4 5/8’’ barrel
Chambered for the .45 Colt (known to some as the .45 Long Colt)
A Ruger Vaquero revolver made between the years of 1993 - 2005, often called an “old Vaquero,” is slightly larger than a Colt Single Action Army revolver. “Old Vaquero” revolvers were built to safely handle the higher pressure .45 Colt hunting ammunition (such as the loads from Buffalo Bore); the cylinder walls are thicker than are those of the Colts and clones. A “new Vaquero” revolver produced from 2005 to the present has dimensions closer to that of the Colt Single Action Army revolver and is NOT for use with the hot hunting loads.
Unlike the Colt style single action revolvers which must be carried with the hammer down on an empty chamber, the “old” and “new” Vaquero revolvers are safe to carry with all six cylinder-chambers loaded; Ruger single action revolvers have a transfer bar firing pin system designed to make them “drop safe.” Some veteran six-gunners still only load Ruger Vaquero and Ruger Blackhawk revolvers with five cartridges; old safety habits run deep.
My great dreams and expectations sometimes never bear fruit; I have had no great outdoor adventures with this gun at my side, it never served as a kit gun of any sort, nor has it ever been a hunting companion. It is 1994 vintage, an “old Vaquero” purchased new, and has since seen a good deal of use, all of which has been at indoor ranges. It is what I shoot when I want to do something different. Over the years, quite a number of folks have asked me to take them out and let them shoot this “cowboy gun.” I also bring the Vaquero along when someone asks to shoot this derringer. Even with standard pressure cartridges, firing the .45 Colt is a moving experience.
Nowadays many folks are asking about using a single action revolver for self-defense. For personal defense, would I choose this revolver above all other available handguns? No. For personal defense, would I use this revolver if nothing else were available? Yes. IMHO, there are obvious reasons why the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies moved from single action revolvers to double action revolvers and then on to high-capacity semi-autos. Still, if someone wants to carry a cowboy gun for personal defense that is his or her business, not mine. Heck, some folks participating in Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) via the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) events look to be very proficient shooters. More power to them.