All the new model SBH's I've seen have a problem in loading/unloading alignment. If you turn the cylinder to the "click", the cylinder cavity is past the position you can load or unload a cartridge. The free wheeling allows you to more easily align the cylinder cavity with the loading gate, and if for any reason, you go part way past a position, you can back up with the free wheeling. I have a SBH with free wheeling (cylinder turns in either direction) and a Vaquero with what Alpha Precision calls "half cock", which only turns one direction, but does have the cylinder cavity, when forwarded to it's "click" postion, align with the loading gate.
A number of the cowboy shooters like the modification because it allows them to load/unload more quickly.
This option, while you may never need it on a .44, is used on extensively on the real heavy kickers such as the .475 and .500 Linebaughs. Also, the max. versions of these rounds. This feature is added so one may back the cylinder around in the chance a bullet has jumped crimp and ties up the gun. Given the type game these guns were designed to go after, it is a VERY nice feature to have. Recoil from a .44 tends to pale in comparison to what these guns do.
I installed a freewheel pawl myself on my Bisley just for grins and giggles. I also installed an oversized base pin and Bowen rear sight. Not that they were needed, but I was and still am learning to work on the Ruger single actions. Of course, these modifications make the gun nicer as far as I'm concerned.
You can do the work one of two ways. Order the freewheel pawl from Brownell's or drill a small hole and use a set screw to push the hand back enough to prevent it's engaging the ratchet. Buying the part will require some fitting, but it is not too hard. The other would be much more complicated unless you have access to a machine shop.
The other alternative is to have Dave Clements or someone like him do the conversion. It is less expensive than buying the pawl. I didn't find out about this until after I had already installed mine.
The only reason to change the ratchet is if you are going to change the number of shots in the cylinder and that would require a new cylinder anyway.
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