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Belczek

Pistol choice for duelists?

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Considering a switch from other shooting sports, the CAS guys seems to spend more time smiling and less time scoring targets than the run and gun crowd. I am interested in shooting duelist or even double duelist, with black powder but I have not decided on pistols or even a cartridge yet. I am leaning towards pistols with an 1860 or bisley grip over the SAA or 1851 grip. I wear XL-XXL gloves. Can I also assume that a longer barrel is less of hindrance when shooting one handed through my own smoke cloud?

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Ruger Bisley Vaqueros will give you a bigger grip, lower hammer and are rock-solid reliable. Longest barrel they were made in was 5-1/2". Bisley Blackhawks were made in 7-1/2" but will limit your category choices.

1860 Army is an nice gun, has some inherent weaknesses due to its older spring technology, that can be overcome by a good cowboy gunsmith. Cartridge Conversion Cylinders are available. Tall hammer spur slows you down a mite. Not my first recommendation for an all-around match gun.

 

Taylor Firearms is selling some of their Colt SAA replicas with an 1860 Army Grip. But 5-1/2" is the longest barrel.

 

Overall, if you want a longer barrel, the 5-1/2" gives you the best mix of longer sight radius and quick handling. I'd recommend guns with a lower hammer spur for duelist shooting.

Edited by McCandless

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Well, I shoot Black Powder and I shoot duelist, typically shoot Frontier Cartridge duelist, but lately have been lazy and been shooting that demon FAD smokey-less powder....have tried a couple different pairs of revolvers and I love the Ruger Vaqueros in Bisely grips. YMMV

 

BD

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The best advice is always - "Try out Cowboy guns at several local matches before you buy even one". The opinions you almost always get here are what each individual likes best. That may or may not come close to your real needs.

 

We are very willing at local matches to loan out guns and ammo to let you try things out before you start the buying process.

 

 

Now, what are a fair number of duelists running for their guns and cartridges?

 

The Ruger Vaquero is more used than any other revolver "platform" in Cowboy shooting. Lots of duelists with large hands then specialize the platform down to a Bisley grip, a Bisley or a Super Blackhawk hammer (due to the spur of the hammer being lower and closer to the firing hand), and fairly often, they have a short-stroke hammer modification made to shorten and speed up the distance the hammer must be cocked and then fall back down during firing. The 4 5/8" or 5 1/2" barrels are most commonly used, real short and longer barrels than those are fairly rare. You don't NEED a long barrel to shoot BP any more than you need it for smokeless. Most folks find a 7 1/2" barrel is a little slow coming out of holster.

 

But, there are a large number of variations, a large number of preferences and opinions, which I'm sure you will gather due to your questions.

 

And to add to the "survey", as a Classic Cowboy duelist style shooter, I run short-stroked Ruger Bisley revolvers with the Bisley hammer, gunfighter grips, .45 Colt chambered but shooting Cowboy .45 Special cartridge (the Colt shortened to the length of a .45 auto), and either smokeless or Black Powder. The barrel-to-cylinder gap has been enlarged to about 0.007" so that Black Powder shooting is less troublesome.

 

But the most common and easiest to shoot and cheapest to get ammo for cartridge in our sport would be .38 special. Hard for a beginner to go wrong with .38 special, except for one category (Classic Cowboy - which requires .40 caliber or larger).

 

Good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708

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I have XL hands and the big old Ruger Bisleys with 5 1/2 barrels fit me perfectly. I shoot duelist and DD and they work great. They are balanced perfectly for my shooting with smokeless and BP. I tried a number of guns over the years and immediately zeroed in on the OMV Bisley in 45 Colt. Built stout and with the occasional cleaning always work great.

 

I had been shooting "regular" handled Rugers while shooting two handed and they felt fine but as soon as I switched to one handed, the Ruger Bisley was the better choice.

 

The Rugers are my normal gun but my Cimarron Open Top Armies in 44 Colt are a hoot to shoot and also fit my larger hand perfectly. Style over function yet they function like I need them too.

 

If you are patient and lucky you can find these for sale on GB in the $450 range.

 

And you're right when you say, "the CAS guys seems to spend more time smiling and less time scoring targets than the run and gun crowd." I would change that to..."smiling and BSing and heckling and joking around while encouraging the guy they are competing against and having an overall GREAT time. When costuming is as big a part of this game as the guns are for many people, how "stick-in-the-mud" serious can we take this? Fun Fun Fun is this game.

 

Welcome! Enjoy your time playing cowboy. I know I do. :D

Edited by Dantankerous

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I'm going to make a couple assumptions here: You've got big hands and you tried to shoot a plow framed pistol with all three of your fingers on the grip frame. Coming from another pistol shooting discipline you're used to having a high master grip on your pistol - ala Jerry Miculek. The web of your hand crowded the hammer and it was difficult to cock one handed and hard to regain your master grip on the next shot.

 

If that's all true, you were holding that pistol wrong. You only hold the grip with two fingers and your thumb and your little finger gets curled UNDER the grip frame. That's how Sam Colt intended.

 

Been there, done that and I have the tee shirt. If you wait a bit Driftwood Johnson will be along and confirm. He set me straight back in 2003 when I started shooting. I was also shooting Double Duelist.

 

Hope that helps,

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I shoot double Duelist.

 

I mostly shoot Colts with barrel lengths ranging from 3 to 12 inches. (Sometimes I pair one of my 3s with my single 12)

 

Most of my Colts are in the 5.5 or 7.5" range, although my favorite pair are a 4-3/4 and a 5.5 inch set. (Shot EoT clean with 'em this year!)

 

I also occasionally make use of a pair of 58 Remingtons, or I mix and match a 75 Remington, a Scofield, a Merwin and Hulbert, a S&W New Model 3 or a pair of Nagants.

 

Calibers range from .32-20 to .45 Colt. Normally I shoot smokeless, but I have played with black a little bit for fun.

 

In other words, shoot what you like, the way you like it, and have fun. There is no right or wrong answer, just what you enjoy.

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Go to a few matches and try out various pistols to see what feels right. You will see all barrel lengths from 3 to 8 inches. Try them all you might be pleasantly surprised at what length works for you. Also try out rifles and shotguns. Different models fit each person differently.

 

Try to contact the Match Director before the match. He/She can put the word out about a new shooter so that people can bring out extra firearms and ammo for you to try.

 

SASS shooters area very friendly bunch. Frontier Cartridge, Frontier Cartridge Duellist and Frontier Cartridge Gunfighter are very addictive.

 

Welcome to the fun.

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If at all possible, shoot the revolvers that appeal to you, don't just handle them. See how they act under recoil, and how easily you can get your thumb back on the hammer spur.

 

If you don't mind finishing at the bottom of the rankings, it won't matter what you buy. If you expect to be somewhat competitive, find out how well you can cycle the revolver for five fast shots in a row.

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Colts or Smoke Wagon! ;)

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Hands down the best is an 1872 Opentop. I thought i preferred the Navy grip of my 45 Colt version, but when my wife confiscated those i found the Army grips on my 44-40 Opentops worked just as well. Get the 7.5" version, as it points/balances better, you hardly even need to aim.

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20160816_121501_zps1jgno8d4.jpg

 

I started shooting single action pistols with one hand 50 years ago and never gave a thought you needed two. After all, John Wayne and Matt Dillon only used one hand. When I started SASS, I shot duelist, then switched to double duelist then gunfighter.

 

I don't think one gun and grip style is necessary superior to another. The human hand is very adaptable. I shot Colts and Uberti clone of Colt. Then I put the Runin' Irons hammers in my Cattleman 45s and that seemed to help with my cooking on my weak left hand.

 

Then last summer in some fit of insanity, I collected up the above pair of Rugers. I have at least average size hands to large and the birdshead grips seem to fit inside my hands well. The grips are a bit bulbous and slick in hot weather.

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Like everybody else said, go try some guns. My hands are a little smaller than yours and I shoot gunfighter (like double duelist, but both guns out at once) I don't have trouble shooting any gun other than the birdshead grips like in warden callaway's post. Those kinda jump around on me. Hammer height doesn't seem to matter to me and I think it's because of my hand size. If I were buying a new gun now, I'd take a hard look at the alchemista 3. Made by pietta, sold by EMF. It's a heavier colt clone with octagonal barrels and an 1860 grip instead of the shorter standard size. Keep in mind if a grip doesn't fill your hand well, you can always buy wider replacement grips.

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I have small hands and had no idea what I wanted bought a pair of old model bisley in 357 all slick and ready to go.I shot 5 rounds out of each pistol and set them on my tailgate at a shoot and sold them,they were way to big for my hands.I bought a pair of Uberti P models then later bought a pair of new rugers.Let other have said go to shoot and try before you buy.Good luck and have fun.

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Try a Schofield for size. They were too big for my mitts (big palms, stubby fingers).

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I have been fairly successful with the Ruger Vaquero 4 3/4" barrel with the low spur hammer & short stroke. As someone mentioned Taylor has a Colt clone with the 1860 grip that is also short stroked. Recommend the .357s - buy the 38 Long Colt cases- holds a little over 1CC of 2F. No filler necessary.

Edited by KH24

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As others have said go out to a match and try different guns or do like some of the rest of us and just keep buying until you find what you like.

 

I shoot Senior Duelist, double duelist style and I changed a couple of years ago to short-stroked Ruger Bisley Vaqueros and I'd have a hard time going back to anything else. I have fairly large hands and like the way Bisleys with Eagle Gunfighter grips feel.

 

Enjoy the madness, cowboy guns are addictive.

 

Randy

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The best suggestions you have received so far have been to GO SHOOT SOME GUNS. I don't know where you live/work/shoot but if it's Winter there, you have a couple of months to think about it. If your in a place of warmth and year-round shooting, may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your arm pitts.

 

You also mentioned BP. In the same thought line, cartridges. Why would you need suppositories?? Get together with some Cap Gun shooters, learn the basics and ........ get yourself on the Dark Side.

 

Don't worry excessively about your first set of guns. They won't be your last by a long shot. This game is addictive. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated!!

 

Coffinmaker

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Belczek, welcome to the forum.

Get to some matches! The CAS crowd will likely let you handle their wares.

Best advice to a newcomer: do not spend $$ with knowing what will fit your hands, your category and your goals in CAS.

Soot loads in original .38-40 and .44-40 will keep guns cleaner than straight wall cases like .38s, .357s and .45 Colt.

Do you want to shoot the same cartridge in your lever gun?

Classic cowboy category has min caliber requirements?

Some clubs like a lot of knockdowns where heavier bullets (larger calibers) usually perform better.

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Ruger Bisley Vaqueros will give you a bigger grip, lower hammer and are rock-solid reliable. Longest barrel they were made in was 5-1/2". Bisley Blackhawks were made in 7-1/2" but will limit your category choices.

1860 Army is an nice gun, has some inherent weaknesses due to its older spring technology, that can be overcome by a good cowboy gunsmith. Cartridge Conversion Cylinders are available. Tall hammer spur slows you down a mite. Not my first recommendation for an all-around match gun.

 

Taylor Firearms is selling some of their Colt SAA replicas with an 1860 Army Grip. But 5-1/2" is the longest barrel.

 

Overall, if you want a longer barrel, the 5-1/2" gives you the best mix of longer sight radius and quick handling. I'd recommend guns with a lower hammer spur for duelist shooting.

I don't understand why people think you need a gunsmith to make non-Ruger guns work. I have been shooting Cimarron/Ubertis hard for quite a while and they are out of the box stock and the only problem I have ever had was a broken bolt/sear spring which is a quick 5 minute repair.

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I shoot Open-tops 7 1/2 inch Barrels with Navy Grips in .44 Spl. good for all Categories .... You might like the same basic gun with army grips in your "Big Mitts"

 

I shoot FCD ...

 

Come on out and try some guns ...

 

 

Jabez Cowboy

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Hands down the best is an 1872 Opentop. I thought i preferred the Navy grip of my 45 Colt version, but when my wife confiscated those i found the Army grips on my 44-40 Opentops worked just as well. Get the 7.5" version, as it points/balances better, you hardly even need to aim.

I shot FCD with mine for 7 yrs. As slim says, they come with Army and Navy sized grips, they clean up easily with ease from shooting BP, and they are the most natural pointing pistol I have ever shot. And you can buy new barrels and a cylinder and change calibers if desired. I have a 45 cal pair and shoot 45 Schofield bp loads, they are a fairly light pistol.

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1858 Remington sheriff model's

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Best pistol for Duelists...

First you have to set some parameters - what makes a pistol "Better" for a Duelist than for a supported shooter?

 

First. Ability to hold on to the gun.

a Duelist aka unsupported shooter will be doing everything with a single hand.

You must have the ability to cock the hammer, pull the trigger, handle the recoil, manipulate the gun in and out of your holsters all with ONE hand.

The pistol must of a physical size that your hand size and flexibility allows for all these actions.

 

LARGE frames:

Super Blackhawks

First Model Ruger Vaqueros

Bisley Vaqueros

Freedom Arms

EAA Bounty Hunters

A number of the older German imports

 

MEDIUM FRAMES:

Current Vaqueros

Colt SAA/ Clones with PLOWHANDLES

 

MEDIUM MINUS

1851 Navy/ Clones and varieties

Colt SAA/ Clones with Birdshead

Ruger Vaquero Single Six - 32 (while not "smaller" than the standard Vaquero - is shorter and gives a different feel)

 

SMALL frames

Stallions/ Varieties were made for a couple of importers

 

Second: Ability to reach the hammer.

The distance to the hammer - length of cocking distance and hand placement on the grip will all vary the effort and ability to get to the hammer in a safe, controlled and efficient manner.

Hammer shape and height will also play into this equation.

Hammers can be swapped out and there are nearly endless options to make the gun work for you.

Your chosen manner of cocking the hammer (reach forward or rolling the pistol backwards) will change your preferences as well.

 

Third: Cocking mechanism.

Duelists are known to slip off the hammer from time to time without getting the gun fully cocked.

A pistol with a half cock mechanism will usually "save" the shooter from over advancing the cylinder and requiring a go around.

This leads to greater speed and efficiency in the shooting process.

The half cock conversion is a very common addition for Rugers.

 

Fourth: Barrel length.

Back to that doing everything one handed component. The barrel length is going to change where the pistol balances.

Move that center of balance too far forward (longer barrel) and the gun becomes nose heavy.

Handling that weight one handed can come into play at matches that require longer/ steadier shots.

 

Fifth: Touch, handle and SHOOT.

There is NO single best answer - I have known world class Duelists that shoot every caliber, every brand, every grip design and barrel length.

With all the variations and combinations of guns available - you have to find what works best for you.

All you can do is try to go into the conversation "knowing" what you don't know and attempting to find the best pistol for you.

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20160816_121501_zps1jgno8d4.jpg

 

I started shooting single action pistols with one hand 50 years ago and never gave a thought you needed two. After all, John Wayne and Matt Dillon only used one hand. When I started SASS, I shot duelist, then switched to double duelist then gunfighter.

 

I don't think one gun and grip style is necessary superior to another. The human hand is very adaptable. I shot Colts and Uberti clone of Colt. Then I put the Runin' Irons hammers in my Cattleman 45s and that seemed to help with my cooking on my weak left hand.

 

Then last summer in some fit of insanity, I collected up the above pair of Rugers. I have at least average size hands to large and the birdshead grips seem to fit inside my hands well. The grips are a bit bulbous and slick in hot weather.

 

Good choice for Duelist. The lowered hammer spurs make one-handed cocking much easier. you might consider thinning the grips some and add some checkering.

The two in the middle here are my favs for dualist. The Bisly hammers, and checkered thunderer grips don't slip.

DSCN0351.jpg

 

I don't understand why people think you need a gunsmith to make non-Ruger guns work. I have been shooting Cimarron/Ubertis hard for quite a while and they are out of the box stock and the only problem I have ever had was a broken bolt/sear spring which is a quick 5 minute repair.

 

What we are doing with these guns is racing and like racing cars there are things that are more important than slick or fast. The fastest car on the track doesn't win if it can't finish the race.

The ruger lock works were designed in the 1950's. It is nothing like the colt style lock basically unchanged since 1836.

 

Comparing Rugers to a colt SAA or Colt SAA clone is like comparing 60`s muscle cars to model T`s.

 

Expecting to be competitive for the long haul with an out-of-the-box stock gun is not likely to happen.

I've said this many times. You can take the family sedan to the track once or twice and run hell out of it, but if you do it on a regular basis, you gonna look up and see you crankshaft in the rear-view mirror. Race cars have to be tuned to race, so do guns that are raced.

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Howdy,

Fer yer situation them Bisley grips should git a good look over.

Grip panel thick or thin is the final tune, or maybe checkered vs plain...?

And remember you aren't married to your first choice....

However all the different ones I try, I still like MY first choice. ymmv.

Best

CR

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If'n ya cain't figger this out after Creeker and NKJ's posts.... buy a Glock. :D

 

WOW, guys. great advice. :) Belczeck, I hope yore listening because you just got a PhD level tutorial.

 

Best wishes.

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The Alchemista III have from factory 60 grips on them and real purty as well. I like new model 3s as the grip is more like DA revolver

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AW RIGHT AWREADY!! Enough Debate. Proper Dualists will only use a matched set of "Dueling" pistols. Matched set, either cap lock or flint lock, single shot, set triggers. Dualists also have to have seconds. The second is there to shoot the "First" should he or she .. cheat.

 

So lets be putting all these new fangled revolving things back in their boxes. Get yourself some proper "Dueling" pistols and meet on the "green" at dawn. Oh, and wear a proper cape too. Dress is important too. BANG!! Yes, and there is your cap. Must have proper feathers in your cap. Makes yer forehead a better target!!

 

Coffinmaker

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AW RIGHT AWREADY!! Enough Debate. Proper Dualists will only use a matched set of "Dueling" pistols. Matched set, either cap lock or flint lock, single shot, set triggers. Dualists also have to have seconds. The second is there to shoot the "First" should he or she .. cheat.

 

So lets be putting all these new fangled revolving things back in their boxes. Get yourself some proper "Dueling" pistols and meet on the "green" at dawn. Oh, and wear a proper cape too. Dress is important too. BANG!! Yes, and there is your cap. Must have proper feathers in your cap. Makes yer forehead a better target!!

 

Coffinmaker

I never did like the the name "Duelist" for this very reason. Good point Coffinmaker…….by the way I'm a TUNIST!! :lol:

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