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Old September 3, 2010, 08:10 AM   #1
Uncle Buck
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Cowboy .357's

OK guys, I need a little help here understanding this.

I have heard people say they are shooting .357 Magnums at cowboy shoots and shooting black powder from them. It seems to me the .357 Magnum is not an authentic cowboy piece.

1. Are they shooting .38 Specials in the .357? (I do not know how the rules are set up.)

2. Is it the gun or the ammo that decides the qualification to use a certain firearm in these shoots?

3. Is the .357 Magnum considered cowboy gun for these cowboy shooting matches? (I know there were many other caliber and cartridges available, but right now I am interested in the .357 Magnum)

It is my understanding the .38 Special was introduced around 1902 while the .38 S&W was introduce back in 1878 and both of these cartridges were originally loaded with black powder. As such, I have no problem with these guns/rounds being used for cowboy re-enactments/shooting.

The .357 magnum round/handgun was introduced to the public sometime around 1935. By this time, smokeless powder was more the norm than the exception. (I am not sure as to when smokeless was introduced, but I believe I have read it was before 1935.)

I shoot black powder .38 specials from my .357 and can't figure out if what I like better, the smoke during the day or the sparks at night.
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Old September 3, 2010, 08:31 AM   #2
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SASS has so many different divisions and categories that it's difficult to wrap it all up in a response of reasonable length, but pretty much the only requirement on caliber is that it be centerfire between .32 and .45 and "commonly available" (whatever that means). The revolver has to be of a "style" that was around prior to 1899 - so, for example, Ruger Vaqueros are both acceptable and very common even though there was nothing exactly like a Vaquero at that time. Smokeless powder loads have to meet a very low minimum power factor (60) and velocity (400 fps) and cannot exceed 1000 fps.

I don't know of anyone shooting full .357 Magnum, which could exceed the 1000 fps and would recoil enough to be non-competitive, but there are plenty of competitors shooting revolvers chambered for .357 Mag, either with .357 brass downloaded to weak .38 Special equivalent, or with .38 Special brass loaded the same.

There are some CAS categories - e.g., "Classic Cowboy" - that have more restrictive rules regarding allowable cartridges (as well as allowable clothing, but that's a whole 'nother thing.)

ETA: I enjoy watching the black powder competitors at our CAS matches, but it's usually a significant disadvantage (depending on wind direction and velocity) because the smoke can obscure the targets.
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Old September 3, 2010, 08:39 AM   #3
Rifleman1776
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I have friends who do mounted cowboy shooting. There are two organizations for this sport. Both require shooters to use provided ammunition to avoid cheating. If a certain caliber was not permitted the authorized ammo would not be available. .45 LC is the most popular caliber. Good reason for that. It emits more 'stuff' to break the ballons.
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Old September 3, 2010, 08:43 AM   #4
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Flyfish. We that shoot in the black powder categories, especially Frontiersman(Cap and ball revolvers and all black elsewhere) do it for the love of the game.
A couple of years ago we, my wife and I, were returning from a match. She asked if I had every thought about going to a more modern set up so I could shoot faster.
My answer?
NO!

I love my 1860 Armys and will accept all of the problems they bring to the shooting line in a CAS match.
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Old September 3, 2010, 09:28 AM   #5
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Oh, sure, I know that Noz, and I think it's great. I don't shoot blackpowder but I do other things (.45 instead of .38, for example) for the same reason. I was just remembering our shoot a couple days ago when the blackpowder smoke obscured not only the targets, but also the shooter, and most of the rest of the posse! Much fun.
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Old September 3, 2010, 09:45 AM   #6
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I bought my dad a 1894 marlin in 44 mag that will shoot 44 specals, and ever since Ive wanted a 357 cowboy pistol and 1895 marlin in the same cal. I thought this would be a great combo to stomp in the woods playing cowboy
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Old September 3, 2010, 10:42 AM   #7
Uncle Buck
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Flyfish - You are right, I should have said chambered, as I do not know anyone who actually shoots the .357 cartridge.

Thanks for clearing it up for me. It makes a lot more sense now.
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Old September 3, 2010, 11:01 AM   #8
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Uncle Buck - If you really want to see all the different shooting categories and the equipment/clothing rules for each, it's all available online in the SASS Shooters Handbook. (I should have posted that link in my earlier reply)
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Old September 3, 2010, 12:53 PM   #9
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Without stirring up a hornets' nest of trouble, I'll just point out that there's a lot of stuff that's not strictly "authentic" in cowboy action shooting. Not good, not bad, just not authentic. But appearance is a big factor, so if it looks reasonable, it's OK.

How does the saying go? Something like, "If the Duke said it was OK, then it's OK."
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Old September 3, 2010, 01:37 PM   #10
Noz
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Hardcase, we are not re-enactors. We dress and act as we would have liked the "West" to be.
Many of our guns are not "authentic" but they are the guns that the ruling body has accepted.
We play a game. We play by rules. It works and is a real pleasure to those of us that indulge.
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Old September 3, 2010, 04:07 PM   #11
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I know, Noz, and I don't have any problem at all with it. I was just framing my reply in the spirit of Uncle Buck's question.

I don't indulge because I just don't have the time (doggone it). But the sport looks like a ton of fun. Coming from a childhood of Wagon Train, Gunsmoke and Wanted: Dead or Alive reruns, I'd get a kick out of strapping on a pair of sixguns, hauling my rifle and shotgun out to the range and blast away at the steel bad guys.
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Old September 3, 2010, 10:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Buck
Flyfish - You are right, I should have said chambered, as I do not know anyone who actually shoots the .357 cartridge.
I used the actual .357 cartridge, loaded to .38 special velocities, mostly because they seemed to give fewer feeding problems in the Marlin, and since I didn't feel like resetting my Dillon RL550B for a run of .38 special cartridges, I made the .357 magnum my standard round for the revolver as well.

Oh and another thing, black powder works just fine in a .357 magnum.
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Old September 4, 2010, 07:00 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardcase
Without stirring up a hornets' nest of trouble, I'll just point out that there's a lot of stuff that's not strictly "authentic" in cowboy action shooting. Not good, not bad, just not authentic. But appearance is a big factor, so if it looks reasonable, it's OK.
Right, SASS is the "Single Action Shooting Society", not the "Society of Western History Re-enactment."
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Old September 4, 2010, 09:14 AM   #14
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If you want to be totally authentic, cut down some .38 spl cases and call 'em .38 Long Colts.

Even 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 acp are legal cartridges, and I've shot all three in CAS matches in Ruger & Uberti convertible SA revolvers. Like Noz though, I really get a kick out of shooting my C&B revolvers instead.
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Old September 4, 2010, 10:28 AM   #15
Hardcase
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Quote:
Right, SASS is the "Single Action Shooting Society", not the "Society of Western History Re-enactment."
I'm on your side, fellas! Apologies if it sounded otherwise.
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Old September 4, 2010, 11:02 PM   #16
Uncle Buck
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I read some of the rules and it makes it a lot clearer.

But why don't they let you wear baseball caps? In my western world, we would all wear baseball caps (unless we were in a building or sitting down to eat on the porch).

Seriously, you did answer my question and it definitely makes some sense now.
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Old September 5, 2010, 09:26 AM   #17
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Ruger OA conversion cylinder

Delete

Last edited by goffer@earthlink.net; September 5, 2010 at 09:29 AM. Reason: delete as inaccurate
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Old September 5, 2010, 09:49 AM   #18
Hawg
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Quote:
But why don't they let you wear baseball caps?
It is the Single Action Shooting Society but it is also a quasi western reenactment from 1860-1899. You do have to look the part. You can get by with jeans, a long sleeve work shirt, a pair of work boots without lugs and a hat(no shady brady tho). Or you can go all out.
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Old September 5, 2010, 01:32 PM   #19
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