Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Ruger Vaquero

1n 1993, Ruger introduced a variant of their successful Blackhawk revolver, the Vaquero. This single-action revolver more closely resembled the Colt Single Action so beloved of old-west historians and re-enactors.    Originally in .357 magnum and .45 Long Colt, it was an immediate success.  Adopted by the Single Action Shooters Society, it became known as a rock-solid handgun that would handle the stoutest handloads that can prudently be put into a magnum handgun.

However, the Vaquero was a litle heavy, built like a tank, and the Single Action game guys petitioned for a slightly smaller revolver.  In 2005, Ruger came out with a slightly smaller frame, more closely approximating the Colt Peacemaker.  It's still a supremely strong revolver, and it's been adopted, loved, gunsmithed and shot by millions of single action aficionados.  Ruger called this revolver the New Vaquero.  T hose of us who follow such things nowadays call the revolvers the New Vaquero and the Old Vaquero.  Technically, there is no Old Vaquero.  There are Vaqueros and New Vaqueros.

In January of this year, Milady and I got involved in Cowboy Fast Draw shooting.  Regular readers know this fact.  I immediately bought two Ruger New Vaquero revolvers to get us started.  As I crawled through pawn shops, I'd keep my eyes out for good examples of single action revolvers and in the succeddeing months I've picked up a few mre examples, from Uberti and Pietta. Good revolvers all, and beloved by the Fast Draw community.  Still, I kept my eyes open for nice single action revolvers in .45 Long Colt.

This summer, I was cruising through my favorite pawn shop and saw a familiar shape in the case.  I asked to see it.  A Ruger (old) Vaquero in .45 Long Colt, but with the 7.5" barrel.  It was priced a little bit high, above retail for a new New Vaquero, so I passed on it.

In late September, I was passing through the shop and I noticed the Vaquero still in the case.  But the price had been dropped.  Two things came immediately to mind.  First, Ruger no longer cataloges the New Vaquero in the .7.5" barrel.  Those are found in pawn shops near the hens teeth.  Second, this was a very early example of the (Old) Vaquero.  It probably came out of the factory during the first month of production.  The serial number is truly that low.  I gave the counter guy a C-Note and put the gun on layaway.

Then, I went home and told Milady what I had done.  She agreed that the asking price was fair, and agreed that I had done the correct thing.  During the following months, I'd drop by and put a few dollars on the layaway.  On December 1st, I told the pawnbroker that I'd see him after the first of the year and get it out.  He was cool with that.

Today, I got a text from Milady.  "After work, go by the shop and pick up your gun."  I'm a December baby, so my birthday and Christmas are close.  As instructed I went by the shop to pick up my gun, right after work.  A 4473, some light banter with the pawnbroker, and I was out the door.

Damn, it's pretty.  almost pristine, this revolver has been used lightly and loved much.  Someone worked this revolver, and they knew Ruger revolvers.  The hammer comes back smoothly, with no appreciable catches.  The trigger is crisp and clean, and the case-hardening has to be seen to be appreciated.  My poor photography skills don't do it justice.  Deep, rich color case-hardening, it reveals blues, reds and golds.  It's really a beautiful handgun.

As in most old Rugers, the base pin is captured by the ejector, which is nice, the cylinder spins freely when the loading gate is opened, the trigger breaks cleanly with just a trace of creep.  The hammer comes back smoothly.  It's really a fine example of the gunsmith's craft.

Two mysteries currently exist about this gun.  It is apparent is was a special revolver to someone, but I didn't know who until I showed it to Milady.

"Who is Aidan Mancum?" she asked.

"I have no idea.  Why? I responded.

"His name is engraved on the backstrap." She replied.

Sure enough, on the backstrap of the revolver, in delicate scroll script, the name Aidan Mancum is engraved.  I have no idea who Mr. Mancum is, but obviously this was his revolver.  With nicely done scroll engraving and pristine action work, it's obvious to anyone that Mr. Mancum thought this revolver was something special.

The second mystery is who will be using it.  As Milady tried the action, she dropped  it down to a holstered position, then mimicked a draw. "Oh! That's smooth." she said, "The hammer comes back like butter." Her eyes were wide "I like that a lot, and the grips fit me.  I may have to get a long-gun holster."

Regardless, Mr. Mancum.  It's a beautiful revolver and we'll take good care of it.  Personally, I may still be in the market for a long gun.

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