L_Kilkenny makes good points. I'll take the opposite view on preference however...and also say that it all depends on what you're going to do with the gun. Like L_K I prefer the look of the traditional smooth lines of the Vaquero series, old and New,...but also prefer these functionally. I'm not a rangemeister or hunter (with pistol) but use mine for plinkin'/campin'/trompin'/woodsin' and back-up sidearm and camp gun when rifle hunting, so the "minute of two-four-or-no legged critter" provided by the Vaqueros is fine with me. I don't CAS, but I do like the snag-free-for-leather clearing smoother top strap and lower profile front blade sight. Back to agreeing with L_K on looks, I also like the "admiring" factor for the 98% of the time when the guns are not being fired. Different strokes...
Back to which frames, regardless of sight configuration you choose: +1 on -
- "Discrete" (specific) hunting - large frame .44 or .45 Vaquero or Blackhawk/Super Blackhawk, OR limted production 50th Anniversry .44 Mag Flattop which marries the smaller XR3 gripframe of the mid-frames with the large BH/SBH cylinder frame.
- all other uses/common calibers - the "mid-frame" New Vaquero or the .357/.44 Sp/.45 Flattops.
I'd say if you are drawn mostly to the Colt-like "cowboy" looks, feel/vibe and you're looking to that "bear gun use" only as an after or secondary thought of "want it to be able to definitely handle, but I'm not focusing on hunting," look for an original/large frame Vaquero and you'll hve both covered. OTOH a reasonably stout .44 Sp or .45 Colt load in a mid-frame will likely do the trick (for black bear protection) anyway.
If you want it 'generally western looking" but don't care about those "smooth lines" details and/or look to hunting or range work as the primary focusn get the Blackhawk .45 or Super Blackhawk (.44 Mag).
Last edited by gak; January 14, 2013 at 12:22 PM.