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Ruger Tinkerer
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I was talking about case color frame SA revolvers with a good friend and it turns out he has a really nice older Vaquero that was purchased new in 1999 and has never been fired. He let me take some pictures to post here to see if we can glean any further information about it. While we both agree it's not likely it is anything particularly rare it is rather striking with the gold engraving on the cylinders.

Catalog number is BNV-455-IE, Model 00588, .45 Colt







The photo above and below shows that the hammer has a "blue" finish on the top, spur and back. Was this typical on all blued Vaqueros?



Note the "blue" finish on the trigger (below photo), both front and back but not sides (matches hammer.)





Hand etched numbers on the face of the cylinder (below photo) match the last four digits of serial number. We assume this allowed the engraver to keep track of which cyclinder was fitted to which revolver.



Other questions we had - were these engravings done by hand or some type of machine stamping/etching? What is the gold colored material? Presumably not actual gold but what - gold paint?

Any insights or additional info greatly appreciated.

Never been fired.....hmmmmm.... bet it shoots real good!

Wave
 

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Retired Moderator & Gunsmith
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Wave, What you have is a "limited edition" heavy frame Vaquero. I believe there were only 1000 made ... maybe less. The gold engraving on the cylinder was machine made roll marks filled with a material much like "Bonanza Gold", which is similar to fingernail polish. The color case finish on the cylinder frame is an ink process covered with clear coat, not a heat treatment like a true color case. The grips are "faux ivory" ... meaning a micarta type plastic.

Nearly all Ruger SA revolvers have the last 3 digits of the serial number etched on the front cylinder face. Each cylinder is hand fitted to the frame and marked before the gun is blued so it will get married up with the right frame afterwards.

Triggers and hammers on all blued SA models have "bare metal" sides with blued ends.

These "limited edition" Vaqueros are somewhat scarce. Value wise, the Blue Book of Guns shows $550 for a normal blued/color case Vaquero in 100% condition plus a $150 add for this model, making the total value about $700, providing the gun has never been fired. I've found values in the Blue Book of Guns are geared more for trade-in value so this gun would probably retail at a dealer for at least $800. If this gun gets fired, the value will drop to about $500~600.
 

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Ruger Tinkerer
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11,898 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Wave, What you have is a "limited edition" heavy frame Vaquero. I believe there were only 1000 made ... maybe less. The gold engraving on the cylinder was machine made roll marks filled with a material much like "Bonanza Gold", which is similar to fingernail polish. The color case finish on the cylinder frame is an ink process covered with clear coat, not a heat treatment like a true color case. The grips are "faux ivory" ... meaning a micarta type plastic.

Nearly all Ruger SA revolvers have the last 3 digits of the serial number etched on the front cylinder face. Each cylinder is hand fitted to the frame and marked before the gun is blued so it will get married up with the right frame afterwards.

Triggers and hammers on all blued SA models have "bare metal" sides with blued ends.

These "limited edition" Vaqueros are somewhat scarce. Value wise, the Blue Book of Guns shows $550 for a normal blued/color case Vaquero in 100% condition plus a $150 add for this model, making the total value about $700, providing the gun has never been fired. I've found values in the Blue Book of Guns are geared more for trade-in value so this gun would probably retail at a dealer for at least $800. If this gun gets fired, the value will drop to about $500~600.
Thanks Iowegan - I will pass along the info. It's a nice looking revolver but I was kind of struck by the "fakery" (poor choice of words I know) - faux gold, faux case color and faux ivory. But then if was all real it would be a $3000 revolver instead of a $600 - $800 piece. Not wanting to sound harsh - it's a fine looking gun.

The bluing on the hammer and trigger had us wondering - good to know this was standard finish. It's a nice touch and blends everything in.

I only have two SA Rugers - a New Vaquero and older Blackhawk. I checked the cylinders on those and I found the last three digits of the serial number on the face of the cylinder on New Vaquero but it was nicely hand etched near the center. My old Blackhawk didn't have any numbers I could find. This engraved Vaquero has the last four digits etched in the cylinder face out near the flutes so they are plainly visible (as you can see in the photos). Three digits near the center is much more discreet.

Thanks also for your input regarding values. I was suggesting we shoot this gun and give it a go but seeing the value drop by $200 I'm not pressing the idea any further. He's kept it NIB for 13 years now so that's OK.

Again, thank you for your help in understanding what this Vaquero is. I told my friend this was the place to get some answers.

Wave
 

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Retired Moderator & Gunsmith
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Wave, I was faced with a similar dilemma when I bought my Vaquero in 2002. It's a Davidson's Special Edition heavy frame 45 Colt/45 ACP convertible in the shiny stainless finish. Only 500 were made. Do I shoot it or do I "safe queen" it? After owning it for a couple years, I couldn't stand it anymore so off to the range I went. I figure that first shot cost me some denero but it was well worth it. The shiny stainless models clean up very well so my Vaquero still looks like new. (see photo below)

I didn't want to sound negative but indeed these "faux" Vaqueros are made more for looks than serviceability. They are very strong guns capable of shooting "Ruger Only" loads and are quite accurate. The issues are not mechanical, rather .... the "faux" color case ink will rust very easily if the clear coat is worn off or removed by solvents. I suspect the "gold" in the engraving would disappear with normal cleaning too. Micarta grips look very nice but scratch easily. These guns do make a great safe queen and will increase in value every year.

 

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Ausmerican.
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Both nice revolvers, guys.
Makes mine look like a plain jane.
 

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Ruger Tinkerer
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wave, I was faced with a similar dilemma when I bought my Vaquero in 2002. It's a Davidson's Special Edition heavy frame 45 Colt/45 ACP convertible in the shiny stainless finish. Only 500 were made. Do I shoot it or do I "safe queen" it? After owning it for a couple years, I couldn't stand it anymore so off to the range I went. I figure that first shot cost me some denero but it was well worth it. The shiny stainless models clean up very well so my Vaquero still looks like new. (see photo below)

That's a beauty! It would be hard to own that one and not shoot it often. I can see why you gave in.
 

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I found one of these at a gun store a couple of years ago. It was new and I liked it at first sight. I made a cash offer on it and it was accepted. I've fired it once to make sure the sights were on the money and they were. I didn't realize only 500 of these were made.

 

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All nice ... shooters :) . Enjoy 'em!
 
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