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Ruger Vaquero New Model--Performance Review

Aug 17, 2007
The Ruger Vaquero has undoubtedly become the king of the single action revolvers. First introduced in 1992, the Vaquero was an adaptation of the Blackhawk frame with the same trigger, action, and hammer but was designed for the fast draw of Cowboy action shooting with fixed sights and smooth edges. The Vaquero has grown rapidly in popularity due to its rugged construction and affordable price tag. If you attend any major SASS event, the Ruger Vaquero will be the common carry gun of a majority of competitors and observers.

Ruger has always demonstrated excellent marketing analysis and have been able to capitalize on the insight. The Vaquero was perfectly designed to match a niche in an exploding market. Cowboy action shooters were looking for a new firearm which was affordable, accurate, and reliable. The most common gun prior to 1992 was the Colt the SAA. The Colt has history back into the 1800s when Sam Colt began his first production line of revolvers. However, in the 20th century, the Colt Single Action Army was sometimes difficult to get, expensive to buy, and a reputation for weak springs which tended to give out under the duress of rapid fire competition. It was often thought the ideal gun would be profile of the colt with the lockwork of Ruger. We finally have it.

The original Vaqueros were Hybrid Blackhawks with cosmetic designs and deburred edges. While it had the appearance of a Single Action 19th century handgun, it still lacked something. The new model Vaqueros are no longer hybrids, but rather a model line all of its own. Ruger has taken all of legendary strength of the Blackhawk frame and action and then slimmed down the profile to match that of the old-world Colt Single Action Army. This truly is a 21st century handgun will all of the look and feel of yesteryear.

The first thing ruger did was to slim the profile of the handle and frame. Like the Colt, the handle not longer feels large in hand. It is quickly acquired from either the hip holster or crossdraw holster and slimmer handle allows for increased control when rapidly firing. The slimmer handle also appeals to smaller shooters, like women who are actively increasing in CASS shooting competitions. Ruger also recognized the competition niche of the Vaquero so the wood grips were replaced with a better gripping checkered hard rubber.

Change always come with loss and in this case it is the 44 magnum caliber. The slimmer profiled of the new model Vaquero will not accommodate the power of the 44 and will not be produced. The Vaquero is now only available in 357 mag/38 Special and 45 Long Colt. Due to cost and regulations, both of these calibers have seen increasing usage and sales.

I was fortunate to enough to give one a test and found the gun to be extremely practical and great for action shooting. It fits the hand great and allows for increased control especially with my less-than-large hand size. The gun also cycles flawlessly, especially in rapid fire target acquistion from a hip holster. Having a matched set or even 3 of them makes for the ideal action set up and provides an authentic appearance when partaking in CASS events.

The Ruger Vaquero is the undisputed champion of the common Single Action Competitor. The new Model Vaquero is another chapter in the Legend of Ruger and will be known as the crowning moment when the Vaquero became a pistol of its own.
About the Author
Kelsey Hilderbrand is an avid shooter, hunter, collector, outdoor writer, and founder of High Mountain Hunting Supply
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