Cowboy Action Shooting


July 7, 2007, 02:53 AM
What is the most common barrel length for Cowboy Action Shooting?
I'm guessing 5.5" would be best but 4.75" and 7.5" models are available.

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D R Greysun
July 7, 2007, 06:54 AM
I can't speak for others but I went 5.5" with my Rooger's and Remy's. At CAS distant I couldn't see were it makes much of a difference. Maybe 'stile' points for the longer barrels! :)


July 7, 2007, 07:14 AM
I see a lot of 4 5/8 and 5 1/2, not many 7 inchers. Mr. Greysun is right, most CAS targets are BIG, and distance is short, so 7 inch barrel won't make much difference.

July 7, 2007, 08:14 AM
Since CAS is a timed sport the longer barrel is a bit of a disadvantage.

Most of the top ranked shooters seem to be using 4 5/8" revolvers shooting .38 mouse fart loads.

I shoot 5 1/2" .45 Colt revolvers shooting loads that aren't reduced. So what does that tell you about how I rank? I can, however, handle all of the knock downs without having to change loads.

July 7, 2007, 11:16 AM
I ,and a lot of us,shoot 4 5/8" barrels as they are long enough to 'reach out' for what we do,and they are lighter too....we pack our guns WAY more than we shoot 'em.

July 7, 2007, 06:45 PM
Heh, I can remember back a decade or so ago when a buddy of mine (Shanghai Kid) had finally gotten two Colts and was working on setting 'em up as he wanted, including getting one of the big name 'smiths in the Colt world to swap out the barrels to 5.5" and do an action job. He was pleased about getting hold of these barrels, until he heard rumors that one or two of the other "name" shooters (one had an alias initialed "CDS" and another that he used to shoot against in Nevada/Cal. that'd just gotten a black badge) were getting their 5.5"s swapped out for 4.75"s and his "deal" barrels could be from one of them.:evil:

Me? I've played with every standard barrel length known. Buntlines to Sheriff's Models'. I shoot everywhere except where the targets are with any of 'em, but I figure the shorter ones are easier in and out of the holster and don't make sitting down a major PITA in more ways than one. There isn't a Vaquero in the safe with anything other than a 4&5/8" barrel these days. Like Throckmorton said, they're worn more than shot. However, YMMV and I'm gonna wuss out and say what I always do in situations like these; it's always best to borrow/try out other people's stuff before spending your own money to find out you don't want the same thing as what they have.

July 7, 2007, 08:39 PM
I'd agree with the others. 4 5/8" and 5 1/2" are the most common where I shoot. A slight edge to the shorter of the two. Pulling a short pistol is quicker than pulling a long pistol...sight radius is mitigated by close targets...light loads don't recoil much...etc.

I shoot two stainless .357 Blackhawks with 6 1/2" barrels. I'd like a pair of stainless .45 New Vaqueros with 5 1/2" barrels for my next pair. And then...:)

Father Knows Best
July 8, 2007, 10:35 AM
4-5/8 barrels seem to by far the most common, but I personally don't see any noticeable performance difference between the 4-5/8 and the 5-1/2. I shot 5-1/2 for quite a while in CAS, but switched about two years ago to 7-1/2 just because I like the look and they're more fun. I'm certainly not challenging to win any major matches, though.

With light loads, there is probably a slight performance advantage in the little 3-1/2" "Sherrif's" models, but again, you'd need to be very good and have practiced a LOT before the difference in barrel length would show up in your score.

Bottom line, go for what you like, practice as much as possible, and have fun.

July 8, 2007, 12:58 PM
Most of the top ranked shooters seem to be using 4 5/8" revolvers shooting .38 mouse fart loads.
Now that's interesting, I thought they all shot .45LC. I doubt I will ever be a top contender and I really want a .45LC so I guess I'll stick with that gun. (although a light loaded .38 sounds like a ton of fun!!)

Father Knows Best
July 8, 2007, 02:02 PM
I think .45 Colt (don't call it "Long Colt", btw) is still the most popular chambering in SASS competition, but .38 Special isn't far behind, and just about everyone in the trophies is shooting .38's. The greatly reduced recoil of the .38's means the .45's just can't compete at the highest levels.

Personally, I shoot .44's (44-40 rifle and 44 Russian revolvers). The closest I ever came to the top of a major match was 3rd place in Men's Frontier Cartridge at the Alabama State Championships in 2004. I don't think I'll ever do better without a lot more practice than I have time for, so I shoot the 44's just 'cause they're more fun than 38's.

July 8, 2007, 07:12 PM
Here's why most barrel lengths are longer:
historically it was done that way and because anything with a barrel under 4 inches SASS considers a "Pocket Pistol" which cannot be used in Main Matches:
A pocket pistol is a small frame, fixed sight, pre-1900 design revolver having a barrel length of four inches or less. Pocket pistols must be .31 caliber or larger. Model “P” Colts and clones and revolvers with swing out cylinders are specifically not allowed regardless of caliber, frame size, or barrel length. Pocket pistols may not be used as or converted to main match revolvers.

Basically, there are 3 kinds of barrel lengths used: 4 3/4, 5 1/2, and 7 1/2 inch barrels. This is because most of the Model Ps used in that time period had those barrel lengths.

July 8, 2007, 07:35 PM
Uh, Model P designs (the SAA) can't be used as pocket pistols. As a result the 4" rule doesn't apply. You can shoot a Sheriff's model as a main match pistol.

Father Knows Best
July 8, 2007, 09:05 PM
Sistema1927 is correct -- Colt SAA's with 3-1/2" barrels, i.e., the "Sherrif's model" Colts, are o.k. for main match guns.

July 8, 2007, 11:03 PM
I shoot a pair of Ruger Bisley "sheriffs models" with 31/2" barrels for my main match pistols. They are in .45 Colt as is my rifle. Unless of course I'm using my Schofield/1875 Remington both in .45 and my 56-50 Spencer.

July 9, 2007, 02:29 AM
WOW, if 3 1/2" revolvers are allowed then I might just get either:

The 3 1/2" Uberti 1873 Cattleman Bird’s Head

Or the 3 1/2" Beretta Stampede Marshall.

I REALLY like the look of a Bird's Head and from what I'm told, they are very easy to shoot because of the design... Anyone had one who can tell me if that's true?? I would like to look at a Ruger but I don't see one like this on their site. The shortest barrel they have is 4 5/8" and none have the Bird's Head stocks.

July 9, 2007, 11:05 AM
I shoot matched 4 5/8" stainless Ruger Birdheads for CAS. I love them.

The BH grip on the Ruger is beefier than the grip on the ones in your picture and offer a more substantial grip.

Now, the down side is Ruger is not currently making a BH in their new model Vaq's so you'll have to find some on the secondary market. As you can imagine the price has gone up on them considerably since you can't just go buy one anywhere anymore.

I started with a Mixed batch of guns to see what I liked best and stuck with the Ruger. One of the first was a 5.5" Stainless Gaucho, it is a great gun and I still have it - never noticed a slowness breaking leather but I'm sure it's there, even if it's by a fraction of a second.

FWIW, I see guys loading down the 45's as well, so even the 45 can hang with the 38/357 and I see guys placing with 45's quite often at our matches.

I shoot 38 exclusively only because my Marlin will only run 38's (Cowboy Special), when I started I was shooting straight 357..

This is my original setup shown with the Gaucho and a Beretta in the background, I've since switched guns around but just made an additional holster for the shorter Ruger.

July 9, 2007, 12:27 PM
I have both uberti and ruger birds heads ruger has 3 3/4" bbl uberti is 4". they are quick handeling guns.the ruger is a old model and is much heavier.I belive ruger has discontinued the birds head models.
I have carried them as CCW with speer 250 GD feel pretty warm and fuzzy too.

July 9, 2007, 06:25 PM
Someone was trying to sell a Birds Head OM Vaq on GunsAmerica for something like $650 a couple of weeks ago. Worst part is, he'll probably get it.

I prefer the look of Ruger's interpretation of the BH better than Uberti's, but I haven't shot either. Rumor has it the .45 Colt versions kick a bit out of those 3-1/2" tubes.

-- Sam

Father Knows Best
July 9, 2007, 06:40 PM
FWIW, I see guys loading down the 45's as well, so even the 45 can hang with the 38/357 and I see guys placing with 45's quite often at our matches.
You can certainly load .45's down, but you'll never load them down to .38 recoil levels. That's because the smallest .45 bullet you can get is around 185 grains. Compare that to standard .38 bullets of 125 grains. The mass of the bullet is a much bigger factor than velocity when it comes to recoil, so you'd need to download those .45 bullets to dangerously low levels with rainbow trajectories in order to match the recoil of standard "cowboy load" .38 specials.

Sure, there are guys shooting .44's and .45's who place regularly near the top of most matches, and beat lots of guys with .38's. That's because they practice, and get the most out of their guns. There's no doubt, however, that top shooters are faster with .38's than they are with .45's. It's not by much, but it can be enough to make the difference between a win and not placing at all when those differences are measured in tenths or even hundredths of a second.

The bottom line, however, is that you should shoot what you like. I like 44's, so that's I shoot. My wife like's 38's, so that's what she shoots. I know ladies who shoot full house 45's with black powder and 255 grain bullets, and I know men who shoot downloaded .38's or even .32's. There is room for everyone in the game, and you should shoot what makes you happy and not worry about what others say about it. If they accuse you of shooting "mouse pharts", it's probably 'cause you're beating them.

July 10, 2007, 07:34 AM
I wasn't aware of the Sheriff's Model loophole. Thanks!

I tend to shoot .357, but my last match went with .44 Russian and .32 S&W Long.
It was a fun match.

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