The Baby Gun

And Loads for Development

What better way to celebrate a new life than with a new gun?

Gun guys/gals don’t need much of an excuse to buy a gun — there’s always a reason. I’ve got hero guns, remembrance guns, dedicated guns, concealed guns, long-range guns, hunting guns…. you get the picture. Today, the gun I’m telling you about is as common as they come, but that doesn’t mean it’s not special to me. Far from it.

I call it “my baby gun,” because I bought it brand spanking new the day after my daughter was born. What better way to celebrate a new life, right? And before you laugh at me, I’m sure some of you may have done the same thing.

Thanks to its dual cylinders, the Ruger Blackhawk shoots 9mm, .38 Special and .357 Magnum.

Dual Cylinders

Thinking ahead, I wanted a gun I could use to teach my daughter, Samantha, how to shoot with, but still be useful to her later in life. Ruger had just the thing, with their dual cylinder Blackhawk single-action revolver. I chose a 6.5” 9mm/.357 Magnum caliber because I felt it offered the most versatility for a young shooter and has enough horsepower for taking care of heavier jobs, if the need arises, especially with handloads.

For a beginner shooter, the 9mm is perfect with its light recoil. Loaded with .38 Special cartridges would up the ante, recoil wise, while still being manageable, eventually working up to heavy .357 Magnum loads as skill level improves. At least that’s what I explained to my wife when the bill surfaced a month later.

“Don’t you think you’re jumping the gun a bit,” she asked, as I cradled Samantha in my arms. No, not at all.

These are the powders you need for mild-to-wild handloads.

The Loads

Back then, and until recently, 9mm ammo was abundant and cheap. Picking up discarded 9mm brass at my local range really got me into handloading this cartridge. With free brass and my own cast bullets, I was only paying for primer and powder which amounted to about 6-7 cents per load.

My favorite 9mm load consists of a MP Molds 130-grain radiused flat-nose bullet loaded over 5.5 grains of Unique powder. I powder coat my slugs, sizing them .358” for both 9mm pistols and the Ruger Blackhawk. This really increases accuracy for both pistols and revolvers.

Recoil is practically non-existent in the 6.5” revolver and clocks around 1,200 fps. I’ll shoot hundreds of these on my “special” range days where I just shoot for fun. Working the single-action revolver keeps the pace just right.

Even after 22 years, the Ruger Blackhawk will continue to provide generations of service.

The .38 Special has two class of loads: standard plinking loads and heavy Elmer-type loads. For plinking, I use any cast slug weighing around 150-160 grains. Favorites include Lee 158-grain radiused flat-nose slugs, and 150-grain SWC slugs, both from 6- cavity molds, which dumps a lot of bullets fast. Loads include either 4.2 grains of 231 for around 800 fps, or 5 grains of Unique for about 950 fps. These are exceptionally fun loads to shoot and really let the shooter concentrate on the mechanics without anticipating recoil. I shoot these loads myself to tighten things up whenever the need arises for a tune-up.

One of my all-time favorite loads consists of the Lyman 358429 Keith bullet loaded over 13.0 grains of 2400. Out of this gun, I get 1,260 fps, which is great for a 173-grain SWC slug. Who needs magnum brass when you get this type of performance from .38 Special brass?

The next load does uses .357 Magnum brass. I use a 187-grain WFNGC (Wide Flat-Nose Gas Check) slug loaded over 16 grains of H110 with a standard primer for just under 1,400 fps. It’s a hard hitter and exceptionally accurate. Out of a levergun it goes over 1,700 fps.

Here’s Samantha shooting an AR-15. She really enjoys shooting it and is quite accurate.

The Transition

In the blink of a teary eye, 22 years comes and goes. It’s all part of the cycle of life and I’m damn glad I bought “The Baby Gun.”

Samantha is now in her final year of college, majoring in Pre-Veterinary studies. She’s currently applying to Veterinarian school. This summer, we spent almost every Monday morning shooting. She’s a good shot and when she does pull out to go to veterinary school, this gun will be going with her.

After all, she’s my baby!

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