View Full Version : New Barrel Installation

June 1, 2004, 12:55 AM
I want to change the barrel on my super blackhawk and was wondering how I would check the headspace once the new barrel is on. I don't know much about revolvers, but I do know that the 44 magnum cartridge is rimmed and that it headspaces on the rim but, since the chamber is the cylinder and it obviously is seperate from the barrel, I just can't figure out why headspace would be affected by the barrel at all. Am I missing something here? Thanks.

June 1, 2004, 09:03 AM
The headspace on a revolver is the distance from the recoil sheild to the back of the case. Not influenced by the barrel. Nominally around 0.006".

You may be thinking of the barrel to cylinder gap. This does have to be "set" when installing a new barrel.


June 1, 2004, 10:23 PM
Thanks, Joe. It all makes sense now. Now to figure out how to set the gap properly. Again, thanks.


June 2, 2004, 01:07 AM
Pistol barrels ARE NOT just pieces of pipe that can be screwed on and off at will.

In order to rebarrel a revolver you need the proper action wrench and barrel vice.
Attempting the old trick of sticking the barrel in a set of wood blocks and turning the frame with a hammer handle or piece of 2X4 is the best method known to RUIN a good revolver.
Trying this old trick can and will bend or even break a frame. Ruger barrels are put on TIGHT at the factory.

Next, you need a lathe to cut the barrel shoulder, since barrels almost never screw on tight with the front sight at 12:00.

Next you need an expensive cutting tool that works down the barrel to properly cut the barrel to the correct barrel/cylinder gap, which MUST be within narrow specs, AND 100% square with the bore.
To little, to much, or a off square cut and the gun is inaccurate, spits lead, or has a cylinder that sticks.

Next, you need an expensive tool to properly cut the forcing cone in the rear of the barrel. This MUST be cut to within very narrow specs or the gun is inaccurate and spits lead.

In short, all those articles in old gun magazines about changing out barrels with wood blocks and files have ruined a lot of fine guns.

Attempting to change out a revolver barrel, especially a very tightly fitted Ruger, without the correct tooling and knowledge is pretty well guaranteed to ruin the gun.


June 2, 2004, 09:08 AM
Dfariswheel is correct about the difficulty in rebarreling a revolver.

Ruger will replace your barrel for a nominal fee. They just did a rusty bore Old Army for me. Barrel, refinish and grips cost $180. The revolver looks like new and it only took 4 weeks.

June 2, 2004, 11:43 PM
I guess I'll have to re-think this whole idea. Thanks for putting me straight, Dfariswheel. Your info is much appreciated.
DnPRK- thanks for the idea of sending it to Ruger. That may just be my best bet.
Thanks guys,

June 13, 2004, 08:54 AM
As DnPRK correctly points out, your first choice for a barrel change should be the Ruger factory. Another option would be to have the work done by a competent gunsmith of known reputation.

You might want to consider trading the gun for another, featuring the barrel length of your choice. Or, get a new Ruger Super Blackhawk and keep them both. Then, you would be able to swap guns back and forth, as desired.

July 24, 2004, 08:37 PM
Could go the wild side and take a look at Gary Reeder's sight. He can do It all, I have never used him directly though.

Harry Bonar
May 27, 2005, 07:41 PM
Dear Shooter:
I did that (changed the bbl' on a blackhawk) years ago and found out the Ruger bbl' shot better than the much tootet replacement.
If you do, stick to (on cyl. gap) .002 to .004 max - it'll quiet your revolver down alot!
Harry B.