to the Bisley-style grip:

http://www.brownells.com/Product/pro...1&CategoryID=0

To quote Kernel:

"Brownells sells the Bisley Conversion Kit. It contains all the factory Ruger metal parts, the grips you buy separately and are available from half a dozen different manufacturers. Dealer/FFL/C&R costs is approx. $110 blue, $135 stainless.

Brownells also has detail smithing instructions on how to do the conversion. It's not complicated but there are some tricks & tips that make it easier. I don't know if they include those instructions with the kit, and they're not online, but if you called and asked I'm sure they'd send you the Technical Bulliten. -- Kernel"

So far, there doesn't appear to be an aftermarket clone of this grip frame, so the Ruger parts are the only choice.



Now, if I were doing this, I'd see if Brownell's would be willing to sell the frame without hammer and trigger, and then add the Power Custom bits instead. I think Brownell's is also a Power Custom dealer, not certain about that. In any case, the article JoeHatley posted above contains some fairly negative commentary on the quality and roughness of the factory Ruger hammer and trigger, and how tricky the guy found polishing 'em even with a proper jig from Wilson.
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Old November 5, 2001, 10:29 AM   #17
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Jim,

Brownells does sell all the parts seperate, so you can buy just the grip frame. -- Kernel
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Old November 5, 2001, 11:59 AM   #18
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Jim, thanks for posting that!

It answered my question from the other post recently. Now, does Power Custom's trigger match the looks/feel of the factory Bisley trigger?
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Old November 5, 2001, 12:42 PM   #19
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Easy-as-pie "trigger" job...

Take off grips. Take one leg of hammer spring off peg. Put grips back on. That's it !!!

This lightens your trigger considerably without affecting performance. I've never had a round that wasn't touched off. Some folks suggest clipping off the leg, but I've found that just taking it off the peg works fine. I've performed this operation on four different SA Rugers...
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Old November 5, 2001, 04:06 PM   #20
Jim March
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Victorluis: yes, apparantly the Power Custom Bisley hammer/trigger parts are just like the Ruger parts, but with two differences:

1) enormously "cleaner" inside where it doesn't show visibly but DOES affect feel;

2) The Power Custom Bisley hammer is sculpted just a bit differently at the tip so that it can also be installed on un-modified Vaquero/Blackhawk type grip frames. The Ruger Bisley hammer will tap the top of the non-Bisley grip frames. Not a big deal, because a few minutes with a file can modify the tip of the Ruger Bisley hammer as needed anyways.

John D: you're describing the "poor boy's trigger job" which is detailed in the Gunblast.com article linked above, which comes complete with pics.

HOWEVER, note that this "trigger job" will indeed increase accuracy, but does little for the "rough cocking stroke feel" all too common on some Rugers. The Power Custom parts, on the other hand, will make it feel downright sexy . You can get there with Wolff springs and some careful de-burring/polishing of the factory parts which'll be a lot cheaper, but the PC stuff is damn fine goods .
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Old February 23, 2002, 02:17 AM   #21
Jim March
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Three more parts:

www.gunblast.com reviews a Brownell's cylinder throat reamer for .45LC guns, at: http://www.gunblast.com/Brownells_Reamer.htm

While not a Ruger-specific part, it solves a common problem in Ruger SA .45LC guns whereby the cylinder throat comes a bit tight from the factory. When this is an issue, and it often is, accuracy can be greatly enhanced by altering the throats and the Brownell's tool makes it easy for anyone to do their own. It'll cost less for the tool than to have a gunsmith do it, and you can probably sell the tool here on TFL and we can end up "passing it around" as needed .

Gunblast also reviews some Ruger grips by SK:

http://www.gunblast.com/SK_Custom_Grips.htm

Another grip that everybody should know about are the Eagle "Gunfighters" for the Vaquero/Blackhawk/SingleSix "plowhandle" grip frame:

http://www.eaglegrips.com/gunfighter.htm

While not recommended for monster loads, with "combat grade" or "Cowboy-spec" ammo it reduces the amount of "roll in the hand" effect you get, allowing faster follow-up shots. It has a widee following in the SASS/CAS circles.
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Old February 23, 2002, 10:10 AM   #22
Jim March
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POWER CUSTOM URL CHANGE!

The URL in the very first post for Power Custom's revolver parts page no longer works. Instead, use: http://www.powercustom.com/ and click on "Revolver Parts" on the left-hand column.

Other than that, no changes.
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Old February 24, 2002, 12:44 AM   #23
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Something you ALL forgot!

Ejector rods! Brownells had both Cressent head and Bullseye Ejector rods in stock as well as steel ejector rod housings. You can also get stainless housings if you like that two-tone look.
I havr the bullseye on one custom 41 magnum and plan to add it to all my vaqueros in the future. As well as my blackhawks iuts just works. A second option is the ejector assembly from a 357 maximum (which is longer than the standard one) for more complete ejection of fired cases.
You can also fit either the steel grip frame from a Vaquero of the longer one from a superblackhawk to a regular blackhawk. Another nice mod is to user a superblackhawk hammer on a blackhawk(when not using bisley parts) It would look good on a birdshead framed gun I think.
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Old February 24, 2002, 01:20 AM   #24
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What about sights ? I have these Bowen sights on my .357 RBH; http://www.bowenclassicarms.com/parts.html
I ordered this sight for my .30 Carbine RBH;
http://hunting.about.com/gi/dynamic/...raggedhole.com

All my Blackhawks, Single Sixes, and Super Blackhawks have the Belt Mountain Base Pins and steel ejector rod housings. I am working now on replacing all the sights with one of the ones listed above. I love the Bowen, and will have to see about the One Ragged Hole when I get it. I am also using grips from http://www.pistolgrips.com/Grip_Cata.../oversize.html and from Hogue. I really like those oversized grips with finger grooves.

I have no interest in SASS or cowboy shooting so my choice of accessories reflects that bias.
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Old February 24, 2002, 04:28 PM   #25
Jim March
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Here's an independent review/installation guide on the Power Custom hammer/trigger parts:

http://www.sixgunner.com/comments/powercustom.htm

As he says, the price seems high but once you realize you're "dropping in a top-notch trigger job" and you don't have to pay to ship the gun both ways to the 'smith, it's not all that crazy.
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