Both the original .357 and .44 Magnum Blackhawks are now known to collectors as Flat-Tops. In many parts of the country Ruger’s .44 Magnum arrived on dealer shelves even before the Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum. A group of us teenagers, I was 17 at the time, used to gather every Saturday afternoon at Boyle’s Gun Shop or Shell’s Gun and Archery Farm to shoot. Both establishments had outdoor ranges and when one is young weather makes no difference, so we shot almost every week. Shell’s received an early 4″ Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum and he rented it out along with six rounds of ammunition. Each one of us shot it in turn. The recoil was awful, however we all lied and said it wasn’t bad; after all, teenagers are supposed to be invincible.

That experience was not easy to forget so when the first Ruger .44 Blackhawk arrived I bought it instead of a Smith. It sold for $96 and I still have it more than a half-century later. It started as a standard 6-1/2″ Blackhawk, was soon cut to an easier carrying 4-5/8″ length, and then returned to the factory for a 7-1/2″ barrel when I needed the shorter length for a custom .44 Special Ruger. When his Esteemed Editorship pinned me to the wall several years back and forced me to pick my one favorite sixgun, it was this old Ruger. It was an easy choice.