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Ruger Vaquero: .45 LC or .357 Mag?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by RyeDaddy, Nov 12, 2006.

  1. RyeDaddy

    RyeDaddy Well-Known Member

    Alright everyone, came to the revolver people for help. I have a post up in the buy and sell section about wanting to find a Vaquero, and I've found what I'm looking for, but now I'm having second thoughts about caliber.

    Anyway, on to my question, I can either buy an old Vaquero (pre-2005) NIB, with the extra cylinder for .45acp, or a new Vaquero in .357. Which would you pick? I like big bores, and I could hunt with the .45 if I should ever choose to. Ammo price isn't a concern, as I can use .45acp at the range for fun. But the .357 can share ammo with my brother's pistol when we go to the range, and I can use .38 special also. The .357 is powerful enough, but I can get more power with Buffalo Bore's .45 LC +P Heavy load.

    I'm seriously lost here, and unable to come to a decision about which I really want. I've shot both, and don't really prefer one over the other, the gun won't be used for defense, except for maybe hogs, or whatever else I encounter while rifle hunting, so man-stopping is not a concern at all.

    Any pros and cons of either choice other than the anemic factory .45 LC, and ammo cost of factory .45 LC?

    Thanks for any advice.

  2. Remmi

    Remmi Well-Known Member

    If your after an authentic 'Cowboy' vobie I'd say stick with the .45LC; Nothing else really says 'Badass Gunslinger' like the classic .45.

    However I tend to reccomend .45LC to people who handload almost exclusivly, because there seems to be a rash of rather panziass factory LC about lately. So if you plan to just buy ammo off the shelf, I'd stick with .357 since it's proven, pound-for-pound; to be able to blow the ever loving HECK out of something with the proper off-the-shelf load.

  3. RyeDaddy

    RyeDaddy Well-Known Member

    Thanks Remmi. I think that usually I would be shooting .45 ACP at the range, and almot exclusively using Buffalo Bore's 45LC loads when there's something I actually want to shoot. I think you're right about the badass gunslinger thing, a .357 isn't cowboy. Hmmm.... Still undecided, but leaning toward 45, anyone else want to chime in?

  4. GunNut

    GunNut Well-Known Member

    Choosing between the two guns is hard, it really depending on what you are exactly wanting.

    Do you want a gun that is basically the same size as a Colt SAA or does that matter to you?

    I personally am wanting a gun that mimics my Colt New Frontier .44 special, so I am looking at getting a New Vaquero in .45 colt.

    If you want a .45 Colt that can handle heavy loads then the old model Vaquero would be a much better choice.

    Me personally, I would hold out for a New Vaquero in .45 Colt, you don't need the Buffalo Bore strength loads anyways. The .45 Colt will get it done with 250gr+ loads at around 900-1000fps.

  5. RyeDaddy

    RyeDaddy Well-Known Member

    Well, I don't do cowboy shooting or anything, I just like the look of a single action, and it's something different than my other assortment. It'll match up well with my 45-70 Marlin lever action for hunting as well, but it being a more accurate replica of a real cowboy gun isn't that important to me, the power is. My brother has a S&W Model 66, so I can use his .357 when I want.

    I guess that sort of makes the choice for me, being that it would be something different, and I already have access to a .357 Magnum, so the 45LC would be something new and cool to take out. :cool:

  6. GunNut

    GunNut Well-Known Member

    Get the .357 mag New Vaquero, then you can always get the .45 Colt later if you still want it.

  7. timothy75

    timothy75 Well-Known Member

    You obviously want the 45 so I'd go for it. Be warned though 45acp aint cheap. Winchester offers the exellent 45LC- 255gr LRN at 860fps in 20rd boxes for 9.99$. This round is far from enemic and cheap enough to shoot when your broke. Good luck
  8. plexreticle

    plexreticle Well-Known Member

    I feel the 45 Colt is a better round for just about anything.
  9. ScottsGT

    ScottsGT Well-Known Member

    I got one in .45LC and love it. Mine is the New Vaquero.
  10. Tom C.

    Tom C. Well-Known Member

    I have Blackhawks in .45 Colt with .45 ACP cylinders and .357. The only problem you may have with Vaqueros, in either First Gen .45 or Second Gen .357 is the lack of adjustable sights. Particularly in .45, those mild cowboy loads will shoot substantially lower than full power Buffalo Bore hunting loads. I find it convenient to adjust the sights for different bullet weights and power levels.
  11. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    You can hunt with the .357, deer anyway. Not a problem, great deer caliber IMHO. Of course, Texas deer are sort of, well, not Texas sized. But, I've taken several with the .357.

    I don't know, I have one of each, but in the Blackhawk version. I don't care for the Vaquero and it's fixed sights. I have marks on my elevation screws on both Blackhawks for light load and heavy. I handload for both of 'em and sighted 'em in for a light and a heavy. Makes for a very versatile handgun. I think the .357 is the more versatile outdoor gun just because the light load is light and accurate enough for squirrels and other small game. But, the .45 is usually with me when I'm working down at my place, just in case I stumble on a hog. It's also my choice when hiking in bear country, which I don't do much anymore.

    That .45 ain't going to shoot to the same point of aim with the acp cylinder. You might keep that in mind. I handload my own .45 colt and don't have any use for an acp cylinder anyway. But, my light loads are six clicks elevation off of my heavies. The Vaquero is great for cowboy games, but it ain't even on my list of desirable outdoor guns. JMHO of course.
  12. Jim March

    Jim March Well-Known Member

    More info here:


    Short form: the New Vaqueros are being built to a slightly higher standard than some of the older, larger guns. That may influence your thinking.

    You might also consider tracking down one of the Ruger 50th Anniversary 357Mag Blackhawks. This is (so far) the only adjustable-sight gun built on the new mid-frame platform same as the New Vaquero. I considered going that route, and you can find them on Gunbroker or Gunsamerica for about $450/$500 unless it's one of the silly gold-engraved versions. But I like what I ended up with better: my sight picture is now the equal of a Blackhawk, I've got windage adjustability and I've got my front sight height dialed in for 135gr loads.
  13. GunNut

    GunNut Well-Known Member


    Great suggestion, I really wish that Ruger would build that 50th Anniversary gun in .45LC.

  14. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    A good round- and less than half the price of BB Standard Pressure Heavy .45 Colt- is GA Arms. They have a 260 HP advertised at 1200 fps, which I would think would do most of what you'd need doing, unless perhaps you're going in Grizzly or Brown territory.

  15. Jim March

    Jim March Well-Known Member

    Steve: I'd be damned tempted to convert a 50th 357 BH into a 44Spl versus a 45LC. Slightly beefier cylinder walls for a bit more "beginner handloader forgiveness" and plenty of good factory fodder available.

    Lots of the similar sized Old Model 357s (pre-'73) got converted to 44Spl.

    Another interesting choice now that modern brass is available again is the 38-40. Ballistically it's a 40S&W, uses the same projectiles, but has a BIG bottleneck case so it operates at very low pressures. Tends to slide into and out of the loading gate REAL quick.

    If we can ever convince Ruger to do a run of the mid-frame in a 40S&W/38-40 convertible, I'd HAVE to try and score one. If it was a triple cylinder with a 10mm as the third I *would* buy no matter what I had to do.
  16. GunNut

    GunNut Well-Known Member


    If I could get the 50th Anniversary gun in .44 special, I would consider selling my Colt New Frontier in .44 special.

    I'm really liking this caliber, and have close to 1,000 240gr SWC and LRN bullets for reloading.

  17. RyeDaddy

    RyeDaddy Well-Known Member

    Wow! Got alot of info. Thanks all. Especially for the suggestion on ammo. I made up my mind today, and went ahead and ordered the 45LC convertible. This oughta make for good times hog hunting.;)

  18. Dienekes

    Dienekes Well-Known Member

    There's getting to be an embarassment of riches with Ruger SAs. That's the good news. The stickier side is that they tend to be better at one thing than another. You either have to choose one or buy a bigger safe downstream.

    The old Vaqs are bull strong, but awfully big and heavy for some of us. The fixed sights can be a quandary, especially with light/heavy loads or the ACP cylinder. Which is why I never got one of the convertible ones...

    The new Vaqueros are awfully nice (my new SS .45 Colt is just about a dead ringer for my 1882 Colt--they feel the same and from a couple of feet away they can't be told apart). But they won't take the buffalo killer loads as well and of course need to be sighted in for one favorite load. Not a problem, in my view.

    The new Flattops are also very nice. Make that *very* nice. Have only looked at the .44s but have a .357 which is a real winner and very practical.

    Have a circa 1996 NM .45 Convertible which does not have the fit and finish of the more recent guns but is one sweet shooter. Some tweaking including cylinder throating was required, but it paid off big time. As mentioned sight changes are in order when switching around but the thing shoots one-holer groups at 20 yards if I am up to it that day.

    Sort of keeps you hopping.
  19. Ralph Bryant

    Ralph Bryant Active Member

    Will have to admit, the production of dual calibers/cylinders in a fixed-sight revolver was kind of a lame idea from the start. I suppose you "might" fiddle with your loads and come up with a couple that would both hit POA fairly close, but the true versatility of dual cylinders is still in the adjustable sight models.

    That having been said, I think I would opt for the early model fixed sight Vaquero in a straight, single-cylinder .45 colt, and find the ONE load that best suits the particular gun, and then stick with it. There is alot to be said for consistency in your ammo, and it tends to remove one more obsticle in the way of a good shooter, as does going with a fixed-sight revolver in favor of one that can have the sights knocked out of adjustment in harsh extremes. With both variables out of the way, the performance of the gun is then almost entirely up to the shooter.

  20. Jim March

    Jim March Well-Known Member

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