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.357 Ruger Blackhawk vs Vaquero

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by foxtail207, Sep 4, 2012.

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  1. foxtail207

    foxtail207 Member

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    I'm looking at getting a cowboy style .357 mag and considering a Ruger New Model Blackhawk (6.5" barrel) or a Ruger Vaquero (5.5" barrel), probably in stainless.

    Does anyone have any pros / cons for either that they will share along with information about accuracy, handling, etc.

    I know the Vaquero sights are fixed, i.e. non-adjustable like the Blackhawk. Also, it seems the Vaquero is a little more expensive.
     
  2. Gary A

    Gary A Member

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    I'm sure others will chime in. Blackhawks, at least blued ones, are cheaper than Vaqueros by around 50 or more dollars. Blackhawks are built on a larger frame and have a larger cylinder than current (New) Vaqueros, with the exception of the "Flattop" variant which is built on the smaller frame. The difference in size is of little practical difference when it comes to the .357 cartridge; they are both amply strong. Although the Blackhawk is slightly larger than the New Vaquero, it weighs, in its blued version, somewhat less than either the New Vaquero or the Flattop version due to its aluminum alloy grip frame. The others have steel grip frames. I like them both but have a special fondness for Blackhawks if I had to choose only one.

    Oh, personally I like way the aluminum grip-framed Blackhawk handles. Others prefer the heavier all-steel versions.
     
  3. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    The New Vaquero is basically an old, mid-framed Blackhawk with fixed sights. A little smaller than the New Model Blackhawk...unless you've found one of the older Blackhawks...so it's a bit stronger than the New Vaquero if you plan to turn up the pressure. If factory or factory level ammo is all you intend to use, either one will do on that front.

    The Blackhawk has adjustable sights, so you can dial it in for whatever ammunition you use...which is a plus...but may not be allowed in some CAS classes if that's your game.

    The fixed sights of the Vaquero may or may not hit to point of aim, but as long as it only takes a little Kentucy Windage and Tennessee Elevation to let you shoot it well, they're more rugged than adjustables if it's to be a "working gun."

    If the New Vaquero is dialed in with one load, and you're happy with that particular load now and forever...you'll be hard-pressed to find a better utility/general purpose single action revolver. I have two .45 New Vaqeros with the 4.62-inch barrels and love'em both, but I'm limited to one load. Luckily, that load has ample power...250/900-ish fps... and is scary accurate in both guns. I also have a 4.62-inch New Model Blackhawk that's been great. I can recommend either, depending on your intended use.

    If this is your first run at single-actions, the slow lock time and heavy hammer fall take a little getting used to...so if you don't shoot it as well as you think you should...stick with it. It'll iron itself out in time.
     
  4. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I bought 2X 38/357 Vaqueros because I use then for Cowboy Action shoots.
    I also have an original Bisley Vaquero in .45 Colt, I like the Vaquero.
    (next is a short barrel with a Birdshead grip frame in .45 Colt)

    On top is the .45 Colt on the larger frame Vaquero and the next 2 are the New Vaquero frame and are in 38/357.
    I bought one of each because I couldn't decide on the Blue or Stainless.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    I bought my .357 Blackhawk way before Vaq's were made. Mine is heavy. I would personally choose a new Vaq for fun 'n games, it looks cowboy. I would choose a Blackhawk for hunting gun, so I could fine-tune the sights.

    my $.02
     
  6. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    IMHO, the large frame guns are way too much beef for the .357 cartridge. The guns are too heavy and too imbalanced. The mid-frame guns are much better suited and do not lack for strength in this chambering. That leaves us with the New Vaquero, 50th anniversary Blackhawk and the Old Model Blackhawk. The OMBH will be the lightest as it will have an aluminum grip frame and post 1962 models have an aluminum ejector housing. My little 4⅝" flat-top .357 (1958) weighs in at 38oz and that is a good place to be. The same gun in a 50th anniversary model will come in at 44oz, which is a substantial difference. The New Vaquero will be slightly lighter. Even so, these guns handle much better than their large frame brethren. Like a Colt SAA and no single action handles better than that!

    While I have several sixguns with fixed sights, adjustable sights are imminently more usable. Not just for their adjustability but for their superior sight picture.

    All that said, in my opinion, a good Old Model is one of the best .357 ever produced. The "eared" models like this can be found at reasonable prices.
    [​IMG]


    While the flat-tops (1955-1962) are more desirable, both to shooters and collectors. Which is why they cost more. This one cost 2½ times what the eared model above did. For me, it is well worth the premium as I greatly prefer the XR3 grip frame (dead ringer for the Colt SAA/Navy) over the later XR3-RED. Which has too much room behind the triggerguard. The flat-tops also tend to be finished a little nicer and had steel ejector housings. For me, this is the perfect .357Mag.
    [​IMG]


    Your best bet may be the 50th anniversary model of 2005. This was the first of the New Model flat-tops and they are very, very well made sixguns. They can still be had for reasonable prices and unlike the Old Models, they are all steel. Here's a shot of mine, which has since been traded away. Giving in to my affinity for Old Models.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Member

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    Beautiful photography, CraigC, of some very nice Rugers.
     
  8. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    I don't see where anyone has mentioned the issue of fixed vs adjustable sights. Because the point of impact with revolvers relies so much on the bullet weight and speed the fixed sight guns are really only good to shoot with one or two load recipes for hitting at the point of aim. So if you want to play with various ammos the adjustable sight Blackhawk is a better way to go. But if you're OK with trimming the fixed sights to suit that one or two carefully matched ammo options then go with the fixed sight gun if that is your preference.
     
  9. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Thank you!
     
  10. Greg528iT

    Greg528iT Member

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    I vote, Vaquero.. just in the smoother lines. and of the 2 you list, I like the 5.5" barrel better. As an owner of a stainless, 45 Colt Vaquero in 5.5".. I was really liking the balance of a buddy's 4-5/8" model. Next on the list.
     
  11. Lawdawg45

    Lawdawg45 Member

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    Can you give us more information on your intended use? Cowboy action shooting, fast draw, hunting, concealed carry?

    LD
     
  12. greyling22

    greyling22 Member

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    wooooooo craig, where did that bottom blackhawk run off to. I want one. who did the grips?
     
  13. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    I traded it for a CZ452FS almost two years ago. Grips were spalted karelian birch by CLC and went to a gent on RugerForum. :)
     
  14. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    According to Ruger's catalog, the .357 NM Blackhawk is an ounce lighter than the .357 New Vaquero both with 4.62 inch barrels. The aluminum frame on the Blackhawk covers the weight from the larger frame, but the balance is a bit top-heavy.

    And my 4.62 inch .41 Blackhawk comes in at five ounces under the .357 Vaquero.

    Oddly enough, the 4.62 inch .45 is an ounce heavier than the .41 mag.
    Go figger...
     
  15. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Ruger has gotten much better with their published weights but the 4 5/8" .45 Blackhawk is shown as a full 3oz heavier than every other report I've read or heard. It should be the lightest NM Blackhawk at 36oz. I think the .41Mag number is accurate. They also show the 4 5/8" .44 Super at 45oz, while mine weighed 43oz before being converted to a 45oz Bisley.
     
  16. foxtail207

    foxtail207 Member

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    Thanks to all of you who posted. I feel like I got good information... so now it's a tough decision for me to choose.

    My first thoughts/intentions were for a Blackhawk, but I saw some Vaqueros that are simply stunning looking (have you ever seen the blued model with gold inlay on the cylinder and with "ivory" grips? WOW!), plus I like the old west look of them. http://www.budsgunshop.com/catalog/product_info.php/products_id/411548468

    However, since I may use several loads (reloads) and might take it hunting, I may have to go with the Blackhawk in the # 0319 model. http://www.ruger.com/products/newModelBlackhawkStainless/specSheets/0319.html

    Then again, I'm afraid that the Blackhawk's 6.5" long barrel will not work too well (i.e., front sight hanging up on a draw - ???, not sure) in my new holster/belt rig which is for a 6" barrel. That makes the 5.5" model 5108 Vaquero look like a better choice. I'm just not fond of the shorter 4.625" barrels. http://www.ruger.com/products/vaqueroStainless/specSheets/5108.html

    Decisions, decisions!!!!

    I wish I could buy one of each!
     
  17. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    The Blackhawk and original Vaquero do not have the feel and balance of the original Colts. They are heavy, fat and clunky to me. But if you are wanting a hunting revolver that is tough enough for heavy handloads they are they way to go. Especially the adjustable sighted Blackhawk.

    If you want a gun that closely resembles the original Colt's with the right feel and balance the new Vaquero does a better job of that.
     
  18. Gary A

    Gary A Member

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    I have no doubt that someday you will.
     
  19. OilyPablo

    OilyPablo Member

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    I like Blackhawk. Just purely personal preference. My two are very accurate and feel balanced to me.
     
  20. foxtail207

    foxtail207 Member

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    I'm still leaning towards he Blackhawk.... BUT ...
    The way the front site is angled on the Blackhawk, does anyone foresee holster draw problems if the barrel sticks out of the holster 1/2"?

    How long is that front site ramp?
     
  21. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Yeah. It's pretty much a given. Single can actions get to be a habit.

    Ask me how I know...

    :rolleyes:
     
  22. foghornl

    foghornl Member

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    Ruger's SA revolvers are more addictive than ahhhhhh well lotza things

    Never mind HOW I know, I just know! (Foggy mumbled while counting...Vaquero...Blackhawk...Single-Six......)
     
  23. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    There's no doubt at all that the partridge style front sight will hang up from time to time on the opening of the holster if it sticks out the end. But if you're doing that sort of shooting where a fast draw is needed then you're likely doing enough of it that you're not really that concerned with bullseye style shooting or adjusting sights for different loads. More likely you'll pick a standard round and stick with it. In that case the fixed sight guns with the smoothly rounded front sight makes a heap of a lot of sense.

    A possible hint. If you pick a load that is a good one for your matches that uses a 125 to 130 gn bullet sent out at around 850 to 950 FPS then the gun SHOULD work with a stout 158gn load that is somewhere around a .38Spl +P to low end Magnum muzzle velocity. This pretty much requires that you're reloading your own. It's simply not the sort of thing you can do if you rely on factory ammo because there isn't the range of speeds to play with. I would also say that you bring the front sight down part way but keep the loads shooting a couple of inches low at 15 yards. Work on balancing the charges for these two bullet weights until you have a pair that prints nice groups centered at the same distance below your point of aim. With these magic recipes firmly in hand you can then go ahead and file the front down that last little bit to zero the gun for THOSE loads at 15 yards or whatever distance you happen to choose for your reference distance.
     
  24. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    I'd suggest a holster that actually fits. IMHO, if you can spend $500-$600 on a new sixgun, surely you can free up another $75-$100 for a proper holster. ;)
     
  25. foxtail207

    foxtail207 Member

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    OK, I ordered a used .357 x 6.5'' barrel Blackhawk on-line and should get it mid-week next week. I just couldn't swing a new one and this one looks pretty nice, even if used. It looks just like CraigC's 1st photo except it's not an "old model 3 screw". By the serial number it's from 1978. The cylinder marks (scratch) looks similar to CraigC's photo and it also has the "ivory" grips.

    From the sellers website:
    [​IMG][/IMG]

    I'll try it with my holster / belt rig. If it hangs up too bad with the long barrel, I'll get a new holster for the belt.

    BTW - I picked up a $300+ KILPATRICK rig at a garage sale for $10. It's a left handed model, which is hard to find, and what I need, plus it's like brand new. I cleaned the dust off and put some mink oil on it and polished it up... AMAZING - like new!
    It's just like this except mine has some tooling on the belt and holster: http://www.kirkpatrickleather.com/hollywood/the-westerner-36

    Here's my $10 rig:
    [​IMG][/IMG]

    [​IMG][/IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
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