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American Handgunner Jan/Feb 2012 Digital Edition - Page 38
TAFFINTESTS tHe sIXGUNNer HIMseLF: GUNs, GeAr & More JoHN tAFFIN W hen Bob Stutler was production manager at Ruger, he once told me, “No matter what we make, someone will want something else.” How true that is; I have been guilty of this many times, and not just with Rugers. However, all hope is not lost. Some remarkable models and calibers are available today. Not from Ruger, but from one of their distributors, Lipsey’s, who not only distributes standard Ruger production items but also always looks for items they think should sell well, even if not considered “mainstream.” People who have a deep understanding of shooters manage Lipsey’s, and this extends beyond rifle shooters right to the heart of sixgunners. Thanks to Lipsey’s, sixgunners have a source for what are essentially Living Legends. In 1955, Ruger took great step forward after their .22 offerings, opening new doors with a centerfire single action. Bill Ruger maintained the grip frame and coil spring operation of his by then-popular Single-Six, increased the size of the mainframe and cylinder to that of the Colt Single Action Army, flat-topped the frame, added excellent adjustable sights, and chambered it in the most powerful cartridge then available, the .357 Magnum. This first Blackhawk had a 45/8" barrel and blue finish. I was still in high school and too young to purchase one, but I had a life-sized picture hanging on my wall; it was the last thing I saw every night before michael Gouse going to sleep and the first thing I saw each morning. engraved, ivory-stocked By late 1956, I purchased my own. lipsey’s .44 special. lipsey’s Ruger .44 special new Vaqueromakes for an excellent everyday packin’ pistol. left to right: The original .357 blackhawk which dates back to 1955, inspired the lipsey’s .45 flat-Top and .44 special bisley, which share the same sized cylinder and frame. Living Legends i Lipsey’s i whether with the .45 Colt or .45 ACP cylinder in place, the lipsey’s .45 flat-Top Convertible performs great. The lipsey’s #5 sAA shoots exceptionally well. ith the coming of the Ruger Blackhawk in .357 Magnum, shooters now had a exceptionally rugged, virtually indestructible, Perfect Packin’ Pistol. Elmer Keith said we should expect to see one very soon in .44 Special and .45 Colt. Alas, it was not to be. In late 1955, Smith & Wesson teamed up with Remington 38 More Models W to introduce the first sixgun firing the new .44 Magnum. At that time just about everyone forgot about the .44 Special, including Ruger. Three .357 Blackhawks were re-barreled and the cylinders re-chambered to .44 Magnum. Keith warned them the frame was too small for the new Magnum, but thought they would make great .44 Specials. With further testing, one of the guns blew and Ruger increased the size of the frame and cylinder to what was to become the .44 Magnum Blackhawk. That was early 1956, and the .45 Colt would not surface in a Ruger until the lipsey’s .44 special bisley model has its roots in elmer keith’s #5sAA. early 1970s, when it too was built on the larger frame and cylinder. It was pretty obvious we would never see a .44 Special or .45 Colt in a standard-sized single action from Ruger. Continued on page 77 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • JANUARY/FEBRUARY2012