Question for gun and ammo gurus


April 22, 2006, 07:31 PM
The whole cowboy shooting thing has nudged me into picking up a 6 shooter and a lever gun. I've settled on an open top navy from cimarron arms as well as a winchester.

My problem is I don't know which caliber to chose. Whichever caliber I pick, it will be for both the rifle and handgun. My options are .38 special, 44 special, and 45 colt.

I really want to have the best performance rifle wise, and since these will be used for just fun, all of those little self defense arguments dont apply. I don't really know muct about the latter 2 cartridges or really how the rifle will affect performance, so please edumacate me. Thanks.


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April 22, 2006, 07:33 PM
.38 Special out of a non-.357 rig is going to be VERY tough to beat accuracy-wise. It's also the cheapest option and the easiest to get reloading components for down the line.

April 22, 2006, 08:51 PM
That was my first thought, but theres someting about having the caliber start off with a "4" when your talking about cowboy shooting.

What will the practical differences be on the rifle range between the smaller 38 and the larger 44/45's?

Bad Flynch
April 22, 2006, 09:11 PM
Unless the open top Navies are conversion models, they are all cap-and-ball (muzzleloaders). In any event, the conversions are all .38 Cal of some sort, probably .38 Short Colt. You will need two revolvers, one for right hand and one for left. Most stages shoot 10 shots with revolvers and only let you load 5 shots in a revolver at a time. Get a .38 Special or a .357 Magnum and load it like a .38 Special, then shoot the same caliber in your rifle.

I have been through the nuisance with the .45 Colt with light loads in revolvers and rifles. It is a pain many times. The .45 Colt is otherwise a fine, old cartridge.

The .44 Special is OK.

The .38 special is the easiest to control in rapid fire. It is the cheapest to load. It is your best bet.

Try the Cimarron that is a clone of the Colt SAA. The Evil Roys are probably better made for the sport.

April 23, 2006, 03:48 AM
If you don't reload or plan on
reloading i would buy the 38.
You should be able to buy 100
rounds of 38spl for the price
of 50 44spl or 45 colt.

April 23, 2006, 07:14 AM
Look at 44-40.

Also, if you are going to compete, you will need two revolvers, a rifle, an exposed hammer shotgun, appropirate leather, and 'period' clothing. Budget $1000 to $1500 just to start.

April 23, 2006, 07:42 AM
I agree that the 38sp is the fastest and also cheeper to buy or reload.
In some groups of Sass shooters the small caliber guys are looked at as "gameers" who are trying to get an advantage over their compettitors. Some folks feel anyone physically able should be shooting a "full sized" cartridge to be in the "true spirit of the game"
44-40 would be the most historicly accurate full sized cartridge,but it is somewhat of a pain to deal with and most folks shooting will chose the 45 colt.
Just show up at any Sass shoot and there is almost always someone who will loan you a "rig". You will likely even have a hard time paying for the ammo you use. Sass shooters are like that! As you shoot look around at what the other guys and gals are shooting (unlike other shooting sports there are a fair number of women at most cowboy events)
Many times there are cowboys who have moved up in their selection of guns and have their old rigs for sale,you might consider buying used the first go round as a couple years into the whole cowboy thing you will find your nitch and want something else.

Jim Watson
April 23, 2006, 08:12 AM
Do you plan to join SASS and shoot organized Cowboy Action Shooting?
You will need two sixguns, a pistol caliber rifle (doesn't have to be the same as the revolvers, but it is convenient), and a shotgun. If a double it does NOT have to have exposed hammers. You can shoot a pump but only a Winchester 97 or Communist Chinese pirate ripoff copy of same; and there are getting to be some Communist Chinese pirate copies of Winchester 87 lever shotguns.

The open top guns, whether a repro cartridge conversion or 1872 Open Top Frontier copy, are subject to a few more ailments than SAA clones and Rugers. I do not particularly recommend them for beginners.

I don't know what you mean by "best performance rifle wise." None of the pistol calibre carbines are up to even a .30-30 for range and probably not for accuracy. If you ain't shootin' real CAS, they are all just plinkers anyhow and you would be better off with a good .22.

If you do not handload, or if you are a beginning recipe reloader, you will have less cost and trouble with .38s than bigbores.

As NHsport says, just show up, folks will help you out and you can see and try all sorts of gear.

April 23, 2006, 12:09 PM
Just to clarify, I have no intention to get into CAS. This is just for my personal enjoyment/plinking/having fun while riding on my uncles range kind of thing. I know that the open top revolvers aren't the most robust things around, but they are by far my favorite period pieces with the exception of a couple of converted BP revolvers.

With that said, what, if any, will be the different performance levels, of each of the 3 rounds for the rifle. Will one have longer range/higher velocity or are we all talking theoretical differences.

I pose this question under the assumption that the differences of each of these cowboy loads will be pretty similar performers out of the pistol.

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