advice on .357 single action


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woof
September 16, 2007, 12:00 PM
I would like to pick up a .357 single action mostly for plinking and HD. I would like barrel under 6 inches and would somewhat prefer ss but don't want to spend an arm and leg. Thoughts?

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ACP230
September 16, 2007, 12:10 PM
Ruger Blackhawk.
I have two. They are tough and accurate guns.

Gary A
September 16, 2007, 12:21 PM
Ruger Vaquero Revolver
KNV-35
Caliber: .357 Magnum
Barrel Length: 5 1/2"
Grip: Simulated Hard Rubber
Rear Sight: Fixed
Suggested Retail Price: $ 609.00 (prob around $490 actual retail)

Ruger Blackhawk Revolver
KBN-34
Caliber: .357 Magnum
Barrel Length: 4 5/8" (also available in 6 1/2 inch as KBN-36)
Grip: Rosewood
Rear Sight: Adjustable
Suggested Retail Price: $ 605.00

Cimarron MP4504 - probably actual retail in mid 400s give or take - fixed sights)
$557.70 .357 Magnum 5 1/2" Pre-War 1 Piece Walnut Stainless
(no transfer bar - safest to load 5 only -fixed sights)

Beretta lists Inox stainless version of the Stampede SA revolver in .45 Colt only - too bad.

EMF firearms lists the Great Western II stainless 4 3/4 inch in .357 fixed sights at a sale price of $640 to $665 http://www.emf-company.com/cart/#2 Also no transfer bar, I believe.

Uberti (owned by Beretta) lists only the .45 Colt in stainless.

I think a Ruger Vaquero or Blackhawk would fill your needs admirably depending on whether you want fixed or adjustable sights. The Ruger Blackhawk is built on a larger frame than the Vaquero, the same frame they use for .44 Magnum. The "new" Vaquero is built on a slightly smaller .357 sized frame.

Perhaps others will have other suggestions. Good luck in finding what you want.

Jim March
September 16, 2007, 12:24 PM
Ruger just came out with a pair of SAs sized very close to the Colt SAA that are perfect for the 357. The quality of these new "mid-frames" is actually higher than in their larger-frame cousins...they're some of the best Rugers ever made period.

The "New Vaquero" is the fixed-sight version while the 50th Anniversary edition Blackhawk 357 is the adjustable-sight variant. The latter gun is the ONLY mid-frame adjustable-sight Ruger made since 1972.

Both the NewVaq and 50th357 have transfer bars and are safe to carry "six up" (fully loaded). Average accuracy on these is excellent, as Ruger came out with a new cylinder making process that's more consistent for this mid-frame series.

Mine is a New Vaquero in 357 with sight mods that bring them partially up to Blackhawk spec :). I've shot some of the most powerful 357 ammo made (Doubletap 125gr at over 1,600fps) and it coped no problem.

The 50th357 comes with a 4.68" barrel only. The NewVaq ships with that or a 5.5" in 357, and a 7.5" as well if you're into 45LC.

In this size gun, there's more power available in 357 than in 45LC. Almost a third more energy. In the larger "44Magnum-class frames" you can hot-rod the 45LC+P out beyond most 44Mag ammo.

The NewVaq can be had in stainless, the 50th357 is a blue-only proposition.

GRIZ22
September 16, 2007, 12:35 PM
There are other good SAs out there but my first pick would be a Blackhawk.

MCgunner
September 16, 2007, 01:23 PM
There are three excellent choices out there.

Blackhawk, Blackhawk, and Blackhawk....:D

You got 1300 bucks for a Freedom Arms? I don't, but if I had the budget.......

wcwhitey
September 16, 2007, 03:29 PM
Blackhawk...... I like the anniversary model alot, I would not mind a convertible though. If you could score a good price on the 9mm/357 convertible it adds a extra option. That being said my next gun is an Anniversary Blackhawk, have to fill the .357 void and my Puma carbine needs company. Bill

Ala Dan
September 16, 2007, 04:38 PM
gets another vote~! I've owned an older, Ruger Blackhawk Convertible
.38/.357 with the extra 9m/m cylinder (YES. I wish I had it back~!:(),
and now own a NIB Ruger 50th Anniversary Blackhawk .38/.357. ;):D
I opted for adjustable sights; over those of the fixed sighted Vaquero.

woof
September 16, 2007, 04:59 PM
Thanks all. What is the current market range on really clean used Blackhawks (not counting special issue models).

countryrebel
September 16, 2007, 05:32 PM
Blawkhawk would be my choice and thats what we have.I think you could find a nice used one for $300 to $400 or maybe less if you got lucky.

Neophyte1
September 16, 2007, 05:33 PM
woof: Sir; Ruger Blackhawk, and if you load your own;:D
If you do not load your own:D it'll work fine.

Craig

countryrebel
September 16, 2007, 05:34 PM
Blawkhawk would be my choice and thats what we have.I think you could find a nice used one for $300 to $400 or maybe less if you got lucky.

Neophyte1
September 16, 2007, 05:35 PM
woof: Sir; Ruger Blackhawk, and if you load your own;:D
If you do not load your own:D it'll work fine.

Craig

wcwhitey
September 16, 2007, 06:22 PM
I have seen the new Anniversary for as low as $429. Used or plain jane .357's go for around as little as $300 to $350. The convertibles are not as common and go for $25-50 more. Ruger MSRP and the market are two different things all together. It is very uncommon to visit a gun shop and not see a Ruger single action in the case. Bill

raginrednek
September 16, 2007, 08:26 PM
Cimarron, Had The Ruger Vaquero, Not A Good Choice Imo

zxcvbob
September 16, 2007, 09:02 PM
I bought a stainless steel Taurus "Gaucho" .357 a few months ago. I paid about $300 for it (new in box) on Gunbroker.com.

I like it pretty well, but it leads worse (even with .38 Specials) than my S&W 15 or any of my Rugers. I should probably fire-lap it, but I'm just shooting mostly jacketed bullets and cleaning it a lot for a while until the barrel gets a little smoother. (No, I haven't miked the chambers)

Bob

BigBlock
September 16, 2007, 09:57 PM
Take a look at budsgunshop.com, they've got a TON of different blackhawks for as cheap as you can get. I'm gonna order one myself in a few days. :)

tinygnat219
September 17, 2007, 09:10 AM
+1 on the Gauchos, they are alright SAA clones, but the Ruger Blackhawk would be my first choice.

Jim Watson
September 17, 2007, 09:38 AM
Smith & Wesson M66 or 686. Cock the hammer and it's a single action.
.357 SAA and copies are heavy and poorly balanced due to small holes in barrel and cylinder meant for .45.

woof
September 17, 2007, 10:04 AM
The 9mm cylinder - will it fit any Blackhawk or is the convertible model different other than including the extra cylinder? I'm talking about the new ones her but does the same old true for the ones from the 70s? And last, are the cylinders, 357 and 9, exchangeable between the old and new models? Thanks

foghornl
September 17, 2007, 10:28 AM
Fixed sights...Ruger Vaquero
Adjustable Sight...Blackhawk

I have the very short barrel (3-1/2" or so) Sheriff's Model Vaquero and the 50th Year Blackhawk with the 4-5/8" barrel. My budget doesn't have room for a USFA revolver, either.

IIRC, Ruger fits the second cylinder to each individual revolver. I don't have a center-fire convertible, but my Single-Six manual says something about that, including that the cylinder has the last 3 digits of the serial number 'electro-penciled' on it to match the frame.

Gary A
September 17, 2007, 10:51 AM
"are the cylinders, 357 and 9, exchangeable between the old and new models? Thanks"

I talked to a Ruger rep at their display at the NRA show in St. Louis last year and I thought I understood him to say that the "new" convertibles incorporate the smaller XR3 grip frame of the Vaqueros and 50th Anniversary models, including the lock, but that the frames are the same larger frames they have been using. I could be wrong in my understanding and have not seen them side-by-side but that's what I understood. Ruger's website shows 4 versions of the convertibles. 4 5/8 and 5 1/2 inch 357/9mm convertibles with the newer "Vaquero-styled" XR3 hard rubber grip incorporating the internal lock (Revolver BN-34XL and BN-36XL) and the same barrel lengths with the older XR3-RED Rosewood grips and no mention of an internal lock (Revolver BN-34X and BN-36X). Also the same options are shown with 45/45acp convertibles.

As a further note: clicking on the link "Order Now" takes one to Davidson's website where they only list the newer XR3 version with lock. Lipsey's shows that they have some Rosewood gripped XR3-RED w/o lock in stock. As far as I can tell the frames and cylinders have not changed but I'm not 100% sure.

My current interest is a revolver to shoot .45 acp, so if I got one on a smaller frame, it wouldn't bother me at all and might even be an advantage. I'd love to see both versions side-by-side.

woof
September 17, 2007, 12:27 PM
I recently bought a replacement .22mag cylinder for my single six and it fits fine. I don't really know that I care about shooting 9mm but just wondered if I bought a Blackhawk now, new or 70s, if I could then add a 9mm cylinder later. BTW, the best price I found for the new Blackhawk with 9mm was $360 and without 323. So that's only $37 for the 9mm cylinder, maybe too cheap to pass up.

foghornl
September 17, 2007, 12:43 PM
Hmmmmmm...

I'm gonna take a good look at the cylinders/frames of my "Old, New Model Vaquero" 2003 model, vs. my 50th Year Blackhawk. IIRC, the 50th Year Blackhawk cylinder was just a fraction shorter than the Vaquero.

MCgunner
September 17, 2007, 12:53 PM
I don't see why I'd want a 9mm cylinder for my .357. I'd never use it, rather shoot .38 for light loads. Ammo cost is the same for me, a little under 2 bucks a box. Only reason I can think of is I find a lot more free 9mm brass at the range. Nobody tosses .38 brass. But, I've got a P85 if I wanna shoot 9mm. I'm quite sure a 9mm cylinder in a .357 revolver would not set any world accuracy records. OTOH, my blackhawk is amazing with .38 wadcutter.

Jim March
September 17, 2007, 01:40 PM
I'm gonna take a good look at the cylinders/frames of my "Old, New Model Vaquero" 2003 model, vs. my 50th Year Blackhawk. IIRC, the 50th Year Blackhawk cylinder was just a fraction shorter than the Vaquero.

Suggestion: don't use the term "50th anniversary Blackhawk". Because there's two, and they're radically different: the 357 (first one to ship) is a mid-frame same as the New Vaquero and it's cylinders WILL NOT fit a large-frame - everything is different. The 50th Anniversary 44Mag is a large-frame gun and the cylinder swaps fine with the post-'72 SuperBlackhawk, Blackhawk and large-frame Vaqueros.

What I'm still trying to find out is whether Old Model mid-frame cylinders (pre-'73 9mm/357) fit the new mid-frame guns. They're very similar in size. The new mid-frames have transfer bars of course but that shouldn't affect the cylinders...

PO2Hammer
September 17, 2007, 01:53 PM
For the same money as a Blackhawk you could get a GP-100 and have a much better home defense gun.

I had the convertable Blackhawk (9mm/.357) and liked it quite a bit. It could shoot 3-1/2" groups with 9mm ammo and 2-1/2" with .38spl at 25 yards.
It's one I'd like to have back.

But if you're serious about protection at home, the GP-100 is a far better choice, and it's a fun shooter too.

YosemiteSam357
September 17, 2007, 02:00 PM
I don't see why I'd want a 9mm cylinder for my .357. I'd never use it, rather shoot .38 for light loads. Ammo cost is the same for me, a little under 2 bucks a box. Only reason I can think of is I find a lot more free 9mm brass at the range.Yes, but if you don't reload, you can buy 9mm for even less than .38 special. Not everyone reloads.

-- Sam

MCgunner
September 17, 2007, 04:22 PM
Not everyone reloads.

They should :D

But if you're serious about protection at home, the GP-100 is a far better choice, and it's a fun shooter too.

Why is that? If you're worried about reloading, get an auto. For home defense, my SAs are pretty darned respectable. You may prefer DA, I do to, but the SA will fill the bill about as well IMHO. I wouldn't exactly feel unarmed with either of my Blackhawks in a defensive situation. I wouldn't be sprayin' and prayin', I suppose, but that's not a good strategy anyway. But, middle of the night when I grab my snubby, I ain't generally got a speedload with me, anyway, so reload time is not a factor.

PO2Hammer
September 18, 2007, 04:46 AM
Why is that? If you're worried about reloading, get an auto.

It's not about reloading, it's about getting the first six in and shooting them well under stress.

I think the DA wheel gun is a better choice for most people. I have both and I would pick a DA every time.

foghornl
September 18, 2007, 12:47 PM
Uhmmmm Yeah, 50th Year .357 Blackhawk. (Thanks for the tip, Jim. I had forgotten about the 50th Year .44Mag.)

The cylinder on the 50th Year .357 Blackhawk is a smidge shorter (maybe 1/8" or so) than the cylinder on my "Old New Vaquero" of 2003 vintage. If I did swap the cyliners, wonder how much velocity I would loose from a 1/8" cylinder/barrel gap? Bet I could set my hands/gloves on fire with the gap flame... :evil: :D :evil: :D and maybe the lane side partitions at the range, too!

I'll have to pull the cylinders of both revolvers and do some serious measuring.

From the quick looks at it, the Blackhawk has the barrel set further back in the frame than the Old New Vaquero, so that more barrel is in the 'cylinder area'.

EDIT: The Old New Vaquero has more barrel in the cylinder area than the 50th Year .357 Blackhawk...not as I had it stated above

MrBorland
September 18, 2007, 01:42 PM
I don't see why I'd want a 9mm cylinder for my .357. I'd never use it, rather shoot .38 for light loads. Ammo cost is the same for me, a little under 2 bucks a box. Only reason I can think of is I find a lot more free 9mm brass at the range.


You can use the 9mm cyclinder to shoot really stout loads by having it converted to .356GNR or 357/44 Bain&Davis. The .356GNR is a .41 magnum necked down to a .357, whereas the 357/44 B&D is a .44 magnum necked down to a .357. Good news for a re-loader!

MCgunner
September 18, 2007, 01:48 PM
You can use the 9mm cyclinder to shoot really stout loads by having it converted to .356GNR or 357/44 Bain&Davis. The .356GNR is a .41 magnum necked down to a .357, whereas the 357/44 B&D is a .44 magnum necked down to a .357. Good news for a re-loader!

That's an interesting concept! You could maybe get more out of that .356GNR due to the less head size and thicker cylinder. Any thoughts there? Which one could you get the most from, I wonder? I think I'd tend toward the .356GNR unless told otherwise. Wonder if such loads would have the flame cutting and forcing cone errosion problems the .357 Maximum had?

MrBorland
September 18, 2007, 04:07 PM
Unfortunately, I have no expertise in this area (or any other, really :rolleyes:), other than knowing that the 9mm cylinder can be converted. I understand Gary Reeder does the .356GNR conversion. I pasted a link below. These cartridges have been discussed on THR at times, so you may find some answers right here.


http://www.reedercustomguns.com/information/GNR_cartridges.htm

Jim March
September 18, 2007, 04:08 PM
If you try and drive 125gr or less slugs at "warp speed" up past 1,700fps, yes.

I'm interested in using one of these calibers (likely 356GNR for the cylinder wall thickness) in a New Vaquero to *slightly* improve on 357Mag power once in a while, but mostly drop pressures and gain from the faster ejection/insertion of rounds due to the bottleneck shape.

I'm starting to wonder if they couldn't be slammed in via a tube sized to the loading gate full of rounds - and a spun cylinder?

MrBorland
September 18, 2007, 04:33 PM
I'm interested in using one of these calibers (likely 356GNR for the cylinder wall thickness) in a New Vaquero to *slightly* improve on 357Mag power once in a while, but mostly drop pressures and gain from the faster ejection/insertion of rounds due to the bottleneck shape.

Jim - I've been wondering about this. Maybe a naive question on my part, but by how much would pressure really be reduced? On one hand, it seems it would be significantly reduced due to the the bigger case and larger volume. But pressures are normalized to surface area, not volume (pounds per square (not cubic) inch), and the area of the surface being acted on (the bullet) isn't changed. Also, the lower pressure in the case would get bumped back up via the Bernoulli Effect as the gasses pass though the necked down region.

kludge
September 18, 2007, 04:59 PM
For plinking AND home defense, I would recommend a DA.

MCgunner
September 18, 2007, 05:30 PM
Well, then there's the concern brought about with the .22 Jet of bottle neck cases in revolvers causing set back and tying up the cylinder. Don't know if that'd be a concern.

It's not about reloading, it's about getting the first six in and shooting them well under stress.

I think the DA wheel gun is a better choice for most people. I have both and I would pick a DA every time.

Well, there are some with lesser experience who find DA unmanageable (I know, it can be learned) and prefer to shoot SA even with a DA gun. I see little difference if you're going to shoot SA anyway. And, some of those CAS guys can rattle off 6 rounds as fast or faster than I can with a good DA. Of course, I ain't no Jerry Miculek. :rolleyes::D

I'm not sure I can say I'm more well armed for self defense with my M10 Smith or my .45 Colt Ruger blackhawk, though. On the one hand, the 10 is very slick and easy to shoot well with stout .38s. OTOH, you can fit five .38s in a .45 colt case. :evil: Okay, an exaggeration, but point made.

Coyote3855
September 18, 2007, 06:16 PM
I agree with those who have recommended the Ruger Blackhawk. I have a flattop three screw purchased new in about 1965 (for a little under a hundred bucks, IIRC). It has the 6.5 inch barrel and I recommend a shorter barrel as the 6.5 is not handy to carry, at least for a short guy like me. My Blackhawk shot the best group of my life at 25 yards, under an inch off sandbags. It also gave me a life altering moment. The old flattops did not have the transfer bar safety, so I always carried the hammer down on an empty chamber. I was horseback working cattle and looked down to see the Blackhawk at full cock over a live round. Deep breath, lower the hammer, consider the implications. Apparently, I caught the hammer with my rope, or my elbow or whatever. Anyway, get a Blackhawk you won't regret it.

Regards, Coyote

Jim March
September 18, 2007, 10:02 PM
Mr. Borland, you've missed something:

But pressures are normalized to surface area, not volume (pounds per square (not cubic) inch), and the area of the surface being acted on (the bullet) isn't changed.

Pressure is being applied to the entire inside volume of the shell, plus the back of the bullet. If pressure was only being applied to the bullet, well that would solve that whole "recoil" issue, right?

:)

Look...the best data I've seen on what minor improvements to case volume do to pressures comes from John Linebaugh's data comparing the 44Mag with the 45LC in strong guns (where he started before graduating to the 475/etc.).

The drops in pressure are enormous. If I'm reading him right, a 32,000psi 45LC load will equal the performance of a 40,000psi 44Mag round - same bullet weight, same velocity, same wear and tear on the gun (minimal either way as long as the gun is in good shape and has tight chambers).

SAAMI spec on the 45LC is a bit over 15,000psi, so an 8,000psi drop in this class of ammo is more than "significant".

As to shell setback:

If the bottleneck cartridge is designed right and/or the transition isn't all that much, it's not a problem. The 38-40 and 44-40 had very gentle transitions from one bore size to the other. The 356GNR is supposedly not experiencing setback at all, probably because the transition isn't all that radical.

Early 38/44B&Ds were having a problem unless care was taken to have oil-free chambers, clean brass, etc. Bain and Davis altered the design to reduce the "abruptness" of the shoulder and make it look more like the old 38-40, and that solved the problem. Hornady's dies are of the "Mark2" variety. You need to make sure all your components plus custom cylinder are of the second type. I believe B&D calls this the "357/44" to distinguish it but Hornady doesn't yet.

foghornl
September 21, 2007, 08:14 AM
Here is a picture (My digi-cam stinks in "macro" mode) of the cylinders from my "Old, New Vaquero .357" [2003 vintage] and my 50th Year .357 Blackhawk

Glossy Stainless cylinder is from the "Sheriff's Model" Vaquero. Notice that the piece where the cylinder base pin goes through is much longer that the same piece on the Blackhawk cylinder.

Also, the Vaquero cylinder {meaty part, where the ammo goes} is just a 'smidge' longer than the Blackhawk cylinder, maybe about 1/8". Overall, the Vaquero cylinder is about 3/8" longer. (I forgot the put the ruler in the pic.)

foghornl
September 21, 2007, 08:25 AM
Here is another pic. Both revolvers are loaded with the same PMC brand 158-Gr jacketed soft-point. Note that the bullet tips are closer to the end of the Blackhawk cylinder that the Vaquero Cylinder.

Gary A
September 21, 2007, 10:34 AM
Foghorn, of course the original Vaquero cylinder has to be longer in overall dimensions to fit the 44 magnum-sized frame of the original Vaquero. I love the old Vaquero and the Blackhawk, but the New Vaquero and the Anniversary Blackhawk in .357 are really better sized to the cartridges they are chambered for. My biggest issue right now is I can't decide whether I like the "new" XR3 grip or the "old" XR3-RED grip better,:D.

stormspotter
September 21, 2007, 01:49 PM
Just picked up a Ruger 50th 357 and like it very much. The one thing I didn't quite care for are the factory grips. They are a little too thin at the top for me. I found some, from Bearpaw Grips, that are AAAA American Walnut and they are 15% thicker at the top of the grips and feel 100% better.

I'm now thinking about a small framed Vaquero in 45LC.

Gary A
September 21, 2007, 04:01 PM
I'm now thinking about a 50th anniversary in 45LC.

Are there any Anniversay Blackhawks in 45LC??

Jim Watson
September 21, 2007, 04:48 PM
No, it is not yet 50 years since Ruger offered their first .45.

stormspotter
September 21, 2007, 05:10 PM
Oops, misquoted. :rolleyes: New smaller framed Vaquero in 45LC.

Jim March
September 21, 2007, 06:27 PM
You could have a 50th 357 re-chambered and re-barreled safely to 45LC, or 44Spl if you want.

Some have reported success converting mid-frames (New Vaq or 50th 357) to 41Magnum. Barrels from the large-frame series screw on there just fine, and take-off barrels are easy to find at Numrich or elsewhere.

Or start with a NewVaq platform and update the sights. Clarks and others have been putting adjustable J-Frame sights on the New Vaq rear and doing a custom front. I updated my front sight to a custom dovetail setup and hogged out the rear groove to match.

Michael Zeleny
September 22, 2007, 01:49 PM
Just won this one at Amoskeag:

http://www.amoskeagauction.com/61/enlarged/142.jpg

As described by the auctioneers:Colt Single Action Army Second Generation Revolver serial #67964SA, .357 Mag caliber, 5 1/2" barrel with a mint bore. This revolver is in excellent condition retaining about 98 - 99% original finish overall with most loss due to some superficial scratches on cylinder edges. Case color remains vivid with just a couple tiny areas of light oxidation. The checkered hard rubber eagle grips are mint. Revolver comes in its original one piece wood grained box with Styrofoam insert, warranty card and instruction pamphlet. The box rates about good showing light moisture damage and taped repairs to hinges. This revolver falls into the stagecoach box range making it a very early wood grained box revolver.

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