Ruger’s “New” Vaquero: A Shooters Review

Graumagus over at Frizzen Sparks was pretty irate that my first post on my recently acquired Ruger “New” Vaquero, (.45 Colt), didn’t have photos. Well, I’m rectifying that with this ‘Shooters Review’. Just remember that I’m not a professional gun writer, more’s the pity. I’d get to shoot more!
(Gods! Graumagus is getting grumpy in his old age…)

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The first thing you notice when you pick up one of these “new” Vaqueros is the huge difference that 20% makes. That is the difference between the frame of the standard Blackhawk and this resurrected “Old Model” grip frame. Yep, the “New” Vaquero is made with “Old” model sized frames. Confusing, ain’t it? Well, only to the mind. The hand understands immediately! If you can forgive the overexposed photo, you can see just how well the weapon fits in my paw. My hands aren’t all that huge either. I do wear a size “large” glove, but that’s not unusual. Further, Lady Beth considers this grip to be a tremendous improvement over even the RugerBird’s Head” grip frame. This .45 (Long) Colt was also fired by Lady Beth’s younger sister, my oldest daughter, and my 10 year old son, Jake, with no problems what-so-ever. Methinks Ruger got it right. What took so long?

Note: All thumbnails shown in the articles on this blog may be ‘clicked’ to see a larger version of the photo.

Looking closer at the revolver you notice the added bevel on the forward end of the cylinder. Look again. You note that the cylinder itself is shorter than previous models. That 20% shrinkage occurs everywhere, it seems, save for the bore. This is no big cause for concern unless you plan to hunt with the gun using massive 325+ grain cast bullets and heavy powder charges. If so, you may find the loads too long for the gun thereby jamming the cylinder! Also, if you’ve been shooting an older Vaquero or Blackhawk, and roll your own loads, remember that this gun isn’t necessarily quite as strong. Yes, it is still a Ruger, but it is built lighter than the others to fill a niche. Be smart or someone will make Ruger cover the entire barrel with warnings!
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Other changes I noticed were that the hammer spur has been swept back more making the beastie easier to cock. Not as easy as on a Bisley, but better in my hand than either the older model Rugers or a Colt. The ejector rod knob is now a crescent type like the old Colts and is much easier on both the hand and the eye. Speaking of ejector rods, the housing is steel on mine. So is the grip frame. Yippee! My only complaint of Ruger single actions through the years has been those bloody aluminum housings and grip frames. It was like putting bias-ply snow tires on a Corvette. Might be practical, but damned ugly. Aluminum invariably loses its finish with the slightest wear and dings far too easy in the field. I’d have been happy with brass in the grip frame, too. Still dings, but it is supposed to look like brass. Aluminum dressed up like blued steel is still just aluminum. Oh yeah! Check out those “hard rubber” grip panels. A nice touch,eh? They seem to be a tad thinner than other Ruger panels a the base. They afford one a fantastic hold on the piece and look like a step back in time to the Peacemaker days. A great choice. The sights are superior in groove width and blade thickness to any of the other traditionally sighted single actions I’ve handled. Fit and finish on the “New” Vaquero exceeds anything I’ve had on Rugers before – and I’ve owned a few over the years.

Now I come to something that has, fortunately, seen little negative press or comments on the forums: the built-in, key operated, action lock-out safety device.
When you open the box on your new Ruger you’d never guess there even is such a device in there anywhere. Yet the Owner’s Manual clearly defines it, its operation, and how to gain easy access. They even supply two small keys with the gun. They look very much like small handcuff keys, but handcuff keys will not work. I tried just for the hell of it. (Why do I have a handcuff key? Never you mind!) If the shooter choses to ignore the device, he or she could go through life never even seeing it. Access to the device is gained by removing the right hand grip panel. The keys have a properly sized flat screwdriver blade cast onto them for this action. The you merely insert the hollow end of the key into the device and turn it 180 degrees. The gun is now locked. When engaged the weapon may be loaded or unloaded via the gate, but the hammer can not be brought back even a fraction of an inch. It is solidly locked in the down and safe position. The manual gives step-by-step instructions for drilling a small hole in the right hand grip panel so that the lock may be accessed without removing grip panels each time. The gang at Ruger has even cast in a dimple on the inside surface of that panel to located the correct spot to drill.
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Now I know most folks will cry at the thought of drilling holes in a brand new guns grips, but I’ve got three children in my home under the age of five. Their biological father is a cop as well, and the twin boys have a facination with guns because of that fact. They are good kids and understand what they can and can’t touch. However, boys will be boys. This is also my “carry” piece so it will spend most of its time out of the safe.
I drilled the hole within an hour of bringing the gun home.
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Drilling a hole for the extra added measure of safety for my kids is a small price to pay. Besides, from a couple of feet away the hole is hardly noticable. It shows up pretty well in these photos due to the flash on the bright metal of the locking device. A few bucks sent to Ruger will get you a fresh pair of panels should it ever becomes a resale issue.

Let me tell you about shooting this thing. She is SWEET! I had no scale to measure the trigger pull, but comparing it to my Single Six’s 2 lb trigger, I’d guess this one to be perhaps three – fresh out of the box! The reverse indexing pawl helps make loading a simple chore, though a free-spin pawl might still be better. I’m debating this point with myself even now. At a range of approx. 25 feet it was shooting darn near point of aim with 255 grain cast lead Cowboy loads.
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Grouped tight, too. I was shooting offhand, standing, in failing light and still grouped the first six rounds through the gun into a spot the size of my palm while switching between right and left hand each shot! Pointablility was unbelieveable! You practically only need to think of your target to put a big .45 slug on it! This thing will make an awesome personal defense weapon if you have the stones to drop your 9mm spray-gun and go for the one-round stop.

To sum it all up, Ruger’s “New” Vaquero is everthing they claim it to be and more. Much more! If you’ve been shooting the older Vaquero’s in SASS/CAS events, then go ahead and make the change. Now! (Keep those others for shooting the heavy hunting loads at retired appliances.) I like this one so much I’m sure I want another to match it even though I may not actually get into Cowboy Action Shooting. As its use as a personal/household defense weapon, believe me, you’ll never feel under-gunned with this piece. Call your dealer now and get yours on its way pronto. Better yet, order a pair with matched serial numbers. Wish I had done that, but the deal I found at the gun show could not be turned down.
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I consider single actions the safest and most accurate and reliable of handguns for any shooting need. Add in a half dozen extra rounds; a Cold Steel blade, (or two); a Zippo lighter; and a few feet of decent cord and you are prepared for anything that can come along. I do mean anything! Generally speaking, I’m right-handed, but I prefer to shoot handguns lefthanded. That frees the right hand for a cross-draw pull of my Cold SteelMini Gurkha Light Kukri“. To that end I have a left hand “Tombstone Speed Rig” being made even as we speak by El Paso Saddlery. I can’t wait to match the Vaquero to the left-hand draw shoulder rig. Can it get any better than that?

That wraps up my notes on the new revolver. I hope you readers find it helpful.

Omar, out.

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About Bull

I am, first and foremost, the faithful husband of my wife, Beth. I am also the father to six wonderful kids, an American Gun-Owner, a priest (a Pagan variety), a Craftsman, a history buff (Scottish and American History primarily), a Freemason, and a US Navy Veteran. Due to simple bad luck in the gene sequence, I'm now disabled with multiple spinal issues. My previous career was in Property Management where I specialized in bringing problem apartment communities back to profitability. I once also built flintlock rifles, powder horns, and other items for hunters and Living History re-enactors. Today, I write, read, and do all I can to get The Truth out to my Community about Child Molesters, thieving local politicians, and Left-wing Liberal Loonies. When not involved in the above mentioned fight, I shoot as much as possible as a relaxation exercise.
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6 Responses to Ruger’s “New” Vaquero: A Shooters Review

  1. Graumagus says:

    I love color case hardening on firearms!

    That’s one damn fine looking shooting iron, but even as practical as the hard rubber grips are my brain keeps tossing up images of how that piece would look with some custom rosewood or tiger maple grips….

    The integrated child lock is good idea, but I oppose making gun manufacturers retrofit their existing product lines with them. Many less popular firearms that still see enough sales to make a profit may go bye-bye when the manufacturers have to weigh in the costs of retooling a production line.

  2. patrick says:

    I have a 357 new vaquero, which i load up with full load buffalo bores. The gun is gorgeous, the handling is smooth as can be, and my groupings are all fighting for the same hole. I didn’t get the 45, because I wanted to be able to load up full boat factory loads, and you can do it with the 357, which is no slouch. Have a nice holster, and the gun is fun to draw and spin a little. I think, as a piece of machinery, it is a work of art. Anyone thinking of buying this gun should just go and do it. You will be happy. I got the 5 1/2 barrel, and it is gorgeous. Hang it on the wall and stare at it — grab it once in a while and learn to spin and holster it, then take it hunting and down a 400lb boar with one shot of a Buffalo Bore hard cast bullet.

  3. Jim says:

    I recently purchased the Ruger 357 New
    Vaquero and love it. My problem is I can not find rubber grips for it. Any suggestions,

  4. martin says:

    nice positiv article I’m thinking of buying one in 357 too just a little concern of the durabillity of the finnish Greetings from the Netherlands

  5. Scott Hancock says:

    Excellent review ! Perhaps the metal under the keyhole could be blued or browned to make it less visible.

  6. Terry Glass says:

    Wonderful review, aside from what a person’t politics may or may not be. We all can’t be liberal gun toting, buying, and shooting fanatics…I am getting my arse down to my dealer to order to buy one in stainless steel. I’m thinking that I might as well go for the .357, as it’s cheaper to shoot, and, after all, that’s a good reason to trade in one of the .45 Sigs!

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