The Ruger Flattop 44 Special revolvers caused quite a frenzy in 2009!
In 2005, Ruger introduced the 50th anniversary Flattop 357 Magnum to commemmerate their first centerfire revolver. It was built on the smaller Colt Single Action Army size frame, the same that the original Flattop 357's were made on. This makes for a handier, lighter packing size sixgun. Starting in 1974, Ruger changed to the New Model Blackhawks and incorporated the transfer bar safety. They also started building all the Blackhawks on the larger frame size including the 357 Magnum.
For 30 years, if you wanted a "mid-size" frame Ruger Blackhawk you had to acquire one of the Old Model 357 Magnum Blackhawks. Noted gunwriters like Skeeter Skelton and John Taffin popularized the converting of Old Model Blackhawk 357 Magnums to 44 Special as Ruger never chambered this cartridge, instead just making a larger frame 44 Magnum. So in 2005, Ruger created quite a stir when they re-introduced the mid-size frame, albeit in the New Model format. The first thing that came to my mind was here is our chance to make the 44 Special that never was.
In late 2008, Ruger agreed to do the exclusive with a healthy mimimum of 2000 pieces. It was a big committment for Lipsey's, especially with the market conditions of the time. We were just starting the great "Black Gun" frenzy started by the new presidential administration and we worried that a 100 year old caliber single action revolver might get lost in the mix. We knew deep down that this gun would do well and needed to be done.
To hedge a bit, it was decided with some resistance to do two barrel lengths. The 4-5/8" was a no brainer, as most of the Old Model conversions I've come across, including mine, have that barrel length. I felt that the market would bear a 5-1/2" model too. My thought process was that the guys who had conversions with the shorter barrel might be more inclined to buy a 5-1/2" instead of duplicate their custom gun. Also, there are enough shooters out there who appreciate and need the extra sight radius. Some thought the 5-1/2" barrel length gun would be a dud, but once they started shipping it was at times more requested than the 4-5/8"!
So it was agreed to do a minimum of 1000 4-5/8" and 1000 5-1/2" barrel guns. 250 of each barrel length were to be delivered each quarter for the year. To say that the response was positive would be an extreme understatement. Numerous writers and editors requested samples for articles and as far as I know, there were around a dozen articles written about the Flattop 44 Special. When it was all said and done, we went through the minimums and had to order more to fill the extensive backorder list we had. In the year of AR rifles and high capacity plastic frame pistols, these single action revolvers chambered in a cartridge they has been declared dead numerous times were some of the hottest guns of 2009.
I have talked to quite a few owners of these guns by phone and email about how well they shoot and how well finished they are. Ruger really put these together right. The throat dimensions are very uniform and sized right (most I've seen measured at .430). This was our most successful exclusive venture to date and we truly appreciate Ruger for working with us on it. Ruger did decide to catalog these two guns for 2010 and they continue to be steady sellers. The gun cataloged is the same specification wise to the Lipsey's exclusive model, so if you missed out you can still own one of these. They truly are special guns and if you have been on the fence about getting one, give it a try, you won't be sorry.