American Survival Guide|February 2020

Gunmakers continue to introduce new models every year, adding to the long list of excellent firearms now available. Sometimes, however, the best choices have been around for a while and have proven track records of effective performance.

I’m not going to tell you any specific gun is the right one for you or is perfect for every scenario. But if you’re looking to add a versatile handgun to your personal armory, one that’s a rock-solid choice as a woods gun as well as for inclusion in an emergency kit, certain models stand out.

While it might not be the only choice, I believe the Ruger Blackhawk Convertible has a lot going for it. Here’s a gun with Old West roots and a traditional look, but that’s an updated design made with modern steel and tight tolerances. Its single-action design provides a consistently short, light trigger pull, which greatly helps should you have to take a longer shot that many would consider beyond a handgun’s normal range.

It includes a second, easy-to-swap cylinderfor dual-caliber capability and a wide power range, so it can be effective in a number of roles. It has a smaller grip than large, dedicated hunting revolvers, so most any member of the family will find it easier to handle. That can be an important survival and security feature too. As a matter of fact, it takes the same size grip panels as Ruger’s Single Six rimfire revolvers. Its fully adjustable rear sight allows you to dial in specific loads for specific distances.

Unlike revolvers that are closer to the original single-action designs, the Ruger new Blackhawk model has a frame-mounted firing pin and a transfer bar safety system. That means you can safely load all six chambers of the Blackhawk instead of loading just five and carrying with the hammer down over an empty chamber.


Naturally, an all-around handgun should be durable and 100 percent reliable. But that’s not enough. You want one that can handle hunting and defensive chores with a wide range of ammo options, not only for a variety of tasks, but to mitigate possible ammo shortages during tough times. So, that pocket 9mm that you carry every day for personal defense may not be enough when you might have to adapt to rapidly changing situations and an uncertain future.

While I love my semiautos too, particularly 10mm pistols, you can’t beat a revolver for all-around use. With this Blackhawk Convertible for instance, I can load any combination of CCI shotshells, light target loads, hollow points, and heavy-for-caliber hardcast bullets without any concerns about reliability. And if I’m reloading my own ammo, especially if I have to scrounge components in a long-term emergency situation, I don’t have to be as concerned about slight variances in case length or bullet weight and shape when it comes to reliable feeding either.

If I add a lever-action carbine, such as those from Marlin, Henry or Winchester, I can have an excellent handgun/long gun combo that chambers the same handgun cartridges with fewer concerns about the legalities if I have to cross into a neighboring state with restrictive gun laws.

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