In the early 1990s, I packed everything that I owned into an old Toyota Celica and moved to Juneau, Alaska, where I had taken a job flying seaplanes for the summer. When I got there, I noticed that the standard sidearm for outdoor activities in bear country was a .44 Mag. revolver, and the stainless models from Ruger were especially popular in the rainy marine climate of southeast Alaska. I didn’t have much money at the time, but I was giving some flying lessons to a friend on the side, and he offered to settle that account with a stainless-steel, 101/2"-barreled Ruger Super Blackhawk in .44 Mag., which I accepted.
After that first summer, I stayed in Alaska. For more than two decades now, I’ve carried that Super Blackhawk while hiking in the woods and while flying small aircraft throughout the state. At first, I found the long barrel to be awkward, but I’ve come to like the way it shoots and can’t imagine carrying anything else at this point. I’ve never had to use it for defense, but there have been a few times when I was glad to have it with me.
There’s nothing especially elegant about Ruger revolvers like the Super Blackhawk; they’re the kind of rugged and functional tool that you don’t usually get attached to. Yet this one has a lot of personal history. It brings back memories of those first days in Juneau and all of the good adventures that have come along since then.