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Using the same frame as the Ruger Blackhawk from 1973, the Vaquero first appeared with a 7.5in (190mm) barrel, chambered for .45 Colt cartridges in a six-shot cylinder. Soon after the Vaquero was chambered to use the .44 magnum, .357 magnum and .40-40 Winchester cartridges, along with two additional barrel lengths of 5.5in (140mm) and 4.675in (120mm).
The hammer is not required to be half-cocked for loading and unloading. Also, to prevent the hammer striking a cartridge, without the trigger being pulled, a transfer bar mechanism is used. Therefore the hammer has only two positions: fully down or fully cocked. These features were first put onto the Ruger Blackhawk.
The Original Vaquero, built from 1993 until 2005, was designed to firer the high power .45 Colt round. Having thicker cylinder walls (a feature of most Ruger revolvers, such as the Blackhawk and Redhawk) the Vaquero could easily cope with the pressure from the .45 Colt cartridge.
The majority of the Original Vaqueros were sold with walnut grips, with the Ruger logo in a medallion on the grip. From 1998 some Vaqueros were sold with faux-ivory grips with gold inlay and the option for customised engraving was offered.
'New Model' VaqueroEdit
Replacing the 'Original' Vaquero in 2005 the New Model was based on the smaller Ruger XR-3 Grip frame. This meant that the New Model cannot handle the same rounds as the Original, with attempts to shoot the high pressure rounds voiding the warrenty. The smaller frame moves the New model Vaquero closer to the Colt Single Action Army.
The 'New Model' Vaquero is sold with black plastic chequered grips, matching those on the Colt Single Action Army (which were black rubber grips). Furthermore the safety-warning - placed on the left side of the barrel on the Original Vaquero - is placed underneath the barrel, to make the New Model more aesthetically pleasing.
In 1999 a limited production run began of 1,000 customised Vaqueros. Of these 500 were in Stainless Steel and 500 in Blue, with colour case hardened frames. A unique length barrel of 3.75in (95mm) was used for all of the 'Sheriff's' (This barrel would then be offered on standard and 'New Model' Vaqueros from 2005). These were all sold by Davidson's.
Unlike other Single-action revolvers, such as the Colt Single Action Army, the Vaquero can have all six cylinders loaded, a transfer bar mechanism preventing the hammer striking the cartridge without the trigger being pulled.
Ruger used the Vaquero to fill a demand in the market for single-action revolvers for use in cowboy action shooting. Vaqueros are used for target shooting aswell as for aesthetic purposes.