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Old 02-14-2020, 09:18 PM
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Article: Ruger .30 Carbine Old Model Blackhawk revolvers Article: Ruger .30 Carbine Old Model Blackhawk revolvers Article: Ruger .30 Carbine Old Model Blackhawk revolvers Article: Ruger .30 Carbine Old Model Blackhawk revolvers Article: Ruger .30 Carbine Old Model Blackhawk revolvers  
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Default Article: Ruger .30 Carbine Old Model Blackhawk revolvers

Thought I'd share this draft article with you - as always, comments welcome.

John

Ruger .30 Carbine old model Blackhawk revolvers



In June of 1940, the U.S. Army Chief of Infantry put out a call for the design of a light carbine chambering a new .30 caliber round that was similar to the earlier Winchester .32 self-loading cartridge. This newer development used a 110-grain jacketed round-nosed bullet, and fired it at about 2,000 feet per second from the M1 Carbine, designed by Winchester and adopted in 1941. The .30 Carbine round was made using ball powder and non-corrosive primers from the start. The M1 carbine was produced by the millions during World War II, and ammunition for it was generated in huge untold numbers. Three rounds of that WWII ammo are illustrated here, brought back from Europe by a Battle of the Bulge and Hurtgen Forest veteran who was my next-door neighbor when I was a youth. His widow gave these to me several years ago. The headstamp on these cartridges is “LC 43,” indicating manufacture at Lake City Arsenal in 1943.

When the war was over and the U.S. adopted new weapons that made the old carbines obsolete, many tons of surplus military .30 Carbine ammunition were released to the public for literally peanuts. Bill Ruger, the founder and president of Sturm, Ruger & Company, saw an opportunity to produce a handgun that could fire the round, and went to work to design one. What he did was chamber his popular single action Blackhawk revolver for the now widely available ammo. Traditionally-configured single action revolvers, with their one-at-a-time poke-‘em-out ejection rods, can easily accommodate rimless cartridges. The pint-sized military .30 caliber round would today be termed a superb “magnum” handgun cartridge, propelling its bullet at about 1400 feet per second from a 7 ” barrel, which Ruger chose for optimum velocity combined with reasonable handiness.

The .30 Carbine Blackhawk was introduced with an ad in the American Rifleman magazine in 1968. The ad stated “It fills the ‘Magnum gap’ between the .22 magnum and the .357 Magnum cartridges.” The suggested retail price in the January, 1968 price sheet was $87.50. The revolver illustrated here, unfired and in original condition, was manufactured midway in that first year of production. Today it is still packed in its original yellow and black box with all papers intact. Serial numbers for that year numbered from 1 to about 9304, and specimens in nearly any condition dating from 1968 are considered collector’s finds. There are three known exceptions that have serial numbers not in this number block. One was shipped in 1967, another was scrapped, and one was serialed way outside the range, shipped in December of 1968.

Beginning in 1969, serials were prefixed with “50-“. In all, a grand total of 32,985 “old model” .30 Carbine guns were produced. The last one, probably shipped in mid-1972, was serial numbered 50-23681. As is normal with many gun manufacturers, guns are not necessarily shipped in serial number order. Only factory verification can provide an actual shipping date for specific guns.

All of these .30 caliber revolvers had 7 ” barrels and Super Blackhawk-sized cylinder frames. Only one had a brass Super Blackhawk-style grip frame, specially produced to be used in a Ruger promotional photograph. Actually inspected and shipped on February 13, 1973, it bore serial number 50-18400. Additionally, some are known to have been fitted with steel Super Blackhawk grip frames. In 1973, the “new model” Blackhawks were introduced, and to the best of my knowledge, .30 Carbine revolvers are still in limited production today, following a brief hiatus in the 1990s. The old models covered here should always be loaded with only five rounds and the hammer kept down on an empty chamber. The new models may be safely loaded with live rounds in all six chambers.

The old model .30 Carbine Blackhawks were handsome handguns, beautifully fit and finished. The upper frames, barrels, sights, ejector housings, loading gates, screws and triggers were made of alloy steel, nicely polished and blued. The right side of the cylinder frame showed the heads of three screws, which was a major indentifying characteristic of the old models. The hammer was blued steel, polished bright on the sides. The standard grip frame was anodized aluminum. The front sight was ramped, and the rear sight was fully adjustable. The overall length of the gun was 13.38” and it weighed in at 46 ounces. The two-piece grips were usually walnut with handsome grain, oil or lacquer finished. The barrel had a one in 20” right-hand twist rate with six grooves. The cylinders had 6 chambers that fully enclosed and supported loaded cartridges. The cylinder pin was blued alloyed steel, extended, grooved and collared. The serial number was stamped on the right side of the grip frames under the cylinders. The left side of the barrel was stamped “STURM, RUGER & CO., INC.” over “SOUTHPORT, CONN. U.S.A.”. The left side of the cylinder frame under the cylinder was stamped “RUGER BLACKHAWK” over “.30 CARBINE CAL.” and the Ruger logo. The grips on each side featured a silver-colored disc with a black Ruger “eagle” in the center, imbedded in the upper part of the grip.

Now that surplus .30 Carbine ammo is no longer plentiful as it was, many users elect to handload this round. It’s easy enough. I personally have loaded 100-grain Speer semi-jacketed “plinkers” and I have also cast and used some suitable bullets using hard linotype metal. I found that 92-grain jacketed bullets designed for the .30 caliber Luger round also work well. Since the carbine round headspaces on the mouth of the case, it’s important to use a long taper-type crimping die; never a standard crimp which would affect proper headspacing. .30 Carbine military brass is tough and can be reloaded many times with no problems. The cases can stretch somewhat in firing or resizing. Case length is critical, so be sure the cases are trimmed to specification if needed. Proper case length should be between 1.280” and 1.285”, no shorter and no longer. I recommend carbide sizing dies to eliminate the need for sizing lube. If you lube the cases for sizing, be sure to remove all residual lubricant to avoid case setback in firing.

A couple of caveats apply to shooting this gun. Number one, the report when firing is LOUD. Remember hearing similar cautions about firing the Russian Tokarev high-velocity pistol round? This Ruger is even louder, guaranteed to startle, amaze and probably annoy innocent bystanders. The bullet is achieving supersonic speeds, the barrel is shorter than that of the M1 Carbine, and you are dealing with chamber pressures in excess of those that are standard for the .357 Magnum. Wear earmuffs and earplugs to protect your hearing. Secondly, do ensure that the chambers in the cylinder are kept clean and free of lube to prevent excessive setback of the case when firing.

You will find that shooting this relatively heavy handgun is pleasant, recoil-wise. You will also discover that this firearm is very accurate if you do your part. 100-yard plinking hits are easy to accomplish, and small game should be in danger even at that range.

By way of history, a few other handguns have been chambered for the .30 Carbine round. In 1944, Smith & Wesson made a double-action revolver to fire it. Although it fired over a thousand rounds satisfactorily, the U.S. military decided not to adopt it. It was just too loud for field use. In 1958, the now-defunct Kimball Arms company made a semiauto .30 Carbine pistol that resembled the old High Standard Field King .22. It never really got off the ground. Beginning in 1964, Plainfield Machine Corporation made an M1 Carbine “pistol” that lacked a shoulder stock. It was called the “Enforcer” and was later sold to Iver Johnson. They continued it in production until 1986. The Thompson-Center Contender single shot pistol has occasionally been chambered for the carbine round. The Taurus “Raging Thirty” and the AMT AutoMag III were both available in .30 Carbine chambering, but only the Ruger Blackhawk has survived the competition consistently over many years. The old models in particular were meticulously made, traditional in operation, and very effective .30 caliber “magnums.” Consequently, they have become quite collectible!

(c) 2020 JLM
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Old 02-14-2020, 10:30 PM
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John, nicely done! I have #9264 from 1968. Love this gun. I also collect M1 Carbines and always wanted a handgun in this caliber. I really wanted an Automag III until I held one in my hand and found out how pricey they are. I'll stick with the Ruger!
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Old 02-14-2020, 11:54 PM
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Great article. Only one bit I would change — the comment about using a carbide sizing die and skipping lubricant. No way this works in my experience. Apologies if your experience is different. I use a carbide sizing die but the heavy taper of the case makes sizing .30 Carbine brass a serious workout even with a carbide die and lube, there is no way I would ever get brass out of my sizing die if it wasn’t lubed. Just no way.

Maybe my carbide size die is undersized? I don’t know.
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Old 02-15-2020, 12:11 AM
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Great article! Except now I want one!


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Old 02-15-2020, 01:36 AM
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Hi,

Couple things:
What is 1" right hand twist?

Case length...you say 1.280-1.285".
Since the 30 Carbine headspaces off the case mouth, isn't proper case length dependent on the combined value of the depth of chamber cut plus the gap between the breechface of the cylinder and recoil shield? While a -0.005" headspace allowance is customary, if there are any variations in chamber depth (say, caused by reamer wear, operator error, etc.) or headspace (caused by wear, endshake, etc.), it is my experience when reloading rimless cartridges for revolvers these values need to be known on a gun by gun basis.
Without knowing this, it is entirely possible to reload a cartridge that binds in use (or jams the gun entirely) or, conversely, exhibits excess headspace.

Otherwise, fine article.

Best Regards,
Jim
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:14 AM
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Another well done article. I've always admired that revolver ( wish I'd bought one back in the day ); and LOUD !! I love LOUD handguns, and that thing is a hoot at the range.
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:49 AM
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Nicely done...

Have had two of these beautifully made guns. One was an Old Model and the other a New Model. I still have the OM but let the NM go some time back. Both suffered from the same malady however...too short a front sight blade. With the rear sight in the lowest position the POI was still several inches high at 25 yards. I ended up ruining the collector value of the OM by having the front blade milled off and a Patridge installed in its place...it will now shoot to POA with any weight bullet.

From what I have read, the NM .30 Carbine can also be used with .32-20. It will not work with the OM because of the way Ruger cut the OM chambers. I never tried this in my NM as I didn't find out about it before I sold it.

Reloading wise there are several good bullets made for the .30 Carbine. Besides the standard 110 grain FMJ GI type bullets, Hornady makes a 90 Grain XTP-HP and Sierra makes a 85 grain Soft Point. Speer still makes the 110 Plinker and also the 110 grain JHP that used to be called the Varminter...

I also use a 120 grain cast bullet from Accurate Molds which is the 31-120S which will run close to 1500 fps when sized .309. There is also now the same bullet in a 135 grain called the 31-135S that I hope to try soon as my friend now has the mold.

Really fun gun to own and shoot....

Bob

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Old 02-15-2020, 09:46 AM
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One of the more interesting guns I came across at the police crime lab was a full auto .30 caliber Ruger. The original barrel was replaced with a section of the barrel from a M-1 carbine. When fired, the gas piston drove the cylinder pin into the hammer. In testing, it would fire two or three rounds, but the lack of buffering battered the components to the point of jamming. Just as well, considering the single-actions tendency to roll back in the hand. Where would it be pointing by the time round six fired?

Bob
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Old 02-15-2020, 09:59 AM
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red9...would love to see a picture of that one...

As to SA roll...the .30 Carbine generates so little recoil that there is no roll...
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6string View Post
Hi,


What is 1" right hand twist?
That is relatively common shorthand for a twist that makes a complete revolution in one inch, twisting to the right. However, I made a typo boo-boo. The twist rate is actually 1 in 20". I'll modify the text. Thanks for making me pay closer attention to that detail!

John
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6string View Post
Hi,


Case length...you say 1.280-1.285".
Since the 30 Carbine headspaces off the case mouth, isn't proper case length dependent on the combined value of the depth of chamber cut plus the gap between the breechface of the cylinder and recoil shield? While a -0.005" headspace allowance is customary, if there are any variations in chamber depth (say, caused by reamer wear, operator error, etc.) or headspace (caused by wear, endshake, etc.), it is my experience when reloading rimless cartridges for revolvers these values need to be known on a gun by gun basis.
Without knowing this, it is entirely possible to reload a cartridge that binds in use (or jams the gun entirely) or, conversely, exhibits excess headspace.
You make good points, but the case overall length I've quoted is directly from the original specifications for the .30 Carbine cartridge. If you wish to fine tune case OAL for a particular gun, of course that's entirely up to you. In my knowledge, Ruger did a decent job of producing their guns to match factory standard case dimensions. Staying to those original specs should pretty much keep you out of trouble.

John
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:37 AM
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John, I think that the rate of twist is one in twenty inches.
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
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John, I think that the rate of twist is one in twenty inches.
I double checked my sources, and you are quite correct. The twist is 1 in 20". Thanks!

John
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Old 02-15-2020, 11:02 AM
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I’ve always wanted one. But like my Enfields the lack of cheap surplus ammo kind of kills the fun.
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Old 02-15-2020, 11:53 AM
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Excellent fact-filled article.

I own number 5019 and you're correct, they are loud, fun and quite accurate. An excellent companion to the 30 Carbine.
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Old 02-15-2020, 12:43 PM
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The .30 Carbine was not know for its stopping power. In a handgun, it would be even less effective.

I’ll stick with my .45 Colt’s. Will pick a man up off his feet and knock him down, and won’t blow your eardrums out in the process.
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Old 02-15-2020, 02:33 PM
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"Will pick a man up off his feet and knock him down"??? Wouldn't that violate Newton's 3rd. law?
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Old 02-15-2020, 03:42 PM
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Indeed it would.
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Old 02-15-2020, 03:55 PM
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Nice write-up John. I also have one of these Ruger 3-screw revolvers. I bought it about 25 yrs. ago at a small winter gun show. I bought a box of factory ammo at the show and headed for the only indoor range we had. LOUD really doesn't do justice to what happens when the hammer drops. The concussion wave is also punishing. A family group shooting near me packed up and left. I apologized to the owner of the range.

I need to get that revolver and my 30 carbine to the range this spring.
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Old 02-15-2020, 04:41 PM
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I saw a 4 digit 30 carbine blackhawk at a gun show a year or 2 ago. I had no idea about the cartridge at the time and I regretfully passed on it.
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Old 02-15-2020, 05:51 PM
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"From what I have read, the NM .30 Carbine can also be used with .32-20."

That would be impossible with the standard .30 Carbine cylinder without rechambering it. The .30 Carbine head chambers flush with the rear face of the cylinder. There is only a very slight gap between the recoil shield and the cylinder. Even if a .32-20 cartridge could fit into the .30 Carbine chamber (it won't), it has a rim and there is no space for it. There are two ways to convert the .30 Carbine cylinder to accept .32-20. First would be to mill down the rear cylinder face to allow headspace for the rim. Second would be to recess the chambers for rims. I once considering having a .30 Carbine cylinder rechambered for .32-20, but decided that it was an impractical idea. And there is no need to do so as .30 Carbine brass can be easily handloaded to produce any .32-20 ballistics you wish.

My experience with my Blackhawk is that fired .30 Carbine cases do stretch and may need to be trimmed. I have always trimmed .30 Carbine cases to 1.275"-1.280" (after FL resizing) for use in either the .30 Carbine or the Ruger Blackhawk, and have never had any problems with using that length in either, even though it is slightly under spec. And it delays trimming for a few shots. I have quite a few steel .30 Carbine cases (WWII and Korea), and they do not seem to stretch as much.

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Old 02-15-2020, 06:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
"From what I have read, the NM .30 Carbine can also be used with .32-20."

That would be impossible with the standard .30 Carbine cylinder without rechambering it. The .30 Carbine head chambers flush with the rear face of the cylinder. There is only a very slight gap between the recoil shield and the cylinder. Even if a .32-20 cartridge could fit into the .30 Carbine chamber (it won't), it has a rim and there is no space for it. There are two ways to convert the .30 Carbine cylinder to accept .32-20. First would be to mill down the rear cylinder face to allow headspace for the rim. Second would be to recess the chambers for rims. I once considering having a .30 Carbine cylinder rechambered for .32-20, but decided that it was an impractical idea. And there is no need to do so as .30 Carbine brass can be easily handloaded to produce any .32-20 ballistics you wish.

My experience with my Blackhawk is that fired .30 Carbine cases do stretch and may need to be trimmed. I have always trimmed .30 Carbine cases to 1.275"-1.280" (after FL resizing) for use in either the .30 Carbine or the Ruger Blackhawk, and have never had any problems with using that length in either, even though it is slightly under spec. And it delays trimming for a few shots. I have quite a few steel .30 Carbine cases (WWII and Korea), and they do not seem to stretch as much.
It's worth noting that the currently-made "new model" .30 Carbine Blackhawks do NOT cozy up the cylinder to the recoil shield. There's a gap that exposes some of the base of the case. It may be easier to re-chamber these cylinders to .32-20, although I can see no earthly reason for doing so.

I think the old models that completely contain the entire cartridge in the cylinder with no discernible cylinder-recoil shield gap were much more elegant and finished in appearance. Also the current new models come standard with (in my opinion) cheesy plastic grips. The older walnut grips seemed to have been uniformly selected for nice grain, and they looked great. Just a couple more reasons why I like the older guns - besides being able to load and reload the cylinder just by feel and reverse-indexing. Everything lines up the way it should. And who doesn't like the old "4-click" cocking experience? It just screams "John Wayne must be close by."

John
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Last edited by PALADIN85020; Today at 11:16 AM.
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:04 PM
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News to me. My new model must have the case heads flush with the rear face of the cylinder And it has only tiny gap. I must be very careful about case length or the cylinder will jam.
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:13 PM
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I only wish to say be sure to wear plugs and muffs both, they are loud!
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Old 02-15-2020, 09:38 PM
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Interesting note that seems odd or hard to believe... Ruger built, marketed and shipped the .30 Carbine Blackhawk before they did so with the .45 Colt. Who would have thought that?
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:12 PM
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Somewhere I have a US military box of .30 Carbine where the cases were steel. I was told that the steel cases were experimental.
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Old Yesterday, 12:47 AM
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I have had 2 of the Blackhawks, both Old Models and about 8 of the M-1 Carbines. I have reloaded about 7000 cases in a RCBS Carbide die without lube and about 50 with a RCBS Steel die before that. The Carbide die I have needed no lube of any kind to when sizing or removing any of my cases (fired in several guns!). The steel dies needed lube, but was such a mess I bought the Carbide right away, even though is was $79 in 1981 (2 1/2 times the cost of the steel die set!)

I used the Gas Check version of the Lyman/Ideal 3118 mould to make bullets I size to .309" for use in both the handgun and the Carbines. H110/WW296 is the only powder to achieve military ammo velocities! Although my revolvers grouped better with a load of IMR or H 4227! The rifles didn't seem to care which powder was used for 100 yard groups!

The noise is absolutely brain rattling and feels loud enough to shatter your ear drums! (But compared to some of the Contender/Encore cartridges, it's not too bad!)

Ivan
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Old Yesterday, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
News to me. My new model must have the case heads flush with the rear face of the cylinder And it has only tiny gap. I must be very careful about case length or the cylinder will jam.
Here's a picture of the current new model .30 Carbine Blackhawk, as pictured in a Ruger on-line advertisement. The gap between the back of the cylinder and the upper frame's recoil shield is quite evident. Compare that to my photo of the old model right below it.

John


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Old Yesterday, 02:04 PM
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I have had one for years and never shot it. Now I feel the need to shoot it.
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