Ruger New Vaquero Test, Part 4

Final Thoughts



I had heard on the SASS Wire that some people were complaining about the hammer for duelists. I did a comparison between this and my old Vaqueros, and I can reach the hammer closer to the first knuckle of my thumb than I can with the old guns. I shot some stages duelist and had no problems other than my usual inability to shoot.

If you can cock a Colt SAA, you should have no problems with this gun..

And shooting 2 handed certainly presented no problems


The ejector works quite well, and the cylinder lines up perfectly for ejection. This is an improvement over the old Vaquero.

I shot three matches with it using BP and allowed shooters to shoot up several hundred rounds of smokeless without one hiccup. I would like a pair in .357, stainless, 5.5". I would let Rowdy do his thing to slick it up, but I wouldn't change grips or anything else.

It should absolutely dominate SASS within a year or two. It has cured all of the complaints of the oversized old Vaquero, and it provides Ruger reliability to a Colt-sized gun. It's made in the USA with American workers. It doesn't obsolete old Vaqueros. If you like yours, keep them. I'm keeping my .45s. But when I get .38s, these are high on my list of choices.

Some Extras:

Goex Cowboy test

Desperado Cowboy Bullets test

Black Dawge .38 special ammunition test

Since I was shooting BP in the pistols, I loaded BP for the rifle and shotgun, no substitutes.

Goex Cowboy:

Goex has had much of the CAS black powder market. They've decided they want it all, and the way to get it is to make a powder that is better than the others for what we do. Cowboy is the result. It is a reformulated BP that is extremely clean and consistent, with very few "fines." I had used Goex Cowboy in the Ruger Old Armies recently in a side by side comparison with APP. One gun had APP, the other Goex Cowboy and a Wonder Wad or Circle Fly lubed felt wad. These wads come 1/2" thick, and you cut them into thirds if you're trying to save money over Wonder Wads at 7¢ each. The APP rounds smoked more. The Goex made more noise. Both guns went 6 stages without cleaning other than wiping off the cylinder face between stages when recharging. The Goex gun was marginally harder to clean.

For this test I substituted Goex Cowboy for APP in my .45 Colt loads. This required some BP bullets, as I shoot smokeless bullets with American Pioneer Powder (APP), a substitute that is generally easier to use than real BP or Hodgson 777, another substitute that, unfortunately, has too many restrictions and was designed for hunters, not CAS shooters. It is hot and needs to be downloaded, but generally their literature forbids it. Conveniently Old Number 4 had just sent me a box of .Desperado 200 gr. .452 Cowboy Bullets. The lube in these is "compatible with BP or smokeless.". I had tried them with 777 and APP and found them to be very accurate, but they're a long way from Houston, so I continued to use cheap local bullets.

Cowboy Bullets are soft lead and flat based. The claimed advantages are less splatter and thus less chance of a spectator or shooter being hit by it, and better accuracy due to the flat base. The lube groove, however, was standard smokeless size. I figured with a dirty BP like Elephant 2F, I would be lucky to go 10 rounds without loss of accuracy.

But I was using Goex Cowboy, and it had already proven itself cleaner than any other BP I had dealt with. I pretty much duplicated Black Dawge's "reduced recoil" loads, 16 gr. of Cowboy, Black Dawge filler, but, of course, the Cowboy Bullets instead of Black Dawge 235 gr. bullets. I weighed several bullets and found them quite consistent at about 201 gr. (Old IPSC shooters, used to having to make major caliber, appreciate bullets that are over rather than under. On the other hand, I always chronoed a power factor of 185 or so at matches, so I wasn't too worried about my bullets being a grain or two light. 170 or 175 was major when I was shooting IPSC back when dinosaurs ruled the earth.)

BP shooters complain about excessive fouling with straight-walled .45 Colt cartridges and a lot of blow back. I don't experience that with APP or 777, and I didn't with Goex Cowboy and these bullets.

How long till fouling?

When using new BP or BP subs, the first thing I do is to shoot them until they foul. So I fired 10 shot strings at a 50 yd target. The 4th string went to hell in a hand basket, and the last 2 rounds wouldn't hit a big 20 yd. target. So I sprayed Windex/Vinegar/Water down the bore and ran a Bore Snake through it, with a little Ballistol on the aft end of the Bore Snake. I also cleaned out the chamber and shell carrier (aluminum). Then I ran a Bore Snake through the gun after every other stage. Since I see a lot of BP shooters, including Red River Drifter, running a Bore Snake or a patch after each stage, I considered this more than acceptable. Bigger lube grooves might have given more rounds before fouling.

Do note this was a carbine with a 19" barrel. I didn't test (yet) in a 24" barreled rifle. I will when time permits. BP normally requires more lube in longer barrels.

Shotgun loads:

I substituted 55 gr. of Goex Cowboy for my usual loads, Red WAA12R wads, 1-1/4 oz. #7-1/2 shot, Winchester red AA hulls, Winchester 209 primers (this time). I cleaned the chambers after every stage as usual to get clean extraction. I think one round had to be shaken out during the day. The rounds knocked the knockdowns over cleanly and usually put the #$%! orange based poppers down so far even I could see the orange through the smoke. Usually I have no idea whether the poppers go down or not until the spotters tell me.

Windy Day:

Both matches were shot in a good side wind, so the smoke never clouded the target. Even so it seemed that the smoke was less with Goex than with APP.

Black Dawge .38 Special ammunition,

140 gr. lrnfp, Goex Cowboy. The first match I was cautious and cleaned the gun after every stage, then every other. The second match I went 4 stages between cleaning. The last match I shot 6 stages without cleaning. After 6 stages the bore looked as clean as a smokeless gun. One pass with a Bore Snake took care of the barrel and chambers. The recoil shield I cleaned with a toothbrush. The usual Windex solution and Ballistol were used. Both guns were done in 5 minutes.


If you're going to use real BP in CAS, use Cowboy in all your main match guns. It's not for your long range buffalo gun. If you're going to buy (real) BP ammo, Black Dawge ammo is good stuff. Desperado Cowboy Bullets work very well with both substitutes and the real BP, at least up to the 19" barreled carbine. I've had conversations with Pinto Annie at Desperado. They're going to start offering quantities of bullets that can be shipped in USPS $9.95 priority mail boxes. That's about 2000 rounds of .45/200. That'll make them reasonable for long distance purchases. Also note that the Black Dawge Ammunition, using Black Dawge bullets lubed with SPG, went an entire match. Using them with BP (not with subs, too expensive, unneccessary, maybe even counter-productive) gets a recommendation, too.

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