It would/will (?) be a very sad day indeed if USFA goes under. I've got an older Rodeo .44 Sp that I had antiqued after-the-fact and tuned "just so" that's a stellar piece--as they say all the good stuff inside their "premium" models have. I've also got a ca 2008 Colt SAA--in an uncatalogued .44 Sp--that appears to be what folks have been saying about the "4th" Gen (late 3rd - 2003 on) guns - great in all respects.
IF one leaves Freedom Arms and possibly Colt out of the equation for price, and USFA for possibly being gone soon--say it ain't so--I'd say Ruger New Vaquero/Flattop .44 Special, which I also have. You get the newer indexing the large-frame Ruger models still don't have AFAIK, and you can load 'em up pretty stout, unlike (what you're supposed to) .45 Colt in the same midframe. Also have a Uberti (Cimarron P) .44 Sp that's great.
A safe full six-up capability and Ruger's legendary durability would still put the Ruger midframe .44 at #1 for me if I could only have one. IF the lack of the new indexing doesn't bother on the large frame--and yes you can put a free spin kit in to partially rectify--then certainly a 4-5/8" or 5.5" .44 Mag Super BH (or original Vaquero) or same frame .45 Colt BH is right up there. I love my .44 Mag Vaquero, even without the spin enhancement. IIRC, the BH .45's still have the aluminum grip (but possibly steel ERH reported now?) Which still makes the short barreled big bore Blackhawk a mighty handy trail piece. All'n'all, I seem to hear an awful lot of accolades about the .44 Sp Flattops with words to the effect of "best gun I've ever owned" seeming to show up regularly.
I'm not too keen on Freedom Arms even if I could afford it. I think I'd rather have two to three Rugers, or at least one Bowen (et al) -customized one!
All that said, back down to earth in the sub-$700 world, I admit the Cimarron "P" (or insert Pietta if you want) sure wins the current prize in the "fondleability" and "admiring" department.
Edit: if a $1200-or-so check were to plop into my lap with a caveat attached "for use on one SA only" - especially since i already have satisfied my Colt itch (for now
), I'd call Trail Creek up for a USFA "Pre War," or look for one of the Double Eagle birdsheads that were out for only a year. . The Pre War (actually, all USFA's in their Single Action and former Rodeo lines) have the "backpowder" chamfer I don't believe you can get even as optional on Colt's current BP models, as well as CCH'd hammer (ditto not current Colt). One of those
USFA's would certainly be heirloom-worthy keepers.