When Milady and I started shooting Cowboy Fast Draw in March, 2015, I bought two revolvers specifically for the game. Ruger New Vaqueros in .45 Colt. Milady customized hers with the addition of grips that fit her hand and she colored them with fingernail polish.
Ruger, of course, is a sponsor of the Cowboy Fast Draw Association, and lots of competitors use Ruger handguns for the game.
In August, Milady found a revolver that she really likes, by Traditions. The Traditions is made by Pietta of Italy. It's lighter than the Ruger, and Milady adopted it for her primary revolver. The Ruger was relegated to back-up tasks and training grandkids.
During Thanksgiving we were letting grandkids shoot wax in the backyard, and one of them was using the Vaquero. I happened to notice that the front sight was loose, and asked my son to look at it. He simply pulled it from its slot and told me that it appeared that the solder had turned loose. So, the week following, I called Ruger, had a shipping label emailed to me, boxed it up and sent it to Newport, NH. Ruger's customer service is legendary and I knew that they would repair the revolver and return it in short order.
On December 16th I was in a training session and my phone rang. The nature of my work is that I answer my cell phone, so I excused myself and walked out into the hall to take the call. It was from Ruger, a customer rep named Angela. She told me that the barrel and cylinder had been irreparably damaged from the use of squib rounds and that Ruger could not economically repair the gun.
I was stunned. I was also busy, so I asked her to research it further and told her I'd call her on the 17th. I returned to my training session, amazed and perplexed. I thought about little more than Milady's revolver for the rest of the day. Lots of questions going through my mind, but mainly just exactly how CFDA ammunition had ruined a gun as solidly built as a Ruger New Vaquero. Milady and I discussed it that evening, and I told her that I'd call Ruger on the morrow and keep her apprised.
I called on the morning of the 17th, talked to Angela, and she told me that the gun was damaged, that she had checked with the tech, and he thought that the cylinder was okay, but that the barrel had been damaged. She kept mentioning squib ammunition. She also said that it could not be economically repaired, and for $389.00, Ruger would send me an identical new-in-box firearm. I asked what would happen to our firearm if I took Ruger's offer, and Angela told me that Milady's gun would be destroyed at the factory. I told Angela to stop everything, that I was sending a letter. On the 18th I dropped a letter in the mail, One paragraph of that letter asked the pertinent question:
What I don't understand is how shotgun primer wax bullet ammunition could possibly have damaged the barrel, and the cylinder to the point where the firearm would have to be destroyed. I admit that I am both mystified and perplexed at this information.I anxiously awaited Ruger's reply. That call came yesterday. I answered my cell phone and talked to a lady from Ruger. (I didn't capture her name.) She told me that she had read my letter, had gone to the repair shop to find my gun, had instructed the techs to clean it thoroughly and re-inspect the barrel. After a thorough cleaning, they found nothing at all wrong with the revolver. She instructed the tech to re-attach the front sight and prepare the gun for shipment. Within the hour I got a shipping notice from FedEx. The revolver is on the way home, Milady is powerfully relieved, and my faith in Ruger customer service is restored.
In fairness, the technician who first inspected Milady's revolver may never have seen a gun that had been fired solely with wax bullet ammo. Wax bullet ammo is messy, it requires cleaning frequently. Some competitors clean their revolvers every ten shots. After an afternoon of shooting in the backyard with grandkids, I'll bet that revolver was fairly cruddy. And, I admit that I didn't give the barrel and cylinder a thorough cleaning after we used it that afternoon.
I'm glad I wrote the letter explaining the condition of the revolver. And, I'm glad that someone at Ruger got the letter, understood the dilemma, and went to the shop floor to see for herself. Milady's New Vaquero is on the way home, life is good, and my faith in Ruger is restored.