Even good manufacturers let a bad one through

I talk a lot about why we buy guns from reputable manufacturers a lot. The primary reason is to lower the end user’s risk of getting a poor quality gun. This is especially important if the purpose of the gun is for something serious, like self-defense or putting meat on the table. I’m careful to point out however, that even quality manufacturers let a bad gun slip out sometimes. I had just never been on the receiving end of that…until yesterday.

Ruger Blackhawk rusty trigger face

While I was SHOT Show, I had put in an order for a Ruger Blackhawk (which I bought with my own money, not a T&E gun) direct from the distributor that our FFL uses. I got back into the office yesterday, and was excited to take possession of my new .45 Colt toy. Right off the bat, I noticed that the gun seemed…stickier than I’d seen on other Blackhawks and Vaqueros, having owned quite a few. No worries I thought, it’s just new. Ruger ships all their new revolvers with a plastic cylinder protector in place. To remove it from an SA revolver, you have to pull the base pin and drop the cylinder. I noticed when doing this that it wasn’t seated all the way, and the base pin latch wasn’t correctly locked in. I figured that it hadn’t been set quite right at the factory and I’d just reseat it all the way when I put the gun back together.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The base pin absolutely refused to re-seat properly, and wouldn’t engage the latch. It would seat far enough to make the gun look like it was ready to go. You could cock and fire the gun, but the firing pin would stick forward, because the base pin seating affects the transfer bar safety, which is what makes Rugers safe to carry with 6 rounds. Without going into boring technical details about how Ruger single actions work, something was Not Right inside this gun. To add insult to injury, there was rust on the trigger face.

So the gun went back in the box and is headed to New Hampster for repair. Now, I don’t want people to think for even an instant that I’m bashing Ruger or at all upset about this. Every manufacturer occasionally lets one slip, and it seems like it was finally my time to catch a bad gun from a good company. I have owned dozens of Rugers over the years, and this is the first time I’ve ever gotten one that’s not been excellent. In fact, my faith in Ruger is so unshakable that I went and bought a Vaquero that same day.

Ruger Vaquero stainless

I’ll keep you guys updated on how the Ruger Blackhawk process goes, though. I’ve literally never had a bad gun from Ruger, so I’m interested to experience things from the customer service side of the equation.

Now we come to the important part: why we buy from reputable companies. Look, even HK has a stinker every now and then. It happens. Maybe the guy in the QC department was having a bad day because he found out his teenage daughter is dating a drug dealer; whatever the reason sometimes bad guns slip out. What separates the good companies (like Ruger) from the bad companies is the frequency of bad guns slipping out. Getting a bad Ruger is a genuine surprise, because that’s not what you expect. If I had bought some El Cheapo revolver and it was rotten, I wouldn’t be surprised, because I don’t have quality expectations for that like I do S&W or Ruger.

I’m not worried, I know Ruger will take good care of things and get the gun up and running. Hopefully sooner than later, because I want to shoot this gun SO FRIGGIN’ BAD BRO.


  1. My first Ruger a MKIII pistol, a Talo Special model, had a burr at the back, where you are supposed to be able to slide the barrel off the frame. Had to pull out the Dremel and take it down so I could disassemble to do maintenance. I guess 1 out of 7 Ruger products I’ve owned isn’t too bad. Out of 14 S&W products I’ve owned over the years, had 3 that had to go back for service, 1 sight issue (revolver), 1 sight & timing issue (revolver) and 1 lemon buyback (semi-auto). Some may think those are horrible percentages, I don’t. I’ve owned 3 Sigs, 2 of 3 had issues needing service.

  2. I had a Glock front site issue once (they fixed it for free), only issue with 7 different Glocks.

    I had an issue with a Heritage Arms Rough Rider (stop laughing, I was new to shooting) they were actually very good about fixing it. Still sold it less than a year later, I think I got $15.00 and a ham sandwich for it.

    A Browning Buck Mark that consistantly had its front top strap hex screw back out unless you used locktight on it.

    No issues with my Smiths yet though I have a friend who almost drove to Massachussets to immolate himself in front of their HQ due to various M&P 9 issues (early gun as I recall).

    I have been pretty lucky.

  3. Any manufacture can let a bad one pass through once in a while. Its How they handle the problem, that is important,
    Ruger has a reputation for general quality, and customer service, and repair.

  4. We all seem to be experienced owners here, this experience happened to a Concealed Carry classmate. Sweet “Little Old Lady” went to the gun store and was sold a compact Ruger revolver with a built in laser site. Her range time at the class was the first time she shot it. It would only shoot once in maybe 10 trigger pulls. It was so bad that one of the instructors had to loan her a weapon to complete the course. He also instructed her to return it to the dealer immediately. While any of us would understand and be aggravated over this, can you imagine this same experience if you were a brand new shooter? Hopefully the dealer, and Ruger did what was right by this woman. An experience like this could sour her out on shooting completely.

  5. I’ve owned a lot of guns, and since the early 80s, when I had two misfiring Model 60s, I haven’t had any problems, so maybe I’m lucky.
    A couple of years ago, though, I saw on the Internet a photo of a Smith L-frame six-shot cylinder with seven charging holes (chambers) in it.
    Sometimes you-know-what happens.

  6. Look I’ve owned and used a lot of guns since the mid 90’s it’s extrem rare to actually see a bad gun from the factory (assuming reputable companies are involved). But it does happen, someone had a crap day and they got it wrong! Hang in there the new tot should be home soon.

  7. I bought a long barreled 870 Express Super Magnum that Wal-Mart had mis-priced as an Express. 🙂 It started sticking after each shot, finally nearly binding up. A call to Remington sent me to a local shop, and it was fixed a few days later, for free. There was a burr on the bolt lockup.

    Since then, that shotgun has taken a few dozen pheasant.

  8. Cowboy action (SAAS) is a ton of fun. Especially Gunfighter division, lets you have a pistol in each hand. I have 2 “old” model Vaquero .44 magnums that have been flawless. However I did buy a SR9 that was flawed. A double feed approx every 50 rounds. Returned it. Ruger replaced parts and sent it back within a week. After getting it back, it would double feed every mag. Since it was meant to be a night stand gun, I lost faith in it and bought a Glock 19. However, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another Ruger in the future. Like any high volume manufacturer, there will be a small percentage of product that fall outside of acceptable specifications. How they handle the few non-conforming items makes all the difference.

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