We took the guns to the Texas Historical Society's monthly match. I used Black Dawge .38 Black Powder Ammunition.
If anyone tells you Black Dawge .38s are wimpy, or that they don't smoke, whop him up side of his head with a can of Goex. That stuff was loud in the buildings, and THSS is nearly all in the buildings. The Corral was about the only outdoor stage.
The guns operated flawlessly. The first shot made on each gun was in the heat of battle. They shot pretty much to point of aim (still haven't had them on paper). Cocking pressure was light. The triggers were reasonable. The small grip fit my hand very well. I shot traditional (BP), but I had no trouble cocking them duelist style. A few people have complained they couldn't. Most people liked the size and grips better than Vaqueros, and there are a lot of Vaquero shooters in this club. I've noticed there are "clone clubs," and "Ruger clubs." In some areas, clones rule. Here Rugers rule. Every shooter in the posse got to fondle, er, handle them. One liked the grips on his Vaqueros better.
Loading and unloading were a snap. The ejector rod has an extra 1/4" or so of throw and kicks .38s out smartly. There's no need to shorten this base pin. The new pawl allows lining up the chamber and the ejector easily.
Because my usual guns are Ruger Old Armies, the holsters had apparently flattened up where the ejector rod needed to go. ROAs don't have ejector rods, of course. I had to switch to old holsters. I've corrected the problem by wet-molding the holsters last night around the New Vaqueros (protected in plastic bags)
After the shoot Texas Slick, THSS President, allowed us to use a shooting bay, and we let a long line of people shoot the guns. Everybody loved them. I couldn't elicit a complaint. One shooter told me he had to make a call Monday morning. I asked why, and he said, "To cancel an order for 2 _____s." (brand deleted.)
This lady went through the line twice in order to shoot again. The only giveaway that this is a Ruger is the hammer with no firing pin on it.
I figure I "sold" 75-100 gunswith no commission for same. I wasn't there to sell guns, just to get more imput for the article (though I'm sure Ruger wanted me to sell them). Questions about availability, barrel lengths, and calibers were numerous.
Blue ones are available now. Stainless ones will follow in January.
.357s come in 4-3/4" and 5-1/2".
.45s come in 4-3/4", 5-1/2", and 7.5"
The full-sized Vaquero will be phased out except in .44 mag form.
MSRP is $589. Street price seems to be in the 400s. Considering it's pretty much ready to go, that sounds like a good price.
Since I was shooting BP, and the bore hadn't been seasoned, and I hadn't tested the ammo/gun combination to see when accuracy started falling off, I swabbed the bore every stage except for the last 2. Then a couple of hundred smokeless rounds were fired. I had cleaned off the face of the cylinder and the base pin once after 4 stages. The gun never got gritty or hard to cock, signs of BP problems. I used water with Windex/Vinegar and later pure Ballistol on the patch. I ran patches through after the Windex until the patches came up clean, then a Ballistol patch, and it was black. So I ran dry patches until they were clean. I don't have a .38 bore snake (or much in the way of .38 cleaning equipment.)
Were they my guns I would shoot each gun for 5 shot groups up to 6 times, noting when the groups started opening up and/or the action started showing signs of fouling. Then you know how many stages you can go between cleanings.
I cleaned off the recoil shield with Windex/Vinegar, did a lot of toothbrushing of the frame, and oiled with Ballistol. For storage the guns are heavily oiled. I'll wipe them down before shooting.
I took off the grips. The new hammer spring is shown below with the lock. The neat thing about the lock is if you don't LOCK it, nothing happens. I didn't find a key in either gun case. Texans aren't required such things, fortunately. Personally, I can see no future for gun locks except tragedy. People will still shoot loved ones with "locked" guns, and will die when they need to repel boarders and find their gun locked. Keeping a gun in a locked case or safe makes sense. These things only make sense to Sarah Brady.
But don't blame Ruger. They want to sell guns in the silly states, and CAS shooters in those states want to be able to buy them. Figure one half of the price of guns today is due to the anti-gun lobby's efforts.
Even at that this gun is a bargain.
Ruger has been a dominant figure in SASS. I predict their dominance will increase. These are fantastic guns, exactly what CAS shooters need. The development that went into them had to be expensive, but I predict it will pay off. I would predict that within 5 years the majority of SASS guns will be Rugers. I'd like 2, 5-1/2", stainless, consecutively numbered. Hmm, this frame size for a New Old Army... I'd like a couple of those, too.
December 19, 2004
I'll bring the guns to the January 1 & 2 Tejas Pistoleros match. I have most of a case of Winchester ..38 CAS ammunition. Match participants will be given opportunities to shoot the guns after each match.
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