Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Friday, April 15, 2005

3rd Annual Buy A Gun Day - I Bought One!

Well, I teased you about it, and now the day of the Big Reveal is here!

And here it is! A Ruger Vaquero single-action revolver in .45 Long Colt with a 4 & 5/8" barrel.

I've since shitcanned the ugly fake ivory grips shown, and put on the walnut grips from my Ruger Blackhawk.

For the 3rd Annual Buy A Gun Day, I originally started out shopping for a .22 autoloading pistol. I had so much fun with Little Bee Boy's Smith & Wesson 422 at the Texas Blogfest Shootout that I realized my arsenal was seriously in need of a .22 LR handgun.

While I really really like the Ruger Bearcat (a gun that falls into the "It's so CUTE!" category), and was sorely tempted by the Ruger Single Six, which has an extra cylinder so you can shoot .22 Magnum in addition to .22 LR, an autoloader is a lot easier to load & unload compared to a single action. It's easier to clean, too, with one chamber instead of six.

So, off I went, on my usual jaunts through pawn shops, gun stores, and that shady-lookin' guy on the corner downtown. I'm a shooter, not a collector looking for resale value, so while a shiny new NRA 99% finish is nice to find on a bargain, I'm more interested in the mechanical condition. That lets me be a little more flexible in where I go gun shopping.

I didn't find a lot that I liked. I was hoping to stumble across a Walther P22 for less than $250, but outside a gun show, that was a long shot. I did find a couple of decent S&W 22A autoloaders at a pawn shop, but they both had a royal blue synthetic stock, and were priced way above market value at $225 each. They were dirty as hell, too. I can do ugly & cheap, ugly & dirty, but a mix of Ugly, dirty, and pricy just doesn't wash.

I'm about to just go pay retail at Carter's Country for a Ruger Mk III when I find a local guy selling the Vaquero for $200. The problem is, I see the ad at 8 a.m., and I'm leaving to go to Austin at 9! I email him and let him know I'll pay cash on the spot, and please give me a call. We trade emails and calls, and I met him last Sunday on my return from Austin and bought the gun.

So, for those of you gun-savvy folks wondering "OK, for $200, what's wrong with it?", you are correct in your suspicions.

Mechanically, the gun is perfect. Excellent bore, tight lockup, immaculately clean. Aside from the hideous grips that needed to be immediately replaced, the gun's ready to shoot 50,000 rounds.

Cosmetically? Hooo boy... there's the problem! Our genius previous owner apparently got some bug up his ass, and decided to alter the look of the revolver. He dismounted everything from the frame, except perhaps the barrel. Then, using a buffing wheel, he removed every bit of the case-hardened coloring from the frame. I'm kinda glad I didn't have any ammo with me. The poor soul needed to be put out of his misery for abusing a revolver like that. It doesn't look too awful until you get right up close, and you can then see the patterns that were too deep to buff out. The barrel and grip frame are still deeply blued, with just a hint of holster wear, and there's one small ding in the bluing underneath the barrel next to the ejector housing.

I'm gonna drop it off at a local gunsmith to have the cylinder gap measured and the revolver timed. I have no way of knowing if he dismounted the barrel or monkeyed with the timing. I know he's had some trigger work done, 'cause it breaks crisply without a hint of creep. I might also have a couple of coils cut off the mainspring, to lighten the hammer pull a bit.

I've found a company that will re-case harden the frame, but it'll cost me $175. Add that to the amount paid, and I might as well have bought a new one. Nope, gonna just pump a lot of ammo through my two-tone blue & silver Vaquero, and have a blast doing it!

I can't wait for Buy A Gun Day #4!