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Old April 17, 2019, 03:19 PM   #1
2wheelwander
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Which .45 LC to buy? Help me spend $$

OK, so I've looked at dang near everything online (I think). I want a .45 LC but seem to be wading in a sea of options. I know this is very vague, but I value the input here. I don't care if its a lever or revolver, but I have a few criteria.

Revolver - SAA lookalike appeals to me. I'd love to have a genuine SAA Colt, but $4 isn't in my budget. In my mind, if I bought a domestic brand I'd want something built 1970's or prior = good quality. I'd go with a Blackhawk even. None of the Smith's appeal to me in this realm. It'd have to be a Ruger if I went other than a SAA clone. Considering an Uberti/Pietta, etc., I get shy. The only 'tribute' that appeals to me is the 7th Calvary clone. I'm not a fan of clone guns, but . . . . Most of them come off as gimmicky to me. Just personal opinion, though I've never handled or shot one of these. Confession, I've looked at The Man With No Name .45 just because Dad and I spent a of of time watching spaghetti westerns. In essence, I want an original Colt SAA, but can't afford $4k+ right now and I wouldn't know what to look for in a collector even if I did. I'm shy about the Italians despite reading mostly favorable reviews.


Levers - if its domestic its gotta be a Winchester. 1873 of course leads the list but 1892's are up there too. It has to be fed from a trap door. Won't consider tube feds excepting a New Original Henry. No Marlins for this purpose.

TIA!
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Old April 17, 2019, 03:54 PM   #2
DaleA
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Sounds like a Ruger Vaquero is in your future.
https://ruger.com/products/vaquero/overview.html

Now I happen to know there are some REAL Ruger single action revolver experts on this site (I am not one) and they can easily sort things out for you.

1. The original Blackhawk without the transfer bar. (They've been gone for many, many years but can still be had used for a premium price.)
2. The plethora of newer Blackhawks some with steel frames some with aluminum frames.
3. The original Vaquero which was bigger that the famous Colt SSA.
4. The "new" Vaquero which is smaller than the original Vaquero. The "new" Vaquero mimics closely the Colt. (See the link above.)
5. The Super Blackhawks in all THEIR configurations.
6. The Bisley gripped Blackhawks.

And I don't know what all else because I'm not very knowledgeable about this stuff. I probably don't even know what I don't know.

One thing I do know is the Blackhawks and Super Blackhawks usually have adjustable sights while all the Vaqueros have fixed sights. For me I like the adjustable sights. I also like the transfer bar.

Once again there are some real experts here (Bob Wright and a host of others) that can actually make sense of the mishmash listed above. For example I'm pretty sure I didn't explain the aluminum/steel frame thing correct because I don't know enough about it.

Finally, not to bust your chops but for the lever action rifle I think the terminology used is side gate loading. I think trap door is something else.

Last edited by DaleA; April 17, 2019 at 04:04 PM.
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Old April 17, 2019, 04:23 PM   #3
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Among the Rugers made in the last 40 years, I'm familiar with the standard Blackhawk, Vaquero (original model), Flattop Blackhawk, Bisley Blackhawk, and New Vaquero. I have essentially no first hand knowledge of the SAA replicas.

If you want to be able to shoot loads above SAAMI pressure levels (usually referred to as Ruger Only loads), you'll need to choose a standard Blackhawk, Bisley Blackhawk, or an original Vaquero. Those have slightly larger frames and cylinders that are rated for the higher pressure 45 Colt loads. The down side to those models is their size and weight, both of which are noticeably greater than that of a Colt SAA.

The New Vaquero and Flattop Blackhawk models are much closer to the size and weight of the Colt SAA, but can only be fired with standard SAAMI pressure 45 Colt ammunition. With it's fixed sights, the New Vaquero is perhaps better looking than the Flattop, but lacks the adjustable sights and better sight picture of the latter.

For use with standard pressure 45 Colt loads, I personally prefer the slightly smaller New Vaquero and Flattop Blackhawk models over the larger Blackhawk and Bisley models.

Enjoy your quest for a 45 Colt revolver.
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Old April 17, 2019, 05:07 PM   #4
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If you want something made in the USA, your choices come down to Colt and Ruger. That said, I have owned SAA replicas by both Uberti and Pietta, and I found both brands to be very well-made and well-finished, and probably far better guns than any original Colts made 100-plus years ago. I have a friend in Pennsylvania who owns and shoots several Uberti SAA clones. He has a matched set in .357 Magnum that he uses for cowboy action competition (using reduced loads, of course), and they work well enough that he usually wins the matches at his club.
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Old April 17, 2019, 05:28 PM   #5
Oliver Sudden
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For top quality revolver I shoot a USFA colt clone. It’s better made then a Colt and costs less then $2k if a standard model.
Windchester never made a 73 in 45 colt but Uberti makes some fine rifles.
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Old April 17, 2019, 05:44 PM   #6
2wheelwander
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Thanks for the input gents. All input is appreciated (especially the trap door reference ).


I won't expect MOA accuracy from any revolver. I'd be thrilled with 2" at 25 yds, minute of deer would be outstanding. If I went with any Ruger it would see the field. I have a near new 1969 3 screw in .44 mag that's too nice for the field. If I got a new Ruger It would see the field.


Hadn't looked too closely at the Bisley/Vaquero. Headed to Ruger.com!
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Old April 17, 2019, 06:24 PM   #7
Msauter
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Standard Manufacturing is now offering a premium SAA alternative that can actually be found and purchased (unlike the Colt). Less than $2K.

http://www.stdgun.com/single-action-revolver-1/
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Old April 17, 2019, 07:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaleA View Post

Finally, not to bust your chops but for the lever action rifle I think the terminology used is side gate loading. I think trap door is something else.
Yep.....sure is. A trapdoor is a completely different platform/action. Kinda hard to know what someone wants when they don't really know what it really is they want. BTW.......Even gate loading levers are tube fed.

Seems to me, the OP needs to do more research and start heading to gunshops and see and handle what's out there, and then ask "which one"? Not really knowing what's out there, or how different platforms operate and then buying something some stranger on the internet suggests? Sounds like a future case of buyer's remorse.
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Old April 17, 2019, 07:50 PM   #9
2wheelwander
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buck460XVR I know gate fed is tube fed. I don't want tube loaded unless its a New original Henry, and I'm not hot on those.

Heading to LGS has been fruitless. Even the upscale shops around here do not stock many .45 LC. They just don't move much in my area. The only real full sized revolvers stocked are 686 and 629 and a GP100. I have not seen a Blackhawk/Bisley/Vaquero in a case in a few years. Good luck even at gun shows. The only lever actions in stock are tube loaded Henrys and Marlin 30-30's

I make it to 1-2 gun shows a year as I am all stocked up on roasted almonds, paper targets, my wife doesn't need a CC purse, and I'm over 16 and don't buy $5 Chinese knives.

Which is why I'm asking here. A few revolvers have caught my eye on Gunbroker. Nothing ends for a few days, we'll see what plays out.
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Old April 17, 2019, 07:54 PM   #10
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver Sudden
For top quality revolver I shoot a USFA colt clone. It’s better made then a Colt and costs less then $2k if a standard model.
USFA has been out of business for how many years now?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._F...turing_Company
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Old April 17, 2019, 07:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2wheelwander
Heading to LGS has been fruitless. Even the upscale shops around here do not stock many .45 LC. They just don't move much in my area. The only real full sized revolvers stocked are 686 and 629 and a GP100. I have not seen a Blackhawk/Bisley/Vaquero in a case in a few years. Good luck even at gun shows. The only lever actions in stock are tube loaded Henrys and Marlin 30-30's
Do you live anywhere near a club or range that hosts cowboy action (Single Action Shooting Society) matches? If you can find an SASS match somewhere near you, it would be informative to wander over and chat up some of the competitors. You'll probably find a number of different brands represented, and you can probably learn as much from the brands that AREN'T widely used as from those that are. I expect you'll find that most of the folks at SASS matches are very friendly, and more than happy to discuss their shootin' irons.
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Old April 17, 2019, 09:56 PM   #12
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Older Rugers Blackhawk and Vaquero revolvers were built on a larger heavier frame with a larger cylinder meant to take some heavier loads. Which is fine if that is what you want to do. The new model Vaquero is much closer in size and feel to the original Colt revolvers. It is hard to explain, you just have to hold and handle the different versions side by side.

If you want to hunt with it and use some hotter loads the older versions would be a better option. I've had several of those over the years and they are good enough guns. But if I were inclined to buy another SAA clone it would be the new model Vaquero. The look and balance is just better in my opinion. If I wanted to shoot heavy loads I'd go with the DA Redhawk.
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Old April 17, 2019, 10:05 PM   #13
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My vote would be an uberti 1872 open top. I am very happy with it and its a good shooter.
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Old April 17, 2019, 10:51 PM   #14
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$4k for a Colt SAA is excessive, unless there is something special about it. I bought mine (old stock, never fired) for $2,100, two-three years ago. If you want the real deal, be patient. They come up for sale periodically. If I was to get a clone, the Uberti is a very nice pistol. To me, the Ruger is too divergent in design to be called a SAA. Great revolver, but not a SAA.
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Old April 17, 2019, 11:43 PM   #15
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Quote:
Older Rugers Blackhawk and Vaquero revolvers were built on a larger heavier frame with a larger cylinder meant to take some heavier loads
This is slightly incorrect. Ruger pioneered high quality investment casting in the Blackhawk frames. Since no cast steel is quite as strong as forged steel of the same thickness, Ruger intentionally made his frames larger than the forged one of the Colt SAA, so it would be at least as strong. Legend has it that he then beefed up his frame a bit more, to be absolutely certain. Don't know if that part is true or not. The Blackhawk wasn't meant to take heavier loads, it was discovered that it was able to.

If you leave out the Flattops and Anniversary models, all New Model Blackhawks (the ones with the transfer bar) are built on the large (44cal though Ruger calls it something else) frame. The original Vaqueros frame is the same size, just with the rounded fixed sight top like the Colt.

The NEW VAQUERO (and the guns say "NEW VAQUERO" on them) is built on a frame very close in size to the Colt SAA. Experience has proven Ruger's cast frame that size is strong enough for SAAMI spec loads in .45 Colt.


If you're looking for a .45 Colt single action, decide if you have to have something that looks and feels like the Colt SAA or not. The Ruger Blackhawk is a better gun if you aren't hooked on Colt.

The Blackhawk is stronger, but that's not important to many folks. It has adjustable sights, a transfer bar that allow safe carry with all six chambers loaded, and can be simply and easily "slicked up" if that's what you want.
Oh, and coil mainspring, too..

I got my first Blackhawk .45 Colt /.45ACP in 1983, and its still one of my favorite revolvers. To my mind, if you want the best gun for the money, even at today's crazy MSRP, its the Ruger.

If You want a colt size and feel (but can live without the 4 clicks) get a NEW VAQUERO.
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Old April 18, 2019, 02:08 AM   #16
10-96
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2Wheel- Although they are Italian, have you taken a peek at the Remington 1875 and 1890 clones?
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I'm going to use the words "clip" and "Long Colt" every chance I get. It grinds my gears to see new members attacked when we all know dang good and well what's being refered to.
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Old April 18, 2019, 07:54 AM   #17
Mike Irwin
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I've often considered getting a Single Action Army or, better yet, a repop of the S&W Model 3 in .45 LC...

But so far my only .45 LC revolver is my Model 25-5 4".
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Old April 18, 2019, 07:55 AM   #18
Mike Irwin
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Oh, and considering that the majority of firearms chambered in .45 LC are revolvers, and that's the primary thrust of this discussion, I'm moving this to revolvers.
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Old April 18, 2019, 09:19 AM   #19
ChuteTheMall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aguila Blanca View Post
Do you live anywhere near a club or range that hosts cowboy action (Single Action Shooting Society) matches? If you can find an SASS match somewhere near you, it would be informative to wander over and chat up some of the competitors. You'll probably find a number of different brands represented, and you can probably learn as much from the brands that AREN'T widely used as from those that are. I expect you'll find that most of the folks at SASS matches are very friendly, and more than happy to discuss their shootin' irons.
This is excellent advice.
Bring your own eye and ear protection, and maybe buy a box of name brand cowboy action ammo.
You might just watch and chat, or you might find they are eager to let you try their sport.

You might not see many original Colts, or USFA. You'll probably see far more Rugers than all imported brands combined.
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Old April 18, 2019, 09:28 AM   #20
Mike Irwin
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OK, the OP did ask about rifles, too, so I'm going to move this back to General.
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Old April 18, 2019, 11:41 AM   #21
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I've often considered getting a Single Action Army or, better yet, a repop of the S&W Model 3 in .45 LC...
The S&W "repop" is cool but AVOID the one from Armi San Marcos, which I believe was sold under a couple of different names. Had one, looked lovely, other than the looks, total crap.

First cylinder the gun unlatched once, and one round was failure to fire. Second cylinder same thing but 2 rounds weren't set off, and the gun came open again, after one of the rounds that did fire. Ammo was Black Hills "standard" 250gr. At that point we gave up on the gun, and it went on the market, with a suitable warning....
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Old April 18, 2019, 01:18 PM   #22
Jim Watson
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My ASM had a crooked barrel.
Uberti topbreaks seem fair to good.

Unless there is a lot of style and image stuff going on, the OP would be best off with a Ruger Blackhawk .45. If he doesn't handload, the convertible would be smart, .45 ACP is better distributed and less expensive than .45 LC.
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Old April 18, 2019, 01:24 PM   #23
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When I was looking for my 1st cowboy revolver I shopped for several months looking at new & used Colts, Rugers, Italian, & even the lowly Heritage (Mrs Schlitz has a rough rider that was a good value for what she uses it for) I ended up with a New Vaquero in polished stainless steel & have throughly enjoyed my adventures in learning to shoot a 45 Colt & it also got me into the world of reloading so it's been a win/win for me.
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Old April 18, 2019, 03:13 PM   #24
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@Aguila Blanca and Chutethemail, GREAT advice and exactly the kind of advice I was looking for! Turns out there is a SASS event about an hour from me in July - on my wifes birthday. But, she is s good sport and might just either go or give me a pass for a day.

I do reload, though my purpose for this isn't to get into SASS. I;m taking up beekeeping this year. One new hobby at a time.

As mentioned earlier, one has caught my eye on GB. I'll post up either way when it ends. Its right up my ally and found it from a suggestion from this thread. I'll start bidding as it nears end, maybe a snipe program? I like it enough I fear I may go full on idiot bidding on it.

I'm not hung up on SAO, I'd do a SA/DA, but I want the classic look. I've looked at the open tops, good looking classic design, but that design just give me the willies. Just me. I've even looked at the repop Schofield Model #3. Neat handgun, and I'd own one, but I fear I would't shoot it much. Looks like a ball bat mated had a one night stand with a Bisley.

Really appreciate the feedback here. Happily looking at things I wouldn't have otherwise.
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Old April 18, 2019, 03:39 PM   #25
Crunchy Frog
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I’m a cowboy action shooter. I’m not crazy about .45 Colt in a rifle but any pistol caliber lever action rifle is fun to shoot.

As to SA revolvers, keep in mind that the Colt SAA was not “drop safe” with a loaded chamber under the hammer. Faithful reproductions of the Colt are the same. There are some replicas equipped with transfer bars but some of those have proven to be less durable. The new Uberti revolvers have a hammer mounted retractable firing pin; there have been mixed reviews on those. A Colt style revolver in a big bore caliber is nifty, though. I would buy a Great Western 2 from EMF (a Pietta) and load it with five rounds.

If I wanted a revolver that I could carry fully loaded I’d get a Ruger. If I wanted adjustable sights I’d buy a New Model Blackhawk Flattop. It won’t handle the high pressure “Ruger only” handloads but I don’t need that capability anyhow.

In addition to .45 Colt there are some other fun chamberings including .44 Special, .44-40 and even .38/.357 to consider.
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