Help picking .38 spec. single action


PDA






woof
October 30, 2007, 01:30 PM
I want a single action revolver to shoot .38 specials from. I don't care whether or not it is .357 also. I buy .38 spec in volume to shoot from my Marlin carbines and figure I may as well also have a handgun. It would be mostly for plinking really, new or used.

If you enjoyed reading about "Help picking .38 spec. single action" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
stormspotter
October 30, 2007, 01:45 PM
You can't go wrong with the Ruger New Models. I have 1 in 357 mag. (50th Anniversary) and 2 New Vaqueros in 45 Colt.

zxcvbob
October 30, 2007, 01:46 PM
I like my Taurus Gaucho, although when I got I had to take it go a local gunsmith to fix several small manufacturing defects to make it safe to shoot. IIRC it cost $300 new, plus another $35 to fix it (yours may work OK out of the box) The trigger was good without any work. Now it's 100% reliable and shoots to point-of-aim at 50 feet with 158 grain +P Specials.

theNoid
October 30, 2007, 01:55 PM
You can't go wrong with the Ruger New Models.

+1

I like my Taurus Gaucho, although when I got I had to take it go a local gunsmith to fix several small manufacturing defects to make it safe to shoot.

If it were bought new, or used for that matter, why didn't you have the dealer you bought it from have it fixed by the factory? Or better yet, why didn't you return it, and buy a gun that is safe to shoot, from the box? I just can't imagine buying a new gun, and then paying a smitty more money just to make it safe to shoot. Did you or the repairing smitty even contact Taurus about the probs? If so, what did they (Taurus) say? Just curious is all...

Noidster

foghornl
October 30, 2007, 03:59 PM
2 choices:

Fixed sight: Ruger Vaquero Series

Adjustable sight: Ruger Blackhawk Series

I have the 3-3/4" 'Sheriff's Model' Vaquero .357 and a 4-5/8" 50th Year .357 Blackhawk...like them both. If you are thinking longer-range for the revolver (50+ Yds), definitely the adjustable sight Blackhawk.

My Vaquero seems to be right on elevation wise with the "Cowboy Action" loads @ 25 Yds, if "Cowboy Action' shooting is on your mind.

MrBorland
October 30, 2007, 04:13 PM
I like Ruger SAs - have a .357 Blackhawk myself - but just so you know, they're not the only game in town. Ruger New Models are fabulously strong and have a transfer safety bar, so you can load 6 rounds safely. If you've got the $$, the best factory SAs with modern lockwork are those made by Freedom Arms.

If you're after something who's looks and function are more authentic, though, look for an SAA clone. These lack a transfer safety bar, so you should only load 5 rounds and keep the hammer down on an empty chamber. Uberti is an affordable entry point. Cimarron (Uberti-made) is nice, too, and seems a step up from the Uberti. The best quality and most authentic (and most expensive) SAA clone is US Firearms.

zxcvbob
October 30, 2007, 04:14 PM
If it were bought new, or used for that matter, why didn't you have the dealer you bought it from have it fixed by the factory? Or better yet, why didn't you return it, and buy a gun that is safe to shoot, from the box? I just can't imagine buying a new gun, and then paying a smitty more money just to make it safe to shoot. Did you or the repairing smitty even contact Taurus about the probs? If so, what did they (Taurus) say? Just curious is all...

I called Taurus first and they immediately put me on hold and never came back. :mad: (Lifetime warranty isn't good for much if their customer service dept ignores you)

It would have cost me $35 to ship it back to Taurus or to the seller. I'd rather use that money to support a local smith.

woof
October 30, 2007, 04:48 PM
What's the difference between the Ruger new models and not new models? When did the new models start and how do you tell the difference? Is the adjustable sight the only difference between the Vaquero and the Blackhawk? Thanks

MrBorland
October 30, 2007, 05:12 PM
Jim March provides lots of good info in this thread:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=254284

rcmodel
October 30, 2007, 05:23 PM
Ruger made the so-called Old Model, or three screw, from 1953 to 1972.
At that point, the transfer-bar safety system was introduced, and all Blackhawks & Vaquaro's made since have been "New Models".

In otherwords, if it was made in the last 35 years, it's a new model.

http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j219/rcmodel/KTOG/1224.gif
rcmodel

Cosmoline
October 30, 2007, 06:33 PM
I know you said SA, but for .38 Special only I'd suggest an old-skool double action revolver. I've shot hundreds of different revolvers, and there's no question in my mind that the old .38 Special only wheelguns are the best for .38 Special. A Police Pos. Special, OP, M&P, or similar old style double action. With 158 grain lead slugs or wadcutters these can be scary accurate. The single actions in .38 I've seen are usually also in .357 and they're not up to the same quality standards. .38 S&W is inherently a double action round.

Jim March
October 30, 2007, 06:35 PM
The thread Mr. Borland points to will tell you why I like the Ruger mid-frames for the 357/38.

Quality control problem reports on the Gaucho are just legion. I wouldn't recommend one.

The other decent "SAA size" with a transfer bar safety is the Beretta Stampede series. Those are good guns. I think the Rugers are better but the Berettas are more traditional - like the Colts they load from the half-cock position rather than hammer-all-the-way-down like the Rugers. The ruger system is faster but not as "1873 Colt purist".

woof
October 30, 2007, 08:09 PM
Thanks to all for the info. Poking around on gunbroker I see a new in box Blackhawk convertible with 357 and 9mm cylinders, blue 6 1/2 for just under 400. Is that a good buy? I don't really care about the 9mm cylinder but the Blackhawks I saw without it were higher priced. Is the convertible different in any way other than coming with a 9mm cylinder? In other words, will the 9mm cylinder fit any Blackhawk? Thanks again

MrBorland
October 30, 2007, 08:37 PM
Cylinders don't just drop in; they have to be fitted. When you buy a .357M/9mm convertible, you're getting a 2nd cylinder fitted to that particular gun. According to the Ruger web site, the convertibles are more expensive (makes sense), so the one you saw may be cheaper because it has more use (read:wear). Or maybe it doesn't include one of the cylinders :eek: I've seen that before.

The 9mm round is a wee bit smaller in diameter than the .357, and I've heard mixed reports about the accuracy of the convertible version. Others can provide more knowledgeable insight. A lot probably depends on the accuracy requirement of the shooter. Use the search function and you'll find lots of info right here on THR.

You can just hang on to the 9mm cylinder, or use it for cheap plinking, or you can have it bored it out to accept a hot .357 Bain & Davis, which is essentially a .44magnum necked down to a .357.

Jim March
October 30, 2007, 08:52 PM
The 9mm/357 convertables have all SO FAR been built on the large-frame, so that's one issue: you have a gun "bigger and clunkier" than what you need.

Not that much, but there is a "handiness advantage" to the mid-frames. Also, quality control on the mid-frames is better...then again, you should do a full "checkout" on any Ruger (new or used) to weed out any bad ones.

The 357 cylinder and barrel on a convertible are absolutely normal, so they'll shoot well as long as the gun is OK.

The 9mm option may or may not shoot well. You're shooting bullets sized .355 to .356 in a .357 barrel. It can work, or it can suck :). Trying various rounds helps.

Now for the good news.

What you really ought to do with the 9mm is send it to either Gary Reeder in Arizona or the Bain & Davis gunshop in California. Reeder will convert it to 356GNR, which is a 41Magnum shell necked down to 357. With that cylinder you get to send a .357-size slug out at "supermagnum" speeds in the large-frame, tough Rugers :).

B&D can convert it to the 357-44B&D, which is a 44Mag shell necked down to 357. Same basic concept.

Either way you'll need to reload for these funky calibers. You'll need the special reloading and "shell necking" dies for these - Reeder and B&D can supply theirs.

Since the 9mm cylinder you're starting with is already fitted to your gun, it'll still be fitted when it comes back - it'll just be set up for the wildcat new caliber of your choice. A 125gr JHP doing over 1,800fps will put a SERIOUS hurt on whatever it hits :D. These conversions are both set up to shoot .357-diameter bullets so even if the standard 9mm cylinder doesn't shoot well, it will in these altered calibers so long as the alignment is right - something you should scope out via "the checkout" before even buying this baby.

And any time you want, you can swap the normal 357Mag cylinder back in to shoot that or 38spl.

woof
October 30, 2007, 10:20 PM
Start out looking for a simple plinker and in one short thread am considering a customized wildcat. So it goes at THR :) Thanks for all the ideas, much food for thought.

Gary A
October 30, 2007, 10:41 PM
LOL, our esteemed Mr. March is a great source of fine and accurate information. He knows his stuff, but he will prosletyze and convert you if you don't watch out. He is an unrepentant "tinkerer", that's for sure, and a great asset to the forums he contributes to. No offense, Jim :).

Gator
October 30, 2007, 11:33 PM
I have been really tempted by the Cimarron (http://www.cimarron-firearms.com/Specialty/ModelP-Jr.htm#) Model P Jr. It's a neat little (slightly downsized Model P) revolver. And it's available in .41 Colt, :) as well as .38 Spl, and others.

Jim March
October 31, 2007, 12:28 AM
Start out looking for a simple plinker and in one short thread am considering a customized wildcat.

Heh. Yeah, it's a bit nuts, except that the convertible 357/9 Rugers are just THE best platform for doing these wildcats. The ream-job isn't expensive, you'll pay more for the dies...but even with decent reloading gear you can do it all (ream job on the 9mm cylinder, dies and all reloading hardware) for a bit under $500. Less with some shopping around.

Add another $100 or so tops (less if used) for 357/38 reloading dies so you can save money on that ammo too. (Usually the same dies will do both 38Spl and 357.)

I want to add a 356GNR cylinder to my New Vaq in 357, but I have to score a whole 'nuther cylinder somehow. Maybe have to tell Ruger I lost my original, send the frame in, pay for a new one...

woof
October 31, 2007, 07:41 AM
If I buy the convertible because it is the best price and decide I don't want the 9mm cylinder I'll let you know.

mavracer
October 31, 2007, 09:59 AM
Quality control problem reports on the Gaucho are just legion. I wouldn't recommend one.
Also, quality control on the mid-frames is better...then again, you should do a full "checkout" on any Ruger (new or used) to weed out any bad ones.
seams kinda contradictory Jim.I will admit I went through a few gauchos on the table at the last gun show (a local dealer was liquidating them for $300)
too find two that function flawlessly the actions are smooth as silk and they shoot well.

Z_Infidel
October 31, 2007, 10:16 AM
Single action revolvers in .38 Special-only are also available from Colt and USFA, and I would think those are pretty high quality. Of course, they are traditional SAA-type actions and should be carried with the hammer down on an empty chamber so they're essentially 5-shooters.

Jim March
October 31, 2007, 04:50 PM
Mavracer: the only wheelgun I would buy sight unseen without a checkout is a Freedom Arms.

OK? Yes, the Ruger mid-frames are good. Damned good. When I checked mine out, I checked two others as well and all were perfect. I picked mine just because the case-color fake pattern was the least obnoxious - I don't like fake-case and that's the one flaw on the NewVaq.

Deanimator
October 31, 2007, 05:31 PM
What do you want, modern features or realism?

If modern features, I'd go with a Ruger. A friend has a Vaquero Bisely, which is a VERY nice gun.

I prefer realism. I've never owned a single action revolver, but I'm considering buying one, either in .357 or .44 Special. When I finally get one, it'll almost certainly be a Cimarron. I'm never going to shoot SASS or carry the gun on my hip. Therefore the ability to carry six rounds in the cylinder, or other modern features are irrelevant to me. I just want as close to the original Colt Model P experience as possible without spending $1,000+.

deanodog
October 31, 2007, 05:32 PM
Ruger old model Three screw


http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c375/deanodog/revolvers/000_0203.jpg

deanodog
October 31, 2007, 05:34 PM
Ruger new model 357

http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c375/deanodog/revolvers/000_0208.jpg

Gaucho Gringo
October 31, 2007, 08:23 PM
I own both a Ruger NMBhawk in .357 and a Taurus Gaucho in the same. I like both guns, just for different reasons. The Gaucho to me is a better looking gun, more closely resembles a Colt SSA and has the smoothest trigger out of box. The Ruger is more rugged(built to take more abuse) and has adjustable sights. It is also the one I will reach for first in a self defense situation only because I have less money invested in it. In my opinion they are both good guns and if they weren't, I wouldn't have them.

mavracer
October 31, 2007, 09:13 PM
Jim,
I was more pointing out with a thourough checkout a Gaucho can be a fine gun mine have very smooth actions.but taurus QC can be iffy there were two others on the table I looked at a 5.5" blue and 4.75" bright stainless the 5.5" gun had timing issues and the stainless had a gritty trigger.which is how I came home with a 4.75" and 5.5" in matching CCH.I've known for a long time the quality of rugers I have owned many and have never had an issue.I myself would not have a problem with buying a ruger online, I have yet to be burned by them, but a 44 tracker (light strikes, granted only with CCI primers in DA) has caused me to question any purchase of taurus online.

Jim March
October 31, 2007, 10:00 PM
Mavracer, most of the problems I've ever heard of with Rugers are "birth defects" - stuff you can spot right away. Once a Ruger is running right, it's damned unlikely to break (original large frame or the new mid-frame).

A lot of the reports on the Gaucho start with stuff like "around the 300th shot...". They're breaking PAST the initial checkout point, in too many cases.

With the amount of shooting/handling I have in my NewVaq to date (and it was an early one bought in '05), I can be *very* damn sure it's going to work right the next time I shoot it. Moreso than almost any gun of any type ever made, by anybody.

Only the same basic design without a transfer bar (like the Old Model pre-1973 Rugers) could possibly be any tougher - once in a great while a Ruger will snap a transfer bar.

Other than that, good metallurgy with a low penchant for stress cracks, a good design and coil springs throughout means *solid*.

mavracer
October 31, 2007, 11:06 PM
Jim,
hey, we are pretty much in agreement Rugers have better QC and are generally more durable than Taurus.they are also more expensive.but I digress. as to the OP I would strongly recomend New Vaqueros, I would also recomend Gauchos but I'd use your revolver check out on them first.

tinygnat219
November 1, 2007, 09:33 AM
I like my Taurus Gaucho, although when I got I had to take it go a local gunsmith to fix several small manufacturing defects to make it safe to shoot. IIRC it cost $300 new, plus another $35 to fix it (yours may work OK out of the box) The trigger was good without any work. Now it's 100% reliable and shoots to point-of-aim at 50 feet with 158 grain +P Specials.

I just sold my Gauchos at a considerable loss. I couldn't be happier to get rid of them. Unreliable revolvers to say the least. One had light primer strikes and the other had a trigger that would "slap" your finger after the shot was fired. The fact that you had to take yours to a smith, after you received them to make them safe to fire, speaks volumes to me.

For those of you considering the GAUCHO. DO NOT BUY THESE GUNS.:banghead:

rocinante
November 1, 2007, 12:01 PM
rcmodel that is not true. The New Model Vaquero has only been out a couple of years. It has a smaller frame than the Old Model that was built on the BlackHawk frame. If it is a new model vaquero it will say New Vaquero on the left side of the frame. I have a new model vaquero in 357 and be LOVING it. It looks enough like a peacemaker to make me happy and has updated safety and reliability. Good gun IMO.

Gary A
November 1, 2007, 12:49 PM
I think Rcmodel is referring to the action, not the frame size. I believe he is correct that all Blackhawks and Vaqueros produced in recent years are "New Models" incorporating the transfer bar system. Ruger introduced some confusion when they called the current Vaqueros "New Vaqueros" (which they are) because the original Vaqueros were, indeed, New Model Ruger actions. So are the "New Vaqueros", albeit on a smaller frame. So, the "Old" Vaqueros and the "New Vaqueros" are all "New Models" as opposed to the "Old Models" sans transfer bar. Maybe they should have called the New Vaqueros "Little Vaqueros" (Pequeno Vaquero?) but what self-respecting cowboy would buy a Little Vaquero? ( I have a couple of them also, and they are superb.)

zxcvbob
November 1, 2007, 01:42 PM
I just sold my Gauchos at a considerable loss. I couldn't be happier to get rid of them. Unreliable revolvers to say the least. One had light primer strikes and the other had a trigger that would "slap" your finger after the shot was fired. The fact that you had to take yours to a smith, after you received them to make them safe to fire, speaks volumes to me. For those of you considering the GAUCHO. DO NOT BUY THESE GUNS.

It does speak volumes, but what it says is to check over a Gaucho thoroughly before you buy it, especially if it's a new one. I think I still got a good deal for $300, just not as good a deal as I thought I was getting. A New Vaquero would have been about $500 if I recall correctly. (Sounds like yours may have had a related problem to mine; the firing pin wasn't fitted to the gun.)

I like shooting my model 15 or my Ruger Security Six better; I shoot them single-action most of the time even though they are DA. But "woof" specifically asked for SA's, so that's why I mentioned the Gaucho.

Gary A
November 1, 2007, 05:48 PM
Thinking about your wants (a companion to your Marlin to shoot lots of .38 Specials), you might check out the Ruger 50th Anniversary Blackhawk. I believe there are still some in the marketplace and you might even get a pretty good price (below 500 certainly). They have all the features of the Blackhawk, have adjustable sights, are blued like your Marlin probably is, and are built (generally very well) on the smaller frame used by the New Vaqueros with a smaller grip frame that is just the ticket for .38 levels of power. I bought two of them, thinking they would be gone in a flash, but they didn't sell that fast and I think you could still get one. If you want fixed sights, I personally would add a few nickels to the pot and get a Ruger New Vaquero, or a Beretta Stampede, in that order.

Jim March
November 1, 2007, 06:21 PM
The 50th Anniversary Blackhawk in 357 is an adjustable-sight version of the mid-frame (Colt SAA-ish size) New Vaquero. Nice gun. The 50th Anniversary 44Mag is built on the large-frame, but with the same new slightly smaller grip frame as the NewVaq and 50th 357.

StrikeEagle
November 2, 2007, 01:13 AM
I have been really tempted by the Cimarron Model P Jr. It's a neat little (slightly downsized Model P) revolver.

Bingo. This is the gun. :)

I love that frame size... it's ideal for .38spl IMO. I have a USFA .38spl and it's flawless and glorious... but kinda heavy, and a bit bulky for the caliber. (Don't tell it I said that; it loves me!)

I've had my eye on this gun for over a year, though I certainly don't need it.

But it's the one I'd buy for sure. :)

Jim March
November 2, 2007, 05:22 PM
Yeah, the closest thing Ruger has is the Single Six in 32Mag six-shot. Nice gun if you can deal with the somewhat funky caliber.

Shawnee
November 2, 2007, 06:24 PM
My vote is for a Ruger Blackhawk.

If you enjoyed reading about "Help picking .38 spec. single action" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!