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I'm usually a fan of longer barrels for range revolvers. But I was talked into a 4 5/8" Blackhawk 357/9mm convertible blued. Glad i listened to that advice. I have other Blackhawks in longer lengths but they have steel grip frames, 2 of them Bisleys. I am amazed at what a well balanced and easy shooting gun my 4 5/8" Blackhawk is. It's very accurate with 9mm, an unexpected surprise.
 

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For many years I hewed to either 4-3/4" (4-5/8" in Rugers) or 7-1/2" SAs. Nothing else would do. The 5-1/2" just wasn't on the list. Civilians or Cavalry, no Artillery need apply! Then a coupla years ago I ordered a Lipsey's flattop in 45C/45A in 4-5/8". Dang if the wrong gun came in. A 5-1/2". I decided to give it a try. Whattaya know? I liked it. It hang nice, gave me an extra 40-45FPS and just all around felt good in the hand. I'd say give the 5-1/2" a chance. You might like it. I did.
 

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I always went for the longer barrels ( 6 1/2”- 7 1/2”). This last one is a beretta stampede with 5 1/2” and SAA size frame. It feels light and fast, and it is different, and I like it.
 

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HAW1961, Your picture looks like a couple black cats in a coal bin. Can you lighten them up?
 

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When I read Iowegan’s post, I edited my post. It really was a terrible picture. My guns deserve better.
 

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Bonk, Thanks, all it takes is a pantload of $$$!!
 

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All of my single actions to this date are 5 1/2 inch. I actually tried to find a SS 6 1/2 convertible Blackhawk 357 recently but it appears at this time to be a bit difficult to find. That’s ok 5 1/2 works for me so i’m Now getting a 5 1/2 Blackhawk 357 convertible. I gues the longer barrel version will just have to wait.
 

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In 1972 I bought a 6 1/2 inch Blackhawk because it was the only BH the dealer had in stock and he agreed to take $75.00 for it (that was all I had in my pockets ).
I really wanted a 4 5/8 but the price was right and I believed I would learn to love it....
well I came to accept the 6 1/2 inch bbl. but never learned to love it .
I have never given up wanting a 4 5/8 inch one.
Get the 4 5/8 inch one.... have no regrets.

My avatar is the 1972 6 1/2 inch Blackhawk, I still have it , never did get the barrel shortened . I love it because it is my first handgun and the only Blackhaw I own but I still wish it had a 4 5/8 inch barrel .
Gary....I got one regret.
My first handgun was a Super Single Six 6-1/2. I wanted the 5-1/2”, now I’d go for the 4-5/8”.
I received that pistol in the mail at high school. My FFL was a custodian there and I wasn’t aware he was having it sent there with my name on the package. Wyoming in the ‘80s.
 

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Some here have said they think the 4 5/8" is the best looking, I'm in the other camp.
I think 5 1/2" has the right proportion for a large revolver. 4 5/8" looks too stubby, and I don't like the balance either.
These two revolvers represent the worst balance of any Ruger Single Action I've ever had, the 4 5/8" .357/9mm Convertible, and the best balance in a Ruger SA I've had the pleasure to handle, the .45 Colt /.45 ACP Flattop Convertible. It wasn't just the 3/4" barrel length that makes the difference, the .357 had more metal in the cylinder and barrel, and aluminum parts.

My rimfire is also a 5 1/2" but I'd have also been happy with a 6 1/2":

This Bisley .45 I had cut down from 7 1/2" (which is a bit too long for packing on your belt) to 5 inches, it was my carry gun for 10 years when in the backcountry around Yellowstone:

But none of the Rugers have the superb feel, handling and balance of a 5 1/2" Colt or Colt clone like this Cimarron:
 

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This has been interesting reading and pictures. I have always just been really partial to the 4 5/8 inch barrel length on Ruger single action revolvers. I like the looks and heft of them, not necessarily in that order. I was just super pleased when I bought my Super Single-six convertible in 4 5/8 in bbl length. You just don't see them as often as the longer barrel lengths. It really is just a personal preference.
 

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I've had both the 4 5/8 and the 5 1/2 inch barreled Rugers. The 4 5/8" barrel was easier to holster and carry while hunting even though the 5 1/2" had better balance and felt a bit steadier and balanced in my hand. Seeing as I haven't hunted in years if I were to buy another one it would sport a 5 1/2" barrel.
 

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Looks like this is a pretty old thread but I’d advise that you can’t go wrong with any length. Each length gives a different feel and look. My first Ruger SA was a new Beaecat in 1970. I then added a 10.5” Super Blackhawk around 1980. I kept both until a year ago and sold them and bought a new Bearcat with adjustable sights and then a SS Single six convertible 5.5”. Last Christmas my wife gave me a 4-5/8” 45LC and yesterday I added a 6.5” 357/9mm. I’ve not gotten to shoot the 357 but plan to get to the range tomorrow ( one advantage to being retired ).

They all feel good to me and each is a different experience to shoot.
 

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Barrel length, weight, balance, and caliber are like coffee and whiskey. Human nature tends to make us prefer what we're used to. My daily cup of cheap coffee is better than your daily cup of cheap coffee and my brand of bourbon is better than your brand of bourbon. We get used to what we're familiar with. On the rare occasion we try something different our usual reaction is that it's weird and we all know weird means not as good. However, just like coffee and whiskey, if we make a dedicated effort to get used to the new gun we sometimes find out we end up preferring it once we get used to it. That's kinda been my journey with long barreled single actions. I started out with 4 5/8" guns and had no interest in anything longer than 5.5". Somewhere along the way I started shooting longer barreled guns and I now prefer them. I still have several 5.5" but now I own more 6.5 & 7.5 inch revolvers than anything else and I don't even own a 4 5/8 center fire revolver anymore. Just goes to show that contempt prior to investigation will leave a man in everlasting ignorance. I highly recommend everybody step out of their comfort zone every once in a while. Short barreled guys might end up liking long barreled guns and vice versa.

OTOH, splitting the difference and starting out with a 5.5" is pretty solid advice. You can go long or short with the next one and there will be a next one. Single action revolvers tend to multiply. Sometimes at an alarmingly rapid pace. YMMV.
 

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Barrel length, weight, balance, and caliber are like coffee and whiskey. Human nature tends to make us prefer what we're used to. My daily cup of cheap coffee is better than your daily cup of cheap coffee and my brand of bourbon is better than your brand of bourbon. We get used to what we're familiar with. On the rare occasion we try something different our usual reaction is that it's weird and we all know weird means not as good. However, just like coffee and whiskey, if we make a dedicated effort to get used to the new gun we sometimes find out we end up preferring it once we get used to it. That's kinda been my journey with long barreled single actions. I started out with 4 5/8" guns and had no interest in anything longer than 5.5". Somewhere along the way I started shooting longer barreled guns and I now prefer them. I still have several 5.5" but now I own more 6.5 & 7.5 inch revolvers than anything else and I don't even own a 4 5/8 center fire revolver anymore. Just goes to show that contempt prior to investigation will leave a man in everlasting ignorance. I highly recommend everybody step out of their comfort zone every once in a while. Short barreled guys might end up liking long barreled guns and vice versa.

OTOH, splitting the difference and starting out with a 5.5" is pretty solid advice. You can go long or short with the next one and there will be a next one. Single action revolvers tend to multiply. Sometimes at an alarmingly rapid pace. YMMV.

I would start from there (the above quote) and perhaps go further to say that we do not necessarily even all mean the same thing when we talk about how a gun balances in hand. I started (nearly 50 years ago) with long (6 to 7 1/2") barrels, it was what target shooters used and hitting my target was THE most important thing so..... More recently my (New Model) Flat Tops seem to 'balance better' and feel really good to me but ... if I wanted to be more sure about making the shot I would grab the 7 1/2" Blackhawk .45 just because it's longer barrel and aluminum grip frame move the 'balance point further forward where it becomes harder to 'shake'. I might shoot it even better with a steel grip frame but my deteriorating muscles probably could not hold it very long, another compromise.
If you asked today about my favorite it would probably be my 5 1/2" .45 Colt Flat Top Blackhawk, ask tomorrow and the answer could be different.

There might be a gun you like best but there isn't one that is perfect for everything, that is why we need to have so many of them!

Bruce
 

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Discussion Starter #38 (Edited)
Hmmm, two years since I was the original poster on this thread. Should let folks know what I eventually decided about barrel length. Here she be...sorry it took so long for my follow-up and thanks to all who have contributed, it has been a very interesting thread.
144519
 

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Good decision ! Me, I like ‘em all. Two 7 1/2” SBHs, a 5 1/2” .44 Special Flattop, a .45 Colt 5“ Blackhawk, (cut down), a 6 1/2” .41 Mag Blackhawk, and a 5 1/2” Single Six. Aimed at an OM SS right now if the seller ever responds to me.
 
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