Gun combination for Cowboy Action


February 20, 2003, 02:09 PM
I've been thinking about getting into Cowboy action shooting this year. I put an 1873 5 1/2" longhorn AWA on layaway the other day, but now I'm debating whether I want to go with a pair of the higher grade peacekeepers, in that case what barrel length would be recommended? Also what would be a good leveraction to go with it, I'm partial to the 45 Colt, but would 44-40 be more reliable in a lever gun. I would like to use real blackpowder loads for competition. What types of holsters are typical for this sport and what other gear would be needed. Thanks.

If you enjoyed reading about "Gun combination for Cowboy Action" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
Jim Watson
February 20, 2003, 09:00 PM
Look around at
on the SASS Wire forum and the affiliated merchants links.

I don't know about the differences between the grades of AWAs but there is plenty on the SASS Wire, pro and con. The speed shooters tend to the shorter barrels; probably not much difference between 4 3/4 and 5 1/2 inch, but my 7 1/2" guns are a little slower. But I shoot Duelist, and am not real quick anyhow, so a Clean Sweep is my goal, not a teriffic time.

Marlin lever actions have an advantage for black powder; just remove the lever screw and the lever and bolt come right out. That is very convenient for cleaning. My BP shooting pard can clean his guns faster than I can get the nitro fouling, hard wax lube and leading out of mine (BP fouling and the soft lubes for it wipe out with Windex and proper BP loads do not lead, period.)

The .44-40 is said to have an advantage with black, but there are plenty of .45 carbines being shot with black, including my neighbor's. I shoot .44-40 only because I got a great deal on a Winchester '92. It is a bit tedious to load for and if I were using all new guns they would be .38s or .45s.

There are many, many types of holsters. Get a look through somebody's Cowboy Chronicle and see a bunch in match pictures and advertisements.

You also need a shotgun, double barrel is going to be easier to clean up after black than a pump. Probably a cart or even a kid's little red wagon to hall four guns, leather, and ammo in.

Look at all the pictures for costuming ideas. You don't have to start out looking like an extra in Tombstone, plain jeans, work shirt, hat and boots will do to start. From there the sky is the limit. Costume trophies are as tall as shooting trophies, and just as prized.

February 21, 2003, 09:26 AM
Try the following page


February 21, 2003, 11:23 AM
Thanks for the information, I talked to the gunshop yesterday and they are going to try and bring me in a pair of the peacekeepers in either 44-40 or 45 Colt. I told them I preferred the 7 1/2 but told them the 5 1/2 would also work so we'll see what they can get. Figure when I get those I can start saving up for either an 1873 or 1866 for a levergun. I've got several double shotguns that would work well including a fine old sidelever W. Richards 10 guage that is period that I've hunted with for years with BP loads. Once again thanks for the information.

February 22, 2003, 09:23 AM
One other note about shotguns. Double barrels can only have extractors. No automatic ejectors are allowed per SASS rules (SASS-Single Action Shooting Society- is the major sanctioning body in cowboy shooting). Also if you have a visible hammer pump (Win 97 etc) those are legal. We have a couple of guys that shoot Win 87 lever action shotguns with BP at our club. They are a real joy to watch.

Tom C.
February 22, 2003, 01:52 PM
I strongly recommend that you keep the pistols and rifle in the same caliber. Eliminate loading mistakes that could jam the rifle.
Barrel length is a personal preference issue. I use 5.5". They are long enough for a reasonable sight radius, but short enough to be quick. Some prefer 4 3/4", only a few use 7 1/2". 7 1/2" really does slow down the shooter.
Shotguns are also personal preference. Some use the 97. If you want to use black powder and shoot Frontier cartridge, you need a double. The Baikal and Stoeger are both reasonably inexpensive. Both are stiff when new, but both smooth up well. I prefer removable choke tubes. I use Skeet tubes for most things, but I can change to something tighter for a long, hard set knock down target. Many older doubles are also available as well.
With all the guns and gear (120+ rds. for a normal match, plus 25+ rds for the shotgun) you will see the wisdom of some kind of gun cart. A child's wagon can get you started.
The first holsters can be inexpensive. You will probably change your mind about what you think is important. After you have gotten some experience you can get the more expensive holsters.

February 23, 2003, 12:24 AM
buy a marlin rifle, the 1894 "cowboy" is a great gun (wish i still had mine, sold it to pay off a doctor bill) easy to clean. everything else SASS legal is going to be a winchester clone, and a true PITA to do a proper strip adn clean job on regardless of which powder (black or smokeless) you use. 44-40 is slightly better for use with black powder, the thinner walled Bottlenecked case makes a better seal to the chamber, reducing "blowback".

get rifle adn pistols in the same caliber, unfortunately the marlin does not come in 44-40 at this time, i think there was a limited run of them int eh past. but currently production versions come in 38/357, 44 Spl/mag, and 45colt.

you'll need gunleather, best deal i've ever found is San pedro saddlery ( Big Ed (the owner) is a great guy and will help you get the right gear for YOU, up to and including taking back adn replacing any item he ships to you that is the wrong size/color ect. even if the mistake was yours (such as wrong belt length), within reason. there is even a "new shooters package" that is a VERY good deal.

once you get into the sport you'll find that you need a Gun Cart to "lessen your load" and make moving from stage to stage less clumsy adn cumbersome. there are SEVERAL good sources for plan ect. browse around the SASSWire ( and you'l find alot of info on this adn every other subject related to CAS. one of the places you'll be directed to and the maker of what seems to be the most popular guncart in the sport esp amoung the newer shooters (the "simple guncart") is cal-graf design ( personally when i get back into CAS, having to lay off of shooting in general due to unemplyment, i'll probably buy a Cal-graf "cowboy coffin"

anyway hope i have been of assistance.

If you enjoyed reading about "Gun combination for Cowboy Action" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!