Sturm, Ruger & Co.
first introduced the Blackhawk
revolver in 1955, after the release of their successful Single-Six
22 sixgun, introduced in 1953. Like its rimfire cousin, the
centerfire Blackhawk had a nostalgic look that evoked the
venerable Colt Single Action Army sixguns, but with modern
materials and a modern internal design that made the Rugers far
superior mechanically to the original Colts. The original
"Flattop" Blackhawks were offered in 357 Magnum on
a "medium" frame size that was roughly the same
dimensions as the Colt frame. In late 1956, Ruger introduced the
44 Magnum "Flattop"
Blackhawk, built on a larger frame to handle the larger
Magnum cartridge, which set the stage for Ruger's later
introduction of the Blackhawk in my favorite centerfire sixgun
cartridge, the 45 Colt.
Ruger finally went to the next logical step: offering
45 Colt sixguns with a conversion cylinder to accommodate the
wonderful 45 ACP cartridge. The 45 ACP is a great companion
to the 45 Colt in a convertible sixgun, as the 45 ACP is a
moderately powerful cartridge that can be enjoyed over long
shooting sessions without punishing the shooter, is a fine
defensive option for those who wish to carry a sixgun for such
purposes, and relatively low-cost ammunition is (usually)
readily available. Therefore, I own several Ruger 45 Colt /
45 ACP convertible sixguns, and I have even had a number of my
Colt 45 sixguns custom-fitted with an extra 45 ACP cylinder.
Beyond any practical application they may have, a 45 ACP sixgun,
whether it be a Single-Action or Double-Action, is just plain
FUN. And FUN is enough reason to own them!
The 45 Colt / 45 ACP Blackhawk has now taken
its next evolutionary step, thanks to the folks at TALO
Distributors, Inc. and noted gun writer Wiley Clapp. Mr.
Clapp is one of America's finest and most-respected "old
school" gun writers; he has a huge body of influential work
to his credit, and has become a friend to Jeff and me over the
past couple of decades. Over the last few years, Mr. Clapp has
turned his hand to designing unique and practical handguns for
some of our major manufacturers; in years past, we have reviewed
the Ruger GP-100 "Wiley
Clapp" 357 Magnum double-action revolver, as well as
Clapp" Stainless Commander and "Wiley
Clapp" CCO Lightweight 45 ACP semi-auto pistols. Mr.
Clapp has a way of combining the features most desirable to
shooters in a unique and appealing fashion, and joining forces
with TALO makes a lot of sense. TALO is a wholesale buying
cooperative, which allows several wholesalers to combine their
buying power to have manufacturers offer limited-run products
which otherwise might never see the light of day; this allows shooters
the opportunity to own limited-edition uniquely-featured
firearms at reasonable prices.
The TALO Exclusive Wiley Clapp 45 Blackhawk,
also known as the "Carryhawk", is just such a
uniquely-featured firearm. Beginning with the 45 Colt Blackhawk,
the Wiley Clapp Carryhawk offers a second cylinder in 45 ACP,
a 4-5/8" barrel, a Super
Blackhawk hammer, a Bird's-Head
grip frame, XS Sights
"Big Dot" front sight with V-notch rear sight, and
the aesthetic touches of a matte-black finish and slab-sided
barrel. I have already discussed the virtues of the additional
45 ACP cylinder, so let's look at the remaining features:
The 4-5/8" barrel offers a reasonable
compromise between power and portability; some bullet velocity
is lost due to the shorter barrel, but the ease of carrying the
shorter barrel more than offsets the nominal reduction in power.
Ruger has long offered the Blackhawk in a 4-5/8" barrel,
and it has long been my favorite barrel length for a sixgun. It
is worth noting here that some have reported the barrel length
of the Wiley Clapp Blackhawk to be 4"; this is incorrect.
The actual barrel length is 4-5/8", which is a good thing,
as a 4" barrel would make it illegal for hunting in many
jurisdictions which specify a barrel of greater than 4" be
The Super Blackhawk hammer has a slightly
different profile than the standard Blackhawk hammer, along with
a wide, serrated spur, which makes reaching and cocking the
hammer much easier...at least for me. Some shooters, such as
those with longer thumbs, might do just as well with the
standard Colt-style Blackhawk hammer, but many shooters greatly
prefer the handling qualities of the Super Blackhawk part.
Bird's-Head grip frame is a somewhat controversial feature,
as some love it and some hate it. I have been firmly in the
"love it" camp for many years, and I find that many of
those on the "hate it" side have never actually fired
or handled an example; for these shooters, the Bird's-Head just
doesn't have the look of the traditional grip frame, but I think
it has a beauty all its own. The Bird's-Head grip frame is a
fairly recent feature for Ruger, having been introduced on their
Vaquero 45 sixgun in 2001, and it
handles superbly in my fairly large hands; the recoil impulse
allows the sixgun to "roll up" in the hand very
smoothly, and the curve of the backstrap perfectly fits in the
palm. The only place where the Bird's-Head fails to shine is
with large-caliber heavy-bullet Magnum-level loads, but the same
thing can be said for the XR3/XR3-RED "standard" or
"plow-handle" grip frame; for these high-recoil loads,
a more linear grip frame, such as Ruger's excellent Bisley grip
frame, is indicated.
The sights consist of XS
Sights' excellent "Big Dot" front sight, combined
with Ruger's fully-adjustable rear sight featuring a shallow
V-notch blade. While also not a traditional set of sights, not
even on a more modern sixgun such as a Ruger, these sights are
just right for the sixgun's intended purpose: self-defense
against either four-legged or two-legged predators. The sight
picture is not as precise as Ruger's more familiar target-style
sights, but the front sight is very quickly acquired in nearly
any lighting condition, which can make all the difference when a
hunting trip or a night on the town goes South. If your interest
is paper-punching, look elsewhere; but if your interest is
carrying a sixgun in defense of your life, these sights are FAST
As for the aesthetics of the barrel and
finish...again, some will like it and some will not. I admit
that the Carryhawk is anything but a traditional-looking sixgun,
but its appearance is very appealing to me; since the Blackhawk
is a thoroughly modern sixgun, it is only fitting that it have a
thoroughly modern look. The matte finish, Bird's-Head grip
frame, and slab-sided barrel (with flats milled into the sides)
combine to create what I would call a very
"businesslike" aesthetic. This is very fitting for a
sixgun that is designed to be carried as a defensive sixgun.
Specifications - TALO Exclusive Ruger
Wiley Clapp Blackhawk
|Model / UPC #:
||0477 / 7-36676-00477-5
||45 Colt / 45 ACP (extra cylinder)
||1:16", RH, 6-groove
|Barrel / Cylinder Gap:
||Unfluted (both cylinders)
||Black Micarta "Gunfighter"
||XS "Big Dot" White Dot
||Ruger "New Model" Transfer
||Plastic Case, Instruction Manual,
|MSRP as of July 2020:
Shooting the Wiley Clapp Blackhawk was a
pleasure...mostly. Using standard-pressure 45 Colt loads, the
sixgun proved to be plenty accurate, easy to shoot, and quick to
acquire the sights. The same was true using the 45 ACP cylinder,
and the sights were very close to point-of-aim for both
standard-pressure 45 Colt or 45 ACP loads. I found that no major
adjustments were required to bring the sights to target using
these loads, which makes switching between the two calibers very
easy. The differences arose when using Magnum-level 45 Colt
loads; as should be expected, the heavy-bullet high-pressure
loads were significantly off-target compared to the
standard-pressure loads, and the recoil became less than
pleasant. Simple physics require both of these variables to hold
true, so there was no surprise, nor is this a problem; the
Blackhawk is built to take the punishment, this is why God made
adjustable sights, and the heavy loads were never intended to
take up an afternoon of plinking. In a hunting situation where
one might have to address an angry bear, loads such as Buffalo
Bore's 325-grain Heavy 45 Colt +P might leave one thanking one's
Maker for Tim Sundles.
When it came time to choose some leather in
which to carry the Wiley Clapp Blackhawk, I didn't have to look
far. I have a variety of holsters made for a 4-5/8"
Blackhawk, so my choice was one made for me by Rob Leahy of Simply
Rugged Holsters a couple of years ago. Dubbed the "Cattleman",
this holster is a traditionally-crafted leather holster,
"simple and rugged" as the name implies. This example
is adorned with a carved Ruger logo spread at an angle over most
of the holster, giving a modern look to the traditional holster
design, perfectly suited to the "neo-traditionalist"
aesthetic of the Carryhawk. I was initially a bit concerned that
the tall, squared profile of the front sight blade might make it
difficult to holster the Carryhawk using a holster made for a
standard Blackhawk, but this was not to be the case; the front
sight worked-in very nicely, and the sixgun slides in and out of
the leather with ease.
As I wear bib overalls most of the time, I
seldom wear belts, so I reached for a "Chesty
Puller" rig from Simply Rugged. The Chesty Puller is an
ingeniously-designed chest holster conversion system, designed
by Rob Leahy to wear while fishing. It works perfectly as a
woods rig, leaving both hands free while the sixgun is
well-protected from brush by virtue of not hanging awkwardly off
one's side, and it is made to work with any Pancake-style
holster. To make the Chesty Puller system even more versatile,
Simply Rugged offers a Conventional
Adapter, making it possible to use the Chesty Puller rig
with virtually any belt holster. It is a great system - rugged,
comfortable, versatile, and affordable - and I cannot recommend
it highly enough.
The Ruger Wiley Clapp Blackhawk 45 Colt / 45
ACP sixgun is everything I hoped it would be: practical,
powerful, easy to carry, versatile, and (dare I say?) beautiful.
Check out Ruger's extensive product line at: www.ruger.com.
View Limited-Edition TALO Firearms at: www.taloinc.com.
Buy Online through your local licensed dealer
using the GUN GENIE at Davidson's Gallery of Guns: www.galleryofguns.com.
To find a TALO dealer in your area, click on
the DEALER FINDER at Lipsey's: www.lipseys.com.
Order ammo online at Lucky Gunner: www.luckygunner.com,
Double Tap Ammo: www.doubletapammo.com,
and Buffalo Bore Ammo: www.buffalobore.com.
XS Sights: www.xssights.com.
Armscor Ammo: www.armscor.com.
Federal Ammo: www.federalpremium.com.
Simply Rugged Holsters: www.simplyrugged.com.
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