Guns and Ammo in Cowboy Action Shooting

How to Choose Your First Firearms in Cow­boy Action Shooting


The Firearm Require­ments of Cow­boy Action Shooting


Cowboy Action Shooting pistols 2Cow­boy Action Shoot­ing (CAS) is a phe­nom­e­nal fast-growing shoot­ing sport that has gained a lot of mem­ber­ships in the US and other coun­tries. It is family-friendly and cen­tered on sports­man­ship and firearm safety. CAS 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 firearms. 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 hands

Select­ing a CAS Main Match Rifle

cowboy action shooting rifles and shotgunsThe 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.




17 Responses to “Guns and Ammo in Cowboy Action Shooting”

  1. max pagelsen says:

    i woulb like any information on clubs in louisiana that you mjght have .   names, locations ,etc.

  2. max pagelsen says:

    please send any information about clubs in  La. area.

  3. collin brown says:

    would a set of heritage arms 22 rough riders be alright for sass shooting ?

  4. nathan steinkamp says:

    I'm a 16 year old and I am looking into starting something like this but I've been looking around and it seems quite expensive. I already have most of the clothing and apperal but do you have to have all 3 guns or can you just run revolvers? Because buying the rifles and new shotgun would be way to much for me to be able to purchase at this time.

    • Ned Buntine says:

      You’ll need two single action revolvers, a suitable rifle (for example, lever action) and a shotgun (for example, a double barrel or 1897 pump). How about you go out to one of the matches and introduce yourself. Dress like a cowboy and make some friends. I bet some of the cowboys will be willing to let you try shootog one of theor rifles or shotgun at a practice match.

  5. Janez Čerin says:

    Hy, I m from Sloenia ( central Europe) and I veryinteresting for cowboy action shooting. I don,t have practical experience with this sport. I have buyarevolver mod Remington 1858 conversion Army made by Italian company Uberti. I like to be in contact ith your asosiation.
    All the best

  6. Matt Harden says:

    I have a winchester 1897 model 97 full choke 2 3/4. I want to sell it to someone who can use it or will appreciate it. Any Ideas.

  7. Jeff Sayre says:

    Lots of info but no sign up forms or club locations. 

  8. Mike Kilgore says:

    Are .357 mag. Single action rifles and revolvers allowed in completion?

  9. Mike Kilgore says:

    Sorry… I meant competition

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