Single Action Barrel Lengths - Please help me decide.


August 28, 2011, 09:37 PM
I'm purchasing a new Vaquero. I've looked at the Beretta, Colt and others but the Ruger is the one I'm going with.

They make it in a 4.62 and 5.5 inch barrel.

I'm going to be using it for three purposes.

1. Fun at the range or the farm.
2. Holstered sidearm for hunting trips.
3. May check into some Single Action shooting competitions.

Any suggestions between the two based on personal experiences, rules for competitions, accuracy, recoil?

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Jim Watson
August 28, 2011, 09:53 PM
I shot CAS with 7.5" Colt and Cimarron .44s.
I thought a 4.75" "gunslinger" barrel looked better and "balanced" better. So I had one put on my Colt. It was way kewl and handy but my hits fell off. I had the 7.5" put back on.

I think a 5.5" would be a good compromise, or in your case, the longest available.

August 28, 2011, 09:55 PM
Handle both at your LGS and see which feels/looks best to you.

August 28, 2011, 10:06 PM

I have a Ruger Vaquero and a Beretta Stampede both with 5 1/2" barrels. They're great guns and perfect for all three of the different purposes you mentioned. With factory and reloaded ammo they both shoot to POA at 50'. Recoil is of course subjective but given the shape of the SAA grip and factory .45LC ammo, to me these guns are easy to control and a lot of fun to shoot.

Smokey in PHX
August 28, 2011, 11:58 PM
I like my Vaquero w/ 5.5" barrel. It carries well compared to the 8" guns I use for hunting. The 5.5 seems to balance the gun out well. However everyone is different. What feels the best to you is the one you should pick.

August 29, 2011, 03:07 AM
When I bought a Vaquero I went with the 5.5" barrel because it just felt right to me. You should get the one that feels right to you. The shorter barrel will be slightly quicker to clear the holster but that would only be a factor in quick-draw. The 5.5" barrel is a good compromise between the shorter barrel and the 7.5" barrel. (IMO of course)

I will be buying a 1871/72 Open Top revolver in .45 Colt with a 7.5" barrel. That revolver was mostly made with a long barrel and just looks right. (to me at least)

August 29, 2011, 03:13 AM
I would go with the 4.62" barrel simply because I like the way it looks. Probably helps that my dad has an original Colt in .38-40 that looks just like it.

August 29, 2011, 07:51 AM
If you could handle both barrel lenghts that would be ideal. I like my New Vaquero 45 with the 5.5" barrel: it's more accurate than I can shoot and balances comfortably. I especially like it with 45 Colt black powder handloads.

Recoil with "standard" power commercial stuff is very manageable. Moderate handloads (8 grs. Unique with a 255 gr SWC) the same. Recoil with the BP handloads is easier yet. Please remember, the New Vaquero is NOT designed for the "Ruger Only" heavy loads in some reloading manuals.

For more formal target work and hunting I prefer my 45 Colt Blackhawk with the 7.5" barrel but for your purposes the Vaquero, either length, should be great.


August 29, 2011, 09:02 AM
I've owned a 4 5/8" New Vaquero in .357, and currently own a 7.5" New Vaquero in .45 Colt. I have a 3.75" New Vaquero in .44 special on its way to me right now. I used to shoot my dad's 5.5" SAA replicas for cowboy action shooting before I owned my own guns.

For the applications you have mentioned, I don't think you can go wrong with either of the lengths you're considering. They will be balanced about the same in the hand, in my experience. It really just comes down to whether you'd prefer the look of ejector housing being flush with the muzzle, or if you like the look of having the muzzle about an inch longer. You also lose a very small bit of weight using the shorter barrel, obviously. So if you intend to carry it on your hip all day long at the farm, that could be a factor for you.

Personally, I love my 7.5" New Vaquero. I like the nostalgia of the cavalry-sized barrel. While I have carried it concealed in a vertical shoulder rig on occasion, it's not exactly ideal for everyday carry.

August 29, 2011, 09:08 AM
Btw, you're choosing correctly going with a New Vaquero. As I said, I've owned several, and have been completely pleased with each one. They are well-built and reliable.

August 29, 2011, 10:19 AM
The short barrels are my favorite and outnumber anything longer but not by a huge margin. I also like 7½" to 8" barrels. My next custom gun will be a 7½" .38-40 on a Ruger Old Model .357 Blackhawk. For whatever reason, the 5½" length just never appealed to me.

But I have to agree that the Open Tops, percussion guns and conversions look great with longer barrels:

Looks good on a New Frontier as well:

August 29, 2011, 11:28 AM
I've got one short barrel and one 5.5 for my Cowboy shooting. The difference is so slight either way as to be all but unnoticable. But for pure looks I prefer the 5.5 for the simple reason that it does stick out past the ejector housing. To me the short barrels the same length as the housing just look "chopped down".

Although all else being equal folks will say that for long range shots the longer sight baseline of the longer barrel will produce a slight bit more accuracy. But you'll only see an improvement if your muscles can hold steady enough. WIth my old guy eyes and old guy nerves all the longer sight baseline does for me is magnify the wobble and jitters... :D

August 29, 2011, 12:18 PM
ya I know I'm a lot of help.:evil:

Actually I favor the 4 5/8" for CAS and general carry and plinkin, but don't mind a 5 1/2". the 6 1/2" and 7 1/2" guns are more range toys and hunting if I still hunted.

Red Cent
August 29, 2011, 12:32 PM
My preference is the 4 3/4" or 4 5/8". In SASS competition, you don't do a fast draw but you do draw as fast as you can safely. You cock the revolver as you reach the horizontal.

They look compact but just right.

August 29, 2011, 02:02 PM
If I had to do it over again I might opt for the 5.5 instead of the 7.5 vaquero.

It's a question of balance, weight and over all size while you're packing it around all day.

The shorter ones feel 'too short' almost like it's a snubby, that's fine for a shopkeeper but not for a belt gun.

August 29, 2011, 03:06 PM
I have at least one of each and the 5.5 barrel seems to be the all around best for me.

August 29, 2011, 07:11 PM
Thanks to everyone for all the feedback. As I expected feedback is mixed but the 4.5 is probably going to be the one for me. This forum is awesome!

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