Pistols for Cowboy Action Shooting
by Donald Burger, Attorney at Law

I use two stainless steel Ruger Vaqueros, in 45 Long Colt. Barrel length is 4-5/8 inches on both. I purchased the Vacqueros because they are stout, and can take the repeated shooting one does at cowboy action matches.

There are four disadvantages to the Rugers. (1) They are about 10% oversized from a Colt Peacemaker. (2) They are heavy in the holster. (3) The grips are large for my (small) sized hands. (4) They are 45 caliber, and retail ammo is not cheap. None of theses disadvantages are major, and there is no doubt that the Vacqueros are very popular among CAS shooters, and live up to their great reputation among shooters.

I have learned a thing or two about the Vaqueros since buying them. One thing is that a little work by a gunsmith will make them much easier to use at a match. The one modification everyone should do is to change out (or have a gunsmith change out) the main spring that is under the grips. That spring comes from the factory at 23 pounds of pull to cock the hammer. I recommend you change it out for a 17 pound spring. You will be amazed at the difference.

Another thing you can do is polish out the cylinders so the empties come out a bit easier. Few stages in cowboy action shooting call for reloading under the clock, but some do. And even if the stage doesn't require unloading, you always have to unload when finished. Six stages times two guns is twelve times (minimum) each match that you will struggle getting those empties out. Give this modification some consideration.

Last revised May 31, 2004

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