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Discussion Starter #1
I have a original Vaquero 5.5, in .357. I would like to get a .45 LC revolver with the larger Vaquero frame, but I probably will not find one. So I am choosing between a .45 New Vaquero and a SS Blackhawk, in 4 5/8 barrel. I want something that can handle heavy loads, as a woods gun, and would like the fixed sight model. Do you think the New Vaquero can be loaded hot enough, or should I get the Blackhawk, which I understand has the larger frame and cylinder, and can take Ruger-only loads? I don't shoot hot loads at the range, but for a woods gun, they are nice to carry.
 

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As far as I know, all the recently manufactured Ruger single actions are on the newer smaller frame. The older Vaqueros turn up from time to time, just be patient.
 

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Be patient...I have found 3 original style large frame Vaqueros in stainless...one straight Vaquero, one the Sheriff's model with the 3 1/2" bbl and one with the bisley grip. The Sheriff is in 357 and the other 2 are 45 Colt. These will take about any load you want to play with (within reason)...I also have several Blackhawks in both old and new style frames (larger and smaller)...I load whatever I want in the larger frames (again within reason) and although some say the smaller frame Blackhawks (like my Lipsey special) will take heavy loads I choose not to push the envelope on those..I have heard the smaller frame New Vaqueros are similar in load capability to the smaller frame Blackhawks but I don't havfe any of those....most of my loading is pretty light for my hands sake so probably no issue with any of it. The SS Vaquero's are around and a nice find when they show. Good luck
 

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The new Vaqueros will not handle "Ruger only" loads. The frames are smaller and lighter than the NM Blackhawk frames which are designed on the SBH frame. Brian Pierce did and excellent article about a year back on the vaquero/flattop frame and the loads it would handle. The article was published in Handloader magazine.
 

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Nothing wrong with a .45 Colt Blackhawk. Make good packing sixguns. The original Vaquero is nice too if you can find them. BTW, you can load up the New Vaquero beyond SAMMI ... just not up to stoat Ruger Only Loads. See Brian Pearce articles in hand loader magazine. Let us know your decision.
 

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I had the same dilemma. A New Vaquero was out because of the small frame. So I looked at new BHs, but didn't like the quality of the frame fitting on the blued guns. Apparently they just slap the pre-fab grip frame and frame together, and you get what you get, overhang, sharp corners, and all. They can't grind anodized aluminim for a good fit to the frame, unless they then re-anodize it to cover the white. Stainless is a more durable finish, too. Once you ding anodized aluminum, it's over.

I looked at flattop all stainless BHs, but didn't like that they wouldn't handle hotter loads. I resolved to watch for an 'older' New Model Blackhawk. Week after week I called all the LGSs asking about used .45 Blackhawks, and all they ever seemed to have were Super BHs. Great guns, but not what I wanted. I even resolved to 'like' the billboard warning on the side of the barrel on older NMBHs -- something I hated before.

So last week I ditched work at lunch and went to my LGS to look for a used Blackhawk and what did I find? A mint condition original Vaquero in Stainless, 4 5/8" barrel, for 4 bills. I jumped on it. It would be cruel to post the pics here, like the thoughtless fellow above : ) but reading these posts makes me appreciate my good luck all the more. The guy who sold it to me said it was a 'good find.' Apparently!

Keep looking. There are several original Vaqueros on Gunbroker right now, but they're all over $500. One was $799 or something insane. But... they're out there.
 

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A year or so ago, I bought a new Ruger SS Bisley .45 Colt/.45 ACP Convertible. If you want a .45 Colt for general use these cannot be beat. Two of my friends joined me in the purchase (we each got one). I reamed all six cylinders to .4525" with a "made for the purpose" reamer kit complete with pilots.

They shoot like NRA Match pistols:



Here's a picture of my original Bisley Vaquero:



I have shot a good number of black powder loads with the Vaquero in matches. I have won more than my share, too. I consider myself very fortunate as it shoots to the sights at 25 yards with black and smokeless using the Lyman 452664 Cowboy bullet (home cast, of course).

Dale53
 

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I have seen pictures of Vaqueros with blown out tops, and cylinders more than once. I have the Blackhawk in both .44Mag and .45Colt and I think they are much more solidly bullt than the Vaqueros I have handled and shot.

Do a search on VAQUERO BLOWUP and you will see a few articles and pictures...

GB45
 

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I have seen pictures of Vaqueros with blown out tops, and cylinders more than once. I have the Blackhawk in both .44Mag and .45Colt and I think they are much more solidly bullt than the Vaqueros I have handled and shot.

Do a search on VAQUERO BLOWUP and you will see a few articles and pictures...

GB45
Don't know the circumstances but I do know there is a lot said (has been over the years) about "TC and Ruger Blackhawk only loads"..Lots of folks love to slap the bull on the nose and really push hot loads...I am not sure and I don't know that anyone can show me in writing where the original Vaquero (larger frame) has ever been recommended for the T/C or Blackhawk only loads....but I do know folks brag about the hot loads in their original model Vaqueros....I'm pretty confident that the original larger frame Vaquero is a tough gun and certainly tougher than the new model Vaqueros....but is it up to the task of the "Ruger Blackhawk only loads"? I wouldn't try...I'm one of those old guys like a hot rodder...the answer is in 'cubic inches"....I can't for the life of me see loading a gun to mega pressures when stepping up to the next caliber or to the magnum level in a magnum level gun can give the hotshot loads and safety. I shoot lots of 45 Colt in Blackhawks and in Vaqueros..as well as a Pietta....the Pietta is like the old Colts and Uberti's and is make for more gentle pressures and "cowboy" type loads...my original style Vaquero's are more capable of handling higher loads and the Blackhawks are probably capable of even higher loads....the New Vaquero's are probably somewhere between my Pietta and my original Vaqueros...I could push the envelope but why?? If I want more power I can step up and if none of this is enough...get a 454 Cassie and really get a big flash.

I don't believe there is any true SAMMI spec on "Ruger Blackhawk or TC" loads and so anything that is listed as such is exceeding the SAMMI specs and also the gun manufacturer specs...it is tempting for some because they own a Ruger of any kind that it's ok to load it hot just because someone said it was ok....I'd heard that Bill Ruger really got upset at seeing "Ruger only" loads being bandied around..Sammi does make a distinction between 45Colt in the old colts and in the Ruger Blackhawk (it says Blackhawk) but does not show a spec for Ruger Blackhawk or T/C that is higher than the standards for the calibers.

I don't think a Vaquero is any more prone to kb than any other modern firearm is if kept within published (and I don 't mean internet info) load data...but it may be that there are more hot rodders that buy Rugers because of the "legend" that has grown up around them...If it says 20,000psi is the limit (too lazy to look it up) then if you exceed that 20K in anything 'it's on you "..I got a feeling there were more "dropped transmissions and blown up engines" in Ford Mustangs and Chevy Camero's than in Chevy or Ford 4 door sedans but not because the 4 doors had a weak transmission...got to look at who was driving.

I know Elmer Keith and "Skeeter" did huge development work and are revered in all things gun but for me...I'll stick with what the component and firearms manufacturers say and again...if I want bigger..I'll go bigger in caliber. I hear lots of talk about folks "proving" how hot they can push a 45 Colt and how it's way hotter than a 44 mag...why not get a 454 or 400 or 480? Safe, no hassles and plenty of power. Anything will blow up if it's pushed too hard...proves nothing to me.
 

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The original Vaquero is the same as a BH. Same cylinder, same internals, same base pin, same barrel .... just the cylinder frame has sights on the BH. No different. Now you debate ROLs all day if you should or shouldn't (they are in the manual ... and Linebaugh did do some testing ;) ) ... but the gun itself is the same.

The New Vaquero is on the medium frame and smaller cylinder. That we agree is not a suitable platform for ROLs.... But, it can handle significantly more pressure than the outdated SAMMI spec for .45 Colt. Instead of 14,000psi, we are talking 20,000psi according to say Brian Pearce. And I believe .45ACP is 21,000psi with +p being 23,000psi. I have two medium framed .45 convertible flattops for these calibers. Draw your own conclusions.

Does that mean you should push the envelope? You have to answer that question ... Opus is on the conservative side. I am in the middle somewhere as some of my loads are a bit over SAAMI to get up to around 1100fps (with HS-6). My everyday load with IMR 4227 is 983fps for a 250g RNFP bullet which I believe isn't much, if any, over SAAMI. I'll push the envelope ... but not the bleeding edge. Looking over the loads I have tested, I have never exceeded 1181fps in my large frame .45 Colt BH which I use as my test gun....
 

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If you want to shoot "Ruger only" or +P loads, you ought to buy a Blackhawk.

The "Convertible" Blackhawks are my favorite. Being able to shoot .45 ACP, .45 Colt, and .45 Colt +P is fantastic. The Blackhawk also has an adjustable rear sight which is fantastic as there's a very wide range of bullet weights and velocities between .45 ACP to .45 Colt +P. The Blackhawk isn't that much larger than the Vaquero.

However, a standard pressure .45 Colt is no slouch. With standard pressure (14,000 psi) .45 Colt, you can shoot a 200 gr. bullet at 1,000 FPS, 230 gr. bullet at 900 FPS, and a 250 gr. bullet at 850 FPS. With some powders, you can get a bit more velocity at standard pressure.

.45 Colt isn't limited to just "Cowboy Action" velocities.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for the replies. I think I will look for an old model Vaquero .45LC since that is what I really want, in either 5.5 or 4 5/8. Will post pictures if and when.
 

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Sounds good... You will be looking for an 'original' Vaquero in .45 Colt. :) Good hunting.
 

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[+P query content deleted] I sub-hijacked a hijacked thread, and then repented. Plus, I found my answer somewhere else.

An expedient answer to the dilemma posted by the OP is to get the Blackhawk. There are more of 'em out there.
 
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