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Old February 20, 2012, 12:32 PM   #1
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Which is Better?

I don't know if this is the right forum, but here goes. A friend tells me that the New Vaquero 45 Colt will not handle hot loads as well as the old Vaquero. Is this true? He says it is because the cylinder walls are thinner. I am sort of considering buying a Ruger 45 Colt and I would reload due to the cost of ammo. It would mostly not be hot loads, just for economy sake. If, however, I wanted to shoot hot loads what would be the best choice New Vaquero, old Vaquero, or Blackhawk. I would wanta 5 1/2" barrel. Also I saw a used New Vaquero in a pawn shop that I think I can get out the door for $450. How does that sound, high or about right? Thanks.
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Old February 20, 2012, 03:16 PM   #2
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The new model Vaquero is built on a smaller frame and will not shoot Ruger Only loads. The old ones were built on the larger Blackhawk frame. As long as you're not loading Ruger only loads it should be fine. The new model's a little smaller and lighter than the old model hence no wild loads.
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Old February 20, 2012, 03:30 PM   #3
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The older/original Vaqueros and the Blackhawks will handle hotter loads. The New Vaquero WILL NOT because of the smaller frame and thinner cylinder wall thickness as the posters have stated above. If you still wanted the New Vaqiero, that $450 price sounds about average to me.

This is also why the New Vaquero isn't even made/offered in 44 mag.
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Old February 20, 2012, 03:35 PM   #4
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If you want something that handles the hotter loads then get a Blackhawk, or something chambered in .454 Cassul.

The New Vaquero will handle up to max published loads in most cases. It is the resposiblity of the reloader to watch for signs of high pressure. Also note that a constant diet of hot loads can stress the frame of the revolver, as well as gas cut into the top strap of said revolver. That said the upper loading for .45 Colt in a single action frame are pretty stout, and you definately know it from the feel.
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Old February 20, 2012, 09:16 PM   #5
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As others have said, Ruger now uses 2 different sizes of frames and cylinders for their Blackhawks and Vaqueros. The names are somewhat confusing, because the "New Model" Blackhawks WERE new A FEW DECADES AGO. Those are the large frames and cylinders that can handle the "Ruger and T/C Only" loads that are found in many manuals. Then, Ruger started making the Vaqueros on the same large frames.

But, those frames are larger and heavier than the original Colt Single Action Army frames, and some folks yearned for the old Ruger mid-sized frames that were more nearly the size of the Colt frames. Ruger's earliest .357 Magnum Blackhawks WERE on mid-sized frames, but those were abandoned for the large frame when the .44 Magnum was introduced. That is where the "New Model" name came from (in part) quite some time ago.

Now, comes the complicated part. Ruger has resurected the mid-sized frame, first for some .357 magnum models, then for a .44 Special model, and most recently for a .45 Colt model. There will never be a .44 Magnum model on the mid-sized frame, though. These mid-sized frame Blackhawks are called "Flat-top" models because the don't have the "ears" on the top strap beside the adjustable rear sight. Then, Ruger decided to make a mid-sized frame Vaquero, which is pretty close to the original Colt design. The probem is, this newer Vaquero is a DIFFERENT sized frame from the older "New Model" Blackhawks. That seems to be confusing a lot of people, and could be a safety problem if they get confused about which models can handle the "Ruger Only" load data in .45 Colt.

So, to be perfectly clear:

Colt and other manufacturers handguns in .45 Colt should probably be kept at the .45 Colt SAAMI standard pressure loads, which are 14,000 psi.

Ruger "Flat Top" Blackhawks and "New Vaqueros" (mid-sized frames) should be limited to loads that have pressures up to SAAMI pressure limits for the .45 ACP +P standard, which is 23,000 psi. Ruger actually supplies .45 ACP cylinders for these guns, so that is a pretty good indication of the factory's confidence in that pressure.

Ruger "New Model" Blackhawks (with the top strap ears) and "Original Vaqueros" (large frames) seem to be good-to-go with the "Ruger Only" loads found in some manuals, which go to about 32,000 psi. However, Ruger has never officially condoned those to my knowledge.

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