Ruger New Vaquero


May 4, 2011
So I desire to load up some "bear loads" for my Ruger New Vaquero in 45 Long Colt. Not planning to push it to the limits but I thought a 250 gr JHP or something like that going 1100-1200 fps would be more than plenty. According to the Ruger data section in all of my loading manuals this should be rather easy to achieve. Fearing that my frame (which is obviously thinner than the Old Vaquero or Blackhawk Models) would be a bit too weak for this I called Ruger. They said I should be good to go. Though the lady I talked to didn't really seem to understand what exactly I was asking for some time. At least she spoke english, that made it easier.

So I plan to start low, maybe even a grain two below the published minimum loads for the Ruger section in my handloading manual and slowly work up. I have already clocked 230 grain FMJs going over 1100 fps in my 5.5" barrel. I have heard yea and nay on this subject in many respectable circles and am asking the same thing to y'all...Is this safe?

I have a hard time believing Ruger would make a gun that was only safe for Colt SAA pressure levels knowing that there is a Ruger section in nearly every handloading manual and therefore set themselves up for a lawsuit. What do you think?


Dec 9, 2008
According to Chuck Hawks:

The original model Ruger Vaquero is a fixed sight variation of the Blackhawk and falls under the "Blackhawk" classification, as is the Ruger Bisley version of the Blackhawk. These are cosmetic variations capable of handling the same pressure as the standard Blackhawk, and fall under the general heading of "Ruger Blackhawk revolvers." The "New Model" Vaquero, introduced at the end of 2004 primarily for cowboy action shooters (who use only low pressure loads), is built on a smaller frame--much like a Colt SAA--and is not recommended for high pressure loads.

If I had to make a bet, I'd bet that the New Vaquero is a little stronger than the Colt P frame guns but I'd never gamble on just how much stronger they might be.

I ran a little search and turned up this thread in another fine forum, and there are links in it also.

After looking this over I have decided that I would never push a New Vaquero in .45 Colt very far beyond 14,000 psi. In part this is because the cylinder just isn't significantly beefier than the SAA clones. I have a sweet little New Frontier in .45 Colt and decided long ago that I don't need to push it beyond 900 fps because I don't want to wreck it, and besides I have found shooting wimpy 750 fps loads to be a great way to break back into handgun shooting after having laid it aside for a few years. MY direct answer to anyone who might ask my advice on handloading for the New Vaquero would be to take it to the book max if desired, but no further.


Jul 30, 2011
I think you'll be better off using hardcast vs jacketed bullets in your New Model Vacquero. These frames are designed for CAS and not the Blackhawk specs. Most of the jacketed .452" bullets found on shelves are designed for the higher pressure loads being used in the stronger actions. They do not upset at the lower pressures and fail to consistently create an effective gas check.

We were trying to work up low pressure plinking loads in a friend's BlackHawk and couldn't get less than 3" groups using jacketed bullets which shot great otherwise at higher pressures/velocities. We did a little research and found some articles concerning this subject. We tried lead and they shot much better. Then we captured some of the jacketed bullets and they did not show consistent or deep rifling.

I'm going off memory with this as my friend is my pistol guru but it wouldn't hurt to research this.