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Ruger Blackhawk SA

Posted by me2 
me2
Ruger Blackhawk SA
October 15, 2021 02:18PM
I added a revolver to the collection to cover my long range handgun need. I got it used from a collection being sold off. Date of manufacture was in late 1980 so it should mesh well with my older Marlin rifles. The bluing is a little worn but it otherwise seems in good shape. Hopefully I’ll get to try it this weekend. Revolver ammo is very hard to come by so I’m on the lookout.
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
October 15, 2021 04:49PM
Nice, what cartridge?
me2
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
October 16, 2021 08:27PM
357 Magnum. A 45 Colt would also have been acceptable but I ran across this one at a good price.

I zeroed the sights today at 10 yards from a rest. The sight adjustments aren’t marked so that one gripe I have. The sight screws are a bit mushy, so that is another gripe. The final complaint is the front sight is a flat black, which is hard to see on many backgrounds. I marked it orange after sighting in today so that should resolve that issue.

Otherwise it is outstanding. I will have to do a bit of dry firing to get used to it. The long barrel and forward heavy balance lead me to dropping the front sight after shots sometimes. The only ammo available is some Fiochi Target loads. These are full power 357 Magnum loads but recoil was barely noticeable. If I can find components I surely plan to work up some accuracy hand loads for it. I really like the Acme cast lead bullets so I may get some of those. They have proven very accurate in my 9mm. I also will do a full power 125 grain hollow point of some sort. My manuals have a full power load using Alliant 2400 powder to push a 125 grain JHP to just under 1500 fps. I’d be curious what Nathan has to say about such loads.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/28/2021 09:35PM by me2.
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
October 16, 2021 09:47PM
Which barrel length? Sounds like the 6.5” or 7.5”

Here’s a couple pictures from Nathan’s book called Small Arms Wound Ballistics discussing and showing the results of those 125 grain JHP’s:







Side note, if you do indeed have the 6.5” or 7.5” barrel length, you should have no trouble at all achieving 1,500 to 1,600 FPS using Alliant 2400. Which means you can expect the above performance out to either 30 yards (1,500 FPS) or 60 yards (1,600 FPS).

It really is all about velocity with the .357 so I’d try to keep increasing charge weights until I start seeing signs of excessive pressure, like sticky extraction or flattened primers, and then settle on the previous charge weight. Not official advice, it’s just what I would do. With top-speed 125 grain handloads you’ve got something that will flatten coyote-sized varmints, cleanly kill deer, and really quickly end a gunfight. If they’re only going around 1,200 FPS from the muzzle, then you’re basically carrying a really large and heavy 6-shot 9mm, which would of course be counterproductive, so personally I would drive towards maximum speeds.

Also note that the carcass pictured above is that of a wild goat, about the size of a large dog and with a chest size and construction that’s quite similar to an average human’s.
me2
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
October 17, 2021 11:41AM
I use Alliant 2400 for my downloaded 30-30 cast bullets. It’s a good powder and quite versatile. Coincidentally the downloaded 30-30s are basically equivalent in energy to a moderately heavy 357. I plan to work up some target loads with wad cutters and different powder. I also plan to do exactly what you describe and move toward a 1500 FPS load with a 125 grain JHP. This is the 6.5” barreled version. My manual has data for rifles in 357 as well and you gain about 550 fps over a pistol length barrel generally. Pretty impressive if you ask me. With the right loads from a rifle, one can approach 7.62x39 muzzle velocity and energy. 2200 to 2300 fps with 125 grain projectiles.
me2
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 05, 2021 02:42PM
I made a test batch using 148 grain wadcutters for accuracy testing. With these bullets the accuracy is very good. Fortunately the lowest charge is the most accurate and economical. This load is capable of golf ball sized groups at 25 yards off a rest and just shoots a single ragged hole rested at 10 yards. With this load the gun seems mechanically as accurate or more than my S&W Victory 22 though I shoot the Victory better off hand.

I think I may try 158 grain bullets in hard cast before going to the 125 grain for economic reasons. They’re heavy enough the velocity won’t strip the lead on the rifling. Hopefully they’ll be as accurate as the lead wadcutters with better velocity. I’ve tried the wadcutters and some factory loads out to 50 yards. They’ll hold about 6” groups rested but I think some heavier bullets driven faster might shoot better. The wadcutters are only going 750 fps or so.
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Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 06, 2021 03:32PM
Despite the really excellent performance of the 125 grain JHPs, a 158 grain JHP can be a better all-around option just because of the more uniform performance across different body weights and through barriers. The wounds won’t be quite as wide or explosive as the 125’s but it’s a very solid option nonetheless.

When I had 4” and 6” .357’s I preferred to stoke them with the Federal 158 grain HydraShok because it’s very very accurate, produces about 1,250 FPS from a 4” barrel, and easily expands fully at as low a 950 FPS or so. It’s an excellent all-around load.
me2
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 06, 2021 07:40PM
I’ve had such a good experience with the Acme coated hard cast bullets I figured I’d stick with them. They have a fair variety but I don’t want to push them more than about 1300 fps. For that the 158s makes more sense. I’m not eager to repeat the leading from pushing them too fast, though I think that had a lot to do with the shallower rifling of the Marlin micro groove rifling. I’ll eventually get some XTPs but this isn’t a defensive piece and I don’t hunt right now. I did see some 180 grain XTPs at Cabelas today. They’d have a 22 like trajectory but they’d hit like a wrecking ball. I’m going to load up a box of wadcutter with a couple different powders and see which one shoots best. I have to say a wadcutter at 750 fps or seems like a good round for small game out to however far one can hit. The 180s seem like a great 357 lever action rifle bullet. There seems to be about a 30% increase in velocity for 357 from rifles. A 1500 fps load with a 125 grain bullet goes to 1800 to 2000 or more with the right powders. I am limited as I can’t find magnum primers to go with the top velocity powders.
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 06, 2021 10:47PM
Yeah if you’re just plinking with it then there’s no need to get anything like a JHP.


Quote
me2
… I did see some 180 grain XTPs at Cabelas today. They’d have a 22 like trajectory but they’d hit like a wrecking ball.
… The 180s seem like a great 357 lever action rifle.

A few years back I picked up several boxes of Buffalo Bore’s 180 grain XTP load for my grandpa’s .357 Henry. For deer hunting. They are moving the same speeds from his rifle as Hornady’s 158 grain load, about 1,650 to 1,700 FPS. Two deer have fallen to them, and two have fallen to Federal’s 158 grain American Eagle JSP. The 180 grain XTP’s definitely hit pretty hard from the rifle, much wider wounding than the lighter soft points. Right here’s a picture of one deer’s vitals, that damage is from the 180 grain XTP at about 20 yards:



Being that the top half of the heart is literally gone, just blown away, that’s quite impressive wounding from such a small cartridge. Rifles in .357 Mag, with proper bullet selection, are very lethal inside 100 yards. Generally what you get is big-time damage up close, revolver-type damage at 100 yards, and trouble even hitting the target beyond that distance because it starts to drop pretty quickly and wind can really push them around.
me2
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 06, 2021 11:17PM
I’m still amazed that a hot 357 load can rival a 300 Blackout or 7.62 x 39. The issue is the rifle rounds are cruising while the 357 is on afterburner. Impressive damage in any case. I’m loading up a batch of target wadcutters and will see which powder I like best. After that I’ll start looking into the heavier loads. Were I into small game hunting, Hornady makes 158 grain swayed lead projectiles in semi-wadcutter hollow point that seem like they’d be excellent. Their load data limits them to under 1000 fps.
me2
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 12, 2021 10:54PM
I’m becoming more convinced I need a 357 rifle. I bought some 158 grain XTP bullets yesterday. I’m planning on trying to push them with Alliant 2400 which is evidently a gold standard for magnum handguns. I also see CFE Pistol offers only slightly less velocity potential so I’ll probably try that as well. Gunblue490 on YouTube has a very good video on developing handgun loads I want to review before jumping into the new bullet. I have one source of load data that lists Lil Gun powder as capable of 1500 fps from a 10” barrel. It might offer a slight advantage over the powders I have but I need magnum primers and I haven’t seen Lil Gun in a while.

Ive finished testing the wadcutter loads with a couple different powders. Both are capable of golf ball sized groups at 25 yards from a rest. I think one has a slight advantage but I’ll have to shoot a lot more to be sure. As far as guns I’ve tried this load and gun might be the lost accurate handgun I’ve ever shot. It’s certainly the case for centerfire. My 22 Victory might be more accurate mechanically and I can shoot the Victory better off hand, but I have over 1500 rounds through the 22 and the Blackhawk is catching up in accuracy. From a rest at 10 yards I’d be disappointed if I couldn’t keep a full cylinder of shots in a large single ragged hole. It took a couple of tries to get the bullet drop figured but I was able to hit a golf ball at ~ 30 yards. I’m not sure I could be more pleased with the usefulness, versatility, and accuracy of this revolver.
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 12, 2021 11:18PM
Lil Gun would probably do quite well in long barreled revolvers. It’s very similar in burn rate to H110, my uncle uses it for his .300 Blackout V-Max loads. It’ll push the 110 grain V-Max out of his 16” carbine at 2,400 FPS.
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 12, 2021 11:30PM
And yeah a .357 rifle is really nice to have. Especially one of the short 16” carbines, it’s just such a simple, light, compact gun and they have basically no recoil but quite a lot of power. They’re a slick piece of equipment.

Seriously though on the recoil, even those 180 grain JHP’s from Buffalo Bore, it’s nothing. More than a .22 for sure but it’s still far less than a typical rifle. And they’re relatively quiet, too, nowhere near the noise levels of the 5.56 or typical hunting rifle cartridges.
me2
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 19, 2021 11:16AM
I tried the 158 grain XTP bullets yesterday with some Alliant 2400 powder. This was a surprising trip to the range because these hollow point hunting/defensive bullets shot better than my dedicated target loads. At the upper load range either the load or I started to fall apart and the groups opened up a bit. That could have been me because right around the time the groups started opening up, I started to feel heat on my hands from the fireball and the recoil and noise went up noticeably. According to my load manual, I still have another FULL GRAIN OF POWDER before I get to max load. I doubt I'll go that far and my sources differ in max load, with Hornady being more conservative at 14.3 grains vs. my Lyman manual which goes to 14.9 grains. :0

In the lower load range the groups were only separated by 0.03" from top to bottom, so I basically consider them all the same. I'm going to go with the highest load right before the fireball became tactile. The estimated velocity is about 1150 to 1200 fps, based on a 4" barrel. I figure adding another 100 to 150 fps for the extra barrel length is a safe assumption, so my 6.5" barrel might be as much as 1350 or even 1400 fps. The lower load ranges grouped just over an inch at 25 yards, shot from a rest, kneeling behind the pistol bench. My target loads grouped about 1.25 inches at the same distance.

I plan to try CFE Pistol for the 357 too. The only data I can find has it going considerably slower, but I have about 400 rounds worth in the load range Hodgden shows. It works pretty good in more reasonable load ranges in the target load too. I can get about 2000 rounds of the target load from a single pound.
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 19, 2021 03:23PM
Quote
me2
I tried the 158 grain XTP bullets yesterday with some Alliant 2400 powder. This was a surprising trip to the range because these hollow point hunting/defensive bullets shot better than my dedicated target loads.

That’s actually something that’s happened with XTP’s in a number of different calibers over several decades now, you’re not alone in that observation. Competition shooters do occasionally use them because of it. They’re great bullets man, very reliable expansion and very good accuracy.


Quote
me2
That could have been me because right around the time the groups started opening up, I started to feel heat on my hands from the fireball and the recoil and noise went up noticeably. According to my load manual, I still have another FULL GRAIN OF POWDER before I get to max load.

YES! MUAHAHA! hot smiley

That’s the name of the game with a magnum revolver, you’re supposed to feel like He-Man:



Seriously though, if you know what to watch for in terms of high pressure signs (flattened primers, sticky extraction) you can keep going up in half-grain increments and get more velocity as well as more accuracy.

In many cases, with the .357 or .44, max pressure loads are very accurate, often more so than the milder ones depending on powder selection.

My hypothesis is that the higher pressures cause the brass to more fully and quickly obturate the chamber in the cylinder, the bullet moves slightly more quickly into the rifling, and the bullet will stand a better chance at entering the rifling in a concentric/straight manner because of the those things. That’s just a hypothesis though, I might be horribly wrong.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/19/2021 03:29PM by Ryan Nafe.
me2
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 19, 2021 08:22PM
Typically my load manual shows the higher charges as the most potentially accurate. I have not seen pressure signs so far. I may keep going up. I had considered stopping but I have enough brass to go up two more increments to 14.1 grains. Hopefully I’ll get to the range once more before Christmas to try them.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/19/2021 10:42PM by me2.
me2
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 24, 2021 08:26AM
I was able to get to the range yesterday to test the 14.1 grain loads. 13.9 was very accurate but I had an interruption and pulled one shot. The other three were 0.8” apart. The 14.1 group was the most accurate so far with 4 shots at about 1.03”. Recoil from a rested position is becoming a problem so I likely won’t go any higher. Mechanically this pistol is more accurate than my Victory target 22 at least with the 22 ammo I’m using now. The ability to hand load really skews things in favor of the Blackhawk. The one I shoot better off hand alternates depending on distance and cycle of the moon. Yesterday at 11 yards the Blackhawk did better at least for the 6 wadcutter loads I had left. If I were limited to factory ammo the advantage would swing back to the 22 based on the only 2 loads I’ve found in 357 and one in 38 Special.
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 24, 2021 12:07PM
Nice. That’s with 158 grain JHP’s right?


Yesterday I picked up a new pistol. Went in with the intention of buying a rifle, and while I was waffling between a very nice Bergara B-14 Ridge in .308 and a Ruger 10/22 Target, the one with the 20” bull barrel and laminate stock, I came across this in the pistol case. Handled it for all of 30 seconds, double checked with the person behind the counter that it came with 3 magazines total, and bought it right after she confirmed that. $800 for this gun, brand new, with 3 magazines and very nice sights I won’t need to change, was just too good to pass up.











This is the HK45 LE version, which comes with an additional magazine (3 total) and quite nice XS tritium sights as opposed to the standard version that has only one spare magazine (2 total) and rather crude photo-luminescent sights.

I’ve been looking at getting one of these for quite a while but I’d only ever seen them online, never in person, so I wasn’t sure how I’d like it. Well I can definitely say that this is probably the most ergonomic pistol I’ve owned so far for my hands. Fits like a glove. Being that this thing is pretty much impossible to beat in the reliability and durability department, and that I very much liked how it felt to grip, aim, and pull the trigger, I just couldn’t resist the temptation to buy it. Had to take it home.

Right now I’m running Federal HST 230 grain +P, should be getting about 950 FPS if the boxes don’t lie. Being that these are 28% heavier and expand about 28% wider, while moving at the same speed as my .40 S&W running 180’s, what will happen is basically just wider and deeper wounds, equating to faster kills, with the same great performance through barriers. And of course the basic 230 grain ball ammo will make slightly above-caliber sized holes through things. A very versatile pistol cartridge, the .45 ACP is.

I’m gonna start looking for a shoulder holster system for all-around carry and probably an AIWB holster also, just to have the ability to carry it with light clothing on.

It’s a war-grade and utterly bomb-proof .45, probably the last gun I’d ever get rid of. Check the results from a 50,000 round endurance test done by Pistol-Training.com back in 2010, it’s almost unbelievable:

[pistol-training.com]
me2
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 24, 2021 05:20PM
I waffled about the 45 Colt or 357 version of the Blackhawk but availability and powder consumption pushed me to the 357. 45s make great big holes though. A 45 caliber wadcutter would leave window sized hole in paper and semi-wadcutters would be the same for game. Will the HK feed those odd shapes or is it round nose and hollow/flat point only?
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 24, 2021 06:33PM
This is directly from the manual, so here’s H&K’s answer:

me2
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 24, 2021 07:06PM
Looks promising.

Yea the 158 grain XTPs are extremely accurate so far. I would like to try some 110s for the higher velocity and hopefully lower recoil. I’ll probably try some more cast bullets first though. I’m looking at some semi-wadcutters in the same weight but pushed slower or even loaded into 38 special cases. I have some of the powder shown as the most consistent in my manual, Winchester 231. Velocity is about 1000 fps per Lyman.
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 24, 2021 07:13PM
When loaded with 10 rounds of 230 grain ammo, it weighs 39 ounces. Which is a couple ounces less than either my 629 or a full size 1911. Kinda interesting considering how big it is.
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
December 24, 2021 07:15PM
Quote
me2
I would like to try some 110s for the higher velocity and hopefully lower recoil. I’ll probably try some more cast bullets first though.

The 110’s would be fun. Much faster for sure.
me2
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
January 25, 2022 09:10PM
I tried some 125 grain XTPs this weekend. The max velocity is listed at 1600 fps but that is from a 10” barrel. The max load was the most accurate, which seems a trend with either this caliber or this gun or both. It has a drastically different point of impact so much so that the first group was off paper on an 8” target at 25 yards. The rest were on target after an aim adjustment. The grouping was about the same as the wadcutters at about 1.25”. Slightly behind the 158 grain load but it was still pretty good. This seems a good mid range load, missing the recoil of the 158 grain loads.
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
January 29, 2022 03:21PM
Quote
me2
The grouping was about the same as the wadcutters at about 1.25”. Slightly behind the 158 grain load but it was still pretty good. This seems a good mid range load, missing the recoil of the 158 grain loads.

That’s a really accurate revolver. Have you considered getting a chronograph? The one I have is just a simple one from Competition Electronics, the ProChrono LTD model. They’re only around $120 or $130, I love having one. Even aside from reloading, just knowing the velocity of factory ammo is great.
me2
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
February 01, 2022 11:19AM
I need one. I’m probably way off in my estimates of velocity.

I plan to start testing 38 Special loads soon. I have enough cases I can use and keep them all together. I want to get a good target load so I can use my 357 cases for the heavier stuff. I found a source for less expensive FMJ projectiles but the minimum order is 500. I don’t want to get that many and find out they don’t work. One of the hotter common factory loads is the 142 gr FMJ from Fiochi moving at 1450. They weren’t as accurate but I bet I could dial them in if I could load them myself.
Re: Ruger Blackhawk SA
February 02, 2022 08:17PM
Ryan,
Are Speer Gold Dot 124gr 9mm shown in your book? That is my go to self-defense cartridge for outside my apartment.
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