How to Choose Your First Cowboy Action Shooting Pistols, Rifles and Shotguns
The Requirements of Cowboy Action Shooting
Cowboy Action Shooting rifles and shotguns are an integral part of this phenomenal fast-growing shooting sport that has gained a lot of memberships in the US and other countries. CAS is family-friendly and centered on sportsmanship and firearm safety. It is sanctioned by several organizations, each having their own rules regarding the types of guns allowed. The recommendations on this website specifically relate to the firearm rules adopted by the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), the first and largest of the sanctioning organizations.
The SASS allows both mounted-shooting competitions and unmounted-shooting competitions, which have separate rules and requirements on firearms. Only unmounted-shooting requirements will be discussed in this article.
Choosing your first CAS firearms may look intimidating once you’ve learn all the options open to you. This article will offer some recommendations on choosing your first Cowboy Action Shooting rifles and shotguns. With experience, your taste in guns will evolve and change, and you may go through several sets of guns. Or, like many CAS members, you may start collecting them.
All SASS-sanctioned firearms must be of the 1800’s design, and revolvers should be the single-action types. A single-action revolver needs to be cocked each time before firing. Both original firearms and replicas are accepted. Vintage period firearms can be quite expensive, and their safety may not be assured. Various replicas are available as well. Though not exactly replicas in the true sense, the Vaquero and Ruger Blackhawk are much sought after for their superior construction and affordable price.
Selecting Cowboy Action Shooting Revolvers
You need to have two revolvers, and most competitors prefer matched pairs. While the most popular calibers are the .45 Colt and .38 Special, most 1800’s-type calibers are allowable. Revolvers with 7½” barrels are eye-catching and easy to sight, but they can be wearisome to use in long competitions. 5½” and 4¾” barrels require less effort to handle through extended matches.
Cowboy Action Shooting revolvers are determined by their sights and the type of propellant involved. In the Modern category, shooters can use Ruger Blackhawks or other single-action revolvers of the period that have adjustable sights. Firearms in the Traditional categories, which includes Traditional, Gunfighter, Duelist, and Black Powder, should have traditional non-adjustable sights.
Black Powder revolvers may either be the muzzle-loading type like the Colt 1851 Navy, or cartridge-type revolvers that use black powder rounds. When choosing revolvers, visit a gun store and test their firearms. Rugers are terrific guns but they are too sophisticated and can be rather heavy for some people.
Ladies and some men with smaller hands prefer to use Bisley grips or birds-head grips. Men with very large hands may choose older Rugers which are slightly bigger than the conventional Colts. The Colt Dragoon replica is an extremely large revolver that can also be used by people with larger hand.
Selecting a CAS Main Match Rifle
The main match rifles in CAS are lever-action, and replicas in the same calibers as main-match revolvers are available. Your main match rifle should be of pre-20th century design and hold 10 rounds in the magazine.
The popular selections for CAS are the Winchester 1866 and 1873, while the Winchester 1892 and 1894 are the less popular choices due to their extra weight and longer lever throw. Shooters also prefer the replica pump-action Colt Lightning rifle. These models are prone to mechanical issues and may need some expert work by a gunsmith.
Selecting a Cowboy Action Shooting Shotgun
CAS shotguns can be double-barreled models with external and concealed hammers. Winchester 1887 and 1900 lever-action shotguns, as well as Winchester 1895 pump-action shotguns are also acceptable. Double-barreled models are, with experience, fairly quick and easier to use. Most seasoned Cowboy Action Shooting competitors, however, use the Winchester 1895 pump-action models which require a lot of practice to handle skillfully.