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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After I got a revolver that I'd thought about for some time, a Smith 686 last month, I picked up another .357, a Ruger Blackhawk Convertible that also has a 9mm cylinder. I figured since I now had dies and components for the S&W, another .357 to feed would be nice.
I never really like the feel of a Uberti or Colt in .357, that extra metal in the barrel and cylinder just threw off the balance and good feel that the .45 SA's had.

The short barreled, large frame Ruger felt O.K. when I got it, but I just can't warm up to it.
I think I had the most fun with it while shooting with the 9mm cylinder, it was a hoot with 147 grain Federal 9mm.
Today I picked up one I like a whole lot better, a New Model Flattop Convertible in .45 Colt/.45 ACP.

If I didn't reload, the .45 ACP cylinder might get more use, I have seen those for $14-$15 per 50 round box, much cheaper than .45 Colt loads.
I was out of cast bullets for the .45 Colt, so I grabbed a box of HSM Cowboy loads from Sportsman's Warehouse, $33 with tax, minus my military discount.
The .45 ACP cylinder is nice to have, but if I want a pipsqueak load I''l get some Starline .45 Schofield brass and load a 200 grainer at 700 fps.

The Flattop is made using a smaller medium frame, like the New Vaquero.
It has a steel grip frame and ejector rod housing, unlike the NM Blackhawks which have an aluminum alloy one. To me the regular Blackhawk, especially in the small bore .357, is really muzzle heavy.
The grip frame is a bit different too, 7/16" wide back strap instead of a half inch.
The Flattop, while not having the protective "ears" around the rear sight, has a cylinder which stops (indexes) at each chamber, like a Colt or Uberti.
A regular NM Blackhawk just spins freely and you have to stop it at each chamber and hold it there with your finger while you load each chamber.

Because the cylinder is smaller, with thinner walls ( and a bit shorter) the Flattop is rated for Tier II .45 colt loads only, not Tier III like the bigger frame Blackhawks.
But that's still a 270 to 300 grain bullet @ near 1000 fps. Plenty to whistle through even a moose or bison. Plenty for the Black Bear and Mountain Lion around here. I don't need no stinkin' Tier III loads now that I'm not living in Griz country any more.

I stopped at my shooting place on the way home and fired half a box through it. Pretty dang nice, more like shooting a New Frontier Colt than a Ruger.
I'll go back with my table, rest and small screwdriver and get her sighted in properly and see what it'll do with the 3 loads I have on hand.
And measure the trigger pull (feels nice as it is) and chamber throats.

I've got the .357/9mm Convertible up for sale, got it cleaned up and even put the silly plastic ring back in.
I'm not crazy about the faux Ivory grips that came on the Flattop, but they are a bit thicker than the black rubber checkered ones, so I'll use them for now.
I noticed that Brownell's sells them for $98, while the black rubber ones are $28. So later down the road I can sell them for enough for a good down payment on some nice wood grips.

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I measured the trigger pull several times and it is a crisp 2 3/4 lbs.
The cylinder throats all measure .451".
After doing some reading, it sounds like the heavy weights like the 300 grain and up will protrude out the front of the cylinder. You need a full size Blackhawk for that.
But a 260 or 270 grain Keith style will work.

Pics don't do it justice, the polish and blue of the Flattop is better than the .357 Convertible. They look the same in the pic above, but up close, the regular Blackhawk looks cheaper, more of a matte blue, and the aluminum grip frame looks more like a black paint over it.

These new Flattops were a special run for Lipsey's Distributors, perhaps Ruger took a bit more care in fit and finish. The action is really smooth and doesn't have that rough Ka-Chunk like many NM Blackhawks do when you thumb them back.

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I like that mid frame Ruger so much I bought another Saturday.
It is like new, but made around 2011, same as my Flattop.
It is a blued, 7 1/2" New Vaquero in .45 Colt. I swapped the grips around for now.

This being a smaller, lighter mid frame like the Flattop, is very much like the 7 1/2" Colts that the cavalry would have used back in Custer's day. It would have been fine on a horse carried crossdraw as was the custom back then, but a little long to carry walking.
This will be a range gun and plinker for me, and I'll use the shorter Flattop for carrying in the woods.

I got both of them out to the range Saturday and shot some groups, despite the strong winds. The FT was much easier to regulate with the adjustable sights:

The Vaquero was shooting low, not unusual. They come with a tall front sight so you can file it down to where you want it. I was shooting some factory loads until I can order a large quantity of some cast bullets, so I didn't start filing yet.
When I settle on a load, then I'll get it hitting dead center.

I tried the .45 ACP cylinder from the FT Convertible in the new Vaquero, and it's a bit too tight. Oh well, I was hoping that cylinder would work in either gun.
It's nice though that except for the sights, they both share all the same parts.
I'm looking forward to putting a lot of rounds through both.
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