+P Loads for a Ruger Vaquero?


August 30, 2007, 03:59 PM
Ok I'm sure this has been asked before so please accept my applogies in advance for possibly beating a dead horse. I have a Vaquero that is near 12 to 13 years old(time has begun to merge into a blur for me). Is my Vaquero safe for using +p ammo in it. I am planning on using it as a backup gun for this hunting season and want to make sure it's safe to use that ammo. All the reading dosen't do me as much good as listening to those with personal experience or more knowledge than me. I don't get on this site as much as I would like sometimes so I'm sure I've missed this conversation before. Thanks for all your help.

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August 30, 2007, 04:03 PM
Well, if it's 12 or 13 years old, it's an "old" model. What caliber is it?

News Shooter
August 30, 2007, 04:03 PM
+p shouldn't be any problem at all

August 30, 2007, 04:17 PM
It's a 45 Colt.

August 30, 2007, 04:37 PM
The old model Vaquero's were built on the same frame as the Blackhawk.

So you could fire "+P" (whatever that means) loads that would damage a Colt SAA. Probably could fire loads that would cause end shake in a N frame.

I had one, it was accurate, reliable, and had all the recoil I wanted with a 255 at 850 fps.

Jim March
August 30, 2007, 06:34 PM
Yeah, that gun is built on the same frame as the SuperBlackHawk. It's a "44Magnum class" gun but can take even more power than that. There's various 45LC+P loads out there that meet or slightly exceed 44Mag bullet energy and those are completely safe in your gun.

One thing though: when you hit big recoil levels with a Ruger SA, you may experience "base pin jump". The "base pin" is the "axle" the cylinder spins on, that comes out from the front. There's a spring-loaded cross-latch that holds the pin in. If it were my gun, I'd do one of two things:

1) Get a "spring kit" for it (about $20), which generally includes a stronger base pin cross-latch spring to fight pin jump. This is what I did.

2) Get a Belt Mountain replacement base pin (about $25 - $35 depending on style) that has a hex set-screw to nail it down tight. Belt Mountain pins are made tighter and tighten the action. Usually this is a good thing. Once in a while we find a Ruger that was unusually sloppy to begin with, and once you tighten it up with a better base pin it's "tighter", but also tightly OUT of proper alignment. Always do "the revolver checkout" (see stickied thread) after putting a Belt Mountain pin in to make sure you're not in this boat. Very rare though, m'kay?

Putting a stronger cross-pin spring in NEVER hurts anything. A Belt Mountain pin usually improves the gun (in addition to flat halting base pin jump) but once in a while hurts it.

If you're going to shoot mega-loads, I personally would run one of these two mods. I explore the very hottest possible 357s in my New Vaquero and did the spring kit right away - made the trigger/hammer feel nicer too.

August 30, 2007, 09:16 PM
When I purchased my older model Vaquero some time ago, I was informed that it could handle "hot" .45 Colt loads. Some of these loads may approach those of the .44 Magnum, hence the reason some people incorrectly talk about a .45 Magnum. Granted, an official .45 Magnum cartridge does not exist, but the Blackhawk and older model Vaquero frames have allowed ammo manufacturers to increase the performance of this 19th century cartridge. Having said this, I strongly recommend that "hotter" .45 Colt cartridges be restricted to the Blackhawk and older model Vaquero frames only. If you doubt me, then check this warning out with others. Pride is not worth personal injury. I hope this info helps.


First Shirt
August 30, 2007, 09:27 PM
+P loads in an old model Vaquero should be fine. I use a couple of different ones in mine that would be dangerous in the new ones, but they work just fine in my guns. Most loading manuals list regular loads, then a seperate section of loads devoted to Ruger/TC Contenders ONLY!


Jim March
August 30, 2007, 11:12 PM
Yeah, there's an area of confusion here because the "New Vaquero" made 2005 forward is built on a new "mid-frame" size NOT compatible with 45LC+P. The New Vaq is similar in size, heft and strength to a 2nd/3rd gen Colt SAA, 'cept with a transfer bar, coil springs, etc.

They ship in 357 and 45LC. With the New Vaq, you can get more bullet energy out of the 357 than you can the 45.

Yours is old enough that it has to be an "Old Vaq" (really just plain "Vaquero").

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