never fired; .45 LC; Absolutely beautiful...perfect.
Ruger Bird's Head Vaquero
by Jeff Quinn
At the 2001 SHOT Show, Ruger introduced their .45 Vaquero with a "bird's head" grip. After a few months of waiting for a production piece, the sixgun finally arrived. It was worth the wait. "Bird's Head" refers to the shape of the grip frame of the revolver. The revolver is otherwise practically the same as their other Vaquero models, the main variations being the cylinder base pin and the barrel length.
The cylinder base pin has been modified to accommodate the shortened ejector rod, giving maximum useful length to the ejection stroke without interference from the head of the base pin. That seems to be a thoughtful touch, and in no way detracts from the looks and feel of the sixgun. The barrel length is three and three-quarters inches.
The new revolver is offered in both a blued / case-colored finish and in polished stainless steel, with the latter sent here for testing. Both sixguns are furnished with black micarta grip panels, and chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge.
Fit and finish on the gun were absolutely perfect, with no flaws or tool marks observed. The fit of the grip panels were especially good; much better than I have come to expect on a production revolver.
The shape of the grip panels are slightly different, and in my opinion better, than the ones on the prototype guns at the SHOT Show. The grip of the little sixgun is both compact and hand-filling, resulting in a comfortable hold. The black micarta panels are beautiful, with a black and silver Ruger medallion, and contrasts nicely with the polished stainless grip frame.
The overall look and feel of the Bird's Head evokes an image of a nineteenth century belly gun. While open carry of sixguns was a practice in some parts of the world in the latter part of the 1800s, much more common was the need to carry concealed. Many people, while going about their daily business, did not want to advertise the fact that they were going heeled. This resulted in the need for concealable handguns. Some carried Deringers and such other small weapons, while the more knowledgeable saw a need for a full-power revolver. In the late 1800s, just as today, if the need arises to pull a handgun, one usually needs it to be both quick and powerful. It is easy to imagine that the Ruger Bird's Head would fit in nicely with a storekeeper or gambler in the Old West. While most eastern cities had higher murder rates than did the western towns of the nineteenth century, the single-action .45 will forever be associated with days of the western cowboy, gambler, and lawman of the Old West, and rightly so. The Bird's Head is a good compromise of portability, concealability, and power in a single-action revolver. I predict that this gun will be extremely popular with the Cowboy Action Shooters.
Weight of the Ruger Bird's Head is only 38 ounces with an overall length of nine and one-quarter inches. The gun has the standard Vaquero fixed blade front sight and square notch rear, and a capacity of six rounds. Having Ruger's patented transfer bar, the gun can be safely carried with a live round in each chamber.