Color Case Matching a Henry Rifle & Ruger Handgun

Color Case Matched Henry Rifle & Ruger Handgun
Color Case Matched Henry Rifle & Ruger Handgun

USA – -( The old Ruger Blackhawk single action revolver, chambered in 357 mag was showing its age and demonstrating lots of wear spots. The extra 9mm cylinder was in even worse shape. The handgun needed some internal repairs and it needed a facelift. Bobby Tyler of Tyler Gun Works told me to send it to him in Friona, Texas (

Bobby is the premier gunsmith when it comes to having a firearm color case finished. I have a Henry large caliber steel lever action rifle in 30-30 that Bobby had color case finished and it is extremely pleasing to the eye. There is a color case finished tomahawk to accent that 30-30 Henry. Bobby does the custom color case finishing of the factory produced Henry rifles in 30-30 and 45-70 (

When I saw my first Henry Big Boy steel rifle with a color case finish I knew that rifle in 357 mag needed to become the forever companion of the Ruger Blackhawk that was down in Texas at Bobby’s gun shop getting the firearms Spa treatment.

Shorter carbine length rifles are something I enjoy shooting and more importantly carrying. The Big Boy steel color case finished carbine, chambered in 357 mag was my preference ( The shorter 16.5-inch barrel allows for seven rounds of 357 mag ammunition, where the 20-inch rifle version holds ten rounds of ammunition.

You cut out a little weight with the carbine, but Henry installs an octagon barrel on both the rifle and the carbine versions of the Big Boy steel, color case finished rifle. You feel the heft of the rifle when you bring it to your shoulder, but that diminished felt recoil is appreciated.

The rifle and the carbine versions of the color case finished Henry Big Boys are chambered in 357 mag, 44 mag, and 45 Long Colt. Add some of Tim Sundles’ Buffalo Bore premium ammunition and there is very little in the lower 48 States of the country, that you cannot safely hunt with your Henry Big Boy.

If you are going to hunt with a handgun cartridge chambered in a lever action rifle you really need to study the feet per second (FPS) of a 357 mag round leaving your rifle and how the actual barrel length affects FPS. I suggest you go to Ballistics By the Inch and read their chart, for a 4 inch 357 mag barrel, up to an 18-inch barrel in 357 mag. What you will find is you gain about 400-500 plus FPS between a 4-inch revolver and an 18-inch rifle, depending on the bullet used.

Tim Sundles at Buffalo Bore Ammo has provided excellent insight and article on pistol cartridges used in rifles, that is well worth the time to read. The 357 mag hits its maximum velocity in a 16-inch barrel. Beyond 18 inches the bullet can actually start to lose FPS. Long barrels are not needed with rifles chambered in pistol cartridges. At Ballistics By The Inch, you can research 357 mag, 41 mag, 44 mag and 45 Long Colt to see how they will perform in your next Henry rifle.

Of course adding a handgun chambered in the same caliber as your new Henry greatly enhances the capabilities of both firearms and the owner who carries these tools into the bush.

You could find a gently used Ruger handgun in the same caliber as your color case finished Henry Big Boy rifle, then ship it to Bobby Tyler and have it color case finished to complement your rifle.

Color Case Hardened Ruger Blackhawk Handgun by Tyler Gun Works
Color Case Hardened Ruger Blackhawk Handgun by Tyler Gun Works

My Ruger Blackhawk, has two cylinders chambered in 357 mag and 9mm. For both cylinders I use Buffalo Bore ammo. I want something that penetrates so I carry the 357 mag 19A, 180 gr Hard Cast LFN, Outdoorsman cartridge. I can use this in both the Ruger handgun and the Henry Big Boy rifle.

When I carry the Ruger Blackhawk with the 9mm cylinder in place I chamber the old handgun in Buffalo Bore’s 24L, 9mm, 147 gr Hard Cast FN, Outdoorsman cartridge. Fishing guide Phil Shoemaker used 9mm Outdoorsman ammo to stop a grizzly bear in Alaska. Tim Sundles told me that after that story hit the internet, sales demonstratively increased “we have sold hundreds of thousands of rounds of 24L since the Shoemaker incident”. I guess Mr. Shoemaker’s personal product endorsement of Mr. Sundles’ life saving Outdoorsman ammo appealed to the ammunition buying public.

I actually bought the Ruger Blackhawk because it had the extra 9mm cylinder. 9mm is the most readily available center fire handgun cartridge in the world. Yes, primarily I will carry the Blackhawk chambered in 357 mag but 9mm offers great versatility. Buffalo Bore 9mm ammo enhances that versatility to a point of life saving capability–just ask Phil Shoemaker.

Good ammunition is as important a tool as a good firearm . Henry makes the great firearms and Buffalo Bore makes the quality ammo that fulfills the hunting mission or the delaying of evil and danger. When your own life is on the line you don’t mind spending a little for more quality and reliability.

Buffalo Bore Ammunition Outdoorsman Line
Buffalo Bore Ammunition Outdoorsman Line

Tim Sundles, at Buffalo Bore ammo makes his Outdoorsman line of ammunition in most pistol calibers. He believes in the penetration of large grain, hard casted bullets. Saving your life or the life of another from a charging grizzly is always “Strictly Business“.

The finished pictures tell the story better than I can. Laying the Ruger Blackhawk with its new color case finished frame next to the factory brand new Henry Big Boy steel color case finished, I knew I had made the correct choice. Both firearms looked the same when it came to the finish. The old Ruger handgun looks as fresh and gorgeous (not a manly word) as the factory new Henry Big Boy.

The reason both firearms looked so great is obvious, Bobby Tyler did the color case finishing work on both the old and the new, and the two look factory ready to dazzle. The bluing that Bobby Tyler did on the barrel and the two cylinders was exquisite and the color case finished frame of the Ruger Blackhawk, just pops when you pick it up. The swirls in the color case finish are never the same on any two firearms. Each gun will be unique.

My personal impression is the gun owning community has rediscovered the exceptional look of a color case finished firearm. The larger the firearm means the greater amount of steel that needs to be finished. So, naturally, a flat sided lever action rifle has lots of surface area that lends itself most willingly to the beauty of a color case finishing.

If you want to throw caution to the wind, when you send your handgun to Bobby Tyler for a color case finishing, you might have his in-house engravers really class up the act. Engraving of firearms is a mainstay of custom finishing at Tyler Gun Works.

Color case finishing of firearms, just says “old world” class. The one of a kind design that each firearm has on completion of the process makes it most unique and desirable.

Class and uniqueness are cornerstones of Tyler Gun Works. You start with the basics of a factory ready Henry rifle, add your choice of a handgun to be color case finished by Bobby and the class and uniqueness simply follow.

Color Case Matched Henry Big Boy Rifle & Ruger Blackhawk Handgun and a Henry Mares Leg (center)
Color Case Matched Henry Big Boy Rifle & Ruger Blackhawk Handgun and a Henry Mares Leg (center)

Henry lever action rifles are quality and with a color case finish, they are enhanced quality. Quality lasts, quality is dependable and quality is there when you require that strength of precision in a time of great need.

Hunt with a Henry rifle, delay evil with a Henry rifle and always add in the Buffalo Bore ammunition factor to enhance your shooting success. Second place against a charging grizzly or a marauding “walker” is not a sustainable life practice.

Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
[email protected]

Major Van Harl USAF Ret
Major Van Harl USAF Ret

About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:

Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School.  A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI.  His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training.  He believes “evil hates organization.”  [email protected]

1 Comment
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Green Mtn. Boy

Sadly it is not true bone case hardening,that would be stuning.