Monday, September 1, 2014

Ruger Vaquerito

What is it about the lure of the "Old West"? 

From the early days of dime novellas to the block buster movies of the 1990's, we have been in love with the Cowboy and his lifestyle.

Back in 1982, some fans of the genre started something they called, "Cowboy Action Shooting".  The idea was to create a shooting match using period correct guns or replicas to compete in shooting matches that resembled old west shootouts. Period correct firearms were expensive. Many of the Colt 1873 Single Action Army revolvers (of all vintages) were being bought up and rebuilt for the new style of competitive shooting. This was expensive and perhaps even kept some from joining in the fun. the Ruger Blackhawk, while a single action revolver, wasn't authentic due to its squared frame and adjustable target sights.

In 1993 Ruger responded by creating a cowboy version of their New Model Blackhawk. The new gun was named the Vaquero (after the Spanish word for Cowboy) it featured a rounded frame, chamfered cylinder, fixed rear sight notch and a patridge blade front sight. It looked very much like the original Colt Single Action Army. 
The gun was very well received by the members of the Single Action Shooting Society (the governing body of competitive Cowboy Action Shooting).
I could go farther into the history of the Vaquero, but this post is about the Vaquero's little brother, the Vaquerito.

The Vaquerito, as its name suggests is a smaller version of the Vaquero. Rather than being produced on the New Model Blackhawk frame, the New Model Single Six (.22) frame was utilized. The Vaquerito was chambered in .32 H&R Magnum, rather than the .357 Mag, .44 Mag & .45 Colt that its bigger brother came chambered in.
For comparison here is my Vaquero (old model) in .45 Colt and my Vaquerito in .32 H&R Mag, both with 4 5/8" barrels
The Vaquerito was introduced in May of 2002, but is was not the 1st time Ruger had chambered the smaller Single Six in .32 caliber. From 1984 to 1997 Ruger had offered the Single Six in .32 H&R magnum. Those guns featured the same adjustable sights and frame that the standard Single Six had.

 They also made a Bisley version

With the new Vaquerito, Ruger offered four models with two finishes: high gloss stainless steel or color case hardened frame with blued barrel, cylinder and grip frame. There were two grip choices was well, standard XR3 RED (actually the XR00300) grip frame or the "bird's head" grip frame. Grip panels for the standard grip frame were made from rosewood on the blued guns and simulated Ivory on the stainless ones. All the bird's head grip frames came with black micarta grip panels.
The Vaquerito only lasted a few years before being discontinued. I was lucky enough to find a new one in the box on Gunbroker a few years ago.
 During the run, Ruger (at the request of distributors like TALO) made some special edition Vaqueritos like the Last Cowboy and the John Wayne Special.
The Last Cowboy models came in standard and bird's head grip.

There were only 1250 of the John Wayne Specials made. They came engraved in stainless steel with the birds head grip. In addition the serial # started with DUKE. The barrels featured John Wayne's signature and the standard plastic box came inside a cardboard box made to look like an old wood crate.

As always I like to finish my posts with some nice examples of the gun discussed.