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Looking for advice on my first revolver.

Three Nail Norm

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I am just starting out. I grew up with rifles, but not handguns. I did carry a 45 in the army for about 3 months. We ran short of m16s so the CO decided the medic could carry a sidearm. But the only training I got was how to field strip and clean it. That was over 40 years ago.


I've been teaching myself the last couple of years using air guns of various types. When I discovered CAS I joined SASS, and starting reading the forum. I've gone to watch a match. I've watched lots of YouTube. I've gone to gun shops and handled various pistols. 


These days, I have a pair of the Umarex Colt Peacemaker replicas that shoot .177 pellets. I made myself a couple of holsters and a makeshift belt to try out different holster positions and styles. And I'm getting reasonable at breaking the first shot and hitting an 8" square target at 10 yards. I've almost reached the limit of what I can learn using replicas in my back yard. With the CO2 replicas, there is no recoil, no noise to cause a flinch, and no rapid fire.


In a couple of months I'll be in a position to make my first handgun purchase. The question is, what should I get?

I can think of three options.


Baby Steps. Get a Ruger Single Six convertible.

The ammo is available in most gun shops. I can practice my existing skills and add to it some rapid fire drills. Maybe the 22mag will give me some introduction to recoil control. And I can most likely take some lessons with a Single Six to make sure I'm not developing any bad habits.


Deep end of the Pool. Get a Ruger Blackhawk and handloading equipment and start hand-loading out of the gate.

It seems that most people hand load their cowboy rounds. I'd be jumping ahead in the timeline a bit, but given the unavailability of reasonably priced 38 or 357 ammo, hand loading seems like the only way to have enough ammo to do the amount of practice I will need.


Wade in Slowly. Get a Ruger Blackhawk 357/9mm convertible.

I see 9mm ammo in the gun shops these days, and 9mm availability is likely to improve before I see readily available 38/357. I can use 9mm to get comfortable with the handgun, and slowly start my way towards hand loading 38/357. The convertible has about a $200 premium over the regular Blackhawk, but I have seen them in my local shops.


I'm looking for advice on which option to follow, or if there is another option I have overlooked.

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.22 caliber guns are not legal for adults' as main match guns, They are fine for the Youngster's .

The Blackhawk limits what classes you can shoot in, the NMV does not , other than Caliber.

A Uberti Cattleman in .38 WCF. allows you to shoot in ANY category, that is allowed for your age ... Except Frontiersman!

The .38 WCF is the very best caliber for FC / FCD ( Black Powder )

If you want to be just like the Herd get a .38 /.357 Ruger, the .38 spl. is the second cheapest caliber to load ( .32 S.W. long is cheaper but not legal when you come to Canada )

By the By Welcome to the Fun !!!


Jabez Cowboy 

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38 Special is an easy cartridge to reload.  Don't hesitate to start reloading.  9 mm Luger cases can also be reloaded with lead bullets for CAS.  Where I shoot I can pick up enough 9 mm cases that I never have to buy any.  I started shooting CAS with Blackhawks and still shoot them in the Spring.  They are suitable revolvers.  However, I mostly shoot Vaqueros and Ruger Old Armys.


The light loads most shoot in CAS have so little recoil there is little recoil to get used to.  If you start shooting .45 Colts fully loaded with black powder you will experience very noticeable recoil.

Edited by Edward R S Canby, SASS#59971
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1 hour ago, Tyrel Cody said:

Jump into the deep end of the pool, only get  Vaqueros instead of a Blackhawk. Don't wait until you get everything,  take what you have and go shoot.

CAS shooters are very friendly and it can sometimes get into a race to have you try out different guns. Show up and whatever you don’t have will be offered fairly quickly. If you are polite and offer to pay for the ammo you will generally be turned down but the offer will go a long way in the future. Don’t be afraid to try others guns, they wouldn’t offer if they didn’t want you to try them so give it a go. Keep in mind the old advice of buy once cry once. Try a few before you invest then you can make an informed decision. 
Looking forward to seeing you down the trail. 

:FlagAm:  :FlagAm:  :FlagAm:

Gateway Kid

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Buy top of the line firearms.  You will enjoy trouble free operation of high quality tuned firearms while learning what kind of cowboy you are, and will not be limited competitively as you improve.  If you decide the game is not for you, you are more likely to get most of your money back selling guns that have been proven in competition than with second or third level quality firearms.


Don't buy a gun until you have shot one just like it.  Fit and feel mean a lot in this sport.


Expect your goals to evolve.  Many of us did not care if we won or not when we started.  Then we won a plaque and became more competitive.  If you really truly deep down don't mind finishing in last place at every match, then it doesn't matter what you buy.

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I like the idea of starting out with a good, easy to load cartridge, the 44 or 45. People who cry about the recoil are full of crap. You can load a 44 spl and a 45 colt to very little recoil. Any good cowboy revolver like ruger vaquero, uberti cattleman in 44 spl/magnum or 45 colt.  Big, straight wall cases and they are easy to reload. And with a 44/45 , you leave yourself room to grow and shoot any catagory. And you get a great start on an easy caliber to load the holy black, should you choose to come to the dark side. Decide on a gun that you like and has a cool factor for you!! Cause if you don't like it and you don't think it's cool and fun to shoot, you won't shoot it. Have a blast shooting your cowboy guns....that is what it is all about

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Find a club near you.  Contact that club and show up to a meeting or match.  They will get you started in the right direction.  Doesn't matter what I like.  It only matters what you like.  By contacting a local club, you'll most likely get an opportunity to try out stuff before you make that first purchase. Welcome to a great group of people.

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Colt SAA or copy thereof.
Ruger New Model Vaquero.


You can't go wrong with these.  They are excellent guns and are the most popular choice for a reason.   A real Colt will cost you more than a clone, but most of them are pretty good.   The main makers of said clones are Uberti and Pietta.  I have some of both and have no complaints.   There are other clone makers that are mostly on the used market these days, that range from great to garbage.   Let the buyer beware.   New or used?  Well, with new you know what you are getting.  With used, you may get a gun that is still in excellent condition, or one that is shot to hell and gone.  Again, be careful.  But you will save money this way.

Various other revolvers similar to the above such as the Remington 1875, Colt Open top, etc.  (Pretty much talking reproductions, not real ones)

These can be nice if you want something different, but still has the same basic operation as the above.   Same caveats.

Just starting out I would avoid the following, new, used, original or reproduction.

S&W top breaks.  (American, Schofield, New Model 3)  These are great guns, but I would not recommend them for a newbie.


Pretty much everything else.  Don't get me wrong, some of the other things out there are great pistols and are fun to own and shoot.   But I would only recommend them for someone who has a lot of experience shooting old time guns.

Cap and Ball Revolvers are not for the novice either.

Barrel length?   Purely a matter of personal preference.  But I'd stick to the "normal" lengths of between 4-3/4" and 7-1/2"   Save the Sheriff's models and Buntlines for later.  :)

Caliber?   .38 Special and .45 Colt are the most popular calibers for a reason.   You can't go wrong with them, and they are very easy to reload for.  .38's are cheaper.

Things like .44-40, .44 Special, .38-40, .357 Magnum, .32-20, .44 Magnum and others have their followings, and have things in their favor and against them.  But they are less popular for a reason.  Other than .44-40, finding guns in these other calibers can be a challenge.   .44 Mangum rifles are easy to find, revolvers not so much.  

Personally, I have guns in several calibers, .45 Colt is my favorite, and I don't have any SASS type guns in .38 Special.   But that is my personal preference.

When all is said and done, get what you like.   Don't spend less for a gun you think is "okay."  You'll just regret is, and when you finally do get the one you want, you'll wonder why you spent the money on the other thing.

It is not required that revolvers be in the same caliber as your rifle, but it is convenient when it is.

It is also not required that your 2 pistols be identical.  Some say this is a necessity.  Some say it doesn't matter.

Data submitted for your consideration.

Edited by H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619
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.38 is the way to go especially if you're shooting smokeless. It's cheaper to load than the .45 or .44-40 or .38-40. :)

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Given the options you listed, I'd go with the blackhawk convertible; you can load 9mm with lead and use that in CAS as well as the 38 special or 357 (downloaded to 38 special levels).  The large sdjustable sights will make it easy to get your POA and POI to match with your various loads.  I would suggest sticking with the 4 5/8 or 5 1/2 inch barrels, as they are lighter and easier to get in and out of holsters than 6 1/2 or longer barrels. No real difference between blued and stainless, except price, of course!

Blackhawks are running less than Vaqueros and somewhat easier to find. They also are a better choice if you have plans to use them for other activities besides CAS, given the adjustable sights. They also would appeal to a different (and probably larger) resale market outside CAS if you decide this game is not for you.

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I second(or third?) the advice to hold off buying anything until you go to a shoot and try some different guns. For someone starting out, I would recommend a .357/.38 or a 45 Colt.  If you don’t reload, shooting 38s will be much cheaper.  If you do, it will still be cheaper, but components for .38 and .45 are the most readily available. Although I own and shoot 38-40s and 44-40s, I would not recommend them for someone who does not reload or for someone just starting out.  They are great, but a bit more involved.  


As for guns, the Rugers are very popular and well built.  The New Vaquero is arguably the most common handgun for the sport, but that’s a matter of taste.  I prefer Colts but I have some Italian guns as well.  Italian guns are good.  Go to a match and try some out and see what you like.  

As for your approaches, everyone should own a .22 handgun since they are cheap to shoot and a lot of fun.  But cowboy loads, especially .38s don’t have a lot of recoil.  If recoil is your concern, I would buy a gun that shoots .38s and get out to the range.  With ammo options the way they are, having a 9mm conversion cylinder could be useful, but I wouldn’t let that drive my purchase.  

Good luck, have fun, and don’t overthink things.

Edited by Doc Coles SASS 1188
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Don't buy ANY used gun without trying it out for a hundred or more rounds-- or preferably -- having it checked over and tested by a knowledgeable gunsmith with CAS gun experience or a very experienced CAS shooter.   You really have no way to know why a gun is being sold, and as a new shooter you cannot tell how it has been modified, or what a kitchen table gunsmith might have errantly accomplished with wrong parts or a Dremel tool. 


Many clubs have very experienced shooters with a reputation for CAS gun repair and set-up.  Most  will be glad to assist you, if asked.  But don't buy used equipment without knowing for sure what you are buying.   

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