Ruger Calibers for Cowboy shooting


September 10, 2007, 03:54 PM
My gal shoots a pair of Single Sixes in .32 H&R mag, and I am thinking of getting her a pair of Vaqueros or Blackhawks in a larger caliber... perhaps .44 or .45 LC. How much different is the feel, recoil, etc? She is 5'9", and solid, but I don't want to overdo it. I have never fired the larger calibers myself.

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September 10, 2007, 04:06 PM
I just started shooting SASS this year, so here's my "newbie" advice.

Get the Ruger New Vaquero in 38/357 Mag. It's cheaper to shoot, so you can practice more. Then, after shooting a year or two you can get the 45's. I own a Colt SAA as well but don't shoot it at matches because I don't have two of them, yet.

Any "Cowboy" load is going to be anemic when it comes to recoil. I shoot a Colt 45LC for fun, not at the matches. If you are looking for recoil get the 45LC and load with Black Powder. Black Powder is FUN! Seriously though, most people find "Cowboy" loads fun to shoot and little to no recoil. The 45 will have more than the 38, but that's the nature of the beast.


September 10, 2007, 04:09 PM
Hey, I just re-read your post.

Sorry for my low reading comprhension skills when I'm tired. Why not buy a box of "Cowboy" loads and ask to shoot one at the next match, when the match is over?

One thing about SASS people, they go out of their way to help each other out. That's what drew me to shooting SASS over IPSC and IDPA. It's all about FUN.


Old Fuff
September 10, 2007, 04:11 PM
The recoil from a .44-40 or .45 Colt cowboy load is not particularly abusive in the heavier full-sized S.A. revolvers, but they are a substantially different then a .32 H&R Magnum - especially if that cartridge is downloaded for cowboy action shooting. Before buying anything I have her try a .38 Special (in a .357 Magnum revolver) as well as a .44-40 and .45 Colt. Then make a choice.

September 10, 2007, 04:34 PM
basically the 357 vaquero would have a similar feel with light 38sp, but has the option of heavier or faster loads as needed. The 45colt pushes harder and slow, the 357 is harder and quick, A 44mag can be loaded comfortably light, but most factory jacketed loadings are somewhat stout and can be somewhat intimidating to shoot for someone not used to big bore revolvers.

Muzzle energy gives some indication of what does what (range of factory loadings under saami max) handloads can go from next to nothing to probably a little above the max, cowboy loadings are near the bottom

32h&r 125-175
38sp 175-275
357mag 300-600
45colt 300-500
44sp 275-400
44mag 600-900

a 357 vaquero can give you a range from 175-600 with factory ammo, the vaquero is a little bigger and heavier than the single six, so the lighter 38sp loads will probably recoil less than what she is used to, and gives the most versatility, with less expensive components or ammo. 45colt is a handloaders cartridge, but is somewhat innacurate when loaded too lightly due to the large ammount of empty space in the cartridge, unless a filler is used, and factory ammo is expensive, and limited to mid-hot loads that are about equivalent to 45acp in feel

September 10, 2007, 06:28 PM
I'd leave her choices in handguns alone. Although .38 SPL is the cheapest round you can shoot in CAS, I wouldn't force it on her. She can also shoot .32 S&W Long out of those guns, and that's the softest shooting centerfire I have ever encountered.

Father Knows Best
September 10, 2007, 09:10 PM
Does Ruger even make the Vaquero in .44-40 these days? I know that the New Vaquero (which is the best choice for cowboy action shooting) is only offered in .357 and .45 Colt. The old model Vaquero was being made in .44 Magnum, but I don't know whether it's still made at all, and I don't think the .44-40 has been offered in years.

Personally, I love the .44 calibers. I shoot 44-40 in my rifles and .44 Russian in my revolvers. There isn't much difference in speed and recoil as compared to .45 Colt, though, and .45 Colt ammo will usually be a lot easier to find and less expensive. If you want big bore gun, go with .45 Colt. If you put a premium on cheap ammo and the lightest possible recoil, go with .357.

Old Fuff
September 10, 2007, 09:18 PM
No, at least for now Ruger doesn't make a New Vaquero (which I am starting to call Vaquero II) in .44-40, but Colt and most of the other major clone makers do. I don't particularly recommend it, but the alternatives are .44 Special and .44 Magnum, and the Magnum would not be a good choice for C.A.S.

September 10, 2007, 09:38 PM
I shot a handloaded powderpuff .45 colt load Saturday, recoil was slightly more than my .22lr yet consistently knocked over steel targets of all types. 165gr bullet at under 600 fps using Clays, nothing to it.

September 10, 2007, 10:36 PM
Is she having a problem with the .32Mag? Does she want to switch to something else and why?

September 10, 2007, 10:49 PM
I have a pair of Bisley Vaqueros (Bisqueros) in .44m, and a pair of Blackhawks in .357. I shoot .38's in the BH's, and waaaay downloaded .44m in the Bisqueros. The Bisley grip REALLY helps control the modest recoil, but if her hands are small, they might be too large. As stated earlier, the .357/38 would be mo'cheaper to shoot, but my .44's bring a smile.

For what you'd pay for a pair of revolvers, you could buy a fine reloading outfit and a bunch o' components. 32's are cheeeeeeeeep to reload.

September 12, 2007, 03:14 PM
and I am thinking of getting her a pair of Vaqueros or Blackhawks in a larger caliber
What do she think of this idea? Remember it is not only going up in caliber, but also going up in frame size.

September 12, 2007, 11:33 PM
The Cowboy shooters in my area that use Rugers almost to a person use .357s loaded with light .38 special loads.
There are a couple of .45 Colt shooters and one guy uses a pair of .44/40s that I think are custom conversions.
They almost always win the shoots too.

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