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Produced from 1972 until 2008 and based on the Ruger Blackhawk frame the Ruger Old Army is a percussion 'cap and ball' blackpowder revolver, produced by Sturm, Ruger & Co. The Old Army is styled on the Remington Model 1858 cap and ball pistol.
The Old Army uses the frame from the Ruger Blackhawk, renowned for its strength and used on a variety of other Ruger revolvers. This is unlike other blackpowder, percussion revolvers, which use historical designs. Like the Blackhawk the Old Army is made entirely from steel and is single action.
However, although fundamentally the Old Army is based on the Blackhawk (in turn based on the Colt Single Action Army revolver), many aesthetic design features are taken from the Remington Model 1858, a blackpowder cap and ball pistol.
The Old Army is loaded using muzzle-loading, although this is put straight into each individual cylinder compartment. The cylinder can be removed to be loaded on any loading press, but to load it using its featured rammer, the hammer must be turned on half cock to allow free access to each chamber.
Barrel lengths available are 5in, 7.5in (190mm) and 9.5in (230mm). All Old Army revolvers are finished in either satin stainless, gloss stainless or blued steel.
The barrel and cylinders were originally listed as being bored for .44 caliber and later .45 caliber rounds. Yet all Old Army revolvers use either:
- .457" Ball
- .454" Conical Bullets
All projectiles are made from pure lead. The Old Army was intended to use either FFFG, Pyrodex P, or Triple Seven FFFG powder, and never to use smokeless powder.
A relatively modern attempt at a blackpowder revolver, the Old Army is said to be:
|“||Good in the hand. The satin stainless metal finish is attractive and durable. There is virtually no cylinder endplay, the bolt locks the cylinder with minimal movement, and the flash gap is tight and uniform. The rosewood grip panels are a different story, indifferently finished and poorly fitted to the frame.||”|
–Chuck Hawks with Gordon Landers, chuckhawks.com
The use of blackpowder means that the Old Army needs regular cleaning, despite the stainless steel. The blackpowder can attract water and cause corrosion.