THE RUGER HUNTER MODEL
BY JOHN TAFFIN
Over the last four decades I've been able to do a lot of hunting with various handguns including a long lineup of Ruger .44 Magnums. There was that first .44 Flat-Top Blackhawk I perfected by adding a 7 1/2 barrel and which I rotated with a 7 1/2 Super Blackhawk I also perfected by replacing the Super grip frame with one of the XR3 Blackhawk grip frames. With the modifications on both they felt pretty much the same and both fit the same holster. Then there was the 10 Flat-Top carried in the Goerg shoulder holster followed by 10 1/2 Super Blackhawks. Next came the Bisley Model and a higher level of shooter comfort.
Every sixgunner worth his sixgun has a dream gun; modifications they would make to improve the existing model. Gun manufacturers do the same thing and Ruger is no exception doing it to their .44 Magnums since the 1950s. First we had the Ruger .44 Blackhawk of 1956 improved to the .44 Super Blackhawk of 1959 which became the New Model of 1973 and was then modified to become the Bisley Model, which was introduced in 1985, however did not show up in most gun shops until 1986. Is there anything else we could do to "improve" Ruger .44 Magnum Blackhawks? Suppose we start with the Super Blackhawk and set about to make it more user-friendly. First we remove the square backed Dragoon-style trigger guard and replace it with a rounded version. We will keep the basic grip frame as it is longer than the XR3 and XR3-RED frames and provides a place for the little finger to ride and keeps it from getting banged around. Then to help reduce felt recoil we will use a heavier bull barrel, 7 1/2 in length, with a weight adding full-length rib. This is shaping up pretty good! Sometimes fired .44 Magnum brass can be difficult to extract so we will add the longer ejector rod and housing as found on the short-lived Ruger .357 Maximum. One really handy item for any sixgun is the interchangeable front sight feature; since we are dreaming, let us add this also.
Shooters are going to want to hunt with this revolver so why not make it scope ready? If we are going to make it scope ready using the Redhawk and/or Super Redhawk mounting system, let's move the scope forward so we have unimpeded access to the hammer spur for easier cocking. Now we really have something. What should we call this new model? Since its set up so well for hunting we could call it the Hunter Model. It's always nice to see dreams come true and this one did as everything described is exactly what Ruger did to come up with the Hunter Model in 1993.
Besides the adding of recoil reducing weight and all the other features mentioned, the Ruger Hunter Model also has a smooth trigger, which should be required equipment on all hard-kickin' Magnums. That weight-adding one-half inch wide ribbed barrel is scalloped to accept a pair of Ruger rings for easy mounting of a scope. My original Hunter has been wearing a 4X Leupold LER scope for over 10 years now giving the same excellent service I have come to expect from Leupold over the years. Both the Ruger Hunter Model and the Leupold 4X scope have performed flawlessly in the game fields. Ruger's mounting of the scope on the barrel rib instead of the frame results in the scope mounted far enough forward that the hammer is easily reached in front of the rear lens of the scope instead of under it. Sometimes with conventionally mounted scopes the rings are not high enough to allow easy cocking of, or even access to, the hammer.
In between the introduction of the Super Blackhawk and the Hunter Model, hunters discovered heavy-duty .44 Magnum hunting loads with 300 grain bullets. The extra weight of the Hunter Model makes a real difference with this heavy loaded hunting ammunition, and I find the Hunter Model much more comfortable to shoot than a standard Super Blackhawk. The combination of a rounded trigger guard and heavy barrel certainly makes for much more pleasurable shooting when shooting long strings of standard .44 Magnums also.
Over the years I have not only accumulated several guns but three grandsons as well so it should not come as a surprise to find I have three Super Blackhawk Hunter Models put away. There's no doubt in my mind the Ruger Hunter Model is the best bargain available for the handgun hunter. I did not say it was the best, I did not say it was the cheapest, I am simply saying it is the best bargain out there. As each boy turns 21 he will receive the Hunter Model he has already been shooting with me.
When we were dreaming, as so often happens, we woke up too soon! While we were at it designing a near-perfect hunting handgun, one that would handle heavy loads, we should have gone a step further. Just because we have heavier loads than the .44 Magnum now such as the .454, the .475 and .500 Linebaughs, and the .500 Wyoming Express, all of which exhibit very heavy recoil in their top loads, it does not mean the .44 Magnum recoils any less than it did 50 years ago. It is still a serious cartridge with serious recoil. If I could have dreamed just a little longer I would have come up with the Bisley Model Hunter complete with the Bisley grip frame, hammer and trigger.
Since I acquired that very first Super Blackhawk Hunter Model, I have planned to convert it to a Bisley Model by replacing the hammer, trigger, grip frame, and grips with Bisley parts, however time passed before I accomplished it. What I didn't accomplish, Ruger did and the Bisley version is now reality. The Bisley Model Hunter is simply nothing more than the Super Blackhawk Hunter Model equipped with a Bisley Model grip frame, hammer, and trigger. So handgun hunters now have a choice of two scope ready stainless steel 7 1/2 Hunter Model single action sixguns from Ruger and when it comes to choice this is a win-win situation.
So what am I going to use Ruger-style for hunting after all of the grandsons have turned 21? Anytime we hunt or shoot together I will be using the Bisley Model Hunter. It would not be right for one of them to get the Bisley Hunter Model while the other two had the Super Blackhawk Hunter Model and how would the decision ever be made? I like things simple; I'll shoot the Bisley Hunter Model.
All of these Ruger Hunter Models
have also been fitted with
Whether the Hunter Model is a Super Blackhawk or Bisley expect it be an excellent shooter. For years one of my favorite hunting loads for the .44 Magnum has been BRPs 295 grain, gas checked, Keith-style semi-wadcutter over 21.5 grains of WWW 296. In the Super Blackhawk Hunter Model these clock out at 1352 fps and put five shots into 5/8 at 25 yards. That certainly sounds like a dream sixgun to me.
Ruger single action and Smith & Wesson double action .44 Magnums were the first, however not the only .44 Magnums around in the last half of the 20th century. They definitely were for about a quarter century, and then a lot of other models both single action and double action were introduced. It is time to start looking at The New Breed of .44 Magnums.
27-1) Ruger's .44 Magnums over the past 50 years include the .44 Blackhawk,
the Super Blackhawk, and the Hunter Model.
27-2) The heavy top strap of the Ruger Hunter Model is appropriately marked.
27-3) These two slots on the ribbed barrel accept Ruger scope rings.
27-4) The Ruger Hunter Model Blackhawk is safe to carry fully loaded with six rounds.
27-5) Two superb .44 Magnum hunting handguns are shown, the 10 1/2 Super
Blackhawk and the 7 1/2 Hunter Model.
27-6) Notice the extra long ejector rod on the Hunter Model for more positive
ejection of fired cartridges.
27-7 & 27-8) The excellent accuracy of the Ruger Hunter Model is evident in
these groups shot at 50 yards.
27-9) Black Hills, Cor-Bon, and Garrett all offer heavy hunting loads suitable
for use in the Ruger Hunter Model.
27-10) When used with iron sights the extra weight of the heavy ribbed barrel
aids tremendously in offhand shooting.
27-11) Buffalo Bore offers Heavy .44 Magnum loads with both cast and jacketed bullets.
27-12) The original Hunter Model has now been joined by the Bisley Model.
Both come with laminated factory stocks.