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Thread: Ruger Blackhawk Convertibles

  1. #1
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    Ruger Blackhawk Convertibles

    Oh my. I've been so turned on lately to big bore stuff with my 44 SPL that I started to pay attention to Blackhawks.

    This thing looks pretty neat to me.

    It has what I like in a Blackhawk...the Bisley Grip, stainless, and a barrel greater than 5" long in a cartridge that is Indiana deer-legal. I'v never had any forty-five anything before, but if it handloads anything like 44 SPL, it should be great...probably better.

    I wanted to know what people thought of the quality of these new Blackhawks. What are the throats like? Are the barrels good? Nasty constrictions? How do they shoot? Trigger quality?

    I also wanted to know if the convertible feature works well. I don't have anything in 45 ACP so I would probably not bother with it. Are the barrels on these .452 or .454? Would these work with 45 Auto Rim?

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master


    Larry Gibson's Avatar
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    Groove diameter on barrels should be .451 +/-.

    A rimmed case is not needed with 45 ACP SA conversion cylinders as the cartridge headspaces on the case mouth and are ejected with the ejector rod. 45 AR cases have a very thick rim to take up the space of the 45 ACP rim + the half or full moon clip. If you want a rimmed cartridge then the 45 Cowboy (sometimes called the 45 American) that is used in SASS competition in SAAs with 45 ACP cylinders. Starline makes the cases. I've had several SAA's and Ruger SA's with the 45 ACP cylinders and they shoot 45 ACP loads just fine. Some, with the Ruger SA, want to use heavier loads with the 45 ACP cylinder and think a crimp is necessary. In my own opinion … why? For heavier loads use the 45 Colt cartridge in the 45 Colt cylinder.....

    My Uberti Cimmaron "Evil Roy" has a 45 ACP conversion cylinder and I shoot a lot of my standard 45 ACP load through it [200 or 230 gr cast over 5 gr Bullseye] with excellent accuracy.
    Larry Gibson

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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    That is very nice , mine shoots great with both cylinders. And I am wishing it had the Bisley grip.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    You asked so I’ll tell you my experience with a hardly used copy of that gun (SS Bisley 45acp/45Colt 5.5”).
    First firing of the 45 Colt cylinder one chamber trapped the brass. The front of the chamber was about 0.002” larger than the back. Figured that was it was on consignment. 45acp cylinder ran fine.

    B/C gap 0.009” either cylinder.
    Groove diameter 0.452” some chatter marks but good enough barrel.
    Forcing cone rough.
    45acp cylinder throats 0.451”-0.452”.
    45. Colt. cylinder throats 0.451”-0.453”.

    To get happy, I recut the forcing cone (Brownells 11 degree kit), recut all chambers in 45 Colt cylinder with chamber finishing reamer, reamed throats in 45. Colt cylinder to 0.454” and honed throats and chambers with Flexihone. Left the 45acp cylinder alone. Shortened the sear engagement to minimal trigger creep, reshaped trigger return spring to lighten pull, shimmed the hammer to keep it from dragging the frame before hitting the firing pin, shimmed the rear sight to remove windage wobble.

    Now it runs fine.

    I don’t think I like the Bisley grip frame. This is my first. It’s a real big gun. Heavy too. Would be a good thing for heavy loading to near Casull power. It’s way to much gun for the little 45acp case.

    I’ve had several recent Rugers and now come to look on them as revolver kits you have to finish yourself.
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  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master



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    I have been extremely happy with my SS Ruger Bisley .45 ACP/.45 Colt Convertible. When first purchased, it had .450" throats and leaded like crazy. I couldn't even chamber my .45 ACP cast bullet .452" loads in the ACP cylinder. However, after I reamed the cylinder throats to .4525", it shoots under an inch at 25 yards with both cylinders and a variety of loads. It's near perfect as a "Mild to Wild" Field piece. I must admit that most of what I shoot with it is the .45 ACP cylinder and 4.0 grs. of Bullseye or equivalent behind a 200 gr. H&G #68 SWC (my version is from a Mihec mold).

    Altogether, a VERY satisfying combination!

    FWIW
    Dale53

  6. #6
    Boolit Man
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    I love my New Blackhawk 45 Colt! As others mentioned, throats will likely need reamed to 0.4525". I smooth the action and adjust trigger springs on all my Blackhawks to get them to a trigger feel that is right for me. I also open the forcing cones to 11 degrees. All of this is not hard to do, but that type of work is not for some. The forcing cone doesn't necessarily have to be done and the 45 Colt will shoot pretty well without it.

    As to the convertible, most find they will shoot one or the other and one cylinder gets very little use. It's an easy swap, one cylinder out the other in. I think people just get set with which ever they like and shoot it. I have a convertible 357/9mm and if I were to do it over again I'd just get the 357 mag. I never shoot the 9mm so it just doesn't seem worth the extra cash.

    The Bisley grip is a matter of hand fit and preference. Some people love it some hate it. Not much in between.

    Did I mention I love the 45 Colt? It is a great cartridge you can load about any way you like and that model Ruger can handle hot loads.

    You also mention that you are just starting to like the Blackhawks. Fair warning! I started with the 45 Colt. Now have a 44 Mag, 357/9mm, 41 Mag, and a 480 Ruger. I've got my eye on a few more.

  7. #7
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    Fit and finish of the medium framed Rugers is second to none, they are as good as anything Ruger has ever done imho. Lawyer warning was moved to the bottom, thread choke is virtually nonexistent in the examples that have come through my shop. So good in fact, I had to have one!!

    Smaller, lighter, easier packing than their full size predecessors, the 45s are safely rated to 45 ACP+P pressure, 23,000psi, and are not safe with the 30,000psi Ruger Only loads in published manuals.

    Now.. The link the OP posted takes you to a full sized Blackhawk, which IS safe with the Ruger Only 30kpsi loads and a good deal heavier and beefier than the medium frame guns. I think you would have to examine these one on one to discover any thread choke, patch a cleaning jag tightly into the bore and see how much effort it takes to keep it moving toward the frame, any change in resistance correlates to a change in bore diameter. If it doesn't change at all at the barrel/frame juncture, there is no choke, if it tightens slightly there is a bit of choke, if it stops completely the choke is severe and with a stainless gun, nearly impossible to firelap the choke out of it without excessively lapping the rest of the rifling.

    They all could benefit from a nicely recut forcing cone, throats can be anyone's guess and I wager very few will actually allow a .452" boolit to fit through the throats without excessive pressure. They all could benefit from throats honed to .4525" simple enough, one time fix, affordable. I do recommend the Wolff 30oz. trigger return spring which you can get from Brownell's or Midway, I get a lot of hammers sent along with cylinders to reduce the creep and this is another one time fix, again affordable, it will remove most if not all of the creep from the trigger.

    So, hone cylinder throats, recut forcing cone, reduce hammer pad, and swap in 30oz. trigger return spring. These 4 things will take the new model Vaquero or new model Blackhawk as close to a custom gun as you can get for the bucks spent and this is money well spent on one of these, every shot fired afterwards will be reaping the rewards of such a modest investment.
    Last edited by DougGuy; 05-19-2020 at 10:38 PM.
    Got a .22 .30 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throat reaming? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Shoot me a PM! Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cylinderhone-756429174391912/

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I had a .45 Colt BH convertible many years ago. It was very accurate with .45Colt loads, ok with .45 acp.

    Since I also had two 1911's (NM model and Commander) back then, I used the .45acp in them and .45Colt in the Ruger.

    The only reason I had for using the .45acp cylinder was if I was stuck without any .45Colt ammo, which was never the case for me. When I sold it, the .45 cylinder had less than a box of ammo fired through it. Most of the time I fired heavy (Ruger only) .45Colt loads.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master Harter66's Avatar
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    I had a Bicentennial BlackHawk in Colts and spent several months passively searching for an ACP cylinder . I did get one but it ended up being short . The second was just take the bluing off the nose boss too long , perfect fit . The ACP cyls were .4525 throats and correct headspace . The Colts cylinder ran .451-.454 throats in pairs , the chambers were great . Matched up I shot 5" groups for 6 shots at 50 yd pretty regular which was good enough for me leaning off hand . I could manage 3" sometimes with the APC cyl that was fitted . The groove was .451 with little if any choke .

    Eventually I got the short cyl done in 45 Schofield using the head space control to off set the short . It shot equally well to the ACP .

    Seems like the ACP was flush on the cyl face .
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  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    I have one of the distributor exclusive stainless 5.5" .45 Convertible flattops, although mine is a plowhandle grip rather than a Bisley. I traded for mine used, and I got someone else's problem child. The .45 Colt cylinder had two different diameter chamber throats; the .45 ACP cylinder had three. The barrel had a thread constriction, and it had transfer bar pinch. Once I corrected all of that, it responded quite well and now shoots around 2" at 25 yards.

    I hear of people receiving flattop .45s with perfect chamber throats and no thread constriction from time to time, but I am not convinced that Ruger has gotten past those two issues.
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  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    Just started with a Stainless Flattop 45 convertible. Had Doug hone the throats, recut the forcing cone and bent the trigger return spring to lighten the pull somewhat. Still need to take some off the hammer pad and shim it away from hitting the frame on the left side.
    One problem I'm not sure on is after firing if you open the loading gate, most times the cylinder is locked up. Bang on the top strap with the heal of the hand and it comes free. At first I thought the case was backing out and hanging on something. Got it into a good light and could see daylight so that wasn't it. Thinking now it might be the pawl sticking out into the ratchet. I've cleaned the slot and lubed but hasn't changed anything.
    Another problem is thread choke. A real tight patch on the jag moves down the barrel fairly easy after getting started, finds a loose spot just in front of the frame, and then gets pretty tight at the frame. Having some leading with 900 fps loads with PC'd bullets.
    Guess it's another of the "kit" guns.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy

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    My .45 convertible is a first year production, 71 or 72, I think. I had the cyl. for the .45 Colt honed to .4525. Shoots fine. I am a sucker for conversion units, etc. So I love it. I load the RCBS 270 gr.
    Boolits with a stiff charge of 2400, for hunting (pigs, deer, etc). The new ones I have handled, seem well made, and finished. FWIW.
    John

  13. #13
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    Pressman's Avatar
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    A Blackhawk 45 Colt is on my need to get list, I have several hundred rounds of reloads to use up. Problem is they are selling for $900-$1000 in this part of Minnesota.
    357 and 44's are going for half that.
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  14. #14
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    I’ve had several recent Rugers and now come to look on them as revolver kits you have to finish yourself.
    This is what I feared. Every Ruger I've ever had has been a pile of BS like this. Every S&W I've owned only needed clean/lubricate, maybe a spring kit, and grips that I like. No shimming every part, no messing with sights, no reaming throats, not re-cutting forcing cones.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by curioushooter View Post
    This is what I feared. Every Ruger I've ever had has been a pile of BS like this. Every S&W I've owned only needed clean/lubricate, maybe a spring kit, and grips that I like. No shimming every part, no messing with sights, no reaming throats, not re-cutting forcing cones.
    Thank God Ruger didn't take out too much metal. They COULD have made them one size fits all then where would we be?

    Ok, first rule of gun making (for commercial manufacturers) dictates that they have to make guns that shoot factory SAAMI spec ammunition. We handloaders use bigger boolits in nearly EVERY caliber. It's not on the gun industry to cater to our needs so quit blaming them. S&W does really good on cylinders for factory j words. They are priced accordingly. For shooting cast, S&W cylinders can benefit from fine tuning the throat diameters to the boolits WE want to use, and once done, they respond in like kind. Rather gratifying if you ask me.

    If you want to pay another $400 to $600 more for a Ruger revolver that leaves the factory with everything spec'd out be my guest. It's not like they wouldn't take us up on it if we so demanded. I rather like the choice myself, and I am SURE many of my clients do as well. Size a 32 cylinder to .3115" .3125" .3135" size a 44 cylinder to .4305" .4315" .4325" take a little creep out of that trigger? Look at the choices we have! WE have it MADE pardner, whether you think so or not!
    Got a .22 .30 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throat reaming? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Shoot me a PM! Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cylinderhone-756429174391912/

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    Convertible from Williams Shooter Supply. N M Bisley SS 5.5”. 45C-45ACP. Purchased new 2011. Had both cylinder throats opened to .4525, Taylor throated and action job. The 45 ACP cylinder was modified to accept 45 Auto Rim cases Did a considerable amount of cast bullet testing in a Ransom Rest. Shoots very well at 50 yards. It’s my favorite S. A.
    Rick

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have one of the Lipsey's Flattops stainless .45 Colt/ .45ACP convertibles that is one of the most satisfying handguns that I have-- especially the .45 Colt chambering.
    Mine likes the RCBS 270 grain cast and is probably the best finished/fitted Ruger that I own. I also have a 10mm/.40 S&W stainless Blackhawk that Doug "massaged"
    and agree with what he posted above. Now if I can just find a flattop stainless in .44 spl I'll stop buying the damn things! Best2All, Stan.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    Bought a BH 4-5/8 .45 Colt back in the 1990's during the time when convertibles (extra ACP cylinder) had been discontinued. Also picked up a BH Bisley in 7-1/2" in .45 Colt a few years later. Both shot ok with my cast reloads but nothing to brag about.

    Later when Ruger brought the convertibles back, I sent my 4-3/4" BH back to factory and had ACP cylinder fitted. To my surprise, it turned out to also fit the Bisley. Unfortunately, the cylinder throats on the ACP cylinder wouldn't chamber a .452 boolit. All 3 cylinders made a trip to 'Cylindersmith' and were reamed to .4525.

    Best money I ever spent. Both guns now shoot. .45 Colt very well and the Bisley shoots the target ACP loads better than my Smith 25.

    Steve

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I did not mention it but my 45 convertible is a flattop. I have had 2 standard new model black hawks an do think the flat top is fitted a little better. Mine shot good stock but I have also added springs and shims and fire lapped it I did have thread choke .
    You can make Rugers better than the way they come , but as DougGuy pointed out they are well worth what they cost.....I don't think there are many of us here that can resist messin with stuff to make it better.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    I don't consider myself more or less lucky than anyone else. I'm an average shooter, with average skills.

    I've owned 4 S&W revolvers, all have needed work, and the one I still have needs continued work tightening screws, endshake bearings, etc.

    I lost count of the Ruger's. I'm somewhere between 12 and 15. I had an LCR that shot a little to the right, which they fixed. I have an Old Army (built in 1981) that doesn't set off caps, and it may just be the caps. Other than that, Ruger has been spot on. No bore constrictions, very useable throats not too large or small, no forcing cone problems, and they shoot. Every one of them, with the exception of the LCR, will out shoot the S&W model 57 (which shoots well to begin with). I have a super Blackhawk waiting for me, and I'm guessing that will make another perfect Ruger. And the best part is, they hold up. I must have 3000 to 4000 rounds of strong 327 federal ammo through my GP100. It hasn't loosened up in the slightest.

    I know I'm a small sample, but as a whole on this board I've seen that Ruger is on the top of their game right now.

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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
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GC Gas Check