USFA SAA Strength


Maj Dad
January 5, 2013, 03:28 AM
Can anyone comment on the relative strength of the USFA SAA 45 LC as compared with Colts, Rugers, etc. I feel pretty sure they are stronger than older Colts but not as strong as the SBH/Vaquero (older and heavier Vaq's). I have been told the USFAs are comparable to the standard BH but don't have anything to back that up. I'd really appreciate any credible info anyone might have.
George J.

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January 5, 2013, 07:51 AM
Great guns, but they are not in the same class as a Ruger Blackhawk IMO, certainly not for "Ruger only" loads.

January 5, 2013, 11:45 AM
Probably near the strength of a NEW Vaquero... Certainly not near as strong as the Original Large Frame Vaquero or Blackhawk.

No "Ruger Only" loads. (those are for the LARGE frame guns... not New Vaq's)

I'd stick with the same kind of loads you'd feel comfortable shooting in a 3rd gen Colt.

January 5, 2013, 11:58 AM
I'd only load for 14k pressures in one.

January 5, 2013, 12:29 PM
The only SAA-sized .44Spl that can be safely rechambered to .44Mag is the USFA. So I would put it on top of the strength tier in this frame size. However, the .45's are largely untested in this regard and should be loaded like a Colt SAA. Which is to say, .45ACP pressures at around 21,000psi. Look to Brian Pearce and Dave Scovill for data to push a 250-270gr cast bullet around 1100fps.

PS, standard Blackhawk .45's are built on the same frame as the Super Blackhawk. Only the late model flat-top .45 is comparable to Colt's and USFA's.

January 5, 2013, 12:29 PM
Technically, they are the exact same design and size as a Colt SAA.

So they are no stronger then a modern Colt SAA.

That puts them in the 23,000 PSI class of guns that are chambered in .45 ACP and +P rated.
Colt SAA, S&W 625, Ruger New Vaquaro, etc.


January 5, 2013, 12:56 PM
Technically, they are slightly heavier and have a slightly larger diameter cylinder than a Colt SAA. Brian Pearce had a .44Spl rechambered to .44Mag with USFA's blessing and they 'almost' came out with one of their own.

But no, I wouldn't load them any differently.

January 5, 2013, 02:31 PM
I know I have a bag-o-gun from un-barreling one in the same manner as I've used for years with true SAAs and Rugers.

That poor frame just wasn't up to it. Shame, it was from a sequential set of true beauties.

January 5, 2013, 03:53 PM
A little off topic, but is USFA still making single actions? It seems that the owner of U.S. Firearms has moved onto his new ZIP gun project, and their website no longer lists any available models.

January 5, 2013, 05:21 PM
According to the blather on this page they're retooling. Beyond that, I couldn't tell you.

January 5, 2013, 06:28 PM
I'd have to differ with you again on this. The USFAs are not the same dimensions & strengths as the Colts.
They're fractionally stronger & as Craig says- the cylinders are slightly larger. :)
Parts are closer to the older Ubertis they started out with & not necessarily interchangeable with Colts.

Auto- as of last week the ZIP website had a link to the USFA single-action website.
I got an email from Donnelly a few days ago inviting me to drop in at their booth at the SHOT Show coming up, I'll see what he has to say about the current state of things if I can connect with him.

Maj Dad
January 5, 2013, 07:54 PM
The cylinders are indeed slightly (~.020") larger, and Dave Scovill said in the Feb-Mar 2010 Handloader " is folly to buy an inexpensive imported replica and then horse it up to match +P loads in a Colt, or expect it to shoot as well as a finely-tuned and polished Colt or U.S. Firearms Mfg. or custom six-gun, such as a Turnbull Restorations built on a Colt or U.S. Firearms Mfg. Co. parts." Mine is a Turnbull Restorations model with color-cased frame, hammer & trigger, and Carbona bluing and engraved cylinder. It is also as tight and well-fitted a SAA as I have ever examined, and I suspect it will shoot +P loads with alacrity, though I have no need or desire to try to make a magnum out of it. I called & spoke with someone at Turnbull who didn't wan't to gon record who said they are as strong as the Ruger BHs, but he wouldn't recommend using the Thompson Center loads (as if...). Since it is such a nice pistol, I will probably not exceed +P, and that on occasion. I have SBHs & no need of a shot-loose work of art...
Thanks to all for you input - much appreciated!
George J.

January 5, 2013, 09:18 PM
DPris... pleas pass this along to the guys at the USFA booth. I think they have picked the perfect name for the ZIP . That's exactly what I'd be willing to pay for one! :barf:

January 5, 2013, 10:20 PM

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