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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone,
      I'm still pondering the purchase of a revolver and I have another question for those who are experienced in this area. I want a revolver to carry while hiking and camping, but I can't quite decide what to get. I am leaning toward a .41 or .44 mag in a single action Ruger. Size and weight are big considerations, so I am leaning toward a 4 5/8" barrel, but the local dealer implied that the muzzle blast would be severe enough to discourage good shooting. What do you fellows think? For the record, I am an experienced rifleman (about 30 yrs now) but pretty much a newcomer to handguns. I have fired them, but not a lot. I have shot a 7 1/2" Super Blackhawk and that was manageable, but not really enjoyable (maybe I'm a handgun wimp!).  How much worse is a 4 5/8" barrel? Thanks for your help!   ID :biggrin:
 

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"Bad Joke Friday" Dan (moderator emeritus)
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IDShooter,

Response from a .44mag shooter.

I just came back for shooting 50 rounds (max. load H110) with my 5 1/2" Bisley Blackhawk and 50 rounds (same load) from my 7 1/2 Super Blackhawk -- and I really had to think about how to accurately answer your question.  Upon reflection I'd say the 5 1/2" Blackhawk might be 10% more noticeable recoil.  Please note that I referenced the use of the Bisley (type of grip) which is noted for reducing felt recoil.  Assuming that you will reload,  I would think you could satisfy your requirements with less than max. loads. For some folks, max. loads take a little getting used to, and maybe never become enjoyable -- but again, you do have a wide range of loads that should support your requirements without restricting "good shooting".  And again, recommend the consideration of the Bisley model Blackhawk.

Respectfully,

(Edited by DOK at 4:48 pm on June 26, 2001)
 

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I'd just start with a 357Mag. It'll work 98% of the time and anyone can learn to handle one. The key word is fun and when you take a what-if approach, you'll sometimes end up regretting the bigger is better syndrome. It's enjoyable having fun, but acquired flinches and other bad habits are no fun to get rid of. Just the packing weight of a 357makes it attractive to me including extra ammo. You have to hit it to kill it. Felt recoil is subjective. What bothers me may not bother you and no description can relay that feeling. Recoil? How about 500 gr Hornady's at 1800 out of a #3 Ruger carbine. Don't bother me a bit. It makes a 357mag feel like a 22Rimfire. Whatever your decision, Enjoy. That's what the firearms' hobby is all about.
 

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I bet you guys thought you'd slip this one by without hearing from the 45 Colt lobby!
For many a year I shot a Ruger Blackhawk 4 5/8 inch, in 45 Colt. The big old Colt will allow you to shoot anything from mild to 'Oh my God! The gun held together!'
I abused that old Ruger for many a year and it's still one of my favorites with it's Jay Scott white Micarta grips.
There's nothing that a 44 Mag can do that the Colt can't do just as well without all the flash and boom.
Find some one with a 45 Colt and take it out and shoot it. I'll bet that it's love at first sight or first tickle of the trigger.
Mines out lasted two wives and a whole herd of girl friends. Some relationships are made in heaven and Col Colt and Mr. Ruger served as mid wives to this lovely.
Jim
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Too much muzzle blast from a 4 5/8" bbl .44 mag?<!--emo&???--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt='???'><!--endemo-->?  Surely not...!

Sounds like some 'gun shop wisdom' to me.  What - it's gonna suddenly quiet down with a couple more inches of barrel?  Don't make me laugh!  Yes 44's make a lot of noise and recoil, which is precisely why they're useful.

Go back and re-read your question and I believe you will find the answer.  You need something that's easy to carry and don't intent to shoot it much.  Sounds like 4 5/8" is the perfect length to me, unless you can find one shorter like a Smith "Mountain Gun" or the like.

As for caliber... whatever floats your boat.  The .357 Blackhawks aren't much lighter than the .44's, if at all, as there is a heck of a lot more steel in the barrel and cylinder.  Sort of offsets the aluminum grip frame on the .357.

If you go with the Bisley, which I personally like, then all of the grip frames are steel, so the lightest one will be the one with the biggest hole in the barrel - .45 Colt.

A neat woods gun to me would be a Bisley Vaquero, .44 or .45, with the sight regulated to whatever earth-shaking load I could come up with.  Then the great majority of rounds through that gun would be something very mild, say in the 900-1,000 fps range, whatever it took to make the practice load regulate to the sights.

Wonder if you can get a .45 Vaquero with an extra .45 ACP cylinder?  That sure would be neat.

One last thing - most of my hunting revolvers are 7.5" barrels and that's a little long and heavy for convenience.

Food for thought.  Let us know what you come up with.
 

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IDShooter, I think MikeG answered your barrel length question, but a couple of things need to be considered additionally.  What do you want to defend yourself from: bobcat-wolf-snake size stuff, or 6' - 9'+ griz stuff.  357, 41, 44, 45 is good for group 'A', but for group 'B', no.  44 maybe, if you have a Redhawk with the extra cylinder length so that you can custom load to take advantage of that length, like Garrett Cartridges does.  As a matter of fact if your not going to load and you've selected group 'B', Mr Garrett & Mr Redhawk would a good choice. For group 'B', though I like the 454.  (Hey, Arkypete, it's just a big 45, right?). A 454 and Buffalo Bore or Cor-Bon ammunition, again if you don't reload, and you're ready for BEAR... as they say. (That might be why they say it, ha, ha...) Again for recoil, I like the Taurus because it already has a muzzle break, no added cost.  The last consideration is situation.  A single shot is nice if you have room to pull the trigger, but if not, i.e., a bear hug, you have a much better chance of firing a double action (repeatedly if necessary).  As long as your can get your finger on the trigger, and you'd have the same problem with a single action, except you'd also have to get your thumb on the hammer... probably more than once.  Also, a double action, because of the added weight will absorb a little more of the recoil.  One last thing, with the 44M or the 454 you have the option of shooting the milder 44 specials or 45LCs respectively.  That's also a plus if your don't reload.  Sorry, I got carried away...

God bless,
 

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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks everyone for your replies! A couple of the posts brought up some points that perhaps need clarifying or that I simply didn't state in the original post. One point is that I do handload, so I could vary the intensity of my loads as necessary. And yes, I have considered the .45 Colt and the Bisley, too! I would actually prefer the Bisley grip but it looks like Ruger only lists that in the Vaquero now. How difficult would it be to regulate two very different loads to a similar point of aim with fixed sights? That's one of the burning questions that would have to wait until I purchased the gun to be answered I'm afraid, and I am concerned there wouldn't be a happy answer. Does anyone have firsthand experience with this?
       Also mentioned was the topic of critters that might be encountered. Those of primary concern are cougars and black bear. There are supposedly grizzlies in one unit I hunt but I know of NO ONE who has seen them! They are apparently pretty secretive. But one fellow I know has been stalked by a cougar while bowhunting and cowcalling for elk and that is kind of what got the whole handgun thing started for me!
         And I tend to agree that a 7.5" is probably too long for convenience, though I don't have personal experience with that.
        Southpaw, I had never thought of the difficulty of pulling back the hammer under certain situations! I guess that should be a consideration too! The .454 is just too big for what I want though, in cost, recoil and size of the gun.
          I thank everyone again! I have been saving for over a year to get a new gun and since it's quite a big investment (for me anyway!) I would like to make the most informed decision possible. Besides, my wife can vouch for the fact that I don't do anything fast!       ID

PS- While I want this gun to be easily carried, I will shoot it a lot, too. I go to the range 1-2 times a week & smallbore target shoot, so I shoot a lot more than I hike, truth be known! Thus the search for a revolver that is packable but pleasant to shoot! :biggrin: ID
 

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"Bad Joke Friday" Dan (moderator emeritus)
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IDShooter,

I've also noticed that Ruger's website doesn't display the option for a Bisley Blackhawk, but I've seen them in stores and see references to them in print. However, the only ones I've seen are the 7 1/2" version of the Blackhawk. As you obviously already know, shortening barrels is pretty common in revolvers.

As for regulating your point of impact with fixed sights, the complexity depends on rather you're shooting low or high. Removing a little height off the front sight will solve shooting low, but high will require load experimentation.  And of course, sometimes you can't do it, so there is a risk. But, I'm sure you're already aware of this challenge. Another aspect of the Vaquero is the quality of the sight picture -- for many folks, the Vaquero fixed sights will not be as "sharp" as the fixed sights.  

In any case, sure hope you're happy with what you settle on.

Dan
 

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To answer your question regarding similar points of impact with different intensity loads, I have more luck with the 44 mag than any others tried.  Most anything is possible if you have the money to do it.  There are grip kits available from Brownell's that will allow you to put a Bisley grip on a Blackhawk frame.  Another option is to have someone like Dave Clements or Mag-Na-Port cut the barrel down to 4 5/8" and reset the front sight.  

As to size and weight,  the Freedom Arms model 83s are not much larger than the Ruger Super Blackhawks.  Also, the Freedom Arms model 97 is about 90% the size of the their model 83.  These are five shot revolvers.  There are, in my not so humble opinion, no revolvers in production that can compare to the quality of the Freedom Arms revolvers.  The model 97 has a standard short barrel length of 5.5" which is very managable.  An option is to have the barrel shortened to 4 3/4".  These guns will stand up to being shot often as well as being carried many a mile.  

Barrel length on a revolver is more a matter of personal preference than any thing else.  Lengthing the barrel does little to "remove" the shooter from the blast and report.  There is a good portion that comes from the cylinder/barrel gap by virtue of there being an open space for the gas to escape.  Personally, I do not find the 7.5" barrel revolvers to be unweildly.  Nor do I find a 14" barreled Contender to be cumbersome.  

The Rugers are fine guns, but you owe it to yourself to look at the Freedom Arms guns.  Also, I recommend you get a revolver with adjustable sights, especially if you plan to change loads.  Fixed sights are fine for those who shoot only one load in tha particular gun.

Anyway, that's my two cents for what it's worth.
 

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Beartooth Regular
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ID,

I coming in a bit late in this thread, as I've been quite busy with work and household chores. My apologies.

I've owned and extensively shot a number of sub-8" Magnums and .45 Colts. I prefer shorter handguns. Anything much more than 5" is, to me, more akin to a rifle. With my 3" Lew Horton N-frames in .41 and .44 Magnum, the muzzle blast was not noticeably worse than similar 4" guns. My 4-5/8" .45 Colt Blackhawk with Magnumized loads was identical to .44's from the same length barrel.

I really like the .41 and think it would be a perfect choice for your application. Since you handload you can roll a bunch of medium loads to get used to the blast, working your way up to full-power rounds. Feel free to contact me if you'd like some load data along those lines.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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For what it's worth, I've had good luck in working up two loads that shoot to the same point of impact, with one being a heavy hunting load and the other being a lighter practice load.

To try this... work up the heavy load first, then sight it in.  For the lighter load, go 15-20% lighter on the bullet, and use a fast-burning powder so you can keep the velocity down.  Believe it or not, the biggest problem is getting your practice load slow enough (slower brings the point of impact up).  Then vary your powder charges with the lighter bullet to regulate the point of impact.  Of course you have to pick a range to regulate at.  I do this at 25 yards.

So, for examples.... .44 mag:
Heavy load is 280gr. WFNGC, about 1350fps, using 296.
Light load is 240 gr. commercial cast SWC, about 1050fps with AA#2 or Titegroup.

.45 Colt
Heavy load is 300 grain WFNGC, about 1200fps, using 296 in a Bisley Blackhawk
Light load is 255 gr. commercial cast SWC, about 1050fps with AA#2 or Titegroup.

.357 mag:
Heavy load is a 180 grain WFNGC, about 1200fps, using 296.
Light load is a 148gr wadcutter, using bullseye, at about 800fps.

That should get you started.

Sometimes you have to make compromises to get the light load to work.  For example, the pressures are entirely wrong for the very hard cast practice bullets that I use, and they lead a fair amout.

Best of luck...
 

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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #12
Well guys, I finally fell off the fence and made a decision! I got a Super Blackhawk with 4 5/8" barrel in stainless. Bill, I really wanted to go with the .41 but I wanted stainless and I couldn't have both with the Blackhawk. Since I plan on keeping the gun in the tent I felt stainless was the better choice. I have had my rifle rust overnight due to the condensation from my warm breath in the cold air, and that was a lesson I don't want to learn twice.
    Thanks to everyone who made suggestions. Now it's on to the fun part! I hope to come up with two loads, one light and one heavy,  that shoot to similar points of aim like MikeG mentioned. Actually I just need to see if I can shoot the thing worth a darn to start with!!
       Ah, the load development awaits!!
                                    See ya :biggrin:   ID
 

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Nice choice!

It'll be a great companion for years to come, I'm sure!  Let us know how it shoots!  Check for constrictions in the barrel under the threads where the barrel shank screws into the frame.  If it doesn't shoot up to par the first go out of the box, don't be real dissappointed, a little lapping usually cures the critter!

Enjoy!

God Bless,

Marshall
 

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Beartooth Regular
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ID,

I think you made a very good choice. It's unfortunate the .41 isn't available in stainless, as I think many folk would buy them but really feel a need for increased rust resistance as you do, thus making it the priority.

The two-load setup works and adds greatly to the versatility of a working handgun. No fuss, no muss.
 

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The 4 5/8" SBH in stainless is a very logical choice. I've been thinking about one lately but logic has nothing to do with it in my case, I have too many single actions already. (if at all possible)

I too love the .41, I'm having Ben Forkin work on one of mine right now. Can't wait till I see it again. You can always get a .41 next time.

You do know there will be more single actions going home with you in the future right? <!--emo&;)--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=';)'><!--endemo-->

enjoy it
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hi there,
      Well, I finally get a day off tomorrow so I get to go SHOOTING!! I'm as excited as a kid at Christmas! All I have are some 240gr Winchester factory loads- we'll see how they (I) do! Talk to you soon...       ID
 

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Dear ID

I just got into the handgun shooting scene myself. I have a .357 vaquero stainless 4 5/8 and I love it. The fixed sights probably arn't what your looking for but the barrel is great. Depending on the load the gun drop just about any kritter your apt to come upon and it dosen't weigh much (39 oz). If I were you I would look into the blackhawk just for the ajustable sights.
 
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