Ruger vs Colt SAA Vs FA 97?

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ShortBBL

Blackhawk
Joined
Nov 20, 2009
Messages
731
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MN
I know this is a Ruger forum but I am curious if any of you also own Colts and the FA 97?

Are there any pluses or minuses to the Colts vs the Rugers vs FA 97? Yes I know the Colts cost more and I think they are a little smaller frames. Also I guess one could not load warmer than factory ammo for them, so what are the good points to them?

I've always had Rugers but do like the look of the Colts as well.

The FA's look a bit spendy, but nice!

Thanks!
 

jpdesign

Single-Sixer
Joined
Oct 14, 2008
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255
Location
Glen Rose, TX
I understand wanting to own an original colt, I want one.

I work on a 1600 acre game ranch, I would rather carry a ruger than a colt into the woods, for the safety factor, and cost. I don't need the stronger frame so much, but the guns I carry day to day often get shot by inexperienced shooter, at least inexperienced with revolvers, so the transfer bar in something that in my mind is a great invention.

Jimmy
 

DanChamberlain

Single-Sixer
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
140
Location
Mascoutah, IL
I've owned a lot of Colts over the years. A while back I sold my last one and won't ever own another. They cost way more than they are worth. Instead, I purchased a Cimarron and probably won't ever sell it. It's made like the Colt was made at the turn of the last century 1800/1900 time frame. It's easily as accurate as any Colt, or Ruger I've ever owned.

The pluses for a Colt/Colt copy, is that they are generally lighter and handier than the Ruger Blackhawk (not the new Vaquero) and they normally have a very good trigger.

They point like lasers and they give a certain historical aesthetic that the Ruger cannot match.

But, the Ruger is a better, stronger and more versatile.

Dan
 

Hammerdown77

Blackhawk
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Messages
886
Location
North Alabama
If you are talking about the new Vaquero built on the smaller frame, then both it and the Colt will shoot the same SAAMI spec .45 Colt loadings. The previous Vaquero built on the heavier frame is the one that can shoot the hotter loads.

The Vaq and the Colt are similar, but different. I don't have a Vaquero, but I've handled Colts and currently own a Cimarron Model P, which is a truer replica of the Colt than is the Vaq.

The Colt uses leaf springs. It does not have a hammer transfer bar safety like the Vaq, meaning you can't (shouldn't) carry it with all 6 chambers loaded and the hammer down on a live chamber. The reason is, the Colt's hammer has the firing pin on the hammer, so when the hammer is down, it's pressing into the live primer, which is not a safe condition.

The Vaquero (and all Rugers) uses coil springs. It has the hammer transfer bar, meaning it's safe to carry the hammer down on a live round.

The Colt has a different trigger mechanism. To load the Colt, you have to bring the hammer back to half cock, then swing open the loading gate. On the Vaq, you can just swing open the loading gate with the hammer down to load the cylinder. The Colt has three positions the hammer can be cocked to: "safe", half-cock, and full cock. Cocking the hammer on a Colt will give you four "clicks", which some would say spell C-O-L-T.

If it were me, and I wasn't just dead set on having a Colt, I'd get a Ruger Vaq or a Uberti/Cimarron for roughly a third the price of the Colt, and see how I liked it. I like Colts, and I own a 1911 Colt Commander, and I plan on owning more, but I have a hard time couging up $1200 for their current model SAAs.
 

Old Judge Creek

Single-Sixer
Joined
Nov 1, 2001
Messages
320
Location
1881 Ranch, Nv & Northern Ca
I have several Ruger Blackhawks, Bisley Vaqueros, and Colt SAAs. Nothing balances better in the hand than a Colt SAA.

OTOH: no Colt I've ever seen will stand up to the rugged use invested in any Ruger I've ever owned.

To twist an old phrase: Gimme A Colt for Show and a Ruger for Go.
 

1rebel

Bearcat
Joined
Jan 19, 2005
Messages
59
the colt crashed and a scientist at ruger took what was left of the body in and said "we can build it stronger, faster and for a helluva lot less money, we have the technology" thus came the ruger single action and imho ultimately the vaquero
i to like the looks of the colt saa as it was the first pistol i remember seeing when i was a kid but if you live hard and play hard like i do, get a vaquero. hell you can even get a new vaquero one of the cfda models with the better hammer and in stainless and shoot "cowboy" loads only and will still outlast every colt, colt clone on the planet.
now i figure this isnt gonna be one of the most popular replies on here but the truth will stand when the world is on fire
1rebel
 

gregs45auto

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 26, 2005
Messages
491
Location
utah
My big problem with colts is their parts that break so frequently. Rugers do not. So I sold the Colts and bought Rugers. jmho, greg :p
 

gak

Buckeye
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Oct 13, 2007
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Aridzona
I liked the Colt for show, Ruger to go comment. I have both (as well as the Cimarron and USFA) and they're both great--but different as stated. There's nothing like the feel and snick-snick of a Colt--unless it's a USFA for about $250-300 less for approximate apples-to-apples but without the pony. To me, it was worth scraping together (once) for the pony; and finding a very rare new one with a favorite but non-catalogued caliber put over the top for me.


IMO, the only even remote reason to pay the price of a Colt is to get a Colt--for its own sake--and the recent years' production has been pretty darn good. And I could not disparage someone who made that choice for that reason. Since I am not a precision shooter and don't need "quality at any cost," I cannot abide paying the same (as the Colt SAA) for a FA, when to me--however excellent mechanically--operationally is not appreciably different/better than two custom tuned Rugers for the same price, with about the same aesthetics (as as a beadblasted Ruger Blackhawk).


If wanting a rugged SA but with the smooth "cowboy" lines--and with the safe/full 6 shot ability--get the New Vaquero (or older large frame if needing to run 'em super hot. I'm talking .45 here, or .44 Mag (the latter not available in the smaller frame). The small framed NV and 50th Ann .357s can shoot virtually anything you want). If wanting rugged SA with the adj. sights, get a Blackhawk--either the traditional large frame or one of the new smaller frame flattops (same basic frame as New Vaquero).


If wanting a "no added safety" Colt-type but can't abide the price and you don't absolutely need the pony, get the Cimarron (Uberti) one gent mentioned, or USFA for a bit more if you've got the budget. Can't go "wrong" with any of the above, depending on your means and objectives.
 

Hammerdown77

Blackhawk
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Messages
886
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North Alabama
Another thing to mention, if you shoot at anything further than 15 yards, or have less than sharp eyes, a small frame Blackhawk with adjustable sights would probably be the better way to go. The stock sights on a Colt and Cimarron (Uberti) are pretty crude and hard to see, unless you get the "Evil Roy" version of the Cimarron with the wider front sight and wider rear notch. Even then, they are still fixed, and sometimes it's a crapshoot as to whether they will shoot POA for you out of the box. My Cimarron shoots about 6 inches left of POA at 50 feet, and will need to have the barrel indexed.

It's hard to beat a Blackhawk for utility and ease of use, unless you want a more authentic "cowboy" gun.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
11,396
Location
Kentucky
About thirty years ago I bought a brand-by-golly-new Colt SAA in .44 Special for like $400. I oiled it up, tied the hammer down, and stuck it in the safe. About once a year I take it out of the safe, fondle it, wipe it down and return it to the safe. I guess it's an investment 'cause it sure isn't a tool. It does give me a sort of good feeling having it, though.

On the other hand I have -- um -- several Rugers of all sizes and shapes, and they all get shot, a lot.

Yes, I actually enjoy all the Rugers a bunch, but it's still nice having that "pony gun" available for the occasional fondling.

Nobody ever claimed gun people were rational.

;)
 

Axehandle

Buckeye
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
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North Alabama
Multiple Colt, Ruger and FA Single actions here and I love them all.... Don't understand how anyone could choose any one over the other two for any and all applications... Why would anyone want to... :D
 

Driftwood Johnson

Blackhawk
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Sep 25, 2007
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Land of the Pilgrims
Howdy

I bought my first 45 Blackhawk way back in 1975. When I started shooting Cowboy about ten years ago I was shooting 'original model' Vaqueros. At this point I own the Blackhawk, three Vaqueros and two New Vaqueros. I also own a couple of Cimarrons and a couple of 1858 New Model Army Remingtons. All of these guns occasionally see use in Cowboy Action Shooting. However my usual main match revolvers are a pair of 2nd Gen Colts.

colts_05.jpg


To me there is just no substitute for a Colt. The Italian replicas all have shortcomings and shortcuts in their manufacturing. USFA is expensive enough that you might as well spend the money on the real Colt. Rugers are terrific, don't get me wrong. Getting rid of flat springs was the best thing Bill Ruger ever did. But there are ways to tune the springs in a Colt so that they are much more reliable and not so prone to breaking.

So for what it's worth, I always shoot my Colts in CAS, but a pair of Rugers always comes along as backups. So far, I have not needed them, knock on wood.
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2002
Messages
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Ohio , U.S.A.
All very good points above and we all have our reasons.........
but bottom line is the Rugers, were the affordable ones, that were stronger, lasted longer..................but the dollar is shrinking rapidly.....

but for "looks" the Colt , is the 'classic'......... :wink:
 

Yosemite Sam

Hunter
Joined
Mar 18, 2002
Messages
2,113
Location
Cape Cod, MA, USA
I don't know what the workmanship on the Colt is like, but for sheer artistry in metal you can't beat the FA. My 97 is put together with such precision that there are no gaps around mating surfaces, even the loading gate. When it's closed it looks like one solid piece of metal. There is no movement to the cylinder in lockup. I have some nice old P&R N-frame Smiths (27-2, 25-5, etc) and the FA locks up tighter than those.

When I got it I made the decision to get a gun that was built with quality in mind from the ground up, rather than spending a similar amount on a Ruger that had been extensively warmed over by a top name gunsmith. I'm very happy with it, and don't feel I made the wrong choice.

I'd sure the Colt is a great gun. Heck, the Ruger is a great gun! But remember you're comparing a $600 gun to a $1200 gun to a $2000 gun (okay, $1700, if you're lucky).

IMG_1339Small.jpg


The USFA guns looks awful nice for the money, too.

-- Sam
 

2 dogs

Buckeye
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
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South Texas
I dont own a Colt anymore. I have 3 FA 97's and consider them nearly the perfect package. I own a pile of Rugers as well, they can be made perfect by a talented smith, but FA's come from the factory just right.
 

CPeterJr

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 15, 2010
Messages
7
Location
Lindsborg, Kansas
Note of caution on the Freedom Arms 97: My 97 is easily the best revolver I own, the slickest trigger....
However, in .45LC you can't shoot the heavy loads you can in the older, larger Freedom Arms revolver. In fact, my cylinder jammed even before the first time I shot it, , and I had to take it to a gunsmith. Longer bullets just don't work. I called FA to talk to the boss. He said: "You can't shoot all the .45LC loads you can in the other model or the Blackhawk. The 97 isn't designed to be used for hot loads. It's more for cowboy action shooting."
When I pointed out to him that there's not a word about this in the FA catalog, he replied, "Oh, everybody knows this." I told him I didn't and I didn't know anybody else had either. Later I sent him a letter with a tearsheet from a current gun magazine where the author praisedl the 97 and in essence said it could handle whatever.
Bottom line: I love my 97. But, now knowing the above, I would have got the other model.
 

flatgate

Hawkeye
Joined
Jun 18, 2001
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Star Valley, WY
CPeterJr,

Hmm, methinks you've got some odd ideas going.

OF COURSE the F-A Model 97 cannot handle the loads the Model 83 can. The sheer size of the 83 should be an obvious clue. The skilled handloader can obtain impressive ballistics, safely, in the Model 97. No, the very long bullets won't work unless, again, the skilled handloader knows how to trim brass and reduce loads accordingly.

One of the very respected Gun Scribes, Mr. John Taffin has penned a very informative article about the Model 97 in .45 Colt. Here's a LINK.

flatgate
 

c.r.

Single-Sixer
Joined
Apr 23, 2008
Messages
436
Location
Texas
I have never heard of Bob Baker or anybody suggest the mdl 97 is for cowboy action shooting. it's 5 shot revolver and this doesn not lend itself to the sport of CAS. There is the whole rule with the hammer resting on an empty or spent case. that would turn this into a 4 shot revolver.

The 97 is perfectly capable of handling the "Ruger Only" loads published in many reloading manuals. The only catch is, the OAL must be ~1.6" or less to fit in the FA cylinder. The usually prevents one from using most 300 grain bullets. However this isn't because the revolver "can't handle the load". It's simply the OAL. Experienced reloader can get around the OAL issues. All that is required is to make sure the OAL of your reload fits in the cylinder w/o bullet poking out of the face of the cylinder. It's probably a smart idea to do this with any revolver one reloads for. There are a few published 44 mag loads that won't fit in Ruger SBH's. the bullet is simply too long for the cylinder.

~c.r.



CPeterJr":2qtk1by2 said:
Note of caution on the Freedom Arms 97: My 97 is easily the best revolver I own, the slickest trigger....
However, in .45LC you can't shoot the heavy loads you can in the older, larger Freedom Arms revolver. In fact, my cylinder jammed even before the first time I shot it, , and I had to take it to a gunsmith. Longer bullets just don't work. I called FA to talk to the boss. He said: "You can't shoot all the .45LC loads you can in the other model or the Blackhawk. The 97 isn't designed to be used for hot loads. It's more for cowboy action shooting."
When I pointed out to him that there's not a word about this in the FA catalog, he replied, "Oh, everybody knows this." I told him I didn't and I didn't know anybody else had either. Later I sent him a letter with a tearsheet from a current gun magazine where the author praisedl the 97 and in essence said it could handle whatever.
Bottom line: I love my 97. But, now knowing the above, I would have got the other model.
 
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