Ruger Old Army

The Ruger Old Army is a black-powder percussion revolver introduced in 1972 by the Sturm, Ruger company and manufactured through 2008. Models were made with a 7.5" and a 5.5 inch barrel.[1]

Ruger Old Army
Place of originUnited States
Production history
ManufacturerSturm, Ruger & Co.
Produced1972 to 2008
Barrel length7.5" barrel

CartridgeBlack Powder; Cap & Ball
ActionSingle Action Revolver
Feed system6-shot Cylinder


The Ruger Old Army revolver is unusual in that, unlike most percussion revolvers on the market, it was not based on a historical design, but was a modification of Ruger's Blackhawk model, which was itself based upon the cartridge-firing Colt Peacemaker.[2] The Old Army revolver accordingly incorporates many modern design features, though employing antiquated black-powder component loading.

This design was built around the Blackhawk, but it takes its styling cues from the Remington Model 1858 cap and ball pistol. This is due to the frame being longer in front to accommodate the loading lever and pivot pin. Earlier models listed as .44 caliber, later as .45, but all use a .457” round balls or .454” conical bullets of pure lead.[3]

Unlike the Blackhawk, the Old Army did not make use of Ruger's transfer bar safety; instead the revolver relied upon a series of safety notches between each chamber on the cylinder like some models of the remington/colt or other black powder revolvers of the mid-19th century had.[1]

The revolver was tested by loading each chamber to capacity with Bullseye smokeless powder and a lead ball. While this might result in catastrophic failure in other firearms, the Old Army proved to be strong enough to handle the pressure.[1]


The Old Army was made in blued steel and stainless steel. Originally fitted with adjustable sights, fixed-sight models were first offered in 1994. A 5-½ inch barrel was introduced in 2002. Some versions were sold with polymer ivory grips.[4]


  1. Taffin, John (2005). Single Action Sixguns. The Ruger Old Army. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. pp. 150–151. ISBN 0-87349-953-0.
  2. Cumpston, Mike (July 2005). Percussion Pistols and Revolvers: History, Performance and Practical Use. iUniverse. pp. 147–148. ISBN 978-0-595-35796-3.
  3. Sweeney, Patrick (2007). The Gun Digest Book of Ruger Pistols and Revolvers. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. pp. 218–222. ISBN 0-89689-472-X.
  4. Fadala, Sam (2003). The Gun Digest Blackpowder Loading Manual. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications Craft. p. 141. ISBN 0-87349-574-8.

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