View Full Version : Gunslinger: can a tricked Ruger equal a Freedom Arms '97 .357?

Jim March
February 18, 1999, 08:42 PM
I want an *accurate* tackdriver of a stainless .357 SAA pattern. I've handled Rugers and the new mid-frame .357 FA and that latter is just an *awesome* bit of machine.

For $1,500 it SHOULD be, of course.

My question is, how far can you take a Ruger Vaquero type, and at what price?

What would a .357 4 and 5/8ths tube Ruger run with the following mods:

* Bisley trigger (and possible frame clearance for same? cheaper to start with a Bisley 5.5" so long as you did NOT shorten the barrel?)

* Bird's head grip subframe swap

* Trigger job to a CLEAN break, around 3.5lbs

* Serious "tuning job", cylinder gap set to .002", zero free play, basically set it up for "max accuracy".

* Tritium dot front sight in a "Classic style blade profile" - custom, I know, what would that alone run? How much less for a brass bead?

* Quality rear fixed sights set 1/2" *forward* of the firing pin? Maybe even in Tritium? What I'm looking for is good sights that are fairly low profile and combat-ready (hence fixed) and set far enough forward that the thumb or offhand palm doesn't hang up on the rear-overhanging type of sights normal to adjustable-sight Ruger models. I want a piece that can do "classic speedwork" yet shoot like modern, and it's a KEY appeal on the Freedom Arms.

Waddya think? Fully tricked as stated we're talking what, $500 worth of mods? More? Would a barrel swap give better accuracy, and if so how much?

I enjoy shooting SA. I love my minirevolvers and my Ruger Super Single Six...but it's time to get *serious*.

Jim March

February 20, 1999, 03:13 PM
Howdy Jim,
It isn't every day that I see a post asking for me specifically.

I understand and appreciate what you are wanting here but I'm afraid you're going to spend a whole lot of money and still not have the "ideal" gun you are hoping for. You said you've handled the new mid-frame Freedom Arms and it is awesome. Have you actually shot one? I have not but suspect that although it is probably a good gun I doubt that it could be classified as a "tack drive".

You also state your wish list includes sights that the thumb or off hand palm doesn't hang up on the rear overhang indicating that the new gun has "fanning" in its future. As tough as the Rugers (and I assume the FA) are any repeated use as a "fanner" nullify all of the time and MONEY spent on the "max accuracy" work that you have done.

The sight work, which I don't do, will, as you already know, will be very costly and will still be "combat" style sights and in this application the benefits gained (IMHO) would not justify the cost. The machine work required for mounting alone would add up fast.

The Bisley triggers (BR03900) are relatively inexpensive to purchase ($9.50 + S&H) but the fitting is a rreal pain where the cowboy meets the saddle. Again probably too expensive to justify the cost to fit for the minmumal benefit gained.

I can "build" you, at the risk of sounding imodist, the sweetest Vaquero action you're ever likely to shoot for $100.00 with no reduction in factory trigger/hammer pull weight. For $30.00 more I'll add a Bunkhouse spring kit and reduce the trigger weight to the 3.5#'s requested. I've found that most shooters prefer the factory weight if the action is properly "set up". I especially encourage the trigger pull be left a little higher for any gun that is going to be used for any type of speed work. Unlike most custom builders I don't care for the lightened trigger pulls on cowby action shooting guns. The light triggers aren't really needed for that type of use if the action is crisp, clean and smooth. I'm surprised more cowboy action shooters don't have Chester (Gunsmoke) for an alias. (I know alot of CAS shooters are going to disagree with that last point. But face it, given the size and distance of most targets pin point accuracy isn't exactly requried. Safety should be of primary concern. Light trigger pull weights for competition shooting when built on double actions and/or auto's are perfectly safe in that type of shooting/firearm. It just don't happen to feel that any shooting event that requires drawing and firing a single action with speed is worth the risk to toes and knee caps associated with light trigger pulls.)

I can do a custom Thunderer style grip frame conversion for $207.50 including shipping + the cost of grips. (In most cases your standard Vaquero grips can be adapted to fit beautifully.)

For the accuracy gained I'd suggest a new barrel and can set it to the desired .002". Total cost including shipping would be $207.50, in any length desired from 3.5 to
12". (3.5" slightly more due to the cost of shortening the ejector assembly.)

You stated the cost of the new FA is a whopping $1500.00. Assuming $350.00 for the cost of a new Vaquero and the suggested $500.00 for the custom work would give you a total of $850.00 leaving an excess of $650.00.
Wadda I think? Well.............how 'bout this.

For the speed gun let's build a standard .357, 4 5/8" Vaquero with the Thunderer grip frame conversion and just lighten the factory hammer pull weight, which I'll do free of charge while doing the conversion.
After you start shooting it work up the best loads for groups and point of aim and then "adjust" the factory fixed sights by what ever barrel turning and/or front sight filing required.
Cost would be about $557.50 plus the cost of the sight adjustment, which would have to be done only after you worked up the best loads, if you have smeone local do it rather then yourself.

For the "tack driver" let's start with a factory Bisley Blawkhawk. We'll perform one of our custom caliber conversions in one of the "exotic" calibers we offer such as .22 Hornet in the barrel length of your choice (Something in the nieghborhood of 14" would give it a high dollar custom look and, perhaps more importantly, would be "fun" with a capital "F".) Set the barrel up at the afore mentioned .002" and perform a slick action job with the 3.5# pull weight.
Total cost would be $927.50 + the price of the front sight you choose.

The cost for both guns (Again assuming $350.00 for the base guns.) would be:

$1485.00 + the sight adjustment on the former and front sight on the latter.
Best of all you get two true custom guns for the same price as the one standard FA.

We also offer custom leather and could fit you and the guns for a strong side fast draw holster for the .357 and off side shoulder/hip/cross draw etc. for the .22 Hornet for approximately $375.00.

Now that's getting SERIOUS. (Sorta makes me think of Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef from For a Few Dolloars More all rolled into one character. One very dangerous, demented character with a bad attitude and the hardware to bakc it up.)

Wadda ta' think?
Folks- thoughts, comments, suggestions?
ElChimango, fal308, Trapdoor et. al. ?


old biker
February 20, 1999, 05:25 PM
Speed work with a Freedom?? I don't think so, I've got two of the 97s in .45LC and feel confident about the advice I'm giving. First off, why the .357? Why not the .44 or .45LC? The guns with the big holes are better balanced and lighter. Have you any experience with the Flattops from Ruger? I've found them to be extremely accurate and more closely resembling the Colts P. Tack driving accuracy? How about into an inch at 50yds? All the three screw Ruger SAs will easily out shoot the new models. I advise you to stay away from the Thunderer type grips as they are difficult to shoot well because of loss of grip and follow through. The Bisley gripframe is a bit slow out of leather, but offers more control for accuracy. The Vaquero grip can be round butted front and rear and adapted to the bisley trigger(it ain't that hard! Use a dremal cut off wheel and a file if ya don't have a mill) Recrown and recutt the forcing cone to 11degree and polish the forcing cone on the old Ruger. I'm thinking an old flattop with a few mods internal and a STS Vaquero gripframe should do you proud!



Jim March
February 21, 1999, 05:22 AM
I've pondered what's been said so far, done more digging, done some rethinking.

I'm very thankful I found this forum.

First off, I'm not sure I understand what model is referred to as a "flat-top"? Does this mean a traditional-sight version of the Vaquero, or something else? And if "else", does it have a transfer bar safety or does it pre-date Ruger's use of such?

And the .45LC really does make more sense, doesn't it?

On sights: if we grafted a Tritium dot onto the front blade sight and left the rear of the traditional-sight Vaquero alone, would that work well? I gotta go look at how the sight channel is carved on the topstrap of a Vaquero.

On .22 Hornet: oh HELL ya, but...not SASS legal, is it? If the minimum caliber is .31, what about .300Whisper, a semi-wildcat (CorBon loads factory stuff) based on a necked-up .223 that can be loaded subsonic? Would they let *that* slip in? It's the same projectile as 7.62 I *think*? I'll do something like this later, for now let's stay with .45LC.

I like the Thunderer grip for two reasons: it fits my hands REAL well, and makes the whole thing more compact. Yes, I'm crazy enough to CCW an SA in a fanny pack, especially with my 4" barrel .22Mag NAA Mini Master as a backup and "New York Reload". And a 1.5" barrel Freedom Arms .22Mag 4shot ultra-small minirevolver as "front pocket item that the mugger will think is a wallet until it blows up in his face". I shoot so much SA revolver already I *like* 'em.

Let's assume your trigger job w/stock weight is fine. Other stuff I've read says Gunslinger's probably right about that.

The other question is on doing an "accuracy upgrade". I want to stay just under 5" on the barrel, and I know, that's a limiting factor. Should we still swap barrels and get the gap to .002? And if we do, what do we do for a front sight, can we add a Tritium dot at that point?

Also, how much more to get a rock-solid cylinder lockup at full battery? I have a tuned .38snub where if you ease the hammer down while squeezing the trigger full tilt, the cylinder feels "welded to the frame" and the gap is .002. Despite this gun being a '70's Charter Arms Undercover for $150 on the bargain table, it's a SWEET shooter that was clearly tuned up to the max at some point. I shudder to think how a really GOOD gun would respond to such a massage job by a decent gunsmith proficient in the type.

So: Vaquero .45LC+trigger job+Thunderer grip+"accuracy upgrade if needed"+"Front sight if needed"+"lockwork tuneup"=how much for this one gun? Is that a decent recipe?

That and any other info/comments welcome.

Hmmm...for paperwork purposes, it'd be better for me to score the base gun locally (Calif) and ship it off, right? Otherwise we've got the cross-border BS where I have to pay a local FFL to process the papers this end...

Jim March

Jim March
February 21, 1999, 05:32 AM
Re: Flattops...in re-reading, it seems from context these are old non-internal-safety models. While I'm sure they are more accurate, those are out for my needs. If this was "competition only" that'd be valued advice.

I do my own leatherwork, and I'm pretty good at it. I'm actually considering a crossdraw rig with a Kydex core doing the actual retention hidden in hand-tooled leather, and then a cordura nylon "cover" that would snap on and have foam filling so it'd look like a normal hippie fanny pack complete with peace emblems or similar...until you ripped it clean off and a crossdraw "old west style" speedrig was revealed. Man, THAT oughta give a mugger pause for thought.


February 23, 1999, 12:18 AM
Howy Jim,
A hippie bag complete with peace signs ripped away to reveal a single action in a tooled cowboy style rig? Give a would be mugger pause? Something like that may cause him to consider a different source for future income. I can't imagine any ne'er do well risking running across two such crazed people in one life time. Maybe you could rip your "tie died T shirt" off at the same time exposing a bibbed cavalry shirt to really complete the effect!

Seriously. I would recommend either the .45 you mentioned or even the .44 mag..
Go ahead and opt for the new barrel for the accuracy gained. Set, of course, to the previously talked about .002". For serious concealed carry we could barrel it to 3.5" for an additional $72.00 with the matching ejector assembly. I can't really see that the shorter barrel is any less accurate. (Elmer Keith felt that barrel length was relative.) Personally on my S&W's I shot better with the 6" then a 4 or 8.375". I know that it is a matter of partially what I'm accustomed to and primarily pschological. I've seen shooters make shots I would have not thought possible with 2" barrels and I've seen shooters miss easy shoots with 8" barrels.

Modifying the cylinder latch and or latch notchs can become expersive.I can install an over size base pin for $100.00 and it will give a tight lock up and eliminate "end shake" also. That includes the cost of the base pin, installation and a modification I perform on the base pin/latch/spring that will prevent the dreaded 'base pin jump" common on Rugers when using heavy loads. I do share my secret for this modification because it is a personal trick I do that, to the best of my knowledge, no other custom builder is doing.

The Tritium front sight would not be SASS legal. But then neither is the Thunderer grip frame. (YET!). How 'bout serrating the rear portion of the blade on the front sight to give it contrast and make it easier to pick up with the eye. Still not SASS legal but less obvious, equally effective (?) and a whole lot less expensive. (In fact if I was building the gun with all of the other mods I'd simply serrate the sight before installing it on the new barrel. This coupled with the afore mentioned action job for $100.00 she give you about as accurate fixed sight single action as you're likly going to find.

The .300 Whisper (which is a new one on me but sound fun) would still not be SASS legal. But then neither would a true 7.62, which I can building you using and old Ruger Blackhawk .357 maximum base gun. Or if you have some really bad muggers we could opt for a five shot .50 Action Express built on the standard Vaquero/Blackhawk/Bisley frame. One shot with this may cause all of the muggers in the area choose different career paths!

Okay now for cost:

Action Job:................................$100.00
New Barrel (set @ .002")...........$207.50
Base Pin/Fitting/Latch Mods.....$100.00
Serrate Front Sight:........................N/C
Thunderer Grip Frame Conv.......$207.50

Plus $72.00 if choosing the 3.5" barrel, assuming I've kept all of my figures straight. You have to take into account I usually work off of a order form/invoice. Giving an actual price quote for a custom gun in an open forum is a bit unusual to say the least but nonetheless fun.

Yes. Using your local dealer for the purchase of the base gun would be preferable and less expensive then using two deakers. The crime bill (deep discusted growl) does allow an individual to ship a gun under certain provisions.

Well, watta ya' think? Are we getting close to your serious single action yet?


Jim March
February 23, 1999, 03:28 AM
Ya. We're getting DAMN close. OK, a few questions here:

1) I need to know "what to start out with". Standard Ruger Vaquero, right? Stainless or Blue? I've a preference for stainless, does that cause you any extra grief? Any accuracy issues in choosing between, or barrel selection ability? Shortest barrel possible, obviously.

2) Caliber. Here's a thought: how much more is an action job for a Ruger factory equipped with DUAL cylinders, in .45ACP/.45LC? THAT to me seems the right answer; the shorter shells in .45ACP should eject and load faster and there's better availability of cheap practice fodder AND top-grade defense loads. If the gun is factory double-cylinder, can you "dial everything in" for the ACP cylinder and if the LCs are a "bit sloppy" in comparison, it ain't a big loss? The main thing I'd use .45LC for is in +P to get a "near Magnum power level load" for boar hunting, which I've had an itch to try and as long as we don't chop the tube too short it oughta work?

3) Barrel length: Seems to me the bird's head will help with total length and "crossdraw comfort" because less stuff "digs in" when you sit. So...going to 3.5" seems excessive? What's the shortest you can go with a stock ejector setup, 4"? 4.5"? If I'm gonna try a headshot on a hog I better have as much "oomph" as I can possibly pack easily.

4) One last question: how much of the accuracy gains are going to come from the action and trigger job, versus the barrel swap? I *really* want a tight action and good trigger, that'll give me top velocity and "proper feel"...but...I'm concerned that until I personally get VERY familiar with big-bore SAs, the extra little bit of nice that'll come from the barrel will be...hmmm...is "wasted" the word I want?

I'm thinking that can be done in a "later round of mods" which might even include more radical sight work. Does that make any sense?

As to my timing on all this: I'd like to score the base gun fairly soon, as in less than a month (including CA's 10-day wait which is STILL active, dammit). I figure I should shoot it a bit "as is", get a baseline feel for what's going on, make last-minute decisions on a couple of these mods.

Jim March

(Sidenote on stainless: I'm not generally one of these "Y2K freakout types", hell, I'm a computer tech, just did a 5 month contract with a bank. I've got reason not to panic. But...still...see, I grew up with a pop into small boats and screwin' around on coastlines, NorCal area. I *could* feed myself year-round out of the sea, no problem at all. In the woods I'd starve, but I can even handle a 26ft Polynesian rotary throw-net. And on the bare, minimal infintesimal possibility that all that might happen...a stainless defense gun in multiple calibers seems...prudent?)

old biker
February 23, 1999, 03:40 AM
Gunslinger, I just gotta ask how a Belt Mountain base pin went from $25. to $100.?? I tinker with and carry a 3 5/8 Vaquero and was wondering about the two thou barrel gap also. The last dozen Rugers I've seen had the basepin hole off center further than .002. Hmmm, you mentioned the basepin would eliminate endshake??? Musta missed sumpin there. I'll show ya how to get rid of those ugly drag marks from the bolt by changing the timing. Ya gotta TIG the bolt height up to .720 then ya gotta relieve that pin in the hammer some and VOILA! No ring if ya close the gate with the cyl lined on a bolt cut. BTW, all you Rugerholics check yer cyl exit holes!!!



February 23, 1999, 08:41 PM
Howdy Jim,
Personally I prefer the stainless. Especially in your application where it is going to carried regularly (possibly next to the body on occassion where it will be exposed to persperation.) and in a corrosive enviroment to boot. I have barrels available in your choice of carbon steel or stainless so that would be no problem.

Ruger doesn't currently offer the Vaquero in dual calibers. But I do. I can fit a .45 ACP cylinder to a factory .45 LC for $239.80 which includes everything. The action job whould still cost the same and each cylinder will "dial in" and shoot equally well. The Ruger is capable of digesting the trendy .45 LC +P loads with aplomb. In fact the full magnum loads are exceptable per current reloading manuals.
The dual caliber set up should perform extremely well in those cases where a person finds themselves under attack by a mugger using a trained boar as a back up.

The standard 4.625" barrel is the shortest that can be used with the stock legnth ejector assembly The greatest accuracy improvments would be acheived from the other modifications with the gains from the new barrel being minimal. I'd recommend sticking with the factory barrel, saving the money and switching later if needed/wanted.

I think all of your ideas are sound and that the over all gun is starting to come together nicely.

Old Biker.
The base pin does not cost $100. The base pin and required installation does cost $100. Much like the Bisley trigger discussed earlier in this thread it is doable, it isn't that big a job, but it does take time to fit.

The .002" barrel gap we are discussing is the barrel/cylinder gap as measured between the forcing cone (portion of barrel that extends inside the main frame) and the cylinder face. Which, of course, has nothing to do with the base pin and/or base pin hole located in the forward section of the frame.

"End shake" is a common industry term used to describe the slight side to side movement of the cylinder face when in full battery. The "ugly drag marks" you refer to are not related to the base pin or "end shake". This condition is caused by the cylinder latch (or bolt as it is referred to on Colts.) and can be easily corrected is desireable. However the mere fact that the latch (bolt) leaves a line does not necessarily have an adverse affect on accuracy.

As I stated in my last post it is a bit unusual to a price quote for a custom gun in an open forum.
You are viewing the issue from the perspective of a hobbiest who does much of his own work, which is commendable. However I, being in business and after having built custom guns for over twentfive years, see things from a business approach. Custom work takes time and time, of course, cost money. Don't get me wrong. This is fun and a change of pace from exchanging options and price quotes via private e-mail. Many of the features found on factory guns today originated from "hobbiest" just like your self.


Jim March
February 24, 1999, 01:26 AM
Ah. Well...if the cost of a 2nd cylinder and a custom barrel is close to the same (and no, I'm not quibbling about $30ish bux) then stock barrel seems like the way to go.

Plus dual cylinders gives me a "Clint Eastwood style" reload, right?


Now...lesse here. There's just one more possible question/issue: the rear sights.

I got a chance to fondle some Vaqueros at a gun show this weekend. The "channel sights" just...well, they ain't exactly a turn-on. As I write, I'm examining my Single Six...there's a "crossways hinge pin" at the front of the rear sight, which in total is about an inch long. It *looks* like the Blackhawks take the same sight - first question, IS it exactly the same factory adjustable rear sight?

If it is...it looks like the rear sight could be removed completely, the area of the topstrap that's "squared off" where it meets the windage-adjustable portion of the stock sight could be "rounded off" and then a groove for a 1911-style rear sight could be milled into the two "raised bits" that form the channel either side of the stock rear sight. Would it look a bit strange? Maybe...unless you solder-filled-in the whole channel where the rear sight used to be. Better yet, that would mean you wouldn't even have to mill female dovetails in, just cutaways where the new rear sight would "drop in" to the appropriate height, you'd then fill the channel with solder (or brazing?) which would "grab" the male dovetail portion of the 1911 sight that's "hanging free in the middle". The end result would be a two-dot rear fixed combat sight that's "forward of the stock position" by 3/4ths of an inch or so - like that damn Casull.

And yes, I know, we just added big bux just on that rear sight alone.


What if I started with model BN44X? See also:
This thing is list $405 with *both* cylinders and the shorter factory barrel. Unfortunately *none* of the stainless Vaqueros start out at 4&5/8ths, and the only factory double-cylinder pieces are blue. And...hmmm, I *do* take care of my pieces, stainless isn't 100% necessary. Figure I can pick up that model double-cylinder for $350 or so (and that's the average street knock-off for SA Rugers in my parts). Add in:

Action Job:.....................$100.00

Base Pin/Fitting/Latch Mods.....$100.00

Thunderer Grip..................$207.50

Rear sight frame mods:..........??????? (NOTE: after re-radiusing the rear topstrap that'd have to be re-blued, right? Or can we use a blue touch-up pen, given that this area doesn't see much holster wear? Is there another solution?)

Rear Tritium 1911-style or similar two-dot sights: about $100?

Extra cost on action job for tuning a second factory cylinder: I assume this is needed, if so it's a reasonable addition...???????

Now...at THIS point I've real, no-BS *sights* - along with painting the front blade orange they'll work *great*.

OK, so it's blue...but the barrel length will be right.

Last thing, is the regular Blackhawk a good gun? I notice it's *NOT* available in .44Mag, is that an indication of weakness?

Sight. Ya, I know, this is getting nuts and I'm a detail freak. Bear with me here, ok? 'Cuz I really am serious...

Jim March

El Chimango Pete
February 24, 1999, 06:52 AM
It did seem that this thread was leading up to something very similar to a finely tuned and partly rebuilt Balckhawk. It would do in 45LC even a high pressure load in the same - Now, what about the Blackhawk in 44 mag? (have wondered about that. Perhaps the 44 wasn't as fashionable when this Ruger was introduced (before Dirty Harry :) ). It has been .30 Carbine, 357 and 9mm convertible, 45 and 45 Auto conv., 41 Mag and of course 44.40 - i think.

El Chimango Pete
February 24, 1999, 07:10 AM
(Aftethought: i.e. i looked it up!) there is a "Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk" in 44 mag. - has been since 73; from 5.5 all the way to 10.5" (bull) barrel!! Now thats a gun - not for CCW mind.

March 1, 1999, 08:27 PM
Note to readers:
For the sake of brevity on this forum Jim and I have been discussing the various sight options off list. We'll let you know once we have narrowed the choices down. In the mean time we will continue discussing the other aspects of the custom gun here and welcome any other observations, thoughts, suggestions, comments, etc.

The factory .45LC/ACP convertable would definately be the most cost effective. I don't understand why Ruger doesn't offer this option on the Vaquero. But then Ruger does a lot of things that I don't understand. Touch up blueing may work and would at least be worth trying before putting the cost of a new blue job into it. Once we've sorted out some more of the details I'll give you a quote for a complete reblue IF it is needed. Then after the sight work is done we'll try the touch up blue first to see what kind of results we get before making a final decision.

The cost for the action job and required fine tuning will be the same with both cylinders with no additional expense. The greatest portion of the time (expense) in doing the action job is in the action itself. The factory cylinders will, as a rule, require little work in adjusting timing.

The Blackhawk and Super Blackhawk are essentually the same gun with no difference regarding strength. The Super Blackhawk offers a few added barrel lengths, trigger/hammer styles and sight options not available from the factory on the standard Blackhawk. The real difference lies in the grip frame.In an attempt to give the shooter a firmer grasp on the gun the Super Blackhawk grip frame is longer, extending further down to allow more of the shooters hand on the grip. The Super Blackhawk grip frames, which do interchange with the standard Blackhawk, are immediately recognizable due to the "square back" trigger gaurd.

Elchimango where's your sense of adventure? The 10.5" not for CCW. I've been thinking about having Jim buld me a custom ankle holster for my 10.5"! Or how 'bout an inside the waiste band rig? Hey cowboy, is that gun or are you just real happy to see me.
I've built two Vaqueros in five shot .50AE with 3.5" barrels. Very concealable but not for the faint of heart.


Jim March
March 2, 1999, 04:19 AM
OK, besides the sights, there's one very strange little option I'd like opinions on:

On my Single Six, I have at times stored it unloaded on a high shelf, cylinders removed and empty, with the cylinder pin stuck "barely in" and the loading gate open. I can grab gun and cylinder, throw it in, slap the pin home and be in "firing state" in a pretty big hurry.

But in practicing "fast cylinder swaps" between the LR and Magnum, pulling the cylinder pin forward enough to drop the cylinder invariably resulted in it "coming all the way out". It's too "tricky" to get it to stay in far enough that it can be rammed home again without pushing the button.

So: what if you put the cylinder pin on a lathe and spun a small "dimple" in it for the pin release button to "rest in" just before the pin is completely out? In other words, the reload drill on a cylinder swap would be to push the button, pull the pin until it "catches", swap cylinders, then slap the pin home without having to touch the release button again? I'm thinking a "dimple" all the way around of mebbe 1mm depth, 2 - 3mm width oughta be enough to "catch" short of dropping without weakening the pin or significantly reducing the bearing surface.

Does this fall under the general category of "nuts", or "cool"?

http://www.bladeforums.com/images/upload/ferret.jpg FERRET SMILEY ALERT!

Jim March

March 2, 1999, 11:54 AM
Would this be only for the initial loading or for reloading after emptying the first cylinder?

If for initial loading only, why don't you just use a piece of scotch tape to hold the pin in place until needed?

If for a speed reload, I don't think that would be enough, unless you built a fine tuned muscle memory to stop at that "dimple" every time. Would it be detrimental to the strength of the frame and be cost-effective to have a small hole drilled from the underside, fitted with a detent ball and spring that would be held in place by the triggerguard? This detent ball would be captured by the groove in the pin and with a little more "pull" would still be able to be completely pulled out of the frame.

March 2, 1999, 12:01 PM
Another thought just came (I see a light bulb above my head)!!
Is there an aftermarket steel pin for the Single Six or is the pin the same diameter as a Blackhawk pin? I know that there are aftermarket steel pins for the Vaquero/Blackhawk series. I don't know if it would be advisable to turn down the factory pin (alloy?). With the steel pin there should be no problem turning it down, I would think, as long as it's not turned down where it engages the rear face/bushing.

Jim March
March 2, 1999, 03:12 PM
"Would this be only for the initial loading or for reloading after emptying the first cylinder?"

The latter. If the first cylinder is .45LC and the 2nd is ACP, it'd be best I think...because being shorter, ACP should be faster to reload in the regular manner.

The idea of "experimenting like this" on an aftermarket pin is a good one. But...as I see it, if the dimple was carved "just right" the crossways release button would be the perfect detent as it, with no need to add a ball detent?

Here's another weird concept: would it be possible to take a cheap 1911 magazine and radically alter it via cutouts so it's easy to eject one round at a time with your thumb? Load it with six rounds, you've got a "speedloader for a .45ACP SAA"? You could even score a high-cap mag, use it for two or more 6rd reloads?

This would probably get you chucked out of a SASS match in a hurry for being "grossly non-period" but...hmmm...interesting concept.

Jim March

March 3, 1999, 12:07 PM
Don't see why the mag idea wouldn't work. You'd probably want to change the feed lips, possibly cut or bend down the front end a bit and round off a ramp so the bullets can positively feed, maybe change to a lighter mag spring so ejection/feeding isn't so positive.
Or maybe the lighter spring would be all you would need!

March 3, 1999, 04:17 PM
I agree with fal. I can't see any reason why the magazine idea wouldn't work.
You may have a whole new concept there. Single actions are becoming more common among shooters for concealed carry. If you could perfect the device there may exist a market for it. It wouldn't be SASS legal but I suspect that several SASS shooters have double duty single actions that also serve as their ccw. I like it.

While your thinking of good tactical ways to reload I have a bit of info that may help. On the 4 5/8" Rugers the base pin can not be pushed far enough forward for the pin to removed with the ejector assembly in place. Thus eliminating any danger of it falling while doing a fast cylinder swap. However the cylinders can be changed with all parts attached. Once the back up cylinder is in place the ejector rod can be used to push the base pin back into its locked position. The base pin release must still be depressed but using the ejector rod head is faster then using the base pin itself. I played around with one the other night and with a little practise this could be done quite quickly.
During my career as a police officer I saw plenty of shooters that even when given the most modern weapons still couldn't facilitate a rapid reload. Some officers practised, some didn't. I'd rather have a well practised officer armed with a percussion revolver back me up then a lazy (unpractised) officer with a 17 shot auto. The bottom line is: who goes home after the smoke has cleared. Sorry, I digress. But my point being that armed with the gun we're "building" here a person dedicated to protecting themselves would have a pretty good chance of being the one going home after. And in spite of the fact that I haven't actually shot with most of you I feel that siding with anyone on this forum would be a good bet in a gunfight. In Jims case between the Ruger, NAA mini and knife the BG's chance are slim at best. And if all of those failed I suspect that Jim wouldn't be reluctant to engage our nere-do-well with a rock if one were convenient. (And fal if we get a chance to shoot together in OKC I suspect I'll see some creative armament there as well.)

I'm toying with a light duty spring placed between the main frame and base pin head in an attempt to speed the cylinder swap. So far the results are poor but I'll let ya' all know if it becomes practicle. If any of ya' all want to give it a try I'd be interested to hear what your results are to.

I'm still working on your sight options. Give me a post, either here or direct, to let me know if you're leaning in any one direction.
I've also got a couple of barrel ideas to improve accuracy that I want to discuss with you. I'll e-mail you direct to toss them around before we take up space here.


Jim March
March 4, 1999, 01:57 AM
Cool, so modifying the pin to avoid the "drop free" like on my Single Six is a non-issue.

As for the magazine speedloaders, all you've have to do is a few dremel mods. It wouldn't be economically viable to do it to a *good* over-10-rd mag of any sort, but one of them cheap 15rd 1911 long single-columns might be worth looking at.

Or just go with 7rd cheap types, load 'em 6-up. Good news is you could carry 'em in any aftermarket clipholder.

You could use Desert Eagle mags for .44Mag and .357, but...I don't see how to pull this trick in .45LC very easily. Maybe stretch the feed lips on a .44Mag clip?

Once I've got the gun I'll hack up a couple of cheap 1911 mags, see what happens.

Sights: I got a chance to handle a Super Blackhawk in .44Mag and adjustable sights. DEFINATELY the same rear sight as my Single Six. SO: is there any way to "shorten" the standard sight by lopping off the rear "overhang" part, graft a combat sight onto the arse end of that just *barely* rearward of the vertical adjust screw and setting it up so you retain use of that screw? That would get it at least a bit further forward, less interference with "fast hammer grabs" with strong thumb OR weak hand, and be the least "hacking on the gun". Or perhaps mount the sight addition to the *front* of the vertical adjust screw? You wouldn't get a whole lot of travel but you could still make fine adjustments?

Jim March

Jim March
March 4, 1999, 02:02 AM
One more thing: that Super Blackhawk had a hammer radically different from the Vaquero. More "modern", with a wide thumb pad, a bit lower but not quite like a Bisley. Is that same hammer standard on a Blackhawk? If so I might end up starting out with that...it may be low enough (versus my Single Six which appears to be identical to Vaquero?).

And if I'm all outta ammo and no more knives, I fart at 'em :D.

Jim March

March 4, 1999, 12:22 PM
On the mag idea for 45 LC. The 45 Win magnum and the 50 AE are both close. From the Accurate loading guide (only manual I have that lists all three);
45 LC case dia=.480 case length=1.285 oal=1.600
45 Win mag case dia=.473 case length=1.198 oal=1.575
50 AE case dia=.540 case length=1.285 oal=1.610
Don't know cost or availability of these. Maybe Promag, Mecgar, Triple K, USA ? There's always browsing through the clearance bins at gunshows and in gunshops also.
BTW Gunslinger, haven't heard back from my buddy in OKC yet. Sometimes he's out of town weeks at a time. You going to be shooting at Columbia at all or are there any Saturday matches down your way?

[This message has been edited by fal308 (edited March 04, 1999).]

March 10, 1999, 10:48 PM

Your idea of using a magazine as a speed loader for reminded me of something I saw in a Thad Rybka (holster maker) catalog a number of years ago (late-80's, I think). In a picture showing one of his cross-draw rigs for a SA he was wearing a 45 ACP mag/mag carrier on his strong side. The accompanying verbage mentioned he used the 45 ACP mag as a speedloader. He's still around somewhere in Alabama. So your idea is definitely doable.


March 10, 1999, 11:18 PM

I've seen several articles in magazines where different people have had Ruger Bisley's built in stainless. Since Ruger doesn't make a stainless Bisley (at least not with adj. sights and unfluted cylinder), how did their gunsmiths accomplish this? Can you get all these Bisley parts in stainless? This would seem like the basis for a great pistol (44 mag, 4 3/4 - 5" bbl, rounded "gunfighter" grips, express sights) for bear country. Or for concealed carry in the city, for that matter.


Bucks Owin
December 21, 2005, 06:45 PM

HERE is a Ruger Flattop. This particular specimen is my 1960 .44 mag with 10" barrel. Flattops were the FIRST Ruger centerfire revolvers. The .44s were built from 1956 to 1962 and numbered 29,000 units. Most all were 6.5" but rarely you'll find one in 10" or 7.5" They are the predecessor of the 3 screw "Old Model"...



BTW, the .357 Blackhawk Flattop came out in 1955 and is built on a smaller frame than the .44 mag....

March 26, 2006, 01:54 PM
IMNSHO, you can't turn a Ruger into a Freedom Arms.

The tolerances of a FA revolver can make a machinist get a woody, and the line boring of the cylinder makes each chamber very accurate, and consistent.

The FA grip frame is not an SAA and not a Bisley, but something in between. I've shot hundreds of single actions, and the FA 97 is my all time favorite.