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Omega47
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Posted: July 11 2009 at 8:46pm | IP Logged Quote Omega47

I just found a really nice stainless Vaquero (1997 vintage) and was wondering what type of loads this revolver can handle? I know many people use cowboy type loads with lead bullets but would it serve any purpose to try some jacketed loads or hunting loads? This is the fixed rear sight (trough) so it really isn't going to be accurate past 25 yards or so, but I'd be interested in trying some different loads for it. I know the newer Vaqueros have lighter frames, but since this is the older beefy frame, I'm wondering what I can do.

Also, since I'm casting bullets now, any good mold and load suggestions would also be appreciated.

Thanks as always.

Mark
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lovesrugers
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Posted: July 11 2009 at 8:53pm | IP Logged Quote lovesrugers

You can use any .45 Colt load listed for use in the Ruger Blackhawk. Your hand will most likely give out before the gun ever does.

An old standard load that will work is 8-10 grains of Unique with a 250-255 gr lswc.

Jerry
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STCM(SW)
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Posted: July 11 2009 at 9:13pm | IP Logged Quote STCM(SW)

I use 10 gr of Unique with a KSWC, 272 gr,
Shoots low & will find out what the MV is tomorrow with the Crony.

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Omega47
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Posted: July 11 2009 at 9:20pm | IP Logged Quote Omega47

OK, so stay with lead. All the bullets I have now are lead round nose but I was thinking of finding a mold for LSWC. I've got plenty of primers and Unique on hand so we're good to go on that front.
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Raven
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Posted: July 11 2009 at 9:49pm | IP Logged Quote Raven

I found one of those older Vaqueros last year with a 4.62 barrel that use it primarily for plinking. It will shoot consistently inside centered 3 inch groups at 25 yds with 230 gr wheel weights loaded around 750 fps and is a delight to shoot; with hardball lead, these can be souped up to around 1000 fps and still shoot to the same point of aim with impressive results. The Vaquero has done well with 200-300 grain bullets, jacked or lead, once you find the sweet spot for your powder. At the other extreme, 18 gr of 2400 behind a jacketed 300 gr bullet will shoot 3 inch groups too, just a few inches higher. You just need to work the combinations, but bear in mind that with these heavy bullets, the gun will torque to the left if you don't hold it firmly it may shoot left to varying degrees with different loads for that reason.

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Omega47
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Posted: July 11 2009 at 10:23pm | IP Logged Quote Omega47

I use wheel weight lead, so if you can point me to a mold, that would be helpful. I prefer Lee due to the cheap price point. I'm not into killing myself with heavy loads any more. Maybe 30 years ago, but these days, I'd rather shoot 200-500 light load rounds having fun plinking than try to out-do some other yahoo in a shooting contest. I won a bunch of Casul .454s and S&W 29s back in the day when I was a young buck and would shoot for "pink slips" but not any more. Too old and worn out for that type of stuff.   

Just out to have fun with my wife, destroy some targets and enjoy the smell of burning powder

BTW - this one is the 4" barrel polished stainless steel version.

Edited by Omega47 on July 11 2009 at 10:24pm
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Omega47
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Posted: July 11 2009 at 10:27pm | IP Logged Quote Omega47

One more question....

Is this gun suitable to carry for "animal control" while hiking? We have a lot of bear around here. Mostly they just avoid us, and I do carry pepper spray, but I'd like to have something "just in case".

If so, what cartridge/bullet/load would you use?   

If not, I guess I'm still on the lookout for an affordable .44 Mag
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lovesrugers
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Posted: July 11 2009 at 10:42pm | IP Logged Quote lovesrugers

You don't need to restrict yourself to cast bullets. It should shoot jacketed bullets just fine. However using something like a Hornady XTP to plink with would really make shooting it expensive.

One thing you may want to check on is the cylinder throat diameter on each chamber. Ruger .45 Colts from that time frame are notorious for having tight throats that are not conductive to cast bullet accuracy. If your throats are like mine they may measure .450" or less. Ideally they should measure .452" or so. I know why in the heck would Ruger sell a gun that is meant to be used primarily in a sport that requires the use of lead bullets that won't shoot it's best with them? It is because they used the same machinery to produce both the Blackhawk and Vaquero cylinders. In the end if you do have tight throats the problem is easily cured by opening them up to the proper size. You can do this yourself with the proper tools or just have a gunsmith do it.

Of course before doing any of that just shoot the gun first and see how it does. Jacketed bullets wont' care if the throats are a bit tight. Lead bullets though may group terribly because of this or lead the forcing cone area of the barrel badly.

Just saw your latest post as I was typing this out. Yes this gun and the .45 Colt are capable of Bear control. With the proper load it can equal and exceed the 44 magnum in some cases. For some ideas on load data just look at what Hodgdons lists for the heavy loads meant for a Ruger:
Hodgdon reloading data center
If it were me I would go with a bullet of 300 grains or above and most likely cast. Looking over Hodgdons Ruger only .45 Colt data and you can easily see that velocities of around 1,200 fps+ are possible.

Jerry


Edited by lovesrugers on July 11 2009 at 10:43pm
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Raven
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Posted: July 12 2009 at 8:36am | IP Logged Quote Raven

Omega,

My plinking load of choice (low blast & recoil, accurate and easy cleanup) is 5.2 gr Red Dot (I will probably switch to Clays when I can get some for better metering) with a Lee 230 TC/TL and LLA lube crimped on the last lube groove. The alloy is scavenge ratio wheel weights; 1 part pure lead to 4 parts clip-on lead with an additional ounce of tin per 10 lb pot. I get consistent bullets in the .453-.454 range that shoot well sized or not from a 2 cavity mold (not so consistent with a 6 cavity mold). Comment on throats above is important to note. I opened mine a little and polished them with 600 grit paper on a dowel; they are all now a highly polished .4525 +/- .0002 and will shoot 2 inch groups at 25 yds if you can hold it tight enough. The beauty of the 230 gr bullet is that with different hardnesses, you can load it over a broad range of velocities (700-1000 fps in your gun) and it will still shoot to the same point of impact, where a heavier bullet will climb with velocity over most of their range. Good luck.

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Rod WMG
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Posted: July 12 2009 at 9:49am | IP Logged Quote Rod WMG

I personally would rather use a DA than a SA for your purpose, but I would use one of my SA's if I had to.

A few loads work very well for me in .45 Colt, with Unique being excellent. With a 250 gr. commercial cast FP or SWC, 8.5 gr. is good and 9.3 is outstanding. With a Mt. Baldy 265 gr. SWC I got years ago 8.3 gr. is very good.

With the same 255 gr. bullets, HS-6 shows up well. 11.3 gr. groups very well.

The 255 gr loads all use Win. LP primes and the 265 gr. SWC was with CCI350.

With a 250 XTP and the Win primer 22.0 gr. of IMR 4227 was excellent in my Ruger Redhawk.    

Check all loads against a trusted manual(s). These are safe in my guns, but you should determine if they're okay for yours.

Good luck (and I don't believe in "luck." )           ;    
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adirondakjack
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Posted: July 12 2009 at 11:01am | IP Logged Quote adirondakjack

In your vaquero (not to be confused with the new vaquero, a smaller gun of recent manufacture), ANY "Ruger ONLY load given by reputable sources is fine. IT IS a Super Blackhawk for all intents and purposes, and just as strong (they made em in .44 mag, so think about it).

Ya want some whoopass, try a 300 grain Lee GC bullet and 21 grains of H110, or the same dose with a 250 grain XTP. HANG on, and if ya got soft, office workers hands, wear a glove.

For a little tamer, but still stout load, 10 grains of Unique and a garden variety 250 lead bullet will give around 1100 fps and plenty of smack for almost any purpose you can imagine.
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Paul B.
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Posted: July 12 2009 at 11:14am | IP Logged Quote Paul B.

Before I would even consider giving out any loads for a .45 Colt Ruger Vaquero, I would want to know which version of the Vaquero you have? There are two you know, one based on the heavier Super Blackhawk frame and the other in a more light weight Colt type frame. Suggesting that the gun can handle .44 Magnum type loads is true if the gun is on the heavy frame, but NOT on the lighter frame.
Bullet weight is also a factor. While a 300 gr. bullet sounds like a winning proposition, I'm here to say that that bullet will be shooting way high. My Bisley Vaqueros in .44 magnum and .45 Colt are both 6 to 8 inches high at 25 yards with the rear sight as low as I can adjust it. If bullets that heavy are required, then the front sight must be made taller. I'd hate like hell to have to figure out the "Kentucky elevation" during the heat of the moment while tangling with a bear that has mayhem on his mind.
The Colt .45 can be effective bear protection even in a relatively weak gun such as a current modet of the Colt Single Action, which BTW is what I've gone to while hiking in Black Bear and Mountain Lion country. It's not as heavy to carry like the magnum based Rugers.
My choice of bullet is the RCBS #45-255-SWC, a very close copy of Elmer Keith's design. cast of my alloy and water quenched, it's one penetrating bullet. The hottest load I'm comfortable with in the Colt (3rd Generation model) is 9.0 gr. of Unique. I'd like to find one of those lighter weight Rugers as I think I could up the charge a tiny bit for a bit more punch, but I'm happy where I'm at.
My Vaquero is marked something like Super Blackhawk Vaquero and has the 5.5" barrel. I have shot some very stiff loads with the Lyman #457191 a nominally 292 gr. bullet that weighs 310 gr. in my alloy with W-296. I size it to .454" and while it's accurate, it does shoot high. It also kicks enough to get you attention.So,I just use the RCBS bullet mentioned which I like very much.
Paul B.
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ArchAngelCD
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Posted: July 12 2009 at 1:52pm | IP Logged Quote ArchAngelCD

Omega47 wrote:
One more question....

Is this gun suitable to carry for "animal control" while hiking? We have a lot of bear around here. Mostly they just avoid us, and I do carry pepper spray, but I'd like to have something "just in case".

If so, what cartridge/bullet/load would you use?   

If not, I guess I'm still on the lookout for an affordable .44 Mag

I have the same revolver but with a Bisley grip frame. Mine was made just before Ruger stopped making the original Vaquero in favor of the New Vaquero. You can load then right up to .44 Magnum performance so there's no reason to buy a .44 Magnum unless you just want one. For woods carry a 255gr SWC bullet driven to over 1200 fps will take care of most anything that you would come up against in the woods. That load is mighty powerful medicine for most ailments...
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Omega47
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Posted: July 12 2009 at 2:17pm | IP Logged Quote Omega47

Sweet. Thanks for the tips. From what I understand, this is the heavy frame "Blackhawk" version of the Vaquero (1977 vintage).
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adirondakjack
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Posted: July 12 2009 at 9:50pm | IP Logged Quote adirondakjack

The "Vaquero" (read the barrel) is built on the super blackhawk platform. They were made up until about three years ago.


The "New Vaquero" (read the barrel) is an entirely different gun built on it's own smaller platform. "Ruger Only" loads are NOT safe in the small "New Vaquero" which has only been made about 3 or 4 years.

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ArchAngelCD
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Posted: July 13 2009 at 2:03pm | IP Logged Quote ArchAngelCD

Quote:
From what I understand, this is the heavy frame "Blackhawk" version of the Vaquero (1977 vintage).

Correct, the original Vaquero is built on the heavy frame until 2005 when Ruger switched to the New Vaquero which is on the smaller frame more the size of the Colt SAA. The Cowboy action shooters were looking for the Ruger reliability but they wanted the smaller frame. That's one of the reasons they went to the New Vaquero. I like them both and own both. The New Vaquero does feel better in the hand when shooting Cowboy Action (I have 2 in 38/357) but I wouldn't want to be without my original Vaquero in .45 Colt.
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STCM(SW)
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Posted: July 13 2009 at 11:59pm | IP Logged Quote STCM(SW)

Am having the cylinder opened up after slugging it.
It is .450, not good.
Gunsmith is going to open the chambers to .452/3

Edited by STCM(SW) on July 14 2009 at 12:00am


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adirondakjack
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Posted: July 14 2009 at 7:22am | IP Logged Quote adirondakjack

STCM(SW) wrote:
Am having the cylinder opened up after slugging it.
It is .450, not good.
Gunsmith is going to open the chambers to .452/3


That was common until about 5 yrs ago. Believe it or not, accuracy will be ok so long as the throats are equal. My BH has .450.5 or so throats, but I polished them until a jacketed bullet passed through backwards would stop at exactly the same place in each. Shoots one-hole groups if I do my part. More recently, Ruger uses the same reamer on each chamber, (no more gang drilling and reaming), so the throats are now equal.
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Saint Dennis
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Posted: July 14 2009 at 2:51pm | IP Logged Quote Saint Dennis

Paul B - How in the heck do you adjust your sights on a Bisley Vaquero? With a file?
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Posted: July 14 2009 at 4:33pm | IP Logged Quote Buffalogun

Saint Dennis

Not stealing Paul's thunder, but on a fixed sight revolver the barrel(not the sight) is turned left or right to fix the windage and the front sight, along with load adjustment is used to fix elevation.


Mike

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