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Old November 19, 2017, 05:06 PM   #1
rebs
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Rugar vaquaro

I just bought this Ruger Valquoro used in 357 mag, it is in mint condition. Does anyone have a comfortable accurate load for this gun ?
Can you guys tell me the good and the bad about this gun ?
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Old November 19, 2017, 05:39 PM   #2
ShootistPRS
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There are two models of this gun. The "old style" which is based on the Blackhawk and built to take anything you care to feed it and the "new" model that is lighter and made for cowboy action shooting. Ruger specifies that the new model should not be used with the Ruger and Contender only loads. If you want a comfortable load from a 357 then I suggest you use maximum loads listed for 38 Special loaded in the 357 case. 5.6 grains of 231 behind a 125 grain bullet should be as comfortable as any.
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Old November 19, 2017, 05:42 PM   #3
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Target, hunting, self defense?

What do you wish to do with it? My favorite .38/.357 range load is a +P .38 special load. Using 6.6 gr HS6 under a 158 gr SWC in a 38 special case and CCI 500 primer. It chronies 950 fps out of my Blackhawk and 586. I only shoot it in "357 magnum" chambered guns, as it is a " max +P".38 special load.This load is quite comfortable to shoot, but powerful enough to be useful outside of the range. I don't believe in practicing with enemic practice loads and switching to full house stuff for self defense and hunting. Practice with useful loads though they're not full power, unless this will only be for target work.
The "Ruger only loads" only apply to the .45 Colt, if your pistol is marked .357 Magnum, then it's good for all .357 loads. There are no "Ruger only" .357 loads. Loading 38 special loads in 357 cases will only lead to dissappointment and poor accuracy, use 38 cases for 38 load data.
The new vaquero in .357 will handle heavy .357 magnum loads just fine, though they might be a bit much for the shooter.
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Old November 19, 2017, 07:54 PM   #4
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Look on the gun, left side, below the cylinder, if it says "Vaquero" then the gun is the original model Vaquero, built on the .44 size frame, and good for the heavy "Ruger only" .45 colt loads, or ANY safe .357 Magnum load.

If it says "New Vaquero" then it is the newer gun, built on a smaller frame, and while not rated for the heavy .45 Colt loads it will also handle any safe .357 Magnum load.

There are many comfortable "accurate" loads in .357, but being as both Vaqueros are fixed sight guns, you may have to try several combinations to find one that hits where the sights are pointing.

You might call Ruger and ask what load they regulate the sight for, at the factory. Probably a 158gr, but ask anyway.
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Old November 20, 2017, 02:00 PM   #5
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I checked and it says Vaquero, it is heavy with case hardened frame.
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Old November 20, 2017, 02:19 PM   #6
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"...accurate load for this gun..." Nope. No two firearms will shoot the same ammo the same way. You must work up the load for that particular firearm.
What you want to do with it will determine where to start. I'd suggest a .38 Special target load(148 grain WC's with 2.5 to 2.8 of Bullseye. Or cast 158 SWC's with the same powder. 3.2 to 3.5.) loaded in a .357 case, just because it's fun without all the noise and muzzle blast.
And don't forget to go buy a cowboy hat. The Vaquero was designed for use in CAS shooting. Hats are required.
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Old November 20, 2017, 07:57 PM   #7
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Yours is the original Vaquero made on the regular size Blackhawk size frame. It should be fairly comfortable to shoot with any 38 Special or 357 Mag load. I've shot several different 357 loads in a New Vaquero using HS-6, IMR4227, and Accurate #9. That particular gun seems to shoot closer to point of aim with 158gr bullets. You'll just need to find out what works well for you in yours.
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Old November 20, 2017, 09:49 PM   #8
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Although I don't load .357 any longer, when I did I used Unique for my standard .357 loads, and W296 for the heavy loads. Unique will work with just about any bullet weight you can load for it.
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Old November 20, 2017, 11:15 PM   #9
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I think that you would be happy with a middle to slower powder and bypass 296. You can get fine results with a 158 and low speed powders.
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Old November 21, 2017, 12:38 AM   #10
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The 'only' bad is the original Vaquero is 'oversize' for the .357 cartridge. The New Vaquero is back to the frame/cylinder size introduced way back in '55. Both revolvers will take any SAAMI .357 load you can stuff in it. Now finding a load that works 'good' in 'your' gun is up to you. I like shooting 158g SWCs in my .357s. Since this is a fixed sighted revolver, once you find a load that shoots acceptably (say 1 hole at 25 yards would be nice), then time to adjust sight accordingly to shoot to POA. Hopefully it shoots low, so you file that front sight down. If left or right, you really need to have the barrel turned by a gunsmith (or Ruger) unless you want to put up with some kentucky windage. For me, I had access to a gunsmith here for my original and New Vaqueros. He takes his barrel vise to the range and we zero'ed the revolvers out there (shoot, adjust, shoot adjust).

The loads I like to shoot are in the 1000fps to 1100fps range out of a 5 1/2" barrel. I found good loads with Unique, Red Dot, Green Dot, True Blue, CFE Pistol, Universal, 20/28, Bullseye, AA#5, and 2400 (for a warm load) just to name a few. That aught to give you a start. Right now, Green Dot is my preferred powder. 5.5g under 158g SWC, standard CCI primer. Nice comfortable accurate load in my revolver(s). Note, I never use .38 special cases in my .357s. I use .357 cases only across the entire power range.
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Last edited by rclark; November 21, 2017 at 12:47 AM.
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Old November 21, 2017, 07:26 AM   #11
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Thank you guys, I appreciate all the information.
Is the case hardening real or just a finish ?
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Old November 21, 2017, 09:03 AM   #12
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It's just a finish.You will take it off with the harsh solvints.
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Old November 21, 2017, 09:29 AM   #13
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...and keep it oiled, I found my Vaquero picked up surface rust very easily.
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Old November 21, 2017, 09:43 AM   #14
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As above. That is why we call it case coloring instead of case hardening. Mine never had the rust problem. That seemed to be hit or miss. I do live in a dry climate however.
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Old November 21, 2017, 10:31 AM   #15
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I have a first gen (one of the first ones) in .45LC. It's quite a bit more beefy than the current models, and it hand loads to Redhawk/Blackhawk levels safely (although I keep it middlin'). After all these years later I still love to shoot it. I have SAAs, and one GIII in .45LC that I shoot. I prefer the Vaquero to it in almost all aspects even though I could but 5 Vaqueros for what one SAA costs. It's action is more solid and less temperamental than the 3 click. I simply shoot it more accurately too.

Now that you bring it up I think I need one in .357!
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