I am dubious of the collector status of the original Vaqueros, but I sure love mine. I never shoot anything stronger than standard velocity .45 Colt through mine and both the plow handle and birdshead grips are comfortable to shoot. My general shooting handload is much stouter than powder-puff "Cowboy" loads but still very soft shooting in the beefy sixguns.
I collect Vaqueros. I prefer them over New Vaqueros for several reasons. First of all they don't make them any more. It's a finite set of items to collect. Second, I like all the different configurations. Seems like Ruger was more open to different versions than they are with New Vaqueros. Third, I like the way the large frame feels in my hand. Lastly, even though I don't shoot many Ruger Only loads I like that I can and I do every now and then.
Amongst my collection I have a consecutive pair very similar to the OP's except mine are blued and CCH. Same barrel length, plow handle grips and caliber. In fact all my Vaqueros and New Vaqueros are 45 Colt.
One nice thing about collecting Vaqueros is it won't break the bank. There's enough of them out there it won't cost you an arm and a leg to pick up a nice example in an unusual configuration.
The old model Vaquero is built on same frame as the Blackhawk, hence the stouter loads. Article I read said lot of Cowboy Competitors complained of the weight. So new Vaquero is smaller and lighter frame, has trigger reshaped to make easier to cock and the old style grip frame which some like better. Old style will be collective just like Old Model Blackhawks are. Just will not command the money due to number available. However, as new guns increase in price so do the older ones. Those are some real beauties.
It is a matter of taste. I am opposite of Bonk, in the sense, I prefer the New Vaquero for some of the reasons he likes the original Vaquero... Except for the Ruger Only Load criteria. But then, if I want to shoot 'heavy' that is what my Blackhawk .45s I have are for .
As for the original Vaquero being a collectable ... not really. I mean not like the 'rare' and 'pricey' category, Ie. Don't expect to cash in on the collection in the next few years. More like because you want to for fun. Nothing wrong with that! I only 'need' one Ruger Old Army ... but I have a set just because....
Collectable and accuracy are two words that have different meanings to different folks. I consider all guns collectable but not all guns have increased collector values. Most gun's value will track with about 75% of a same model new gun (assuming the gun is in "like new" condition) and because the retail value increases every year, the value of used guns also increase. To me, "collector value" has a special meaning, which is the extra value above and beyond a similar model due to scarcity or demand. A good example of "demand" would be the S&W Mod 29 when the Dirty Harry movie came out. These guns were not rare or even scarce but they had very high values because of demand from the movies. A gun owned by a celebrity (like Elvis) make them way more valuable than the same model not owned by a celebrity.
Vaqueros may fall in the "increased value" arena because some models were made in small quantities. My above 45 Convertible is a good example .... only about 500 were made and that makes them scarce and worth considerably more. Add to that the ability to shoot "Ruger Only" 45 Colt loads, 45 ACP loads and you have more value. I paid just $350 for my Vaquero Convertible (2002 price) and today it is worth about triple that amount, whereas a normal "old" Vaquero is worth about double its cost 20 years ago.
I use the term 'collect' very loosely. What it means to me is I like/prefer certain types of firearms and I acquire them in greater quantities than other firearms. I don't have one single firearm of any sort that qualifies as a legitimate collector piece or one that has collector value. Some people collect shot glasses. I collect original Vaqueros.
Wasn't aware of a New Vaquero .44 Magnum. Even if there is such a thing, it would have the same large frame as the original of course, but with the nice reverse indexing pawl.... So the newer one would be 'better' (in my books) if it exists.
The Ruger confusion factor at work .... the 44 Mag New Vaquero was marked "New Vaquero" and it has a 3-digit serial number prefix, whereas the original Vaquero had a 2-digit S/N prefix. Fact is, the New Vaquero 44 Mag is identical to the original Vaquero with the exception of the serial number prefix, the "New Vaquero" marking, and possibly the reversing pawl.
Thought that the New Vaqueros were a slightly smaller frame to match the Colt SAA. Cowboy action shooters old complaint about Rugers. Bought my DIL a New Model Birdshead .45 and it’s too small for my big paws. Raps my arthritic knuckles too bad. My full sized birdshead doesn’t. All of my other Vaqueros are old ones. Other than reducing the hammer springs, upgrading the grips and installing Blackhawk hammers they are stock. I shoot them duelist too.
Yes sir, large cylinder frame New Vaqueros in 44 mag DO exist-many thanks to TALO for making these happen. Check model 10596-shortie birdshead, 10598-shortie plow handle XR3-Red. They still show on Ruger Websit if you need further proof