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For the old-timers - Ruger Vaquero


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I am working on an article about the Vaquero and I would like to hear a little from other Vaquero users.

 

Thinking back to when the first came out - 1993 - what about them made you go out and buy one? My wife was working at Ruger at the time and I desperately wanted one because she could get an employee discount and that put it at my price point. But, Ruger would not allow employees to buy one discounted because the demand was so high so it was back out of my reach, raising two kids on $13.75 an hour.

 

At the time I wanted the SS with faux ivory grips.

 

Did the warnings on the barrel put you off? What made you choose the Vaquero over what other were offering at the time? I remember all the articles at the time said they were just like a Colt but 5% bigger.

 

I never was able to get an original Vaquero but I do have two sets of NMVs.

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I bought 2 of the original Vaquero's, brand new in 2000, when I started cowboy shooting. SS, 5 1/2 in. barrel, 357's with wood grips. Can't recall exactly but I think I payed about $399-425 new at that time, I already owned a Single six and a Super Redhawk; always liked the build quality of Rugers. The warning on the barrel never bothered me.

I shoot two handed style so the extra weight and size fit my large hands better, couldn't afford Colts and didn't like the build quality of the Uberti's back then plus they felt small in my hands. Still have and shoot the Vaquero's 20 years later, all I ever did was put Wolff lighter springs in them. In the 20 years, one of them broke a transfer bar after about 3 years of use and nothing else has ever broken, they just keep on running.

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My first Ruger was a 44 mag Super Blackhawk. Great gun. Still have that gun. My first Vaqueros were a gorgeous shiny new pair of 45 Colt, stainless, with 4.75" barrels and faux ivory grips. I had to have 'em. They were unique (at the time, 1995, 1996 or so), a great caliber, and looked like fun. Still have them too.

 

Cowboy action shooting was something I only read about in magazines (still have a few of those magazines) and was pretty much only happening in California (a loooooooong way away) so CAS did not play any role in my decision to buy these. I just wanted them. $285 each, I believe. I shot them a few times and put them away. occasionally got them back out to shoot then stored away again. All my friends loved those Rugers and had to shoot them. Funny though, it was always the Mini 14 or Vaqueros my friends liked shooting the most. Both seemed to have the same attraction. Ammo was basically cheap back then and we perferated many a tin can and hedge apple with those guns.

 

Fast forward to 2008 and I rediscovered CAS and discovered there were SASS clubs in my state. I had to try it. Out came the Rugers, bought more ammo, bought some clothes (exploratory trip to EoT that ended up being one heck of a good shopping trip) and I was playing cowboy. Seems like those Rugers were a pretty good investment.

 

 

Edited by Dantankerous
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My wife bought me one In 2004, stainless, 45 colt with a 7 1/2" barrel, It was $400 brand new, I bought a match to that one two years ago and was lucky to only pay $500 for it.

I wanted the ruger over the colt since I have big hands, it seemed to fit better.

And they seem to be one of the few things I haven't lost $$ on. :D

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Yep, when I started in 1999 they were $400 new from the gun shows. They could be had for about $225 from pawn shops used. I had acquired a mess of German made single actions and shot them almost exclusively the first two years. I dabbled in Rugers, both Blackhawks and Vaquero's. but never really warmed to them. Something about the feel of the action. They were great guns though.

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I bought my first in the mid 90s when a local sporting goods store went out of business.  Mine is a 5 1/2" 44 magnum. I paid less than $300, new in box. Then, over 10 years later, I had to find a used one to pair it up for CAS.  

They're slicked up with an action job, SBH hammers, and Joe Perkins grips. I pulled them out last weekend and shot pretty well.

 

BS

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I do have a pair of the old Vaqueros that have Wes Fargo actions and a short stroke. I bought one used and the mate from him. The 3/4 oz. triggers were a bit light for me shooting duelist, so I had him adjust to a more comfortable weight. I've put them away for now and am shooting a pair of Blackhawks that Wes slicked up w/o the short stroke option. Gotta love those big sights.

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I started SASS in 1997 and the only "cowboy" gun I had at the time was a gifted 10 1/2" Super Blackhawk in 44 Magnum, a number of SBH of different barrel lengths passed through my hands and then the "go fast" movement really started to get rolling around 2002 or so and other than the 10 1/2" SBH,  the SBH's were replaced by a used 6 1/2" Blackhawk in .357 and a new (I think) Vaquero Birdshead in .357 (I ended up swapping the Birdshead frame for the standard grip frame) . 

I had a been a fan of Ruger even before I started SASS due to their reasonable cost and durability, couldn't  afford the Colt's and the later high end replicas and back then there were still plenty of used Rugers out there at very reasonable prices.  I still think they are the first choice for someone who wants a reliable, durable pistol, especially if they don't have the budget for back up sets or trips to the gunsmith.

Edited by Chantry
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I got my first .45 in 2004. I just liked the heft of it.   I couldn't afford a colt.   Then in 2008 I bought 2 more

 This time in ss.   I like them because they are easy to work on.  Over the years I think ive had about 2 dozen.  I just like the feel of them. I hunt with them.  Plink,  carry one most days. 

 

  I have never been a big fan of the nmv. It just feels light to me.    My main match are nmv with old model hammers, but its because I couldn't find full size frames in  .357 at the time. 

  

Edited by evil dogooder
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I bought my first pair because I was supplying guns and ammo for 6 people.  First pair was 7 1/2" blued .44-40.  Second pair was SS 5 1/2" & 4 1/2" in .44 Mags.  Kids stopped shoting so I sold the .44-40's, wish I hadn't.  Right now there are 15-20 Rugers in the safe.  They run from .22-.44.  The .44 mag & .41 mags wear stags and have 7 1/2" barrels .  My first Ruger was a Single Six 22/22 mag with 4 5/8" barrel bought for $57.99 @ Montgomery Wards.  Box, Shipper, all papers except the .22 mag box is there.  It seen 3 kids and grandkid and his friends shoot it.  Don't look new but works.  I like Rugers though I shoot 2nd gen Colt 1851 Navies engraved by Sam Cherry.

Edited by Pee Wee #15785
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I bought and still own some of the ORIGINAL Vaqs.

 

Reputation, cost, reliability, etc..... was the reason I bought them

 

I used 2 ORIGINAL Vaqs. in .38/.357 caliber to dry fire and live fire for 'speed' practice.

I used those same Vaqs to set the current Cowboy Speed GF record for a draw and 10 shots

in 1.81 seconds.

Those pistols were NOT short stroked nor fancied up, other than a hammer spring change.

They even had the original hammer profile.

 

RUGERS ARE TOUGH.

 

..........Widder

 

 

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Got my first Vaquero (7.5” .44Mag) as a gift from my wife right when they came out, so I could pair it with a .44 Special Colt and finally shoot the same ammo in both pistols (2nd pistol was a .357 Colt till then; never had a reason to have 2 pistols in the same caliber till we started needing 2 for this game).  Had to have the barrel cut to 5.5” to match the Colt (Ruger wouldn’t sell me one nor install one at the time).

Didn’t take long to notice the slightly larger grip/frame got that hammer a little farther from my right hand and so helped me avoid short stroking and dropping the hammer early, so I picked up another one to match it.

They are still my primary match guns, and just get smoother with time and use.

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Loophole’s picture is exactly the same I started out with.  In 2000, Ruger produced only 2000 of the 4 5/8” birdsheads in stainless.  I bought one and it took me 2 years to find the 2nd.  Than faux checked ivory grips and the Uberti’s became safe queens.

2 years ago, one side of the cylinder blew out and was required to buy 3 1/2” one for replacement.

Many 1000’s of black powder 45 Colt reloads have been through them...

Edited by John Boy
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When I first held an original Vaquero I thought "Here is a revolver stout enough to stop a charging buffalo."  I bought a pair in 44 mag and shot them for years until arthritis in my hands forced me to retire them.  I keep them as backups to my 357 original Vaqueros I now shoot.  New model Vaqueros fit my hands better but the heft of the original models protects my hands from recoil.

Edited by Edward R S Canby, SASS#59971
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They weren’t my first pair, but I found one locally and bought it’s brother on g-broker.  44 mag 5.5” SS with wood grips.  

Betty Lou immediately comandeered those pistols and I liked that they needed little attention to run well.

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Been awhile... My first Ruger was a Flattop Blackhawk in .44 Magnum with a 6-1/2" barrel.  When I joined SASS, I could only shoot Modern class because of the adjustable sights.  I purchased a Navy Arms (Uberti) M1860 Henry rifle in .44-40, and wanted a sixgun to match. (In those days, SASS only shot with a single pistol.) When Ruger came out with the Vaquero in .44-40, I grabbed one.  It has a 7-1/2" barrel, and is stainless steel.  I soon found out that the cylinder wasn't right!  Not only were the throats very tight (.425") with the barrel .429", but the chambers were not uniform! At the time, Ruger wouldn't do anything about it. :angry:  I finally found a Super Blackhawk cylinder at a gun show, and had it installed by a gunsmith who really knew what he was doing!  About that time SASS went to two sixguns.  I found a blued Vaquero with a 5-1/2" barrel, also a .44 Magnum.  After a year of bugging Ruger, and with an article or two written by Mike "Duke" Venturino, criticizing Ruger's .44-40's, I was finally able to get Ruger to either ream out the chambers or replace the cylinder with uniform .44-40 chambers.  Except the throats were still .425"!  About the same time, my same gunsmith found a spare .44--40 cylinder with uniform chambers, but the throats also .425". I had him install it in the 5-1/2" Vaquero, and time both cylinders to that gun.  When I got the first gun back from Ruger, the new cylinder and the .44 Magnum cylinder timed correctly without further fitting.  As a result, I have a pair of convertible Vaqueros.

Oh, about the tight throats on the .44-40 cylinders?  I found that hardcast bullets (BhN 17-22) sized to .430" gave great accuracy! :huh:  It seems that when the bullets hit the tight throats, they do squeeze down.  But the dwell time going through the throats is so short that the internal stress built up doesn't have time to dissipate as heat, so when the bullet leaves the throat it re-expands to fit the .429" barrel.  If it ain't broke, etc. so I leave the throats alone.  I acquired two Rossi M92's, one in .44-40 and the other in .44 Magnum.  My loads in the .44 Maggie are adjusted downward (due to lesser case capacity) so the bullet velocities match the .44-40.  Depending on what ammo I have loaded, I grab the right cylinder for each Vaquero and the matching rifle, and go!

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1 hour ago, Loophole LaRue, SASS #51438 said:

My first pair of Cowboy revolvers - Ruger Vaqueros, birdshead grips, .357, 4 5/8" barrels, circa 2004.  Still going strong.

 

 

055.jpg

 

mine didn't come with magazines :(

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my mentors were using them and I shot my first two matches with Vaqueros

 

Got a pair in .45 Colt--still using them as my main match guns.

 

did the replacement spring 'thing' and had the ends of the hammers turned down (think they used a torch and hammer to do it--but it was a fine job)

 

Went with Altamont grips when they can out.

 

my big hands like their feel

 

built like a tank over the more fragile Colts and clones

 

 

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I won 2 Ruger Vaqueros from Bob Munden on New  years night 2000. They were his yearly drawing that he did for customers. They were stainless 4.5 barrels  45 colt with action jobs and custom grips in a wooden case. I still have them and have shot them a bunch. Never had any problems with them.

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Bought my first one in 1995 in 44-40 and I joined SASS about 5-6 months later. Already had a Blackhawk in 357 I bought in 1966, but it didn't look cowboy enough to me with the sights and caliber. Also a single-six.  In my LGS the lady said she had a 7 1/2" and a 4 3/4" in 44-40, asked if she knew about the recoil. She didn't and didn't have any ammo. Found some ammo a few days later, went to the range, shot it and it was sweet. Went back and put the other one on lay a way. Told her now I've got to find a rifle ,,,, she goes "oh" , I've got a rifle", a Rossi, put that on the ticket also. At a gun show later saw a 5 1/2", new,  bought it, now I've got 3. Just happened to stop by the pawn shop on the way home, darned if they don't have a 5 1/2" , used,,, it went home with me, that's 4 with a matched pair. Some gunshows later I acquire a 4 3/4 and a 7 1/2". Shot the 5 1/2's for about 8-9 years. All I did was put 19lb. springs in them. That's 6.  All in 44-40. Acquired a 1st gen Colt in 38-40 at a gun show. At one of the last Mule Camps in Ga. , Taylors was there , found a matching replica in 38-40, antiqued, in their scratch and dent case. Bought it. One of the club members talked me into trying the holy black. I was converted . The only OMV Ruger made at the time ,I think were 38-40/40S&W , but they were in SS. I don't  like shiny guns.-_- But I bought them because they were 38-40's.  Thought about having them coated in durocoate ,,gun blue, yeh,,, I know:o.  Another thought ,,,, get a pair of "blue" OMV's in 357 and have them converted to 38-40,,,, done. Barrels went one way, cylinders another. Sometimes I'm dangerous when I think.;) The smith that I sent the cylinders to sent them back to me bored for 44-40.:o Called to rectify that , he said to send the guns and he'd make it right, and keep the 44-40 cylinders.  I did and he did. 19lb. springs later, they shoot great. Now I'm stuck with two OMV 44-40 cylinders. Traded one to a friend for some fancy wood he had left over from a project. Amature wood worker, I am also,,, small stuff. Still have one cylinder left. Oh,,,, I know, get an OMV in 44mag. Done ! Got the cylinders engraved around the back with 44-40 and 44mag. The 44-40 cyl. was a few thousandth's  to long, some worn 320 paper with oil took care of that and 19lb. springs. I use CCI primers in everything except shotguns. Acquired a Birdshead  3 3/4" in .45. Spring and grip change ,,,, I don't like the birdshead grip. I put a Bisley hammer on one and Blackhawk hammers on two. That's 12  "I DO LOVE MY OMV"s.  Built like a tank and runs like a Timex. I used the 51/2" as my main match guns. Only work I had done to them was smoothing them up and changing the factory springs to 19lbs and change the grip panels. I never was a speed demon, so they weren't "raced" up.  Half have stag grips. Put those on when stag was running around $90-$100 a pair. Others have Eagle gunfighter grips.  They just feel better in my hands. Never owned any NMV's. I think I've got letters on most of my Rugers when they were free , I see they're $10.00 now. I bought them from '95 to about '09-'10 when I bought the last one. The cheapest one was about $285.00 up to about $460.00. They were getting scarce then. The SS 38-40/40S&W were about $475.00 in about '03. About half were used , I've got the boxes for most of them. I've had the cylinder mouths on on the 5 1/2" ones done, but not the other 44-40's. 

Loving Rugers

Isom

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I've had 3 sets of OMV's and still have 1 set. Sold a set of  SS 44-40's and a set of 45 colt blued. I kept the blued set of 44-40's that I still use for Cowboy shooting. Kinda wish I had kept the 45's.

kR

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My first cas Ruger was a Bisley with adjustable sights which I did not like and was sold to buy a new 5.5 inch stainless Vaquero which I did like. This was followed by a 4.5 inch ss revolver but I found that I could shoot the shorter bbl gun faster than the longer one so a third Vaquero was purchased with a 4.5 bbl. one of these was a Hamilton Bowen tuned revolver, very nice. The 5.5 in was eventually sent to Larry Horvath to be cut down to 2.5 inches, tuned up etc. Liking the shorter bbl look my next one was a 3.5 in ss Birdshead. My 5th was a present to my daughter in-law, a New Vaquero ss Birdshead. She used it with my older Birdshead but wound up becoming a mommy and dropping cas. Sadness, she was working on being a double duelist too. The 6th Vaquero was a blued 7.5 in that I bought for the heck of it. Not liking the aluminum ejector rod hsg it was replaced with a ss one from my 2.5 in build. I’ve also swapped cylinders with my old Birdshead to make a pair of zebras. All of these are .45colt. The springs have been lightened and the slippery Ruger rosewood grips have been swapped out for checkered buffalo horn, elk or lasered micarta. The skinny hammers have been replaced with wide blackhawk hammers. Somewhere in there a .22 Vaquero was bought as a practice gun. Always wanted a second but they are hard to find. 

0B5E010C-2E8F-4FBB-849C-5CED01EDF460.jpeg

 

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Edited by Baltimore Ed
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Howdy

 

Here in the Land of the Pilgrims, back when I started shooting CAS, Rugers were the only single action revolvers we could buy legally, because any other single action revolver would not pass a drop test with a live round under the chamber. Which is still the case, not legal to buy a Colt, Uberti, or any other replica with a Colt style action here.

 

Anyway, when I started shooting Cowboy I found this really nice used 'original model' Vaquero chambered for 45 Colt. It had been made several years earlier as I recall, but I found it a few years later. Yes, that is an after market cylinder pin.

 

pnRcDMGsj

 

 

 

 

Not too much later I found another used one, this one was Stainless. This pair was my Main Match pair of pistols for several years.

 

pnDrOo6Dj

 

 

 

 

I have a few more now, the 45 Colt/45ACP Blackhawk all the way on the left was my first cartridge revolver that I bought brand-spanky new way back in 1975. Found another 'original' stainless Vaquero a the same year as the first one, so the stainless pair was my main match pair for a few years. The two on the right are 357 Magnum New Vaqueros.

 

pmB92Lnej

 

 

 

 

Have a few Three Screws now too.

 

plaxInD3j

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My first Original Vaquero was a blue steel, 7 1/2 inch, 44 magnum.  That fall in 93 I took a mule deer with it.  Since then I have had many variations of the OMV  but have settled on SS, 5 1/2 barrel in .44 mag, 44-40 and .45.  These are woods guns.

As far as NMV's I have settled upon 2 pair for CAS but the picture is of my favorites......one pair in .44 Spcl and the engraved ones in .45.

002 (6).JPG

 

Part II:

 

The handgun that I learned to first shoot was a Ruger Single Six, one of the oldies from way back when.  I shot the dickens out of this gun, I was able to trade 5 pop bottles at the store down the road for a little yellow box of .22 shorts.   This was in about 1964.   I was still yearning to be a cowboy and work cattle and living out on the range.  Many a rabbit fell to this gun as I wore it in a original holster and belt made by S.D. Myres in El Paso.  This is probably why I am still buying quality leather for quality guns.  I learned  of Colt SAA revolvers a few years later, always dreamed of owning one but the money was never there.  My dad use to say, a working man can afford a Ruger and not have a problem wearing it through the brush while horse back.  I still have to agree with that logic.

 

As  I have grown older and my disposable income increased and good fortune has allowed me to acquire those prized Colts.    I guess I remain a loyal Ruger owner due to the great memories of dad and I talking guns, shooting guns, sleeping out and loving the history of the west.  Dad never got that  SAA but he did end up with a beautiful 6 inch Python and a well used military grade 1911.

Edited by Hashknife Cowboy
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8 hours ago, Loophole LaRue, SASS #51438 said:

My first pair of Cowboy revolvers - Ruger Vaqueros, birdshead grips, .357, 4 5/8" barrels, circa 2004.  Still going strong.

 

 

055.jpg

Feisty Mama has an identical set she purchased in 2003 and still used them at about 400 rounds per month until primers got scarce.  Never has a problem.

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In 1993 when I bought my first one,  They only had 45 colt, 44 mag and 44-40.   My first was a 45 colt blued CC frame with 4 1/2 barrel.  Next year I heard about SASS and bought a second just like the first one.   I then bought a Marlin cowboy limited in 45 colt and a 20ga stoeger.   Bought the rugers because I couldnt afford Colts.  Best thing I could have done.   Sent them to oglsby and had action jobs done,  not the best but they were better than original.   I then foolishly sent them the marlin and it never was reliable again.   Still have the rugers and shoot them now and then but fell in love with my .32 single sixes.   Bought the rugers because of the price and kept them for the quality.  Bullett 19707

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I shot a mixed pair of OMVs in .45 Colt for fourteen years.  I think that a cowboy might have a working (plain blue) gun and bought a shiny (bright SS and some engraving) if he saved a bit.

I have had many Ubertis, Piettas and 1st gen Colts.  I always carried a spare to matches.  The Rugers are tanks.  They rarely break or wear out.

20180307_203441.jpg

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I started with a pair of 44 special clones. I picked up a 44 mag Vaquero. Didn't like the grip and thinned them down and they were better but still didn't feel great. This was around the time the New Vaqueros were coming out and I was considering checking them out. I went to Winter Range and ran across West Fargo and was able to handle guns with his action work and Eagle Gunfighter grips. Made a huge difference.

 

Bought a second Vaquero had Wes do his work and put the gunfighter grips on them. Good to go for me.

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My first CAS "same gun" pair(I started in with a Colt and a JP Sauer colt clone in 7 1/2 and 5 1/2 barrel lenghts:rolleyes:) were stainless OMVs in 45LC,  4 5/8 barrel. They had the factory faux ivory grips with the Ruger medalion. I liked the larger/heavier frame because it seemed to absorb recoil better for me. When I decided to switch caliber, I got a stainless pair of OMVs in 38/357, 4 5/8 barrels from Johnny Meadows. The only work I did were to install lighter springs and super blackhawk hammers and I continue to shoot them as my main match guns to date, safety script and all:D. They are built to last!

 

DB:FlagAm:

Edited by Dakota Brown
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my intro to vaqueros came in two unrelated incidents - the first was sale of an old collectible to a well known library that netted me way more than i had hoped and provided the disposable to buy a 45colt 4 3/4" NV that introduced me to them = i liked it - alot , 

then at a major match i had three revolvers fail - that first NV did not , so i immediately went to my gun guy had him fix and sold the down items then i replaced them with a pair of 45colt 5 1/2" NV , they have not failed me either , 

 

i like the heft and reliability , i suspect i shall finish my days with these in my possession and shooting - mine were very nice out of the box , all three of them , 

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12 hours ago, Widder, SASS #59054 said:

I bought and still own some of the ORIGINAL Vaqs.

 

Reputation, cost, reliability, etc..... was the reason I bought them

 

I used 2 ORIGINAL Vaqs. in .38/.357 caliber to dry fire and live fire for 'speed' practice.

I used those same Vaqs to set the current Cowboy Speed GF record for a draw and 10 shots

in 1.81 seconds.

Those pistols were NOT short stroked nor fancied up, other than a hammer spring change.

They even had the original hammer profile.

 

RUGERS ARE TOUGH.

 

..........Widder

 

 

I tried to send you a message asking about the record but it says you can't receive messages. I assume your inbox is full.

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I currently have a pair of SS OMV's with 4 5/8 barrels in .38/.357. I can shoot those an entire match with real BP and they run. They have sort of become safe queens as I have shooting frontiersman and using my ROA's. I had a pair of NRA editions in 44-40 with 6 1/2" barrels did not care for them so they went towards something else. Of course those are one of the several guns I regret having sold...bet that sounds familiar.

 

 

Hochbauer

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I bought my first OMV from a gun store two years before I heard about SASS, in 1996.  Blued, case colored frame, .45 Colt.  $150 as I recall.  I always wanted a cowboy gun.  I shot it at my first SASS monthly match in 1998.  Then traded it for a pair of stainless OMVs in .45 Colt, so I could look like my screen heroes and shot those for about 6 years, smokeless and black powder both.  I decided to improve my ranking so I bought the pair of .357s pictured below in 2004.  The SS .45s did not make it to the range for several years, so they went to a cowboy who needed them more than I.
 

This pair was used by my son when he shot with me for a year in 2014 in order to write his book, “The Cowboy Year”.  I knew they would be safe and reliable in the hands of a new, inexperienced competitor.  I used them to set World Records in Frontier Cartridge and Frontier Cartridge Duelist categories, then Missouri Lefty used them to break both of those records in 2018.  The only changes from factory original guns are Eagle Gunfighter grips and lighter hammer springs.  They still get to a match now and then, when the ROAs need a rest.

 

I’ll keep these.  I have no interest in the New Model Vaqueros.

 

53B29904-11E2-4895-B93A-CF3272D78D7A.thumb.jpeg.7b38a1e5b71d21fe16ef0d5f5a552a7e.jpeg

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