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Count Ursunk
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Sharp looking for sure. I would like to know where I could find the larger grip frame if you don't mind. I've had no luck finding one.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You definitely did it justice, I have a passion for an original peice but do love a nice custom. Well done Sir, thanks for sharing.
Thanks 67. Originals have gotten way above my paygrade. Someone is offering 2 or 3 lettered brass guns on GB now. 3 grand apiece. Ouch!
 

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Retired Moderator & Gunsmith
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Rusbukt, There are several possibilities for brass grip frames. Many guns were shipped from the factory with brass grip frames but don't letter because Ruger did such a poor job of documenting them. Brass grip frames were sold to the public by sending a mere $25 to Ruger. This covered the price of the GF and shipping. Some people sent their OM Blackhawks back to Ruger to have a brass grip frame fitted. This cost $80 because grip frames are made slightly oversized so they require fitting. Last, someone may have robbed a brass grip frame from another gun and swapped it with a XR3-RED OM grip frame. Only 30 Carb, 357 Mag, 41 Mag, 44 Mag, and Old Army were shipped with brass grip frames.

Ruger didn't actually cast the brass grip frames ... a foundry in Southport, CT made them for Ruger .... estimated at about 12,000 total, spread out over 3 years in the above models plus those shipped directly to customers.

If a gun doesn't letter, there are several clues for authenticity. First, the grip frame itself has a casting mark "MR3-DB" located close to the heel and it is a "Dragoon" style with a squared trigger guard, SBH walnut grips with a "SR" medalion. Next, the gun must be an Old Model Blackhawk, Super Blackhawk, or Old Army made only in 1971,'72, or '73. Third, the gun must have a wide trigger. This is probably the most important issue for authenticity for guns shipped from the factory with a brass grip frame installed. Reason being ...... Ruger did not sell wide triggers so the only way to get one was to buy a factory shipped gun with a brass GF. Most people don't know about the wide trigger so they may try to pass off a non-authentic OM for a high price. Last, Ruger fitted the grip frame to the cylinder frame so If the grip frame isn't perfectly flush with the cylinder frame, chances are it is a transplant. If all these things are not true, it is NOT an authentic Ruger grip frame. Because just the brass grip frame is worth a lot, even a non-authentic OM BH will bring about $500 more than one with a XR3-RED blued grip frame.

Several years ago, I bought 3 Old Model Blackhawks and a Flatgate Single-Six from an original owner that lived in Lincoln , NE. Sad .... he was dying from cancer and wanted to sell his guns so his daughter would inherit cash instead of a mess. He had been a collector for decades and had accumulated more than 200 Ruger Old Models. He bought most of these guns brand new but unfortunately, he didn't keep some the cardboard boxes because many of the guns were displayed in glass cases. Most were unfired (since leaving the factory). All the guns I bought lettered except one .... a 4 5/8" 45 Colt Blackhawk with a brass grip frame. It did letter, but the letter did not include the brass grip frame (by adding a B to the catalog number). When I asked the former owner why it didn't letter, he didn't know but he did say he bought it brand new from a local dealer so he knew it was authentic. It meets all the above criteria ..... made in '72, MR3-DB mold mark on the Dragoon brass grip frame, walnut grips with the SR medallion, and most importantly, it has a wide trigger and the fit is perfect. After contacting a couple Ruger collectors, they agreed ... it is indeed authentic, even though Ruger's records don't indicate a brass grip frame (BKH-44 B). This does reduce the value by a couple hundred bucks but it's still quite valuable. The Blue book of Gun values say 4 5/8" 45 Colts were not available with brass grip frames but that's because Ruger's records are not accurate.
 
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