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Why do you like the 3 Screw Rugers?

3820 Views 95 Replies 39 Participants Last post by  NevadaDan
What’s so great about a 3 screw Super Blackhawk? If you had a choice between a brand new New Model SBH and a mint new looking 3 screw SBH for the SAME price which would you choose and why?
I am asking because I have to make such a decision! Soon! Quickly! Help me collective Obi-wan Rugers, you’re my only hope.
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Myresearch tells me that the action and trigger pull on the three screw models are much superior to converted models, but are they superior to new models?
Also there’s no question that the bluing on the old models is deeper and richer than on the new but on the other hand most of them have more wear so maybe that balances out.
Any other considerations? I like Iowegan’s advice but I don’t collect guns so if I buy it it’s going to be shot. I hope a lot.
For a collector you will never fire, get the old one. They're not making any more.
For a carry/shooter buy the new model.
The reason why they added the transfer bar is because some idiots didn't have the sense to leave one chamber empty. If you carry the old models you're back to a 5-shot.
I know what you’re saying but I will always have an empty to rest the hammer on. TBH after five rounds of full house I’ll always be happy to not have number 6
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Straight out of the box, OMs have a crisper and lighter trigger pull than NMs, however after a little bench time, all my NMs have trigger pulls that are just as good as OMs. It's not the transfer bar that causes a harsher trigger pull .... it's the way the factory sear notch is cut in the hammer.

ABNRGR, I paid $90 (tax included) for a NM Single-Six Convertible back in 1977. It is worth at least $500 today. Don't you think 5X is appreciation? A direct replacement (brand new Single-Six Convertible) has a MSRP of $799 so for the first few years, it will depreciate in value, then it will start to appreciate. In less than 5 years, a used NM will be worth more than it cost new. Guns are one of the very few mechanical devices that actually go up in value with age.

Some people just don't follow instructions and use procedures intended for other brands. This is true of all Ruger Old model Single-Sixes, Blackhawks, and Super Blackhawks where most owners use the old Colt SAA procedures with an empty chamber under the firing pin. If you look closely at an OM cylinder you will either see a firing pin groove or a non-recessed chamber and there is a very good reason, unique to Ruger OMs.

Here's a photo of some OM cylinders:

Note the top left cylinder. It is for a 45 Colt and the one below it is for a 45 ACP. Both have a firing pin groove. The next set of cylinders, just to the right of the 45 cal cylinders are for 357/38 Spec (top) and 9mm (bottom). These cylinders do not have a firing pin groove, however the case head is not recessed so it protrudes quite a bit. The next cylinders to the right are for 22 rimfire. The 22 LR cylinder (bottom) has a firing pin groove and the 22 Mag cylinder (top) does not. Seems there is always an exception and in this case, it's the 22 Mag cylinder that does not respond to the below technique. Last, the cylinder on the far right is for a 30 Carbine and it does have a firing pin groove.

So, what's the big deal with the firing pin groove or proud case head? It is Ruger's way of making it safe to carry all six chambers loaded. How? After loading all 6 chambers, pull the hammer back just far enough to clear the half cock notch then pull the trigger while easing the hammer fully forward. This will place the hammer in between chambers and because the fully forward hammer pushes the firing pin where it protrudes from the frame, the firing pin will lock the cylinder between case heads and prevent it from rotating. If the cylinder has a firing pin groove, the distance of the firing pin travel will keep the firing pin from touching the cylinder to prevent firing pin damage. OM cylinders without a firing pin groove will also lock the cylinder between case heads and because the firing pin has a forward limit in the frame, it will not touch the cylinder face. So, you end up with all six chambers loaded, the hammer fully forward, the cylinder locked between case heads. This is just as safe as using the Colt method, plus it allows all chambers to be loaded. If you want to test your OM, load it with 6 empty cases because it won't work without cases in the cylinder.

As for bluing .... many Old Models had very poor bluing jobs at the factory, and in time, the frames and loading gate turned a plum color. Collectors like defective products so "plum guns" tend to be worth more than those that were blued properly. Some of the early Old Models had a polished finish that looks very nice, but this only applied to a few years of production. OMs made after 1966 have the same blued finish as current New Models.

Clicks .... some people are infatuated with the clicks made when cocking the hammer. NMs have clicks too, only they are a couple short of an OM. The first OM click comes from the hammer safety notch. The second is from the hammer plunger releasing the cylinder latch. The third click is when the hammer passes the half cock notch, and finally, the fourth click is when the hammer locks into the full cock sear notch. NMs don't have a safety notch nor a half cock notch so you only get two clicks .... one from the hammer plunger and one from the full cock notch.

Safety .... NM Ruger SAs are the safest single-action revolver ever made by any company. Not only do they have a transfer bar to prevent at least three safety issues, they also are loaded with the hammer fully forward. This prevents "thumb slip" that can happen with an OM after loading, Further, the action is interlocked so the hammer cannot be cocked when the loading gate is open, and the loading gate cannot be opened when the hammer is cocked. Besides collector value, the NM design is my prime reason not to fire my Old Model SAs.
Well dang I guess I have to buy it now just to test out this method.
Kidding aside, the amount of information Iowegan brings to this forum is epic. Many thanks, Maestro!
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@Iowegan - if the safety notch is broken off on an OM SBH hammer, will there be any indication when cocking it, like perhaps only 3 clicks?
Durban, Yes there are actually two indications that the safety notch is broken. The first is like you said .... no first click. The second is more obvious because the trigger extends farther forward. People that don't know much about guns tend to ignore these indications and just keep shooting.
Invaluable information, I may have been very close to buying an SBH but I felt the trigger was oddly far forward and I didn’t … now I know
This is why the safety notch is never used on Colts or OM Rugers. It's not really even Ruger's design. It's Colt's design from the Single Action Army. This has been known since 1873 and it's why you simply carry the gun with 5. You are correct, one should never rely on the safety notch at all.

Colt, Pietta, Standard Mfg, etc. still make this design in 2023. We are having 150 year celebrations for it! They aren't sued or anything for it. It's not "dangerous" anymore than a Model 94 with a half cock safety. You just have to know how to handle it.
Many of those Italian ‘replicas’ have hammer safeties added so they’re not quite SAA accurate any more.
I particularly like the Cimarron 44 Bad Boy that has a very discreet firing pin disconnect. If I can’t get the OM SBH I’m chasing I might go for that gun it’s a beauty
My Cimarron Model P with floating hammer Pin has never mis-fired. So not going to change it as the trigger action is very good. Don't want to mess that up unless I have too :) .
That’s good to know, I was sweating for a second about misfires. Have you done anything to the trigger weight or is it light already?
On the cars, it's more than just old times. The cars were very different, Different from now and different from each other. Stylists were not ruled by the wind tunnel and CAFE. Each car had its own personality, not just variations of the jelly bean. Been behind anything as wild as the rear end of a 1959 Chevy Impala lately?
Only on a human. Those keep getting wilder and wilder.
Unless you abuse an Old Model by spinning the cylinder when the hammer is at about 1/4 cock (called "singing" the cylinder), you won't see a cylinder turn line develop.
Based on the knowledge in this thread and important info from you in particular, Iowegan, I am now in ten-day purgatory for an old model!
The mention of ‘singing’ the cylinder raised the hair on the back of my neck! The one I bought doesn’t have a turn line, but the one I decided not to get had one, along with a forward trigger, and from your last post I can conclude that the former owner may have had a different attitude towards his firearms than I do.
Additionally, the manual for ye Olde Model kind of describes the fully loaded method you describe without advocating it and without directly explaining that the pin is in between rounds, although it does mention the cylinder is out of time in this position, so in a roundabout way it does.
Although I have passed ten day purgatory several times I’m always on tenterhooks during it so keep your fingers crossed for me!
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Druban, To quote an old saying .... "Good things come to those that wait!" I'm sure you will be happy with your Old Model .... just be careful and don't abuse it. Maybe you mentioned the caliber ... .357 Mag by chance?

Yes, the forward trigger and the cylinder drag line are a sure indication of abuse. I've had many OMs come into my shop with thousands of rounds fired and nary a flaw. I've also had OMs that had been badly abused. Seems some idiots like to hear the cylinder sing when the cylinder is spun with the hammer positioned just right. This is something a New Model won't do so those OM owners think it's as cool as the 4 clicks.
She’s a .44 SBH OM, Iowegan. And only a year younger than me so I don’t have to feel like I’m robbing the cradle.
Probably going to kick my butt around the range at first, but I’ve always liked a lady with some fire to her.
I have no idea what the relief cut in some cylinders is for? I have never found a clear, explanation that made sense. I often thought it had to do with "dry Firing", but I really do not know. Does anyone have definitive proof why there are relief cuts in the cylinder?:unsure:
Like so many things in this world, I don’t know what it’s for but I am not going to feel fulfilled until I have one.
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I have two of Dougan,s books. I will need to read them again! Also a few others. I will try and find some more data!
I looked into buying these books but they’re priced for their rarity. To add insult to injury, no libraries seem to have them. Bastions of free speech…
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I was able to track down the images of a manual from August 1959 on eBay. Pertinent pages are below. Of course there is no mention of "lowering the hammer between chambers," but surprisingly there is a mention of simply carrying all six in the quarter cock notch (safety notch). Obviously Ruger moved away from that philosophy into the 60s as later manuals simply state never do even that.

I think this is the missing mystery manual from the early days and it answers the question!

View attachment 193759
Thanks for tracking down the reading material! Your internet search skills are to be commended— I wasn’t able to find a copy of that manual despite my best efforts.
For the very briefest of moments I was a fan of the firing pin between chambers idea because it definitely works, but I realized that the cylinder latch (bolt) would start to leave a turning mark on an otherwise pristine cylinder. What’s worse, it would be a discontinuous turning ring. I would rather just load five and keep my cylinder pretty!
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