Buying an SAA clone?


July 11, 2008, 08:33 PM
So my brother suddenly got a fancy for the Single-Action Army, loves the design but hates to cough up the cash...

Seeing as how a local gunshow is coming up tomorrow, I'm trying to persuade him to fulfill such a desire, though he's put a few criteria in place:
1. Inexpensive
2. Reliable
3. .45 Colt

At the moment, I've boiled the search down to the Ruger New Vaquero/Black Hawk, though the Taurus Gaucho is a strong contender due to price differences. Any nuggets of knowledge on the current market for these models, used or new? Also, what should I look for in terms of mechanics (specifically the SAA, as I've already read the sticky on buying used revolvers)

Thanks guys ^^

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July 11, 2008, 09:50 PM
Ruger's a good idea. The Taurus is out of production, and not being in production very long it's a bad idea.

Others would be Uberti. Beretta (which now owns Uberti). The Uberti marked guns will probably be in the mid-$300 to $400 range and the Berettas will most likely be between $400-500. Difference is going to be due to the name and level of finish (same parts both guns - fit/finish quality is better on the Beretta).

Personally, I would pass on anything but stainless Rugers. I had a really nice blued one with the faux color case that developed rust on the blue colors (I never handled this gun without wiping it down with a rig rag or a treated gun cloth). Nothing pitted and a local smith reblued the entire gun for me. No problems since.

July 11, 2008, 10:07 PM
Ruger is OK but not a traditional SA since 1973.

I have 2 Ubertis and one Armi San Marcos in 45 Colt and I like them. Look and feel just like a genuine Colt.

July 11, 2008, 10:58 PM
Thanks for all the advice, I'll definitely take such words with me to the show tomorrow. Although I'd love for my brother to start his very own addiction to sixguns, I take pause the cost of .45 Colt, seeing as how Georgia Arms, my first pick in quality, fair-cost ammunition, sells a box for more than $20...that's twice the cost for the .38 Special I buy >_>

July 11, 2008, 11:43 PM
"...but not a traditional SA..." The Vaquero never was. The innards are totally different. That is to say modern. Ditto for a Blackhawk.
1. That'd be a relative term. Inexpensive to me may not be to you. There's a pair of used, consecutively serial numbered, 4.5" barreled, SS, .45 Colt, white gripped, New Vaquero's in a shop, up here. $599Cdn each. Making me sweat, so they are.
2 & 3. Hard to beat the strength of any Ruger revolver. However, revolvers generally don't have the reliability issues a pistol can have. Few of 'em will have ammo issues. You may want to re-think the .45 Colt though. Ammo isn't exactly cheap. At Midway, while not the least expensive place, wants about $31.49 per 50 for CCI Blazer 200 grain JHP's. Cabela's wants $189.99 per 300 of 200 grain RN's. Comes in a plastic ammo can.
A .357 Mag will let him shoot .38 Specials. Just a thought.

Jim March
July 12, 2008, 03:57 AM
There's a lot of reports of quality control problems with the Gaucho. I'm not talking about "Taurus trashing" in general, I'm talking about that model.

Oh, and if he's on a budget esp. I'd consider a 357. In this size range gun you get more horsepower in 357 than in 45LC in terms of raw energy if you want it. And the 38/357 family is cheaper to shoot. I own a NewVaq in 357 and love it.

July 12, 2008, 04:12 AM
Ruger and have him start reloading for .45 Colt.

July 12, 2008, 03:04 PM
Cimarron! Byron

July 12, 2008, 04:37 PM
FWIW, I have been itching for a 45 SA revolver, and I just got back from a Gun show where I handled every kind they had...

I own a few blackhawks and a single six, so I'm very familiar with them. Something about the Blackhawk grip just doesn't do it for me. I have one with Pachmyrs that is alright. I like the bisley a bit better, but it still doesn't fit me exactly... so I went in to the show really itching to look at the Cimarron Model P and whatever other Colt clones they had.

While there, I looked at several original Colt SA's, the Beretta Stampede, the Cimarron, an Uberti Cattleman and a bunch of Ruger Blackhawks, old Vaqueros and New Vaqueros.

By far, the nicest and best feeling, best handling, best ballanced, slickest action gun I picked up was the Ruger New Vaquero. It felt and handled better to me than the original Colts. It's noticeably different from a blackhawk - it's a little smaller all the way around, and the grip frame fit my hand far better than any Blackhawk I've ever picked up. Cocking it, and working the action and so forth, it feels like much more gun than the Colt clones. I handled one of the older Vaqueros and it was essentially a Blackhawk with fixed sights.

I'm going to get one, cause it's super nice. All those guys in the old west carried Colts for one reason - they never handled a Ruger new Vaquero. If the thing shoots straight, it's on the top of the heap as far as I'm concerned.

July 12, 2008, 05:05 PM
The title is "SAA clone" so, Ruger is out. Stay away from the Berettas and Taurus pistols too, which aren't really clones.

You want high quality clones go with Cimarron and/or USFA.
The USFA pitstols are well worth the the extra $ they ask for. 100% made in the USA. Top, high quality replicas, excellent machining, fit and finish are first rate.
No cylinder gap issues, no headspace issues, no timing issues, no soft metal parts!
What more could you ask for?
They are built better than the Colt originals.

Jim March
July 12, 2008, 05:16 PM
Oh come on.

Look, the Ruger NewVaq is at least a "size and heft near-clone" to the Colt SAA. Yes, the innards are different: coil springs throughout and a transfer bar safety (won't go bang if dropped, even if dropped while cocked, and is safe to carry six-up).

The NewVaq loading drill is a little different: you swing the loading gate open with the hammer fully down rather than half-cocked. Not quite traditional, but then again Ruger's system is faster.

Ruger's quality control on the NewVaq is excellent. A new cylinder boring machine does each bore one at a time in sequence with the same drill bit and reamer. That means cylinder bore dimensions are uniform between bores, which helps accuracy. The older larger Rugers were bored all-six-at-once and variations between bores were sadly common.

The NewVaq and it's one adjustable sight cousin (the 50th Anniversary Blackhawk 357 only) are damned fine guns and among the best Ruger has ever built.

Harve Curry
July 12, 2008, 06:41 PM
Ruger is the way to go, strong, reliable, all American and that's important.

July 12, 2008, 07:50 PM
Oh come on what?

You want SAA replicas or a redesign?

The title to this thread is "...SAA clone" not a redesign.

Keep your locks and your transfer bars, as well as your adjustable sights. Just don't call them "clones".

July 12, 2008, 08:59 PM
The title to this thread is "...SAA clone" not a redesign.

but from the OP

At the moment, I've boiled the search down to the Ruger New Vaquero/Black Hawk, though the Taurus Gaucho is a strong contender

July 12, 2008, 10:45 PM
I coughed up the money for a Colt but my next choice would of been a ruger. My buddy has 2 or 3 and they feel and handle like my colt. They don't cock or load the same but look real pretty. If you have to have the 4 clicks and firing pin on the hammer USFA has good reviews in the SASS world. Uberti, Taylors and Cimarron are all about the same.

July 12, 2008, 11:31 PM
Great to see such debate concerning the exact definition of 'SAA clone', but I just got back from the show. Haven't decided yet on what to get, though hopefully I'll get a better deal tomorrow.

As for Ruger, it's decidedly the spirit of being an SAA-clone, not the exact mechanics, that decide my vote.

Though not my intentions, I just had to land myself another S&W 28....just needed a 6" brother for my current favorite ^_~

July 12, 2008, 11:37 PM
... the problem is, once you get on that USFA ordering page, it's easy to add on all kinds of niceties and end up with a $2000 revolver! :eek: That's the problem I'm facing now ...

As good as everyone says the Vaqueros are, and the fact that they come in stainless steel, I just don't feel passionate about owning one. Part of me wants a Colt SAA in 44-40 since there's an authenticity about it both in terms of the caliber and the fact that Colt was making that revolver in the mid 1870s. It's kind of like buying a Seiko rather than a Rolex. I've been "into" watches my whole life and I've never met anyone that said they wished they'd bought a Seiko rather than a Rolex despite the fact that Seiko makes some excellent watches both in terms of quality and accuracy. My uncle's Rolex that he bought back in the late 1940's is still in the family and still working ...

July 12, 2008, 11:59 PM
IMO a USFA SA revolver is probably your best choice. You can get an American made revolver for a reasonable price if you don't go crazy with the options like mentioned above.

July 13, 2008, 04:22 AM
I own the following SAA "like" guns:

USFA "Longhunter" Rodeo (sans the jeweled hammer)
Ruger New Vaquero
Cimarron Thunderer
Uberti 1890 Police

I like them all, but overall I'm most impressed with the New Vaquero. (I believe that it's the best revolver that Ruger has ever produced.)

If one just has to have 4 clicks for the hammer (and doesn't want to pay ~$1200 for a Colt), then I'd suggest a "Longhunter" Rodeo. They do a first class job of tuning/improving the innards of the rodeo, and they're excellent folks to deal with.

They also offer a tuned-up New Vaquero.


July 13, 2008, 04:46 AM
Ruger, Ruger, Ruger! I don't know why anyone would want an exact replica of the original with outdated mechanics when you can have a modern gun in an old package.

If you're going to buy a .45 Colt, reload it for christ sake. Don't spend a buck a round!

July 13, 2008, 04:26 PM
Big Block, I don't think Jesus has much worry over whether you reload or not, so leave him out of it, okey dokey?

One very good reason to buy a Colt-type lockwork gun.....SIMPLICITY....the only gun that ever came close was the OMBH....basically three moving parts and three springs, the Colt-type needing only a screwdriver to dis/reassemble, including the flat springs....sure, the coil spring lockwork is more rugged, but it never gets to feel as precise, nor is it as easy to dis/reassemble for cleaning or parts R&R....the New Model lockwork is even worse in this regard.

July 14, 2008, 12:04 PM
Ruger, Ruger, Ruger! I don't know why anyone would want an exact replica of the original with outdated mechanics when you can have a modern gun in an old package.

If you're going to buy a .45 Colt, reload it for christ sake. Don't spend a buck a round!

I'm saving up for that dillon 550, ammo costs are killing my fun, and 45LC costs me $35 for a box of 50! (Black Hills)
I'm saving up each piece of brass I shoot now.

July 14, 2008, 12:34 PM
Just $0.02 from someone who doesn't really have a dog in this fight.

My interest is mainly with how well things function than with how they look. "Authenticity" doesn't enter into the equation.

From all that I can gather, even the most expensive "clones" of the venerable SAA suffer from the same inherent weaknesses in the design to some degree or another. Mostly I hear of breakage in the flat springs that power the pawl, cylinder bolt and trigger.

I'd chose the Ruger New Vacquero, if it were my money. The size, general configuration, weight and balance are closely comparable and the lockwork is much improved in terms of reliabilty and longevity. The fact that I could buy two-and-a-fraction of them for roughly the same cost as a first-rate clone from USFA or STI is pure gravy. The fact that none of the true clones in the same price range that I've personally examined have been closely enough comparable in build or finish quality to offset the difference in price (for my dollars, anyway) is another factor.

July 15, 2008, 01:02 PM
I bought two Uberti .45's for CAS for two reasons:

I wanted a big bore six-gun and I wanted the experience of shooting a gun like my ancestors would have shot.

Rugers are very popular for all the right reasons but it's not at all the same *experience* to shoot one IMO.

BTW, the Ubertis hold up fine based on my experience and it was shooting so much .45 that finally got me into reloading.

July 25, 2008, 09:02 PM
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