Monday, February 05, 2007
Ruger Vaquero .45 Colt
The Vaquero is a single action revolver utilizing a transfer bar between the hammer and firing pin, enabling safe carry with the hammer down on a loaded chamber. As with any single action cocking is accomplished by bringing the hammer to the full back position. The hammer has only two positions, cocked and hammer down. Loading and unloading is done with the hammer down, the loading gate cannot be opened with the hammer back nor the hammer drawn back with the loading gate open.
This model has fixed sights, blade front and a groove in the upper frame for the rear and a six inch barrel. The gun is strong, well balanced, and the fit and finish is excellent. The barrel and cylinder are blued, the frame is case hardened finish. Case hardened finish is not as durable as bluing so more care in cleaning is required.
Dry firing will not harm the mechanism, though when purchasing this gun I dry fired with my thumb on the hammer to avoid "snapping" it. Until I actually fired the gun I was impressed with the trigger pull. At the range firing single handed I found myself pulling to the left, the trigger pull was not overly heavy but there seemed to be a hitch in the middle of the pull. Firing with a two handed grip cured the pulling but left me dissatisfied. In later conversations with the clerk I learned that Brownell makes a spring kit for the Vaquero which eases the trigger pull and hammer draw which he indicated frequently solved this issue. At around $20 for the spring kit and a revolver that had not been back out of its box for nearly a year it seemed worth the chance.
Re-springing this revolver requires near total dis-assembly and a great deal of care not to mar the gun or lose parts that are involved with springs which can toss them quite aways. The springs involved are XR00400 mainspring and XR03700 trigger spring which can be seen in the exploded drawing. The process of dis-assembly and reassembly should not be undertaken without the manual, which is available from Ruger if you do not have one.
I was quite prepared to be disappointed and have to take a trip to a gunsmith so you can imagine my delight to find that the kit had cured all the ills. The revolver went from a gun I was disinclined to shoot at all to one of my favorites. It does not match my Uberti SAAs for point with my hands but it is a great gun to shoot. The recoil with 250gr loads is quite manageable, with 300gr P+P it is just tolerable, but at that level you are reaching 1200fps muzzle velocity with a quite heavy round. That round at a reasonable range is suitable for deer, elk, or black bear. The round is unsuitable for SAA Colts and replicas and S&Ws, Rugers and TCs only.
Because this revolver uses an old cartridge, the .45 Colt is well into its second century of use, and it is a single action it is suitable for cowboy action shooting. I only use it for general shooting and hunting but in its current configuration I would recommend it to any shooter. Although I have included an exploded drawing, right click on either and follow link, I strongly discourage re-springing without a manual.