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Birdshead Vaquero 45 auto

This is a discussion on Birdshead Vaquero 45 auto within the Range Reports forums, part of the Gunner Forum category; Yup, more cowgirl shooting, this time with my New Vaquero Birdshead in 45 auto. Traded off a couple of old Marks that were collecting dust ...


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Old 01-25-2017, 02:47 PM   #1
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Birdshead Vaquero 45 auto

Yup, more cowgirl shooting, this time with my New Vaquero Birdshead in 45 auto. Traded off a couple of old Marks that were collecting dust in the safe, but after shooting this one, can safely say this one won't suffer the same fate. Fun, fun, fun. Cheap to shoot, too. Loves aluminum case 45 auto stuff.


Overall weight is listed at 37 ounces and with its 3 1/2" barrel, it's fairly comparable to a standard 5" barrel 1911, such as the Mil Spec. Other than the 45 auto chambering, though, obviously two very different guns.


This is actually my first birdshead grip SA. Love the way it conceals under a shirt or coat and, of course, that's the idea of the birdshead. It's also a very comfy grip for shooting. I'm a little clumsy drawing and cocking it with one hand - the birdshead grip tends to roll in the hand when I try to cock it that way - but using my usual two hands to work the gun is another story. I'm lightning fast that way. Once in action with that method, I'm faster and more accurate for follow up shooting than with the 1911.

First range session was informative. No surprise that gun is plenty accurate. I expected that. What surprised me, though, is that the gun with its fixed sights shot about 4" high at 16 yards with standard 230 grain 45 auto loads. Most Vaqueros tend to shoot low out of the box, so filing down the front sight as needed to raise POI is pretty standard fare.

A fixed sight gun that shoots this high, though, doesn't leave you that option. It's more of a problem. Fortunately, I found that by dropping the tip of the front sight down hugging the bottom of the rear sight gutter, was pretty effective. Here's the result with standard factory 230 grain ball ammo. Still shot a touch high with a six o'clock hold, but close enough. Easy gun to shoot. It's excellent trigger helped.


The other way to work with a fixed sight gun that shoots high is to use a lighter bullet, which tends to print lower. Came back the next day with a variety of 185 self-defense loads and that did the trick. Even better, the Birdshead 45 auto loved the stuff. Not as cheap to shoot, of course, but really opens the door for using the Birdshead as a carry gun.


Not telling anyone else to use a single action for a carry gun, but I've used them for years as my woods carry gun and would have no hesitation using the Birdshead 45 auto that way. After all, toothy critters don't carry guns and shoot back. Another plus for the Vaquero 45 auto is that it can take a regular diet of the hottest +P 45 auto and no worry about changing springs or excessive wear as with a 1911. It's your usual tank tough Ruger.

Yup, just think of this one as a cowgirl's 1911. I do.
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Old 01-25-2017, 05:05 PM   #2
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Another beauty ma'am, I have not shot a birdshead yet. I have fondled a few and really like the way the grip fits into my hand.
Thanks again for a great review.
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Old 01-25-2017, 09:02 PM   #3
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That sure is some good shootin! Close enough. I reckon!
I don't remember ever even handling a Birdshead. Are they best for small hands?
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Old 01-25-2017, 11:59 PM   #4
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I've never held one either, but your report surely explains a lot about them. That is a lovely pistol and awesome shooting.
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Old 01-26-2017, 06:43 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by RetiredSeabee View Post
Another beauty ma'am, I have not shot a birdshead yet. I have fondled a few and really like the way the grip fits into my hand.
Thanks again for a great review.
+1
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Old 01-26-2017, 07:48 AM   #6
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Thanks, guys, as always. Glad you enjoyed the post.

GJ, I don't know if the birdshead is an advantage for small hands or not, at least not on this Ruger version. On this version, it's still very much a full size Blackhawk or Super Blackhawk grip (hammer is a actually a Super Blackhawk), just one with a round butt. Overall, still very much a full size grip. Length is actually the same as my Super Blackhawk. The pic is a bit distorted, but I laid the Birdshead over my 44 mag Super Blackhawk so you can see how it compares.


From the back,


Assuming you use a typical SA grip hold, reach to the trigger is about the same. Now, if you use a pinky under hold, it might be easier and more comfortable to do with the birdshead if you have smaller hands.

Again, this is Ruger's interpretation of the birdshead on a Vaquero. On other single actions, a birdshead could be quite a different size.


Speaking of single action grips, my preference in SA grip styles has been evolving. I now much prefer the standard plow handle grip on all my single actions (and I consider this birdshead to be basically a round butt version of the plow handle). I struggled with the standard plow handle grip for controlling recoil on the big kickers until I started using the pinky under hold, but now that I have, I actually prefer the old plow handle on the hard kickers to the Bisley grip, which many believe is a better grip for taming magnums. In fact, I don't like the feel of the Bisley in the hand, now, nor do I like how it draws from the holster.
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Old 01-26-2017, 07:53 AM   #7
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Speaking of carry guns, just saw two coyotes run across the backyard airgun range. Normally don't bother to carry when in the woods, this time of year, but now that our Border Collie is a constant companion when I ski or snowshoe, time to carry. If our dog got cornered by coyotes, she could be in great danger and, make no mistake, coyotes, up here, do go after dogs if they catch them in the woods.
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Old 01-26-2017, 10:05 AM   #8
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Thank you for the comparison pictures, NCG. That Birdshead looks like it will fill a hand pretty good.
I like the plow handle too, and always have used pinky under. The pinky under also made it an easy transition to the small semi-auto carry pistols. I'm always seeing people put grip extensions on their carry guns, and I wonder why they want to make a conceal pistol less concealable.
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Old 01-26-2017, 10:49 AM   #9
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.......I wonder why they want to make a conceal pistol less concealable.
Some of the same people who whine over carrying a pistol that weighs two ounces more than another one. Comfort over all else these days.
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Old 01-26-2017, 11:43 AM   #10
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I normally shoot with only 1 hand and the bottom back of the plow handle digs in my palm under recoil . Since that corner is cut off birdshead it don't dig into my palm . The little finger under the bottom of the grips keeps the muzzle jumping up and keep it from rolling in my hands and no need to adjust my grip for next shot . I had two 7.5 .... I dehorned 1 of them and the other 1 I cut it down to make a sheriff model .... Hope this make sense .

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Old 01-26-2017, 01:53 PM   #11
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I normally shoot with only 1 hand and the bottom back of the plow handle digs in my palm under recoil . Since that corner is cut off birdshead it don't dig into my palm . The little finger under the bottom of the grips keeps the muzzle jumping up and keep it from rolling in my hands and no need to adjust my grip for next shot . I had two 7.5 .... I dehorned 1 of them and the other 1 I cut it down to make a sheriff model .... Hope this make sense .

Makes sense. Nice work!
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Old 01-26-2017, 02:03 PM   #12
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Yeah, I think the whole self-defense carry gun thing gets a little bit carried away with "what if" thinking. Outside of a tiny minority of people who have actually had to use a gun for self-defense, it's mostly a discussion by those who haven't and that includes people like me. Funny how everyone seems to have such a strong opinion on something most of us will hopefully never experience. I also see a lot of trendiness on this topic. For sure, ultralight is the in thing, these days.

TGR, rounding grips makes a lot of sense to me. Rounding those corners on a plow handle would come in real handy on a 44 mag or 45 Colt with heavy loads. Ask me how I know.
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Old 01-26-2017, 06:14 PM   #13
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That sure is some good shootin! Close enough. I reckon!
I don't remember ever even handling a Birdshead. Are they best for small hands?
I don't think so, I wear a large glove and the birdshead feels really good to me. With most handguns I feel like the grip isn't centered in my palm. And my trigger finger comes to the trigger at an angle. Pushing back to the trigger rather than the pad of the finger tip being flush across the trigger. The shape of the birdshead being rounded in the palm seems to bring my finger to the trigger more naturally.
Keep in mind that I haven't shot one yet but have dry fired several and it just feels very good to me.
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Old 01-26-2017, 07:56 PM   #14
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I think I'll make a point of findin one to handle.
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Old 01-27-2017, 06:51 AM   #15
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Finding one to see how it fits for you is a very good idea. Heck, it's a good idea with any handgun, but much of the appeal of single actions to me is the way they feel and balance in the hand. These birdshead Rugers, though, are typically distributor exclusives, so a lot of shops won't have one in inventory. I took a chance and had my LGS order one for me, but I'm glad I did.

Don't know about the shops in your area, but our local shops are not exactly overflowing with stock Ruger single actions and other brands of single actions are even harder to find. Can't blame our shops, because even up here in the boonies, single actions are slow sellers. We oldsters keep them busy buying lever guns and single actions, but our shops depend heavily on black guns and semi-autos, same as most shops. Most of the time, if I want a specific single action, I have to have it ordered in for me.

Now and then, however, I do find a treasure and, sometimes, just sometimes, it is not a Ruger. That's fodder for another thread, though. Stay tuned.

Last edited by north country gal; 01-27-2017 at 06:54 AM.
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Old 01-27-2017, 08:15 AM   #16
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Here is a birdshead I sold . I can't remember if I like the grip It is 7/8 frame size like my other P jr's .




Last edited by tx gun runner; 01-27-2017 at 08:20 AM.
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Old 01-27-2017, 09:46 AM   #17
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Those look sweet. I like the smaller frame size. My Single Seven is built on a Single Six frame size, also 7/8 size, but with seven rounds of hot 327s, it could make a serious carry gun. Takes me right up into 357 country. Would love to see a fixed sight birdshead in this one.
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Old 01-27-2017, 03:50 PM   #18
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I had 32-20 in Vaquero which are super rare like only 500 made .

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Old 01-27-2017, 07:17 PM   #19
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They also made a special Blackhawk Convertible for one year in 32 H&R and 32-20. Would love to find any single action in 32-20.
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Old 01-28-2017, 05:18 AM   #20
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They also made a special Blackhawk Convertible for one year in 32 H&R and 32-20. Would love to find any single action in 32-20.
If you are shooting factory ammo the 327 is a better round then the 32-20 . . The 32-20 is loaded at low pressure cartridge because of the old vintage guns . Now a hand loader in a modern gun the 32-20 is a super cartridge and can be loaded to the same pressure of the 327 and produce much higher FPS and a wider choice of powders and bullets . ....
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