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Need help with getting first SA pistol


Guest Funny1Runner

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Guest Funny1Runner

My wife, bless her heart, is getting me a SA pistol for my birthday. I have several automatics and she has a .38 revolver but no exposure to SA pistols. I know I want a .357 and will have roughly $600 to spend on this new pistol.

I've been shooting auto's for over 40 years so not a newbie to guns just SA pistols. I'd love a .45LC, have a derringer in that caliber, but the .357 will be more versatile down the road with its' ability to also shoot .38's.

The pistol will mainly be used for target shooting but a .357 is always nice to have around the house to supplement my 1911.

 

My question is: What, in your humble opinions, is the best SA pistol for that $$$?

 

The Ruger Blackhawk seems well spoken of. Uberti seems to have a good reputation. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Any companys I should stay away from?

 

Thanks for any assistance you may send my way. You guys are the experts!

 

Thanks,

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Can't go wrong with a Ruger. Vaquero if you want fixed sights or a Blackhawk if you want adjustable sights. Or the Bisley Vaquero if you like that grip style.

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Funny1runner - if you post where you are, I'll bet someone will invite you out to the range to try out a few. That's really the best way to see what fits your hands and which you prefer.

 

Grizz

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Ruger Blackhawk Convertible .357/9mm. 6 1/2 inch barrel. You could shoot .38 Special, .357 Mag. or 9mm. They are great guns for hunting, plinking or CAS.

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Guest Funny1Runner

Funny1runner - if you post where you are, I'll bet someone will invite you out to the range to try out a few. That's really the best way to see what fits your hands and which you prefer.

 

Grizz

 

Live in a small cave just south of Atlanta,Jawja. Guess I'll go to the next gunshow and try out a few to see what different grips feel like.

What's the difference between the "old" and the "new" Vaquero?

 

Also read a lot about some pistols not shooting to point of aim. Is this a usual problem with the type of sights that SA pistols have. If so, it makes the Ruger Blackhawk look more desirable with its' adjustable sight.

 

Thanks again for all the help.

 

Thanks all for the tips.

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OK...in the $600 range you've got a lot of good choices.

 

First question to ask is, do you want something with a modern safety grafted in so it can be safely carried six-up, won't go "boom" if dropped? There's been several such "non-traditional-innards" variants made but without question Ruger dominates this category. The others are the Beretta Stampede series which is a decent gun but doesn't hold up like a Ruger, the Taurus Gaucho which you do NOT want any part of (horrible quality control issues even by Taurus standards) and the Heritage Big-Bore series which I know little about. More on that in a bit.

 

If you do NOT want a safety inside, it has to be carried/stored five-up, hammer down on the empty sixth chamber. If this is what you want, your choices are:

 

* USFA Rodeo. USFA competes with Colt making high-dollar (a grand on up) single actions with classic looks. They also shoot great. They sell one variant (the Rodeo) that's mechanically the same as the high-bucks guns but it has a cheap "paint job" finish to keep the price low. It's ugly but mechanically very sound and probably the only sub-$600 (barely!) gun that will out-shoot a Ruger by at least a little bit.

 

* Uberti - one of the two big Italian sources of "old west type" SAs. Not half bad guns. They also make the Stampede for Beretta (and are owned by Beretta) but under their own brand make five-up-carry-only traditional types, and these seem to last longer than the Stampede action in high-round-count SASS competition. There's a number of importers of Uberti guns that do stateside support, such as Cimmaron Firearms, Taylor's, etc. Uberti's highest-grade finish level is called the "El Patron" and is a beautiful gun; the same level of finish as sold by Taylor's is called a "Smokewagon", or under the Cimmaron brand it's the "Evil Roy Special" and possibly some others.

 

* Pietta - the smaller of the two Italian makers and capable of doing a damned fine gun. Most people buy them from EMF stateside as the "Great Western II", but there's other sources. They sell them in parts to Heritage which does stateside assembly and finish - this is also the only source of a drop-safe six-up-carry Pietta and unfortunately I've seen no reports yet on how those perform in the field.

 

RUGERS:

 

Ruger has the biggest product line on the drop-safe variants.

 

* "Old Vaqueros" or "Large Frame Vaqueros" were built until 2004, with a few produced thereafter in dribs and drabs. These are oversize near-replicas of the Colt SAA, based on the 44Magnum-class frame and cylinder. Sights are fixed, similar to a Colt SAA. 'Cept everything is bigger :).

 

* New Vaquero: starting in 2004 Ruger produced this "mid size" frame, which had been otherwise gone from the Ruger catalog since 1973. While smaller than the previous variants they're by no means "weak", esp. in 357. Like all Rugers from 1973 forward, they're completely drop-safe. The actual safety used is called a "transfer bar ignition" - the hammer cannot hit the firing pin unless a full, deliberate trigger pull puts a piece of metal (called a transfer bar) up between the hammer and firing pin, transferring the hammer's energy to the bullet. Take your finger off the trigger (such as dropping it) and the transfer bar retracts, turning the gun into something that can't go boom no matter how hard you try and beat it to death with a sledgehammer. Recent production New Vaqueros have a tasteful all-blue finish that looks better than a Rodeo. Older ones had a fake color-case finish that was...eh...not very good :). Tended to rust or wear, and never looked very authentic. When Ruger designed the NewVaq and other mid-frame series SAs, they took the time to re-think how they make them and they improved the quality control levels and average out-of-the-box accuracy over the older large-frame series.

 

* Montado: fairly rare New Vaquero variant, has the lower hammer similar to a SuperBlackhawk and a short 3.75" barrel. May be off the current catalog but show up used now and again.

 

* 50th Anniversary 357 Blackhawk Flattop: from 1973 forward all of the "Blackhawks" are made on the large-frame even if they were 357Mag. The "50th 357" is an exception - it's a mid-frame same as the NewVaq, first made in 2005. These guns are all-blue, 4.68" barrel, adjustable sights, same great quality as the NewVaq. About 16,000 were made so they do turn up fairly often on the used market. In cherry condition they go for about $500-$550 at gunsamerica.com or the like and are really, REALLY worth seeking out! Like the NewVaq the grip frame and ejector housing is steel so the balance is excellent. Total weight though is a bit high - about 42oz for either this gun or the NewVaq357.

 

* Standard Blackhawk 357: this is still in the catalog, based on the large-frame. When bought in blue they have aluminum ejector housings and grip frames so the total weight is actually a tad below the mid-frames in the same barrel length. They're also seen in stainless, in which case the grip frame and ejector housings are also stainless...and they're heavy :). There's a cool variant on these where you get a second cylinder in 9mm Para; accuracy will still be decent and for some folks you can practice cheaper in 9mm than in 38 or 357. Some people send the 9mm cylinder off to be reamed out to one of a couple of cool semi-wildcat calibers like the 356GNR, which is a 41Magnum case necked down to 357 for a significant horsepower increase over the 357Mag, yet able to work with the otherwise stock gun and barrel. NOTE: around 2007 or so they revised the production on the large-frames to incorporate the quality improvements pioneered on the mid-frames. The best way to ID one of the newer production is to look for the "Ruger lawyer warning label" UNDER the barrel instead of alongside it (the infamous Ruger "billboard" containing a safety note and "read the manual, dummy!"...Ruger is notoriously lawsuit-sensitive).

 

* "Bisley variants": if a Ruger SA says "Bisley" on it, it has a different hammer, trigger, grip frame and grips. The "Bisley configuration" is famous for being able to handle major recoil very well. There are for example "Bisley New Vaqueros" being made. For the 357Mag caliber the Bisley setup is probably overkill but it does fit some people's hands better. You ought to at least try holding one once to see how it fits. There are "Bisley variants" of most of the Ruger SAs, and if you want the grip/hammer/trigger set can be bought as a kit and homebrew-retrofitted to a non-Bisley Ruger SA.

 

Rugers respond particularly well to homebrew gunsmithing and "FrankenRugers" abound, where people swap parts around to make combinations that the Ruger factory never produced :D. A classic mod is to take the lower hammer off the SuperBlackhawk or even lower Bisley hammer and graft them onto other models; my NewVaq357 wears a Super hammer and has since a couple months after purchase in 2005. The supply of Super hammers has seriously dried up of late because SASS competition rules just legalized the dang things :D so everybody and his cousin is out looking for one.

 

If you want to shoot SASS/CAS, you want a fixed-sight variant. If not, you'd likely be happy with either the 50th 357 or possibly a recent-production large frame, esp. the convertible.

 

At the time I scored my NewVaq357 the 50th 357 was still rare and going for more money. The NewVaq357 has been very good to me, and is my current daily carry CCW piece. Not something I'd recommend for all but...I like that gun and have "bonded to it" very nicely.

 

Hope this helps.

 

OH YEAH, almost forgot.

 

One way to get several of these with improvements is to deal with Longhunter. He's a gunsmith that also sells guns that he's pre-tweaked for you. Highly regarded and for the upgrades you're getting, very cost effective. By all means take a look:

 

http://www.longhunt.com/

 

I would imagine he can get guns from those sources that aren't shown, at least if they're still in the Ruger/Taylor's/USFA catalogs such as the Ruger convertible 357/9mm.

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I'm not sure you can get a Ruger Vaq. for $600 unless you find a used deal somewhere.

 

The EMF Great Western has been mentioned and I have two Uberti Cattlemen that I really like and w/o action work they were under $600. The Hombre was under $500 before Ca fees.

 

Both Uberti revolvers shoot to POA. So, no trouble in that area.

 

My USFA is more refined but it cost more too.

 

My SA guns

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California gun prices are skewed. In Free America you can absolutely score NewVaqs for under $600. Brand new specimens turn up on Gunsamerica for as low as $500 and even with shipping and local FFL fees you're under $600:

 

http://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.htm?T=new+vaquero

 

Longhunter's pre-tuned NewVaqs are $640, under $700 with shipping and local FFL costs. A bit more than the original poster said but...you're getting a gun that's pre-tuned plus Longhunter will weed out any possible "birth defect cases" before you ever see them.

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I certainly won't argue about Ca. prices. Ca property prices are a great example.

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Can't beat a Ruger for the money. As far as price, I deal with local small gunshops, one in particular. They will be well under $600, just avoid the big box stores selling at retail. A New Vaquero or Blackhawk will feel fine right out of the box, although work like Long Hunter does will certainly make it a much better shooter..

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I certainly won't argue about Ca. prices. Ca property prices are a great example.

 

Where guns are concerned, the main issue that gun shops have been exterminated en mass over the last 20+ years. With so few left they can charge anything they want, even on guns that are otherwise very lightly regulated by CA law such as SA wheelguns.

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RUGER

---------------------

 

Put in a set of springs from the Cowboys and Indian Store. The guns are bullet proof; operate flawlessly and Ruger stands behind its product.

 

You won't be sorry.

 

CK

 

P.S. You might want to consider the relatively new Ruger Montado -- they're really slick and can be handled easily with one hand.

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Of course, like suggested you'd want to try these out at your local range for a sized fit, but I own four Bisley Vaquero's and love every aspect of them.

Or the Bisley Vaquero if you like that grip style.

And as for your 600 buck limit, you can just sneak around it through Ables here http://www.ableammo.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=110775

Not too long ago I was able to get all of mine for 596, but I guess inflation got the better of Ruger and Ables too and it's up 20 bucks. Best of luck to you and your SA quest. Smithy.

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Since you didn't say anything about shooting Cowboy matches, I think your best choice, hands down, is a Ruger Blackhawk. The convertible model, .357 - 9mm would be nice, but you didn't say anything about wanting to shoot 9mm. The adjustable sights will let you adjust the sights between loads. Light 38 loads will print differently than heavier .357 magnum loads. I'd suggest a 4-3/4" barrel model.

 

Also for some reason, Blackhawks at gun shows seem to be a little less expensive than Vaquero's.

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Guest Funny1Runner

Thanks a million guys!!! You folks have an encyclopedic wealth of knowledge and experience and I am glad I asked the experts. More than several of your replies have sent me searching the computer to follow up on your advice.

I appreciate you sharing you knowledge.

Thanks again. I'll let you know what I wind up getting. Need to go to the next gunshow first to handle a few and see how the different grips fit my hands.

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Ruger New Vaquero. I have two, love them.

 

Great choice and best bang for the buck!! - I personally have the 'original' model Vaquero's which are great, but slightly larger than the RNV like the Grizz has.

 

GG ~ :FlagAm:

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California gun prices are skewed. In Free America you can absolutely score NewVaqs for under $600. Brand new specimens turn up on Gunsamerica for as low as $500 and even with shipping and local FFL fees you're under $600:

 

http://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.htm?T=new+vaquero

 

Longhunter's pre-tuned NewVaqs are $640, under $700 with shipping and local FFL costs. A bit more than the original poster said but...you're getting a gun that's pre-tuned plus Longhunter will weed out any possible "birth defect cases" before you ever see them.

Longhunter is advertising New Vaqueros starting at 575.00 in the March CC

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Well Ya made the first step ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, NOW come on out and watch/shoot at the shoot of your choice ...

 

Folks at shoots are even more "helpfull" than on the wire !!!

 

Good folks ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, but be warned it's additive ....

 

 

Jabez Cowboy

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Guest Winchester Jack, SASS #70195

Last year I picked up 2 Ruger .357 Blackhawks NEW for $475 ea here in "Un Free" California

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If the gun is strictly for CAS competition OR you are willing to live with a "five shooter" and carry it with an empty chamber under the hammer, any of the guns mentioned here will work. You can go based on whichever brand feels best to you.

 

If I were buying a single action revolver that was NOT purely a competition gun I would almost certainly go with a Ruger. I'd probably opt for a Blackhawk; all my DA revolvers have adjustable sights and I like the versatility. I happen to be more used to the sight picture of adjustable sights but I might eventually become as comfortable with fixed sights.

 

I've never cared for the alloy framed Blackhawks. A stainless Blackhawk would cure that problem but I also find the standard Blackhawks to be awkwardly sized-the cylinder seems too large, especially in a .357.

 

I think the 50th Anniversary Model Blackhawks are nicely proportioned and the steel grip frame has a better balance than the alloy frames. I am not knocking my New Vaqueros but if I could turn back the clock I would have bought a pair of the Anniversary Models when CDNN had them for $379 or whatever it was. I saw one for sale locally and it was over $500 but probably a bargain at that price.

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>>I've never cared for the alloy framed Blackhawks.<<

 

Ruger has never made an "alloy framed Blackhawk" if you're using "alloy" as meaning the same thing as aluminum. Which you shouldn't BTW. They've made a lot with aluminum grip frames, but that's not the same thing as the "frame". An aluminum grip frame isn't that bad a deal, actually - total gun weight goes down, but the overall feel is more "muzzle heavy".

 

To the original poster: on almost all single actions except the Remingtons and their clones, the "grip frame" is a separate piece of metal (sometimes two pieces) from the "main" or "cylinder" frame. It's the latter that determines the gun's strength, in large part. The grip frame, not so much...they could make it out of decent plastic if they wanted to and it would work OK.

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You have a great wife! Have fun. :D

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