S/A in 45 Colt or 38 Spec?


Gary O
November 30, 2010, 09:13 AM
I am surprised at the cost difference of the ammo. Would a SAA clone in 38 Special make more sense to a plinker? What say you? Thanks...

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November 30, 2010, 09:15 AM
Reloading makes the most sense. If you want to be a serious shooter you need to start loading your own in which case the difference in ammo costs shrinks considerably.

BTW, I consider an SA revolver in anything other than 44 or 45 caliber to be an abomination.

Gary O
November 30, 2010, 09:23 AM
I guess that explains your position. I can't reload...

November 30, 2010, 09:57 AM
... yet. :D

A single stage kit in 45 Colt would pay for itself faster than just about any other caliber... and 45 Colt is a piece of cake to load for.

November 30, 2010, 10:01 AM
Buy an inexpensive starter kit from Lee and a set of .45 Colt dies. You'll be surprised how cheap it is to start reloading.

Nothing wrong with .38 Spl, but if you're gonna do it, do it right.

November 30, 2010, 10:11 AM
.45 colt, but then again I reload my own.


November 30, 2010, 10:16 AM
I reload. I have .45 Colt-.45ACP and .357/.38-9mm Special SA Rugers. The convertibles gives me a wider ammo selection. I bought the 4 5/8" .45 and the 6.5" .357. I prefer the balance on the shorter gun.

I'm not sure if you can find that versatility in the SAA clones. .38 Special is a hoot to shoot. I have heard that many of the competitors in Old West shooting use the .38s for reduced recoil and ammo cost. I think there are a lot of them out there. I would look for a good used one. Lots of folks get into Old West then either tire of it or upgrade their equipment. I own a lot of very nice used guns.

I didn't reload for a few years, and I focused on 9mm with Win White box ammo. For shooting more ammo, a nice .22 along with the center fire will extend the shooting day and drastically improve your shooting skills.

November 30, 2010, 10:47 AM
Nothing wrong with a good .38 single action. I typically prefer big bores but am presently in the market for a USFA .38Spl for slightly less expensive components and less recoil for fast work. It will also see use of heavy loads, when appropriate.

That is, unless my itch for another .38-40 gets the best of me.

The Bushmaster
November 30, 2010, 10:51 AM
Get the .357 magnum SAA. Then you can shoot .38 Special or .357 magnum.

November 30, 2010, 10:56 AM
Get the .357 magnum SAA. Then you can shoot .38 Special or .357 magnum.Exactly what I was gonna say.

November 30, 2010, 02:19 PM
To me, a 38/357 Colt SAA just don't balance like a Colt SAA should.

With those small holes, not enough metal is removed from the barrel and cylinder to keep the balance right.


Vern Humphrey
November 30, 2010, 02:28 PM
I have a 2nd generation Colt SAA in .357 Mag, and mostly shoot it in .38 Special. It's a fine woods gun -- a light .38 Special load is an ideal small game cartridge.

I also have a Colt New Service in .45 Colt -- and I shoot it more than the SAA. The .45 Colt is a true "do anything" cartridge.

Get a Lee hand loading press and a set of Lee moulds and make friends with your local tire dealer.

November 30, 2010, 03:44 PM
to this 70 year old , rewarding to shoot. I also reload and have done so for almost 50 years and I have several single action Colt , Rugers, Uberti, and Pietta revolvers in 45 Colt, 44 magnum, 44 special and 357 magnum and 38 special. If you do not relaod , it makes a lot of sense to shoot 38 special and of course do not forget the 22 single actions for fun and pleasure as well.

November 30, 2010, 08:50 PM
I shoot in Cowboy Action Shooting events as well as having a few .38Spl and .357Mag S&W's. So when I chose my cowboy guns I went with the .38/.357 options.

I had not thought about the balance that rcmodel mentioned above but that would be a significant factor. But not significant enough to make me have changed my mind even if I'd known about it back when I chose which way to go. I've shot both my 4 5/8 and 5 1/2 inch versons without any balance issue but perhaps if it were the full 7 1/2 inch barrel then things would be more obviously in favour of the .45Colt option.

If you're doing this on a serious budget and can't reload any time soon then by all means buy a .357mag gun. You can always sell it later for not much of a loss since the demand for these from CAS shooters will be consistent for many years to come. And in the meantime the bullets will cost less because they are lighter and the casings are far more easy to come by in "once fired" for fairly cheap.

And until you do reload at least the ammo will be a LOT less money.

If you're looking at options for the guns other than Ruger then both Uberti and Pietta make very nice SAA clones. I went with the slightly cheaper Pietta and a year into it I have no regrets at all. The guns are excellently finished both inside and out. And so far they are staying consistently in time with only a very slight loosening of the cylinder from the initial breakin. The used one I bought hasn't changed a wink and the new one developed a slight amount of play over the first hundred rounds and has stayed consistent since. They now both have about the same amount of minimal insignificant play that hasn't changed during my roughly thousand rounds per gun shot over the last year and a bit.

November 30, 2010, 09:36 PM
If cost is a factor, weather you reload or not, the .38/.357 will be cheaper to shoot. Loaded .45 factory ammo cost more and is harder to find at times, than the .38 special/.357. If you reload but don't cast your own bullets, then .45 bullets are more costly than .38's, so if your on a budget and want to shoot as much as you can afford to, then it might be wise to go with the .38 special. Then again if money is no problem, a .45 sure is fun to shoot, not to mention the long history behind the .45 Colt. LM

November 30, 2010, 11:44 PM
Both! :)

December 1, 2010, 02:09 AM
I bought 2 Ruger New Vaqueros in 38/357 for Cowboy Action shooting because of ammo costs but I bought an original Bisley Vaquero in .45 Colt for woods carry and just because it's a .45 Colt...

December 1, 2010, 07:35 AM
.38 SPL. It's cheaper to reload than the .45 Colt is.

December 1, 2010, 01:32 PM
Well I really think that a .45 Colt is a TRUE cowboy gun, if that is what you are into.

I don't reload. I simply don't have the time or desire at the present. I DID want a big ol' single action revolver and opted to go with a used .357 Black Hawk sitting in the case at the gun shop. I love the .357. Not only does it make a good woods gun that is ample medicine for pretty much anything I'm bound to run into, but shooting .38's out of the hogleg is like snapping caps. It's just a joy to shoot.

I don't see too much of a balance issue, but it IS a 6.5" barrel, so it's not exactly the most elegant handling cannon.

Lucky Derby
December 1, 2010, 08:10 PM
To me, a 38/357 Colt SAA just don't balance like a Colt SAA should.

With those small holes, not enough metal is removed from the barrel and cylinder to keep the balance right.

My thoughts exactly.

December 2, 2010, 09:12 AM
One can feel the 4.5 oz. or more of weight gain with the 38 chambering. I have both and shoot both about the same. I load and cast for both so cost difference is minimal. I am shooting a 200 grain bullet out of the 45 for reduced recoil. I shoot either a Lee 125 (9mm bullet sized to .358) or the 158 SWC out of the 38/.357. I am shooting a reduced load with the .357 (158 cast lead at 1100 FPS) and the weight of the SAA 5 1/2 barrel provides a good weight to calm recoil. I guess that if you reload (and cast) the cost difference is minimal. If you don't reload then you can shoot the cost of your gun up fast in ammo costs. I shot my first cowboy match this fall and I am guessing 90% of the shooters are shooting 38 for cost and recoil. Some of the loads sound like a 22.

December 2, 2010, 10:25 AM
Reloading makes the most sense.
Reloading AND the .38 makes sense these days.

Before I got laid off, I was looking at a Cimarron in .357. It's still on my list.

December 2, 2010, 05:01 PM
I have a Colt 1872 Open Top 38 Special by Uberti. Cheap to shoot and a lot of fun. For a non reloader 38 Special is the way to go.

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