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Most authentic SAA clone?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Panzerschwein, Dec 2, 2015.

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  1. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    I almost forgot about this one. It just says "made in Italy" - I think it is an old Tanfoglio. It has a stupid flimsy safety, apparently for "import points".

    Italian20SA2022_zpsnx1chp9c.jpg
     
  2. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    Driftwood sir you have an amazing collection thanks for sharing
     
  3. Bama Drifter

    Bama Drifter Member

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    Indeed he DOES! If the mods could make a sub-heading under Revolvers as "Driftwood Johnson Threads" that would be where I click 1st. Or at least 'sticky' all of his photo essays :D
     
  4. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Member

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    Curious where you got this information. After reading it I recalled seeing the Handloader magazine in which they made their debut:

    1449423828933973499525_zps2kuo61ng.jpg

    Polished stainless and CCH/Blue were the original options.

    35W
     
  5. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    Of the new mid framed Vaqueros in 2005 the original large frame Vaqueros were released a decade earlier.
     
  6. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Member

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    But I believe the subject was the New Vaqueros.
     
  7. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    He didn't say new and there are large frame Vaqueros in both pictures bracketing the statement.
    I wouldn't assume that Driftwood doesn't know what he is talking about.
     
  8. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Member

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    SIGH.....

    Beginning at Post #62 the subject was the DJ's assertion that the New Vaquero bore a similarity to the original Colt SA. (See photo in said post)

    Then in Post #72 I gave my opinion on the New Vaquero specifically stating NEW. DJ made his comment regarding the matte stainless steel option in Post #73.

    Then finally in Post #79, and evidently in a moment of complete insensitivity, I posted a portion of an article that showed the finish options
    for the New Vaquero as well as a photo of a polished stainless steel New Vaquero, which was contrary DJ stating the New Vaquero initially came out with a matte finish.

    Wasn't trying to correct anyone or hurt anyone's feelings.

    35W
     
  9. Crunchy Frog

    Crunchy Frog Member

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    Back to the question about barrel length, I will give you my personal, subjective opinion.

    I like the shorter 4.75 inch barrel for a .38/.357 revolver. A 5.5 incher feels front heavy to me with that smaller bore.

    With a larger caliber like a .38-40 (which despite its name is a forty caliber), .44 or .45 it's more of a toss-up, although I still lean towards the 4.75.
     
  10. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy Again

    Thanks for the kind comments.

    I never meant to infer that the New Vaquero was ever available with a matte Stainless finish. Sorry if anybody interpreted what I said that way. The 'original' large frame Vaquero was first introduced in 1993. Those are the ones that were originally made with a matte finish on the Stainless models. Those are the ones that Ruger soon realized would resemble an old nickel plated gun if given a high polish. My further comments were only meant to illustrate that nickel plated revolvers were very common in the 19th Century, so there is no disconnect with a shiny, Stainless Vaquero being used in CAS events.


    The reason I posted this photo was to show how similar a New Vaquero looks to a Colt. With the hammer down and sitting on a table. Of course one could cock it to see where the firing pin is, but that was not my intention. If somebody walked into a gun show, or a gun store, the quick and easy way to tell a Colt or colt replica from a New Vaquero without touching it is the configuration of the trigger and the lack of screws on the Vaquero. That is all I meant to show with this photo.

    SAANewVaqueroComparison.jpg




    This photo illustrates the differences between the 'original' large frame Vaquero (at the top of the photo) and the New Vaquero. The New Vaquero is roughly 10% smaller than the older model, bringing its overall size closer to that of a Colt. The older model used the same frame as the large frame Blackhawks, which was larger than a Colt. That is why the older model was chambered for 44 Magnum, among other cartridges, and the New Vaquero is not. The cylinder on the New Vaquero is smaller, there is less metal between the chambers, and Ruger did not think it wise to chamber it for 44 Mag.

    The cylinder pin on the older Vaquero is an after market pin, it is not stock.

    When the New Vaquero originally came out, the hammer profile was changed. Look at how large the hammer spur is on the New Vaquero. It is noticeably larger than on the older model. With the older model, it was possible to sight the gun with the hammer down. You cannot do that with a Colt, because the hammer spur obscures the sights when the hammer is down. The first configuration of the New Vaquero had a large hammer spur that also blocked the sights, in order to make it more closely resemble a Colt. After all, it is a single action revolver, why would you want to sight it with the hammer down? That has since changed, and different types of hammers are now available on the New Vaquero.

    The older model came with two piece wooden grips. The grips we are looking at here are Rosewood. The New Vaquero has always had plastic grips. And they are very thin, they do not fill the hand as much as the grips on the older model or on a Colt.

    All of these revolvers are early production for their models, so they have Ruger's fake 'Color Case' finish on the frames. Not too long into New Vaquero production Ruger discontinued this finish because of numerous complaints about it rusting. The blue New Vaquero today is only available with a blued frame.

    Vaqueros_ColorCase.jpg


    Another subtle change between the older model Vaquero and the New Vaquero is a spring plunger buried in the recoil shield. This plunger engages the ratchet teeth on the cylinder to cause the chambers to index correctly to the loading gate for easy loading and unloading. This was always a shortcoming with the older design, as well as all New Model Blackhawks. With these models if one turned the cylinder a little bit too far, the hand would engage the next ratchet tooth and the cylinder could not be rotated backwards to line up that chamber with the loading gate. You had to go all the way around to load or unload that chamber. That is why I installed half cock hammers in my older Vaqueros, so the chambers would line up with the loading gate at half cock, just like a Colt.

    One more subtle change of the New Vaquero was to make the ejector rod handle more closely resemble that of a Colt.

    And last but not least, the New Vaquero came with the dreaded lock. Off course Ruger did a spectacular job of making it as unobtrusive as possible, and if you didn't drill a hole in the right grip for the key, you would never even know it was there. I understand current New Vaqueros come without the lock, but I don't own one so I don't know for sure.

    new%20vaquero%20lock%20serial%20number%20modified_zpsagaisw5k.jpg
     
  11. Panzerschwein

    Panzerschwein member

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    This thread is helping me so much!!

    I have learned so much. Very nice guns all! I want to own one some day as well! Just have to make sure it's authentic as possible.
     
  12. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    I don't remember the original stainless Vaqueros being brushed. I remember them always being bright polished, although they're done in a tumbler, rather than on buffing wheels.
     
  13. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Just remember.

    It won't be as 'authentic as possible' until it says Colt on the barrel, and has a dancing pony on the frame.

    Might as well start saving your money until you can afford a real Colt.

    Everything else is just a poor copy of the real deal.

    The copies may be made better, or more likely worse?

    But without the Dancing Pony, they are not a real Colt SAA.

    Once you own one, you will understand.

    rc
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
  14. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    I'm with CraigC in that I don't recall the original stainless Vaqueros having a matte finish from the factory. All of the ones I saw had something of a polished finish to them. Of course there are always those of us who liked to take that polished, sort-of-resembles-bright-nickel look to the extreme, as in this Vaquero that was given to me by a very good friend of mine a few years ago.

    087_zpsvzulxvlh.gif
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
  15. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    Colt's are overrated! :p :neener:

    IMG_5480b.jpg

    I'll take a USFA any day of the week. :)
    IMG_2983b.jpg
     
  16. MaxP

    MaxP Member

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    I get the desire for authenticity, but the New Frontier I got last year solely for the purpose of editorial was so inaccurate and dimensionally incorrect, I sent it back. Now, I know this is one example and statistically insignificant, but if they can't get it right by now, particularly for a $1,500.00 gun, I wouldn't waste my money personally. There's really no excuse at this price point. I don't know if this is just one that slipped through, but it was sent back to sort out and came back essentially the same. I intended to buy it, but decided to pass. I would suggest: a) purchasing an older example, or b) buy an "inferior" copy for less than half the price that shoots well.

    That said, USFAs are the bee's knees, if you can find one. The Cimarron I recently took delivery of is WAY more accurate than the NF was and it's a bargain to boot. Here 'tis:

    DSC_0545.jpg
     
  17. WaywardSon

    WaywardSon Member

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    I am pretty much a n00b when it comes to SAA revolvers, but have handled a number of the originals as well as Italian copies. Some of the Uberti's...Cimmarons etc. are pretty nice in their own right, as well as a heck of a deal.

    I ran across one I had never heard of a couple of weeks ago when someone brought in a couple of American Western Arms Peacekeeper SAA revolvers. These are made in the USA and looked to be excellent quality. We bought them both & I put them on Gunbroker...but sold to a regular customer the next day.

    Anybody here familiar with these?
     

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  18. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    My USFA is a wonderful gun and is a little better finished than my Colt is but the square cut sights while easier to get a consistant sight picture aren't exactly PC.
     
  19. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Member

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    My dad has a couple of these in .44 Special. I shot them a little but not enough to get a really good impression of them. I saw nothing glaring that would indictate poor quality.

    35W
     
  20. kwhi43@kc.rr.com

    [email protected] Member

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    This is my Uberti 45 made around 2000

    dea39d9ae7e92c4f14f940ae74dd725b.jpg
     
  21. Cowhide Cliff

    Cowhide Cliff Member

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    I've owned them all and honestly, for a gun that is going to be put through the paces and shot, the ones I've gotten from Cimarron in recent years are every bit as good as the Colts for a third of the price.

    I saw one Colt that the timing was so far off I wouldn't consider it safe to shoot. I can't help but think they are selling them on the name figuring people buy them for collecting and don't figure most of them will even be shot.

    Also some of the Italian models are MORE historically accurate to a 19th century Colt than the new Colts are.
     
  22. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    I said this somewhere at the beginning of this thread. You are not going to find a modern made SAA replica that is exactly the same in every detail as a very early Colt. Nobody is producing one. Nobody.

    Besides three separate generations of Colts, there have been many subtle engineering changes within each generation. Subtle things like the shape of the ratchet teeth on the rear of the cylinder, shape of the firing pin, method of attaching the firing pin, barrel threads, shape of the hand, presence or lack of a removable cylinder bushing, shape of the screws, shape of the ejector rod housing, method of attaching the ejector rod housing, shape of the ejector rod, shape of the ejector rod handle, shape of the hammer, shape of the sights, and shape of the bolt, to name just a few. I have my copy of Kuhnhausen open right now and he shows no less than six different shapes of the hand over the years.

    And then there are all the changes in metallurgy over the years too.

    Of course a modern 3rd Gen Colt is not identical to an early 1st Gen. These were military and commercial products, not static museum pieces. The design evolved over time, as it does with any product that has been produced for a long time. The SAA has been produced for over 140 years, production only stopping from 1940 until 1956. What other product has been produced for that amount of time without undergoing engineering changes? Changes that were made to either make the product better, or more efficient to produce.

    I sometimes wonder why folks are so hell bent on getting a firearm that is an exact replica of something made over a century ago. I have a very nice Uberti manufactured replica of the 1860 Henry rifle. It is a pretty good reproduction of the originals. Not exact, there are some subtle differences, but it is still a pretty good replica of the original Henry rifle. Except for the fact that the ammunition the Henry used, the 44 Henry Rimfire round, has not been produced for many years. So all the modern replica Henrys are chambered for 44-40 or 45 Colt, and the frame has been stretched a bit to accommodate a longer carrier for the longer cartridges, and all modern Henry rifles have a centerfire firing pin rather than the split rimfire firing pin of the originals. Does this bother me? Not one bit. It is a compromise the manufacturer had to make in order to produce a rifle that could be fired with ammunition that is commercially available today.

    Same thing with the SAA replicas. They are nice guns, but the manufacturers have drawn a line in the sand with the specific models and built replicas that are pretty good representations of the old guns, but they are not exact copies, for a variety of reasons.

    If you really want to learn about the SAA and its variations over the years, examine some. Lots of large gun shows have antique gun dealers who are happy to let you handle an original and show you the subtle differences if you show genuine interest. Haunt the gun shops. You never know what will show up. I stumbled onto my first Colt at a local shop. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time, and it was a parts gun, so it was affordable.


    And by the way, Colts really are better than the Italian replicas. It may not show up with the cosmetics on the outside, but take them apart and it becomes obvious. One of the reasons Ubertis are less expensive is Uberti runs their CNC machines at very high feed rates to grind out lots of parts per hour. This shows on the fit and finish of the parts inside. Uberti parts tend to have rough machined surfaces, burrs, and sharp edges. Colts, at least the ones produced when they were assembled and fitted by craftsmen, usually had parts that were finished properly. It only makes sense. Run the machines fast to make as many parts as possible per hour because time is money. Slow the machines down for a better finish, and you have to charge more. And some of the parts in an Uberti are castings while Colt still machines everything. Castings are less expensive to make.

    Uberti hammer in front with cast in knurling, Colt hammer at the rear, knurling applied by a separate knurling tool. Which one looks to be better quality?

    hammers_down_zps80914ea5.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
  23. MaxP

    MaxP Member

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    This is a beautiful revolver, but I expect more from a $1,500.00 gun.

    Picture008.jpg
     
  24. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Member

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    I have to take exception to your statement. Better is a somewhat relative statement. It's sort of like saying "The cast aluminum wheels on my car are better than the steel wheels on your car." or "My desk is made of black walnut and therefore is better than yours that is made of pressed wood."

    In my experience there's simply no functional difference in the Colts, USFA's and the newer Italian revolvers. Exterior finishes, you bet, to a degree.

    I had looked for several months for what I just knew would be the Holy Grail of SA's for me; a 100% American produced, 5 1/2" USFA in 45 Colt. When I finally found one, I expected to walk to walk out to my range, load it and proceed to chew ragged holes in the 25 yd. target. Didn't happen. The mainspring was entirely too heavy which contributed to a trigger pull that I'd estimate was around 6 lbs. Easily enough corrected, I proceeded and ultimately found it to be no more accurate than any of my Ubertis but most aggravating was it was evidently regulated for the orIginal 45 load as firing any heavier load/bullet would result in points of impact that were too high for any pracial use. I sold it for $100 profit and bought a 2014 production Uberti Bisley for about 1/3 the price of the USFA. There was a burr on one side of the hammer that needed to be smoothed, so I paid myself a little under $900 to correct that. Everything else was good to go and the revolver easily groups my hunting load into 4" @ 50 yds. So the USFA was a beautiful, well built revolver, but no better for my purposes than an Italian.

    Likewise I found a NIB 3rd Generation Colt .44 Special that I bought for a very good price. I snatched it up thinking it would be the last .44 Special I'd ever buy. Upon removing it from the plastic bag and thumbing back the hammer, I was disappointed that it felt very heavy and gritty. I put it up thinking I'd eventually take it apart and smooth it up. But I wound up with a Cimarron Model P in the same caliber again for 1/3 the price, and sold the.Colt for a tidy profit. Why should I have to smooth up a revolver that cost well north of $1000?

    I have no doubt some of the Colts are of super high quality, but in my experience the Italians put the quality where it matters. Who cares if the mortise that houses the trigger, bolt and trigger spring has a sharp edge or a burr inside? Does it really matter if the knurling on the hammer is cast or cut? Neither of these affect the function. Think about this; if burrs, gritty actions, sharp edges and heavy springs are unacceptable on a $450 Italian SA, then why on earth would we overlook them on a beautifully finished revolver cost 3x the money?


    35W
     
  25. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Well, my newest Colt was made around 1975, so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.

    Then there was the whole business about the cylinder bushing.

    While we're on the subject, has Uberti started pressing a hardened bushing into the recoil shield yet? This is the recoil shield from the Cimarron Cattleman I still own. That dog that I got rid of had so much peening around the firing pin hole that it would lock up the cylinder with live rounds in it. Kind of scary.

    firingpinholeuberti.jpg




    As far as I know, Colt has always put a hardened bushing into the recoil shield for just that reason. My Bisley Colt from around 1907 has a hardened bushing in the recoil shield.

    coltrecoilplate.jpg


    One more reason I think a Colt is a better gun than an Italian import.

    And I had to smooth out a void underneath the hammer cam on my remaining Cattleman or it would have worn out the hand in short order. You don't get voids in machined hammers, and the cam on a Colt is a separate part pressed into the hammer. Much easier to replace if you wear it out, you don't have to replace the whole hammer.

    By the way, I'll tell you why it matters if there are burrs left inside. The first time I took my Uberti Henry apart there was a hanging burr the size of a fingernail paring hanging on the frame near one of the toggle link mortices. If that burr had worked its way off and fell into the toggle links, it could have tied up the whole gun.

    Thanks, but I prefer a company that takes the time to do a little bit of manual deburring to finish the parts properly. Does it cost more? Of course it does, time is money. I suppose everybody is deburring their parts in big vibrating deburring tubs now, I saw a bunch last time I visited Smith and Wesson. Much cheaper than paying touch labor to deburr parts. But I am not impressed with the cleanup inside of Uberti products.
     
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