So, you want to get into Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS)!

For CAS you basically need:

  •  two single action revolvers
  • a lever action rifle
  • pump shotgun


  • FUN, low-key/low stress. The other competitors love to offer you tips and helps!
  • Great for the WHOLE family
  • Stress of the clock and competition…embarrassment etc. Help you to train for combat! You always have things that go wrong, and that is a training opportunity to stay in the fight!


  • Many competitors get into the “game” so much, they cut safety/combat corners to increase their time (I believe  hardwork/training is how you shave seconds off, not putting your finger in the trigger gaurd when it shouldn’t be there, or looking at your holster instead of the threat, etc etc!)
  • non-carry weapons. Having a 9mm, tactical shotgun and ar15 for tactical shoots is awesome, but you’ll need the same load-out for the late 1800s.  This could get costly, but worth it IMO. What is the cost of not training your family to protect themselves and not having the confidence to shoot under stress?

To compete in CAS matches, the guns need to be in the late 1,800s (most of us use replicas). Its a good idea to have your pistol & your rifle use the same caliber IMO.

Here are my notes from when I bought mine:

I paid $480 EACH for two NEW stainless steel 357 Ruger Vaqueros (cabelas sell these for about $700!)
I paid $335 for an IAC  replica of the 1897 Winchester pump shotgun in 12ga 2 3/4″ with 20″ barrel and American walnut stock
I paid $995  brush popper (Cimarron 1873 Brush Popper 357 mag Short Stroked)

I bought them online and had them shipped to my FFL. I bought them all from the same guy, for a volume discount 🙂

Ruger Family. Top to bottom. Ruger Vaqueros 357, Ruger Single Six 22lr, Ruger Bearcat 22lr

If I knew what I know now:

I would get the REAL (non-replica) Winchester 1873 in 357. I’m STILL going to get one, they are new in 2013, and still hard to come by, still several hundred over MSRP on gunbroker. I want the case-hardened blue’d with octagonal barrel…in my living room, someday!

MAN, I’d go into debt for this!

I bought a cheap-o 1897 shotgun. I wish I would have just bought a already smooth’d up 1897 from TL (st. george). At one shoot, I saw him selling original winchester for about $600-800….all smoothed up etc. So, if you can find a cowboy gun that is already smoothed up, that is likely a good bet…from a REAL CAS gunsmith!

Get on this guys email list: Brer Rabbit <rabbit54820 AT>

Do NOT get a lever action 12ga!!!! the alternative is a coach gun (break-open). I like the pump(1897), as its good tactical practice & vice versa.

I didn’t think I’d like the shotgun(SG), but its my fav.

I’m a rifle guy (just speaks to my soul), so…its odd the SG speaks to me too….but just for CAS 😉

Have you seen my vids? run’n the shotgun(SG)?


So, here is a shopping list I would recommend for you:
STAINLESS ALL THE WAY, its like another $20-30!

I recommend the brownells spring kit to smooth up your vaqueros, is all I’ve done to mine..I LOVE THEM!

I’d be happy to help you swap the springs.

 or the non-sass version:


I have the non-sass version. Do NOT get sucked into buying something other than a vaquero! Vaquero all the way. They are tanks. good value.

I would say 90% of the shooters at the match, are running vaueros.


1897 shotgun

out of stock, I don’t know if these are worth “smoothing up”  I think TL would smooth one up for $125-150.

some guys add a choke, which is a good idea IMO.


1873 lever action – make sure you get a short-stroke’d one 🙂

having the same caliber as revolvers is important IMO. almost everyone uses 357( 357/38…but most have the low-powered 38 spc loads), especially if they are competitive. I’m so busy with my kids at the shoot, I usually don’t get too rap’d around being competitive. Someday I dream of going on world tour with my sweatheart with our cowboy & cowgirl gun & gear. To do that, I get all my kids into it so she comes along…once the kids are out of the house, we go on world tour!


geez, for this price, how can you go wrong?

I’m going to get the deluxe, just as soon as I can.

 a replica 1873 makes sense, cuz you are going to beat it in matches…and I’d hate to do that to an original 1873.

You kind of got to figure out if you want octagonal and walnut checkering….and case hard’d bluing.

I think its worth another $100.

See if you can find one that is already short-stroked 🙂 VERY IMPORTANT!


The holsters are pricy. I made my own, all six of them. …for the price of one set….but lots of time & effort.

High desert leather (Tim) is a good way to go (Tim offered a one-time holster making class, which I took with my son; which got me started in all this leather stuff and holster making). Or I think Simmon is a bit cheaper than Tim.

You want double lined, form fitted holsters!! Don’t go cheap, it costs more(cuz you buy twice!). Get something you’ll be happy with your entire life, once the sting of the money is gone, you’ll be happy you got the right gear, that will last a lifetime!


THAT will get you started!

It is hard to get by without a “gun cart”! This is the one I bought:

I think pine is OK, I put on 7 layers of polyurethane and stained my DARK. But if you can afford hard wood, fine.

You don’t think you need a cart, but its a good way to keep your guns safe. Addin friends/kids, and 8 guns, no way can you carry all that gear AND be safe! and protect your guns 😉 without a cart!

IMO, most CAS are NOT safe and I see ongoing safety violations with “unloaded” guns at matches all the time. I don’t think I’ve ever been muzzled, but I’ve seen a lot of folks muzzle themselves!

I made a home-made buck skin shirt for my costume. carhart pants and a cowboy hat.

I don’t like cowboy boots with a tall heal, so I like the flat footed boots. I use a pair of all leather/old hiking boots.

Compared to a lot of shooting sports, I think its one of the safer sports.


and of course, you need to pick out and register an ALIAS. THIS can be fun!



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