If you want the real thing then buy the real thing. John Wayne always used Colts except in one movie The Shootist. They were a pair of engraved Great Western revolvers that were a gift to him many years prior.
Rugers are fine guns and their strength is always remarked about. I've never owned one, cause I frankly wasn't comfortable with their action and they never felt like a Colt when shooting them. I've never worried about a transfer bar for safety. Carrying 5 instead of 6 is my safety and I've been handling them for over 40 years. Where Colts are concerned if you don't know what your doing you can certainly bust a spring, or damage a hammer notch. Speaking of notches the Colt has 4 that spell out C-O-L-T. The Ruger feels different in the hand and unless modified hasn't those 4 clicks that the Colt is known for. Gary Reeder does great work on Rugers.
The USFA revolvers are excellent and they're less pricey than the Colts and are made in the old Colt factory to exact specifications. In my opinion they're superior to the Colts that have been manufactured in recent years. But they aren't stronger than Rugers if that's important to you.
If money is tight there are the Italian copies than can be considered. Those spaghetti westerns of the 60's started a new industry and a company like Uberti deserves all the credit in the world for giving us all those pistol and rifle reproductions. They did what should've been done here. Even the 2nd generation BP revolver parts for the '51 Navy that Colt turned out in the early 70's were actually made by Uberti in Italy and put together and finished by Colt here.
There's no such thing as a trouble free gun and Colts, Rugers, Ubertis and Cimarrons are no exception. Basically they're all good guns, but like I said before if you want a genuine western gun then get the original, or the closest thing to it, cause if you're a purist like I am then nothing else will ever really satisfy you.
The 2nd generation Colts were actually the best ever made, though the 1st generations are the most sought after. They can be quite expensive, but a bargain can be had if purchasing a 2nd generation Colt New Frontier. They just came out with a new version, but I won't recommend them. A 2nd generation New Frontier can be had for much cheaper than the SAA, due to the adjustable sights, which never bothered Elmer Keith and me as well. It's still a great SA to consider. By the way, Colt did manufacture 1st generations with adjustable sights like the Bisley Flat Top Target. I have a reproduction of that one made by Cimarron(which is actually Uberti) and it's a tack driver in 44-40.
As far as caliber is concerned I'm partial to 45LC and 44-40. I also have 32-20 and like the 38-40 a lot. If trying to save money then I guess .357 would allow you to shoot 38 spl. as well. The .357 was also a caliber offered in the later years of the 1st generation Colts prior to WWII.
I'm sorry for going on and on, but old west guns are my passion and I'm fairly familiar with them. I'm not putting down Ruger, but this isn't about hunting with these guns, or how strong they are. If taken care of properly these SA's will last more than a life time and as proof I shoot many that are well over 100 years old and they're in better condition than I am. Like anything else you have to get what you want that'll fit your needs and if it's something that's perhaps a little too expensive then have the patience to save your money in order to get what you really want. Having just one gun you really love is better than having a dozen guns that you consider just so so. I've already posted photos of some of my Colts, so I won't bore you again. Good luck with whatever you choose.