View Full Version : Starting into CAS

November 15, 2002, 01:31 PM
Well I've read enough about cowboy action shooting that I think I've found a new hobby. Of course, like any good hobby, it looks expensive. I generally dress western so clothing, while not exactly period, will meet the requirement of SASS (I think - Tony Lama's, Wranglers, cotton button down, Resistol hat, oilskin duster). I believe that the necessary guns will be my expensive items. I currently only have one gun that meets SASS requirements - a Super Blackhawk in 44 mag. with a 7.5" barrel. I don't see on SASS-Wire many folks using the 44 mag, is this a shunned cartridge for any particular reason? As I have one gun chambered for this cartridge already, I plan to obtain another revolver and a rifle also in 44 mag unless there is a reason to shy away from it. I plan on the first expense in my new hobby to be membership in SASS as there are 2 SASS affiliated clubs located about 1.5 hours away. Any hints or tips in getting started would be appreciated.

BTW, check out classifieds for a nice EAA Witness ... trade fodder for the new hobby!


Jim Watson
November 15, 2002, 03:29 PM
Well, you gotta have a scattergun, too. The Stoeger IGA seems to be the leading cheap double. But don't worry too much, SASS folks are very helpful with loaners to new shooters; if you go, the guns will be there.

Your SBH will put you in Modern Category. Nothing wrong with .44 Mag, just that you don't need and may not use full charge magnums. Nothing over 1000 fps revolver or 1400 fps carbine. No problem if you handload, if you don't there are commercial and factory Cowboy loads that are light target loads in magnum brass.

Uncle Jim
SASS #3879

Angel Diamond
November 15, 2002, 05:14 PM
Howdy Highlander,

Welcome to the fine sport of Cowboy Action Shooting. There are folks who shoot 44 mags loaded to 44 special velocity or use .44 spec cases. I see all legal calibers shot at my local clubs. From 32's to 45's. If you reload you can check the loading manuals for cowboy loads in .44 or manufacturers such as 10X offer cowboy ammunition in all calibers. It does simplify things if both your pistols & your rifle are chambered for the same caliber. But you will find that a lot of folks still use 2 different loads for pistol & rifle.

I agree with the suggestion of getting a Stoeger for your shotgun. That is what most of the side by side shooters use. (at least the ones I know)

I'm sure when our moderator, Bellicose Bill, sees your post he will be able to give you more information that myself regarding guns & calibers.

Angel Diamond, SASS # 16562
Cherokee Cowboy Vigilance Committee
2002 SASS SE Regional Ladies Frontier Cartridge Champion

November 15, 2002, 05:37 PM
Jim & Angel,

Yes, I reload so getting mild loads will not be an issue. I was aware of the velocity limit. So it would appear there is no reason not to use a 44 mag other than being limited to Modern class? I use my SBH for hunting so having a cross-over gun is good. Sticking with one caliber makes life a bit simpler too from a reloading standpoint.

As to the shotgun, I knew I needed one. However, I have seen old hammer doubles in rural PA fairly cheap so that wasn't really a worry. I figure the rifle will be my biggest expense, but I guess I have until the shooting starts in the spring to fit everything into my tight budget.

Any and all tips (or websites) into getting started is appreciated.

Many Thanks!

Bill Mitchell
November 15, 2002, 06:09 PM

You'll find a number of folks shooting .44 specials in .44 mag guns in CAS. The rifle you choose could decide if you go to .44 special cases or stick with .44 mag., the reason being that some rifles are sensative to overall cartridge length. If you get a .44 mag rifle, make sure it'll feed .44 Special ammo before you spring for a bunch of brass you may not use. Or just stick with downloaded .44 mag and you'll be golden.

A cheap used .44 mag rifle shouldn't be too hard to come buy, considering folks buy 'em to hunt with. A Marlin CS or Winchester 94, or a Rossi 92, are you're cheap options. A Marlin Cowboy, Winchester '66 or '73 replica, and the Winchester, Navy Arms or EMF '92 are your more expensive options. All are pretty decent rifles, so it comes down to personal preference and pocketbook.

I'll go along with the choice of the Stoeger for your shotgun. Thousands of CAS shooters use them and continue to buy them, which is enough of a recommendation for me.

Don't shy away from going to a match because you don't have you whole outfit. Like Jim said, CAS folks will generally fall over themselves to loan you anything you need.

As far as web sites, go to the links page on the SASS homepage, and check out some of the personal pages listed. Lots of good pictures and info on some of those sites.

November 15, 2002, 11:49 PM
I bought a Stoeger myself, and it's perfect for SASS shooting. And lots less temperamental than the Winchester 97s I've been shooting alongside.

I'm partial to 45s myself -- I have 4 sixguns in 45LC plus a Marlin levergun -- but there's no reason you can't shoot your 44 if you prefer. You may find that as you get into it you want a more traditional styled gun than the BH, but there's always time for that.

Enjoy! And if you find yourself down in the Northern Va area, we shoot first Tuesday of every month except during Summer...


4V50 Gary
November 15, 2002, 11:55 PM
It gets expensive but here's the cheap way in and you won't have to go in a loin cloth either.

You go in long-johns & boots instead. ;) Hey, some guys do.

November 16, 2002, 08:24 AM
Wecome to the game! I've been shooting CAS now for about 6 months and I just can't get enough of it!

I shoot .44 Mag in my 7-1/2 SS Vaqueros and couldn't be happier with them. Nothing wrong with the .44. I've settled on a handload that suits me fine. With the normal disclaimer about your results maybe varying, I use 4.8 grains of Clay's with a 200 grain lead flatpoint bullet. I haven't cronographed it, but I doubt that it's moving more than 750 fps. Works great and is cheap to load.

I sprung for an 1894 Cowboy in .44 to match my pistols. It's been a good rifle, but I was somewhat disappointed with the action which is not nearly as smooth as you'd expect for a $550 lever gun. But this too can be remedied with a little tender loving care.

As has been mentioned, the Stoeger coach gun is a great way to get into the game without spending a truckload of money. But, if you're able to find a bargain on an old hammer gun, that'll work too.

Don't worry a bit about your .44 Mag. There are lots of us out here shooting them. Just show up and have the time of your life!


aka Q.T. McNeil - SASS 45698

Old Fuff
November 16, 2002, 10:15 AM
Be careful if you buy an old hammer-shotgun. Many of these have Damascus or “twist steel” barrels and are not safe to shoot, even with black powder. Why? Because the welds between the laminated layers of iron and steel may have rusted. Also some older guns have short chambers - 2 ½” or so. They make good “wallhanger’s” but questionable Cowboy Action guns.

November 16, 2002, 11:18 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions folks! I appreciate it.

For now I'm playing a wait and see game on revolver #2, I need to sell or trade my Witness to buy it. Depending on what is available when that happens will probably direct the rifle purchase. I had a Vaquero a few years back (and sold it, unfortunatly) in 45, and still have some 45 ammo laying around ... so I may yet go 45, as I kinda liked that caliber. I think I could survive multiple calibers for a while until I could afford to get them to match.

As to using the 44 mag, I plan on sticking to mag cases loaded soft instead of using 44 special cases. I have 2 boxes of Lyman Silver Star CAS Lead 240 gr round nose flat points. Anyone got a nice sub 1000 fps load for 240 gr? Any place on the web that has some SASS loads listed? The SBH has Pachmyer grips on it now, so I also need to find a set of western grip too.

As often as the Stoeger shotgun has been mentioned, I'm going to have to check it out. BTW Old Fluff, I have seen the Damascus barrels before and definately know to avoid them ... thanks for the warning though.

Clothing wise I think I'm pretty well set with some of my regular duds to get started. I wear boots and jeans all the time as well as a cowboy hat on a regular basis. Add to that a cotton work shirt and my vest and duster and I'm set. As for gun leather, I still have a nice drop belt and holster I used with the Vaquero (4 5/8") and a Mexican loop holster (7 1/2") for the SBH ... just need to figure out how to use them together.

Thanks to all for the warm welcome into the sport ... it's the cowboy spirit that I noticed on SASS-Wire and other places that made me want to get involved. Both local clubs appear to go dormant over winter according to their websites, but I plan on firing off an email of two to see if any of their members happen to be near my location. The SASS membership will be happening with my next paycheck too!

(Wow ... my longest TFL post ever! :eek: )

November 20, 2002, 05:23 PM
UltraMax makes 44 mag cowboy loads if you don't reload. These are mild 44 mags at a hair under 1000fps.

I thought SASS required 2 handguns?

I know my cross-draw would cause some rules problems, but a new holster isn't that hard to come by. I'd check up on the holster regulations before you plunk down 'serious' change on a custom rig.

November 21, 2002, 08:24 AM
Dr Rob,

I do reload, but I'll keep the UltraMax cartridges in mind should I need ammunition quickly. I have a Lee single stage press, so loading cartridges is still time consuming.

Yes, SASS does require 2 revolvers. I will be using my 7.5" SBH in 44 mag and I've got a trade in the works to obtain a 5.5" Vaquero in 45 LC. Depending on how my budget fares, I hope to at least pick up a shotgun by spring too. I may have to borrow a rifle for the first few shoots.

Haven't totally settled on my leather yet, but a do have a nice drop belt and holster that will work with the Vaquero. I may just add a old style shoulder rig for the SBH. I believe, if I'm understanding the rules correctly, that a crossdraw holster can not have more than a 30 degree cant.

November 22, 2002, 10:35 AM
Also if you're using a cross-draw there is the 170 limit. The muzzle cannot be pointed more than 85 degrees to your left or 85 degrees to your right as you look downrange (170 degrees) . Also the three foot limit, the firearm cannot be pointed towards the ground more than three feet from your body, it must aim towards the ground within that imaginary circle when in the holster.

Brian D.
November 22, 2002, 12:06 PM
Just a word or two of advice, if I may. First, it's not the caliber that would put you in the "modern" category with your Super Blackhawk, it's the adjustable sights. In the "traditional" category both pistols must have fixed sights. There are other classes/categories also, I'll let you look that stuff up on your own. Second, be aware if you decide to shoot both .44 mag and .45 Colt, it requires that you look at your ammo closely when loading up. If you're using the same type bullet in both calibers the ammo looks a LOT alike. And the empty brass is visually similar too. Not telling you not to do this, I did it for a short time without incident while transitioning my gun collection a bit. Good luck and good shootin'. "Hans M. Stranger", SASS Life #5360 (used to be #3558 when I first joined, either way no longer a young 'un!)

November 22, 2002, 01:15 PM
Brian D,

I was just looking at the 45 LC vs 44 mag cartridges last night. You're right, there isn't much difference between them. Until I can afford to get all guns to the same caliber, I'll be using both. I think my best bet will be to using nickle casings on one of the calibers so it is visually different.

I did know that the adjustable sights were modern class and I had thought that modern cartridges were modern class too. I'm still doing a lot of web research at this point. No shoots are scheduled around here over winter, so I have time to figure out how I'm going to set up my gear. I'm going to get my membership to SASS sent in real soon.

Everyones help and suggestions on getting starting is greatly appreciated.