.45 birdshead vaquero


November 20, 2006, 06:25 PM
Walked into Gander Mtn. on saturday and guy behind the counter told me in back of store he had a SS NIB 3.75 birdshead vaquero .45 for $450.00. Is this a decent price and what are thoughts on this piece. I looked elsewhere in town and can't find another anywhere to compare price so I put it on layaway. The finish is very nice even though I'm not a ss fan but have heard of bluing issues when it comes to color case hardened so might not be a bad way to go. I appreciate any imput or advice you can give me.

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November 20, 2006, 06:32 PM
New Vaqueros do not come with birdshead grips and the lowest price I have seen NIB New Vaqueros go for is $416 plus 5% sales tax here in Iowa. So, if this is an item you want and it is something that is hard for you to find in this configuration then I do not think $450 is out of line. It all gets down to what it is worth to you. So, following that thought......Have you been checking gunshows, gun shops, and the internet for this particular model to see how many are available out there and what the sellers are asking for them???

November 20, 2006, 08:04 PM
New Vaqueros do not come with birdshead grips

Sure they do. There are two different models available. I just bought one a few months ago with birdshead grips and paid about $450 or so on Gunbroker. Very cool gun!!

November 20, 2006, 08:41 PM
This is definately the old model vaquero, the thing feels like its built like a tank. I was curious if anyone can tell me the drawbacks if any to having that short of a barrel.

November 20, 2006, 08:47 PM
I searched for a picture I took of my Birdshead by itself but couldn't find one. Here is an old family picture it was in a few months back.

It's a tank of a gun. I went to a local gun show about 6 months ago and I left empty handed. The only gun I saw of interest was a the birdshead, but I didn't jump on it b/c it was 45 Colt and I wanted it in another caliber. I picked it up in 357 on gunbroker


November 20, 2006, 08:48 PM
and thanks for the correction, Creatorss. :)

LATE ENTRY: Thanks, Ralph Bryant for the posting below. I was about ready to check my current Ruger catalog. I thought I did say that for a reason.

Ralph Bryant
November 20, 2006, 09:34 PM
"New Vaqueros" actually DO NOT come in the Birdshead grip configuration, at least not yet. That is an original Vaquero, not the new model. You can tell the difference by just looking at the gun. Original Vaqueros simply have "Vaquero" on the left side of the cylinder frame, and new model Vaqueros have "New Vaquero" on the frame. The orignial model Vaqueros are no longer in production.

As far as the "case hardening" on the blue versions, there is really no such thing. Ruger simply "applies" the look of case hardening with a paint type process that is not very durable at all. Personally, I much prefer the stainless steel versions as they wear well and have no problems with rusting or pitting in damp environments.

The Birdsheads are not rare, but not as common as other models either. And being out of production now in the original Vaquero models, there won't likely ever be any more of them made with the heavier frames.

All total, there were 6 versions made in stainless steel........2 in .357 magnum and 4 in .45 colt.


November 20, 2006, 09:50 PM
New Vaqueros" actually DO NOT come in the Birdshead grip configuration, at least not yet. That is an original Vaquero, not the new model.

That is news to me. Mine was born 4/06

November 20, 2006, 10:00 PM
asking, Creatorss, does your revolver say "Vaquero" or "New Vaquero" on the frame?

Later entry: The hard copy of the 2006 Ruger catalog does not list a bird's head grips model of the New Vaquero. When Creatorss said his Ruger was born in 4/06 I wonder if he means that Ruger records state that serial number of firearm was shipped on 4/06. I do not know that Ruger gives information confirming manufacture date, they only give information regarding shipping date, I believe.

November 20, 2006, 10:13 PM
It says "Vaquero"

The date of 4/06 was that which is taken off the label of the casing/test fired round packaged at Ruger for those states requiring them on handgun purchases.

When I said "Thats new to me" I didn't mean to say your incorrect, but rather, that is news to me if a firearm that was bought and shipped from Ruger about 7 months ago is the "old" model. I have seen all the new ads from Ruger in current gun mags for the "new Vaquero" I just automatically assumed that mine was current production, hence they make new birdsheads

November 20, 2006, 10:21 PM
and I do not want to make a big deal out of this. However, it must be clear by now that because of what it says on the frame it is the old model Vaquero. I can understand the mistake. This is extremely confusing with all the new and old models of guns that Ruger has. The important thing is that you have a gun you like and, IMHO, Ruger makes a very good product. Enjoy. :)

November 20, 2006, 11:06 PM
I would buy it for that in a second! Being the old model you can load it as hot as you want to load a .45 without worrying about the structural integrity of the frame. I had three gun stores looking for one of those NIB for most of this year to no avail.

As for drawbacks - maybe just a little less accurate, a little less velocity and a little more difficult to find a holster unless you just go with a 4 5/8" holster. BUT, that's a fun configuration to shoot and, if you chose to do so, a little easier to conceal than a 4 5/8" plow handle.

Here's a pic of one recently purchased by another member here at THR. I had to copy it to show it to local gun shop owners that yes, they are still out there to be found and yes, I would like you to please keep looking.

November 21, 2006, 01:28 AM

I'm the owner of the .45 Colt SS Bird's Head Vaquero in the above picture posted by rtl. I bought it on May 6 of this year.

Mine was bought NIB from Gander Mountain for $450, it's dated 12/5/2002 on the casing envelope, and it just says "Vaquero" on the frame.

It is flawless in fit & finish, POA shoots to POI. And is, indeed "built like a tank".

I went back a few months later to purchase the 'faux CCH' version to go with it, but they were all sold out on both versions (SS & CCH). (But just as well because previously they had a Bisley Blackhawk in 'faux CCH' that had been on display. I considered buying it but determined that it would need to be sent in for refinish since they hadn't kept the metal oiled and it was covered with rusty fingerprints! They wouldn't reduce the price and I figured a refinish at Ruger would have run ~ $200.)

Buy the SS version (after close inspection of course). - You will not regret it and they will not be making them anymore.

Ron :D

November 21, 2006, 06:14 AM
The earlier post including the BHG Vaquero had a 4.6" variant. If you compare that to the 3.75", you'll note two things... the base pin is flush and the ejector rod travel is shorter. I have shot two of the shorter versions - both had their base pin pop out after a few shots of typical 'cowboy' .45 Colt 250gr LRNFP's - and I thought the cylinder removal might be difficult! The shorter ejector travel won't completely dislodge the empties, either. In fairness, with the blackpowder chamber ID's, cases pretty much fall out until the chambers build up a bit of crud. The extra 7/8 inch of the 4.6" variant doesn't add much weight, either. The 3.75" one certainly looks a lot smaller, however! The 4.6" barrel uses a standard length/shape pin and rod. I opted for that - also because it, in SS, was on closeout three years ago. I added a Bisley hammer and a free-spin pawl to mine as well.

The BHG is an acquired taste. I liked it so much that I ordered a similar new one in .357M - to convert to .44 Special. That proved to be too expensive, so I bought a new 4.6" SBH and fitted a QPR BHG frame to it. I ultimately sold the .357M, as it was actually heavier than the .45 Colt - seemed much ado about little bullets then (I was very new to .38/.357M's... wish I had kept it now!) and I keep thousands of rounds of .45 Colt loaded anyway. That .44 BHG is a hoot to shoot. My .44 Russians are an all-day plinker, as are my .44 Specials. The BHG 'rolls' in your hand, seemingly putting any push into your palm - and spread fairly well, with the muzzle flip promoting the 'roll'. With hot .44 Magnums, it is an experience ending in the muzzle pointed up at least forty-five degree's - and further rotation usually halted by the SBH hammer digging into the back of your hand. The .45 Colt version, even with more power, has yet to be so 'impressive'... ie, it is a lot more comfortable to shoot. I have added a .32 H&RM SSM version with a BHG... all three now 4.6" SS with black Micarta BHG's. My other Ruger SA's, BH, SBH, and Bisley grips, are gone. I like the BHG... but it isn't for everyone. Be sure to try it's feel!

Yeah, if I saw a NIB one for $450, I'd buy it now!


November 21, 2006, 09:07 AM
I'm giving it some serious thought about getting another New Vaquero and ordering a brass birdshead grip from Brownells and making me one. I think it would make a real nice glove box gun.

Ralph Bryant
November 21, 2006, 09:37 AM
Moewadle is correct, in that Ruger does not actually publish production dates for their guns, only the shipping dates. Most (but not all) are usually within the same year of production. Ruger also does not necessarily produce or ship according to consecutive or "blocks" of serial numbers. They occasionally will do "clean-ups" in which left over parts are assembled into different versions of previously produced guns. They also do the occasional run of special calibers or variations for use as commemoratives, etc. Something else Ruger does not do is publish production numbers of particular variations of their guns. That information is more usually obtained through the various distributors who contract for limited edition pieces or special production runs......Davidson's, Lipseys, AcuSport to name a few.

Some of the best referrences you will ever find on Ruger guns, production numbers, variations, etc. are the RENE (Red Eagle News Exchange) referrence manuals. A wealth of information for not alot of money. The guides are provided to new subscribers to the quarterly newsletter, and well worth the effort for anyone interested in collecting Rugers.


PHOTO: Some favorites from my collection of stainless single-actions.

Clockwise from top:

KBNVBH-453-I .45 Colt Birdshead Vaquero Ivory 3 5/8

KBNV-404-SW .40S&W Vaquero Consecutive Pair 4 5/8 - Rare caliber variation

KRBNV-44 .45 Colt Bisley Vaquero 4 5/8

KRBNV-474 .44 Magnum Bisley Vaquero 4 5/8

KRBNV-455-WX .45 Colt/.45 ACP Blackhawk
Bisley Convertible 5 1/2

KRBNV-35-I .357 Magnum Bisley Vaquero Ivory 5 1/2

KRBNV-34 .357 Magnum Bisley Vaquero 4 5/8 - Rare variation - Only 75 produced

KNR-4 .22LR/.22Magnum Super Single-Six 4 5/8

KRB-24-FW .22 LR Bisley Single-Six 4 5/8 - Very Scarce .22 caliber variation

KBNV-33-SI .357 Magnum Vaquero "Sheriff" Scrimshaw Ivory 3 5/8

GKNR-5F .22LR/.22Magnum Convertible Single-Six 5 1/2


Ralph Bryant
November 21, 2006, 09:40 AM

The Birdshead grip frames sold by Brownell's will not fit the "New Vaquero" models, only the early heavy-frame versions. The "New" version has a smaller grip frame and cylinder frame with different dimensions. JFYI


Ralph Bryant
November 21, 2006, 10:02 AM
Here is a pair of Rugers you don't run across every day, consecutive serial numbered .40 S&W Vaqueros (non-dual cylinder models) in stainless steel with 4 5/8 inch barrels, both NIB.

Back in 1999, the Deputy Sheriff's Association of San Diego County California, under Sheriff Bill Kolender, contacted a major firearms distributor through California Police Supply about producing a special commemorative handgun for association members to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the origination of the office of Sheriff in San Diego County California, to be celebrated in the year 2000. Several different handgun models were given consideration, but in the end, it was decided that the Ruger Vaquero 4 5/8 inch barrel version in stainless steel would best represent the early history of the office of Sheriff, and serve as an especially durable material due to the proximity of San Diego County to the salty pacific ocean environment of Southern California.

Originally, the .45 colt caliber was discussed as a fitting representation of the 45 year history of the DSA itself, held in 1999, but further consideration eventually turned to the department-issued .40 S&W caliber that membership roles were already familiar with, and Sturm, Ruger was approached about producing the revolvers especially for this purpose.

The commemorative editions were eventually engraved (laser etched) in large black letters on the right side of the barrel bearing the inscription "San Diego Sheriff". The right grip wood panels were laser etched with the 150th Anniversary San Diego Deputy Sheriff badge logo. The individual presentation revolvers were made available engraved with the purchaser's name across the grip-frame backstrap, and were supplied with glass topped oak presentation cases French fitted with green flocking material. Commemorative 150th year Anniversary Badges were also made available with the revolvers in either silver plate or solid sterling silver with the buyer's department and rank engraved into the badge along with the signature of Sheriff Bill Kolender, dated 2000.

The Red Eagle News Exchange indicates that there were reportedly only 1000 of the base Ruger Vaquero models produced for use in making these commemorative revolvers, while other sources indicate a possible total production run of only 580 pieces, and that the vast majority were eventually etched and fitted with the commemorative grips, while a very small number are thought to have later been sold as "over-runs" through California Police Supply, with either the engraving, commemorative grips, and/or presentation cases. The few remaining "un-engraved" examples in stock Ruger plastic cases as originally supplied by the Ruger factory are considered very rare. Those shown are the un-engraved versions.


November 21, 2006, 10:19 AM
The Birdshead grip frames sold by Brownell's will not fit the "New Vaquero" models, only the early heavy-frame versions. The "New" version has a smaller grip frame and cylinder frame with different dimensions. JFYI


Not so:

Ralph Bryant
November 21, 2006, 10:35 AM
You're right Scott ! I didn't realize they were selling after-market grip frames. Looks like they are making them for the new models too. Sorry for the mistake.


El Rocoso
November 22, 2006, 12:18 AM
To further confuse matters, I believe the "new model" and "old model" designations on the grip frames sold by Brownell's refer to the Ruger "old model" 3 screw single actions (Blackhawks) and the "new model" 2 screw (Blackhawks and Vaqueros), not the small frame "New Vaquero". I would certainly call and ask before ordering.

November 22, 2006, 10:47 AM

Ya' know....IF it turns out you decide not to buy this, and I mean absolutely sure you're not going to get it, would you mind dropping me a PM and letting me know which Gander Mountain location has this gun? I'd like to hear you got it if you want it and would love to see a picture of it if you do, but if you get back to me and tell me you're not going to get it, I might consider giving them a call to see if they'd ship it to a local gun shop here in WA.


November 22, 2006, 12:33 PM
in Iowa on Sunday after Thanksgiving and I think I know a dealer that has a couple of Vaqueros with Birdshead grips. Let me know what you are looking for and I will look for it at the gun show and see if the seller (if I find any) will do any shipping. moewadle@yahoo.com

November 22, 2006, 02:08 PM
Email sent.


Jim March
November 22, 2006, 02:37 PM
I've been told by QPR that the New Vaq will take all the same grip frames as the "Old Vaq", New Model Blackhawks/Superblackhawks, Single Six, etc.

The only trick is, you also need a new mainspring, mainspring strut and "keeper" meant for the "Old Vaquero".

Swapping in such fashion eliminates the internal keylock, so there are some gunsmiths not doing these conversions so as not to upset Ruger. Gary Reeder is one such.

I would tend to recommend swapping with a QPR/Brownell's brass bird's head grip frame as it will be cheaper than a Ruger factory part and will be easier to fit with hand-tools. It'll look better on a blue/fake-case gun than stainless though, as stainless/brass will look a bit "gaudy" in my opinion.

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