Capt. Baylor's well-used Ruger Vaquero, .45 Colt, 4-5/8" barrel. 40,000 rounds and counting. This is a full-charge black-powder load.

You'll need 2 single Action revolvers, one pistol caliber lever action rifle, and one side-by-side shotgun without ejectors or an external hammer pump shotgun (Winchester '97) or lever action shotgun (Winchester 1887--blackpowder only unless one of the promised replicas actually becomes available).

Pistols: We will start with the assumption that you want something resembling Colt Single Action Army revolvers and then talk about alternatives. 90%+ of SASS shooters use something resembling the Colt SAA. Those trying to get started on the cheap can find used Ruger Blackhawks for $250 or so. These will put you into the Modern Category (adjustable sights, smokeless powder or black powder). New or used Ruger Vaqueros (Fixed sight revolvers put you in traditional class if you use smokeless powder, Frontier Cartridge if you use black powder or black powder substitute). New ones cost $400-450. Clones of Colt SAAs start at $350 and go to $1200 or so depending on brand. Colt SAAs are available from SASS starting at $1290 each but require 3-12 months for delivery. (One of mine took 10 months, including 2 months at which it sat at EMF. The second took another 6 months. When I called the factory it was "stuck in a repair loop." Judge Roy Bean told me he waited for an engraved gun for over 19 months, and he's SASS #1!) The same Colt SAA without your SASS member number as a serial number has gone down, and I've seen them advertised in the $1400 range, and .357s are available again, though not from SASS. If you have shootable Colts, shoot them. If you don't or don't want to tie up that kind of money, use clones or Rugers or Colt Cowboys. Using the substitutes and ordering the Colts for next year is reasonable if you're financially able and want Colts. Nearly all of the national and World Champions shoot Rugers for their reliability and sight picture.

This is Judge Roy Bean's second SASS Colt, meaning serial #1SASS to match SASS1 given him by Colt some time back. the one mentioned above, shown at Winter Range 2002, finally arriving after, I think 19 months. It's heavily engraved, though, which slows things down. At the time he showed it to me, it was going to go away to Bob Munden for an action job and Eagle Grips for real dead elephant ivory stocks. A collector's item like this isn't necessary for CAS. Most of the champions use Rugers that cost less than the ivory on this gun.

 

 

This Ruger Blackhawk, because of its modern, adjustable sights, would put you into the MODERN Category. A lot of beginners start there because they already have one or more Blackhawk. As a category, however, the TRADITIONAL Category is the one most popular, overwhelmingly. It requires 2 pistols with fixed, period-correct sights. Other categories: FRONTIER CARTRIDGE, using black powder or black powder substitutes in all weapons. Pistols would otherwise fit in Traditional Category, meaning fixed sights. The Winchester '97 is not allowed in the black powder classes. Added for 2003: FRONTIER CARTRIDGE DUELIST, requiring one handed pistol shooting. FRONTIERSMAN: using cap and ball (percussion) revolvers and SXS shotgun, shooting black powder or substitutes in all weapons. DUELIST: Shooting a fixed sight revolver with one hand. GUNFIGHTER: Shooting a fixed sight revolver in each hand. There are also LADIES MODERN and LADIES TRADITIONAL and LADIES DUELIST plus senior men and ladies (over 60 years of age) and Elder Statesmen (over 70). Recently a new category was formed, 49ers, for people 49 through 59. Shortly after that, Shalako Joe, a 19 year old, won the World Championships for 2002, making a lot of 50 year olds glad they won't have to compete against him for a while in category. Not all matches will have all categories. For example Frontier Cartridge and Frontiersman might be combined into BLACK POWDER. Added for 2003: CLASSIC COWBOY AND CLASSIC COWGIRL: These categories have their own dress code as well as some surprising firearms requirements. It's meant to be a big bore category despite the "Cowboy" and "Cowgirl" name. It requires 2 traditional pistols of .40 Caliber rimmed cartridges or larger (meaning no .45 ACP or .40 S & W, etc.) .38-40 is really a .40 caliver, so it's the minimum. 44 Special/Russian/Mag, .44-40, .45 Schofield, .45 Colt, .36 caliber cap and ball or larger are the intended categories. You may use smokeless or blackpowder. The rifle, aside from being big bore, must be a 73 or earlier, leaving the choices pretty much the 1860 Henry, 1866 Winchester, and 1873 Winchester, though theoretically the Spencer carbine in .45 Schofield is legal. Don't get one. It's not really suitable for this sport. We'll discuss the costuming requirements later on in the costuming section.

Recommendation: If they fit your hand, get Rugers. They're usually ready to go out of the box and need little or nothing in the way of repairs for thousands of rounds. If you're flush, you can shoot them while waiting for your custom Colts. If you must have Colt clones, I recommend those by Cimarron Firearms. Cimarron Firearms is located in Fredericksburg, Texas. Their guns are Uberti-made. Several importers import Uberti guns, but Cimarron sets very high standards for Ubertis in fit and finish. Some are assembled and finished in the US. They will cost more than some imported by other importers, but usually they will be closer to ready to use. If they're not, Mike Harvey, and the staff at Cimarron are very helpful in warranty work.

By Colt clones I mean guns that are copies of either 1st Generation Blackpowder Frame Colts or Pre-War Colts (minor frame and sight differences). Some are more authentic than others. US Firearms makes Colt clones of all U.S. parts. They are extremely high in quality, and, except for the matte-blue finished Rodeo model, priced accordingly. AWA Firearms, a fairly new company, actually bought Armi San Marco and is producing high quality Colt clones and other guns. They seem to be over their growing pains, and their customers praise them highly. EMF Company, Inc., owned by SASS #2, General U.S. Grant, has been importing Italian replicas for a long time. Their current Colt clones are Uberti, though in the past they were ASM. Their new "Great Western II" is an extremely accurate reproduction of a 1st Generation Colt. Navy Arms Company was the original importer of Colt clones, beginning with a 1851 Navy in the fifties.

If you have small hands, note the information on the Cimarron Lightnings further on.

Expect to have to send any Colt or Colt clone to a good specialist gunsmith for an action job. Otherwise the innards will likely grind each other to bits and fail. Most clones are Uberti-made. Current production EMF, Taylor, Uberti, and Cimarron are Uberti-made.

More about revolvers.