Jump to content
Practically Shooting

On The Way: Ruger Old Army (black powder)


Recommended Posts

I’ve goofed around some with black powder guns, including revolvers, but it’s been a while. I guess I’m about to get a refresher.  

I’ve never had an Old Army before.  The interest was there, but I never took the leap.  A friend and I got to talking about them a couple of years ago, which planted the seed this time around.  And this time around, I never let it go.   If I watch Gunbroker for something long enough, I’ll find one I can’t refuse.  And here we go.  Another itch scratched.  

A stainless steel, 7-1/2” barrel, adjustable sight model should be here soon.  I wish I still had some of that black powder stuff I’ve given away over the years.
There is the lesson: Never let anything go.


Some people may not know these guns exist, since it’s been 15 years since Ruger dropped them.   If you don’t know, read on.  
If you do know, don’t bother. 

It’s a black powder (cap and ball) revolver made on a modified Blackhawk/Super Blackhawk frame.  It’s the only BP revolver I know of that isn’t a replica of an 1800s gun.  

Bill Ruger, Sr liked black powder revolvers, but wished they could be made with some modern improvements.  He owned a gun factory or two, so he made the gun he wanted.  It was strong, had adjustable sights, used modern coil springs, and was well made unlike some replicas of the time.  The result resembled the 1858 Remington and/or the Whitney and Spiller & Burr.  

At first, they were called .44 caliber.  Later the boxes were marked .45 caliber.  The ball recommended for all was the same .457” diameter.  Almost all other .44 revolvers use a .454” ball, and most Old Army owners who have tried them say the .454” works and shaves lead like it should when seated.   I haven’t read any serious accuracy test comparisons, but I am curious.  

After a couple of years, Ruger made the gun in stainless steel.  That’s where things got interesting to me.  Reviews from the time talked about ease of cleaning, and many would clean it by removing the grips and running it through the dishwasher.

Thus the appeal to me.  A black powder gun for the lazy man. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

A word of advice:

If you ever get away from a specialized area of the shooting sports, keep that stuff together.  Don’t go robbing things and fail to put them back.  

If you haven’t shot black powder for a while… just for example… and borrow your powder measure to play around with a BP cannon, put it back when you’re done.   Same thing if you use your capper elsewhere (and have no idea why you would’ve done that); put it back.  Same with the .454 round balls you know you have.  

I got lucky with caps.  Percussion caps have been a hard to find item for a while.  I had some, but donated them to 4-H.  When i picked up the Old Army, I jokingly asked the owner if he had any.   He found that funny.  Later, as I’m about to leave, the owner’s son asked if I needed anything else.  Again, I joked “just caps”, but he surprised me by saying he would look.  
To my shock, he came back with a can. He had noticed it when scratching around in the back recently.   That may be the first can of caps sold in a while.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

I now have ballz (.454 and .457), black powder, two kinds of caps, a pistol-size powder measure, Wonder Wads, and bore butter.  I even have Cream of Wheat to use as a filler in light loads.  

I am now ready to shoot this thing.  

But every day I’ve had time, it’s been 32 degrees or under.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

It took longer than I expected, but I sent the first shots through the Old Army on Saturday. It was muzzleloader day for the 4-H kids, and it made an appearance.  

I wish I could report group sizes, but every shot went on or at steel.


This was the first time I've cleaned a stainless steel BP gun, and it was EASY.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...