There's nothing that tickles me more than a new shooter. His or her enthusiasm brings to mind the way I felt when I first handled a weapon almost a half century ago. It was love at first BOOM.
Many of you post threads asking advice about what guns you should buy.
Firearms are an intimately personal piece of machinery. No two will feel the same, fit the hand the same, balance the same, point the same, recoil the same and shoot to the same point of aim for different shooters. What works for me may work for you, but then again, it may not.
To that end, I offer this advice:
First, try some different firearms at you local matches before you buy.
You'll find that CAS shooters are a strange breed: we LOVE to loan our firearms and have others shoot them! Weird, huh? But true.
We take pride in our hardware... almost as much as we do in our hospitality toward new shooters.
So try some Rugers, try some Cimarrons, try some Colts, try some Stoegers, IGAs, Baikals, 66s, 73s, Marlins and 92s. Like a good pair of boots, your guns will have to fit you properly or you'll never be really comfortable.
After you think you've decided on the guns you want to purchase, then decide in what category you're going to shoot.
You may want to re-think the guns based upon that decision.
If you're very competitive and are looking to be the best on the block you'll probably shoot in the Traditional category. Traditionalists are very fast because they use the thumb of the offhand to cock their revolver... which, when going for speed, results in "slamcocking"-- operating the machinery in a manner it was never designed for.
Rugers can handle that type of punishment.
But because the Colt Single Action Army-- and by extension all of its "clones"-- the Schofields and Open Tops were all designed to 19th century needs and specifications, they won't handle that type of use for long without [mechanical] problems occurring. Shooting these types of designs in the Duelist, Gunfighter and Classic Cowboy categories is usually trouble free because the guns are used within the envelope of their designs.
Don't forget... you'll shoot more ammo through your guns in a year than what the average 19th century cowboy shot in his LIFETIME!
The same holds true with shotguns.
The side by sides are really cool and a lot of fun... but they weren't designed to take a full court press from an intense competitor. The slamming open and closing for the sake of competition times will eventually cause something to break. I think that's why so many top guns use the '97s... they're much more forgiving.
As far as rifles go, there's a few things to consider.
The 66s and '73s use a toggle link and block lifter action which is very forgiving for speed. Some, however, are caliber sensitive.
I've had good luck with the .45s, but know fellows who've had problems with the .357/.38s.
Likewise some of the Marlins... I've had good luck with the .45s, but never could get the .357s to cycle reliably. Others will tell you just the opposite.
I currently shoot EMF Model 1892s... because I like the style and balance of the weapon and favor its handling over the '73s and '66s, and just prefer it to the Marlins. I have tweaked my ammunition so the '92s feed reliably and eject just as fast as I can cycle the actions... but many folks have problems with 92s. They are finicky towards cartridge lengths.
So get a feel for what's comfortable for you, what you shoot well, how things balance for you, and what category you'd like to BEGIN your Cowboy Action Shooting career... because like most of us, you'll try one or two categories until you find your niche.
Some of us move in and out of categories like revolving doors. For instance, if I feel like wearing a crossdraw holster that day, I'll shoot Duelist. On another day I'll wear LH/RH strongsides and shoot Gunfighter.
There's a lot of room for variety in the sport.
If you shop wisely you can get into the sport for an initial $1200-1500 cost for all guns and leather.
Then again, some of us have spent that much on just one revolver.
This isn't a cheap sport by any means when you consider all the costs of guns, leather, clothing, transportation and fees... on the other hand, once your investments have been made, you 're pretty well set-- until you get "I" trouble.
I gotta have this... I gotta have that!
Don't be bashful about approaching shooters and asking for pointers or if they'd mind if you tried their guns. You'll get a whole lot more friendly advice than what you bargained for, as well as a great chance to sample some of the world's truly fine firearms designs.
Good luck, shoot straight, and above all-- BE SAFE!
Boston John Doucette
SASS Life #34253
Colt Lover Extraordinaire