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A product of 1960s experimentation, the carbine caliber Ruger Blackhawk is almost unknown in the gun world. This does not mean, however, that is unloved. On the contrary, these hard-hitting long barreled wheelguns are a very interesting niche carved out for them.

The Blackhawk story

In the 1950s, the most popular television shows were almost all based in the Old West. Sure, they were mostly fictional accounts of an age that was romanticized, but a hit nonetheless. Little boys ran around with cowboy hats and Red Ryder BB guns. Older boys scoured dusty cases in their local hardware stores looking for Colt Single Action .45 revolvers. This is when Bill Ruger decided to take the then-public domain Colt, which was long out of production, and rework it. He added adjustable sights, used wire coil springs instead of the Colt's original flat leaf springs, and introduced modern production practices to the old the vintage gun to come up with the Blackhawk in 1955. Chambered in .357/38 it was a more modern take on the famous old gun.

By 1962, Ruger had improved the design and added an option to chamber the gun in .41 Magnum. Then in 1967, they added a new caliber to the line that seemed almost as odd then as now.

View attachment 10938

Why .30 Cal Carbine?

A product of the famous M1 Carbine of World War Two, the .30 Cal carbine was a rimless version of the old .32 Winchester Self-Loading cartridge of 1906. Longer than a pistol round but shorter than a rifle round, the .30 Cal used rifle primers under a smokeless powder load to send a 110-grain bullet out of the barrel at a respectable 1990fps. This gave it an energy downrange of almost 1000 ft. lbs-- twice that of a .357 Magnum yet still much less than comparable rifle rounds.

View attachment 10942

This little bullet was perfect for use in the handy 6-pound M1 Carbine and its M2 select-fire cousin, seeing much service in WWII, Korea and into Vietnam. By the mid-1960s, surplus M1 Carbines were being sold for bargain basement prices in every shop across the country. Likewise, the market was flooded by spam cans of surplus .30 Cal ammo. Soon the old warbaby was being used to take deer and medium sized game across the country by bargain minded hunters. With the ready availability of the round, and the high numbers of former servicemen (remember there was a draft then), Bill Ruger decided to match the old bullet with his new revolver.

In the Blackhawk, fitted with a standard 7.5-inch barrel for the caliber, the .30 Carbine is very loud, but makes taking game such as small deer at to football field ranges possible. The combination of a light bullet, a heavy revolver, and a long barrel makes recoil much less than would be imagined.

Getting your own

Here is where it gets interesting. You see Ruger has been off and on for the .30 Cal Blackhawk for the past 40+ years. The first models were the old-school Blackhawk series commonly called "Three Screw" Rugers today. The .30 caliber option did not come to the line until 1967 and all of the 32,985 made until 1973 were blued and had either varnished walnut or black rubber grips and a 7.5-inch barrel to help stabilize the carbine round.

View attachment 10940
(Old Model Blackhawks will simply say 'Blackhawk' like the above image)

These guns, although they make up only about 10% of Blackhawks made during that time are not currently considered to have collector's interest. While uber cool, they can be had for around $900 on the used gun market, much less, if they are well worn or have been relied or modified but still workable.

View attachment 10941

(This is different on New Model Blackhawks)

In 1973, Ruger rebuilt their single-action gun designs to incorporate two steel pins that insert through the frame as well as a transfer bar for added safety. These "New Model Blackhawks" do not have that famous Colt triple-click when the hammer is pulled back but are arguably safer to use. When these new guns came out, Ruger started accepting old model three-screw Blackhawks back to the factory for retrofitting so check your old pre-73 gun for this rework.
The new line continued making the .30 caliber variant, starting with serial number range 51-00001, in 1973.

View attachment 10939

Like the older guns, these too were all 7.5-inch barrel models. Dropped briefly in the 1990s for a couple years, this variant is still in limited production from Sturm, Ruger and continues in their catalog. MSRP on new guns is around $600 while used examples hover around $400-500.

Specs current production model

View attachment 10943

Ruger Model Number 505
  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Finish: Blued
  • Front Sight: Ramp
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable
  • Barrel Length: 7.50"
  • Overall Length: 13.38"
  • Weight: 46.00 oz.
  • Grips: Black Checkered Hard Rubber
  • Twist: 1:" RH
  • Grip Frame: Aluminum
  • Capacity: 6
  • Grooves: 6
  • MA Approved & Certified: Yes
  • CA Approved: N/A
  • Suggested Retail: $609.00

Although the New Blackhawk series has no less than 27 variations including Bisley grips, stainless models, and different barrel lengths, the sole .30 Carbine model is basically unchanged from 1967.

We guess they never had reason to change it.

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I owned one of these years ago in a 3-screw frame. Yes, the muzzle blast was loud and the flame from the barrel was bright. It was accurate and a cool Ruger. Wish I still had it.

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I guess I need to get mine out and put a few rounds through it. I have owned mine for probably 15 years and have never shot it. I am really into hand cannons right now.
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