Rough Rider Rancher

Heritage Rough Rider Revolver: Hands-On Review

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The Heritage Rough Rider revolver has the same classic design and precise action as its big-bore cousins but it’s chambered in either 22 LR or 22 WMR. So is this a good revolver to add to your collection?

Heritage Rough Rider Revolver Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Great entry-level revolver
  • Perfect for learning to shoot a revolver
  • One of the most affordable revolvers on the market
  • Perfect for plinking and fun to shoot
  • Comes in many designs and customizable parts
  • Options for both a .22 LR and .22 Magnum cylinder
Cons
  • Cost-cutting in some of the materials used
  • Cheap blued spray-on look
  • Finish and fitting isn’t exactly clean

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The Heritage Manufacturing Inc.

Heritage Manufacturing has been making rugged, high-quality rimfire revolvers since 1992. They were acquired in 2012 by Taurus, but well before their acquisition, they were known in the firearms industry for making high-quality replica revolvers. Today, Heritage Manufacturing has become the largest revolver maker in the US.

Heritage Manufacturing is known for its small-bore and carbine Rough Rider models. The Rough Rider Revolver series is known for existing as an aesthetic homage to the old west. They’re an affordable yet stunning replica of the famous Colt Single Action Army. You’ll find Heritage Revolvers in many different colors, grip styles, barrel lengths, and finishes, with new designs based on the same basic Rough Rider concept.

Who is the Heritage Rough Rider Revolver for?

If you’re looking for an old-fashioned .22LR revolver to shoot around or an excellent display and backup gun to take to the range, this is an excellent revolver to add to your arsenal. The Heritage Rough Rider Revolvers are marketed as fun, old western style guns that are unique and customizable.

The best part about this revolver is the price tag, with some models going for as low as $130. They have a wide variety of color options and material finishes and the ability to customize your firearm out of the factory. So it’s really for people looking for a standout, personal side piece, or just a fun-looking firearm.

Other Heritage Rough Rider Variants

Two-Tone Rough Rider

Two-Tone Rough Riders come in four and six-inch barrel profiles. The cylinder is nickel-plated with the trigger and hammer to achieve the two-tone look.  

Bird Head Rough Rider

The shortest of the group, the Bird Hear Rough Riders, are small .22 LR / .22 WMR revolvers that come in three or four-inch barrels. They’re designed for maximum concealability, while the bird head grip creates comfortable leverage for cocking the hammer, especially for small-handed shooters.

9-Shot Rough Rider

The 9-Shot Rough Riders come in 4 and 6-inch barrel lengths and either a .22LR or .22 Lr / .22 WMR Combo cylinder. They have the same profile as the 6 Shot rough rider but are designed to shoot and accept nine rounds instead of the conventional 6.

6-Shot Rough Rider

The 6-Shot Roughrider is Heritage’s direct nod to the Original Western Colt Single Action. It’s excellent for pinging steel and simple pest control. The 6-Shot Rough Rider is a low-cost single-action revolver that makes a perfect option for those looking for a unique and fun firearm. 

16″ Rough Rider

As an homage to the legendary 19th Century Colt Buntline, the Heritage 16″ Rough Rider is a long-range, single-action revolver built for more modern times. The longer barrel will give you better accuracy at longer ranges, and to complement that, Heritage has released both a fixed and adjustable sight option for their 16″ Rough Rider.

Rancher Carbine

The Heritage Rancher Carbine is Heritage’s version of a rifle revolver. The grips are reminiscent of a hunting rifle, and the included leather slings make it easy and comfortable to carry. It also comes with adjustable buckhorn sights for a quick and precise target sighting.

Heritage Barkeep

The Heritage Barkeep is a mini-revolver with an Old West style. It features fixed open sights for rapid action and a crisp sight image. Also, it offers several grip options that complement the black oxide or case-hardened frame finish.

Heritage Rough Rider Revolver

We’ll be looking at a 6-Shot Rough Rider Revolver, specifically the 4.5″ Rough Rider .22 LR / .22 WMR Black Standard Cocobolo revolver.

Caliber.22 LR/ .22 WMR
ActionSingle action only
Capacity6 rounds
Lands and Grooves6 grips
Weight Unloaded30.5 ounces
Overall Length10.03 inches
Barrel Length4.75 inches, 6.5 inches
Trigger Pull3 pounds
SafetyThumb/ hammer
GripCocobolo wood panels
Front SightFixed
Rear SightNotched rear

Heritage Rough Rider Revolver Hands-On Review

Unboxing

The design and outer colorway of the packaging may change depending on the rough rider model you purchase. However, they all come in the same type of relatively thin cardboard mailer box. 

Inside the box, you’ll find a user manual, safety pamphlet, heritage tag, safety lock, the revolver with cocobolo wood grip side panels and .22 LR cylinder, and if you get the combo, an extra .22 WMR cylinder.

Appearance

Heritage Rough Rider Revolver

The Heritage Rough Rider is an old western-themed firearm that comes in many appearances. The Cocobolo variant I have is just one of the dozens of personalizable revolvers. From a distance, this gun looks neat and dated. However, up close, it’s rough around the edges. 

The finish isn’t as clean as other weapons, and to be honest, it looks relatively cheap. The aluminum barrel and cylinder are covered in a sprayed-on blued coating that will mimic high-quality blueing, but you’ll notice an uneven coating if you pay close attention. Also, some of the fittings aren’t as clean and tight as I wish they would be, but the little aesthetic details aren’t so significant at its price point.

Handling

Even with Heritage’s cost-cutting methods, the Rough Rider is great to carry and feels solid in your hands. It’s a well-balanced revolver and tends to point naturally. It feels like a simple extension of your shooting hand.

It might be difficult for you to cock and shoot if you have huge palms, and the action might feel uncomfortable. However, the handle and grips generally feel good enough to shoot for an extended period.

Features 

The Heritage Rough Rider is a fairly simple revolver without many modern features. There’s a swing-out loading gate on the right side behind the cylinder to load the cylinder one cartridge at a time. On the bottom of the barrel towards the muzzle, you’ll find the spring ejector, which you can use to remove the spent casing one at a time. 

There’s a modern thumb safety on the left side of the hammer with a red dot indicator to indicate the safety is off. You can also lock the hammer into four positions, the first click for the original safety, the half-cocked position for loading and unloading, the full-cocked firing position, and the fired position.

Taking it Apart

Check out the video below to learn how to strip and clean the Heritage Rough Rider.

The Guns

Let’s look at the two guns now. I took a few photos to show how these things are put together. We’ll look at how this revolver looks like first.

Heritage Rough Rider Revolver left side
Heritage Rough Rider Revolver right side

Note the cocobolo grip panels, a rather exotic wood. You can buy these from the Heritage store.

Heritage Rough Rider Revolver field stripped
Heritage Rough Rider Revolver frame engraving
Frame engraving.

Notice the Bainbridge address — that’s where the new Taurus plant and HQ are located.

Heritage Rough Rider Revolver barrel engraving
Barrel engraving.

It warns us to keep an empty chamber under the hammer, but the hammer block action really precludes this need. Also, note the front sight height which is sufficiently tall for most loads.

Heritage Rough Rider Revolver transfer bar safety
Speaking of the hammer block; here it is above the hammer.

Notice the red dot on the left. That’s the indicator that the gun is off safe, ready to fire. The safety lever is right below the dot — raise it to put the gun on safe. To allow dry-firing, a no-no with most .22 handguns. The hammer strikes the hammer block, not the firing pin.

Heritage Rough Rider Revolver barrel profile
The other side of the barrel.
Heritage Rough Rider Revolver
Rear sight – the typical notch in the frame for traditional single-action revolvers.
Heritage Rough Rider Revolver front sight
Another view of the front sight.
Heritage Rough Rider Revolver with box

Shooting the Heritage Rough Rider Revolver

Heritage Rough Rider Revolver frame engraving

Accuracy 

You’ll have no issues with aiming with the Rough Rider if you’ve shot the Colt Single Action before. Accuracy-wise, the Rough Rider tends to follow in the footsteps of the Colt Single Action in that it usually shoots low or high. You can request a rough rider model with adjustable sights.

However, an easy fix would be to file down the front sights and notch the rear sights a little to recontour them. Once you’ve remedied it and have it fairly centered, you’ll notice the gun shoots fairly accurately at sub 30 yards.

Here are the targets.

4.75-inch Revolver using CCI, Remington, Federal, Winchester:

Heritage Rough Rider Revolver target CCI
CCI
Heritage Rough Rider Revolver target Remington
Remington
Heritage Rough Rider Revolver target Federal
Federal

The revolver did fairly well. The only issue I had with it was that it shot a bit to the right. This is a common thing with single-action revolvers and is usually fairly easily fixed.

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Recoil

Shooting the .22 LR out of the rough rider is a piece of cake. You don’t get any significant recoil that you wouldn’t expect from the .22 LR, which is a very light controllable snap up from the revolver. It’s easily manageable.

The .22 WMR, being a much more powerful round, might give you more kick. But there’s nothing you wouldn’t expect when shooting the Rough Rider.

Performance

The Rough Rider revolver is for slow shooters. This revolver is not for you if you’re trying to shoot as many bullets as possible. It’s one of those guns you have to pace yourself with and take time.

Additionally, reloading and unloading the gun takes time. So it’s more of a gun that’s fun to shoot a round more than anything else, and it’s solid and works just for that situation. 

Reliability

This gun will shoot 10/10 times. I don’t see you running into any major issues down the road, maybe with the cylinder eventually giving out since the actual gun itself isn’t made of durable steel, but it’s a cheap $30 replacement down the line, and you’re not precisely shooting large bore rounds anyways to worry about structural issues.

In my shooting sessions, it does what it’s supposed to do, and at its price range, it’s a lot more solid and reliable than I would have expected it to be.

Competition

There are many noteworthy Single Action .22 revolvers out on the market today, so what makes the Heritage Rough Rider stand out? Aside from the cost-effective price range, let’s take a look at some of its competition. 

Ruger Wrangler

The Ruger Wrangler is one of a series of .22 revolvers released by Ruger over the past few decades. It’s an ambidextrous revolver that acts like the older Colt Single Action with modern innovations. The Wrangler is the affordable, lower-end version of Ruger’s famous Single Six Revolver.

Comparing the two revolvers, the similar .22 LR Rough Riders runs around $40 less than the Ruger Wrangler. However, the Ruger comes with a better and more modern reloading mechanism. Additionally, the base pin is much easier to remove on the Ruger Wrangler, making cleaning and swapping out barrels easy. The Ruger Wrangler also has a better, cleaner finish. Aside from a few aesthetic and functional differences, they perform pretty much the same. Is the $40+ extra price tag worth it? That’s for you to decide.

Smith & Wesson Model 617 Revolver

Smith & Wesson always comes out with excellent revolvers, and when you get a high capacity .22 revolver, you know it will be an enjoyable time at the range. The S&W Model 617 is not cheap, but they’re excellent revolvers for plinking.

Compared to the Rough Rider, the Smith and Wesson Model 617 revolver is an investment costing around four to five times as much as the Heritage Rough Rider Revolver. Although it has ten shots, you can also find a 9-shot rough rider for a quarter of the price of the S&W Model 617. However, with the Model 617, you get a more modern revolver than the Rough Rider.

Aside from the extra shots, the 617 has a double-action trigger, adjustable front and rear sights, a heavier duty steel body, and a swing-out cylinder which I find easier to work with, and of course, the reliability that comes with a large manufacturer and big-name like Smith and Wesson.

Ruger New Model Single-Six

The Ruger New Model Single Six is a classic single-action stainless steel six-shooter. The frames and cylinders are all high-quality stainless steel and come with the .22 LR and .22 Magnum cylinders. 

Like the Ruger, it’s loaded via a loading gate and ejected via an ejection rod built into the barrel. However, unlike the Rough Rider, the Ruger New Model Single Six has a transfer bar under the hammer as an added safety precaution when accidentally dropping the firearm and none of that crazy safety that some people find ugly on the Rough Rider.

Performance-wise there is not much difference between the two in terms of accuracy and reliability. The recoil on the New Model Single-Six is a little better than the Rough Rider, but is it worth the added price tag? I don’t think so. The Rough Rider is still a better and cheaper option if you’re still just going with a 6-shot plinker. But if you want a more modern, safer revolver, then it might be worth spending the extra bucks on the Single Six.

Accessories

22 Caliber Brown Leather Gun Holster

This beautifully handcrafted leather holster is the perfect complement to your unique sidearm to complete that cowboy look. The holster will fit any revolver with up to a 6″ barrel and comes with an ammo belt that can hold up to 24 rounds. It also comes with an adjustable hammer loop and leg tie straps to keep the holster and gun secured while moving.

.22 LR Ammo

Being a revolver, you can shoot just about any round in it without worrying about cycling your gun like you would with a slide action on a .22 LR pistol. Still, you always want to get the best ammo available to avoid any accuracy issues or just performance issues overall. Check out our list of best .22 LR ammo to pick the right one for your budget.

Wrap Up

Overall, the Heritage Rough Rider Revolver is a great buy. It is affordable, accurate, and easy to use. Many gun owners are also trying to get their hands on this revolver as they have exceptional value for a .22 caliber revolver. The finish and hand-fitted grip panels are excellent, and you can add accessories if you want to upgrade your shooting experience.

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14 comments
  1. First I must say I have not handled this breed/brand…But I would have if they were available…..Years ago in the early 1980s or so I got a Ruger Single Six Convertible 4.5 inch barrel.
    Either I missed it or see it….How is the hammer? Does it have the 4 click hammer?? Does the hammer have a loading position?
    How does the Safety actually work? You mentioned the hammer block…..I admit i am a big fan of the Transfer bar Ruger uses on their revolvers and the firearm will not fire unless the trigger is fully engaged……allowing one to carry a full cylinder.

    As far as the longer barrel showing the lower velocity……I will take a SWAG and say it proves what happens when all of the powder has been burned and in the longer barrel will cause the projectile/bullet to lose velocity.
    Also it could be the gap between the cylinder and the barrel….after all it is not like a single shot or semiauto that has no such gap..or MAYBE it just happened to be a bad batch of ammo…..Either of these could be the or might not be the reason….
    I did not see the temperature on the date you were shooting …perhaps that might have an effect as well?

    I do believe everyone that owns firearms should own at least one .22 LR handgun. Face it it….. It is far cheaper to use a .22 LR//Magnum to take care of most venomous snakes and other varmints than Center fire rounds. With proper accuracy and bullet placement and that happens to be what you are carrying at the time and you get into a bad situation…..you have to work with what you have. 6 well placed hits from a .22 LR/Magnum are far better than nothing……

    There is something that was not mentioned about the rifle….since it uses a cylinder…..there is a gap between the cylinder and the barrel and one must becareful of the flash that escapes that gap an possibly get a burn when supporting the fore end.

    Among all the usual uses mentioned I used it for a trainer to teach people how to shoot. Mostly people that had never handled or fired a firearm before…..It is a great weapon to teach the basics and no fear of recoil and developing the ever nasty Flinch!

    When they and I felt comfortable an I felt that they were ready I would gradually move up in caliber and different types of handguns…..from .380 ACP to 9mm NATO to .38 Special/.357 Magnum to .45 ACP and up.

    Several/ most could out shoot me with my own firearms when we were done.

    I believe anyone that starts out with a .22 will usually be a better shooter because it instills the basics and in GENERAL does not cause fear of recoil or Flinching! Once a person has developed Flinching it is difficult to unlearn.

    Also it allows one to get in A LOT of practice, that they cannot afford with other calibers….and that means and adds up to more practicing the basics plus having a lot more fun than not being able to do any shooting than none at all.
    For the price of $120.00 as a starting price you can buy a heck of a bunch food to feed it with the $$$ you saved from spending 2 or 3 times or more on a more expensive revolver or semiauto.

    1. Yosemite, You make many good points. I do think that every shooter should own some sort of .22 handgun. From training to small game hunting to plinking and other uses, there are many jobs they are capable of doing. As far as a “4-click” hammer, I believe I did count four when I cocked it and you just pull it back to half-cock to open the cylinder gate. Very nostalgic. I’m with you – I like Ruger’s transfer bar system. In terms of that transfer bar, no, these guns don’t use one but they have a hammer block – with it in place, the hammer can’t reach the firing pin. Sort of like a transfer bar but not an “automatic” (you have to move the lever), active part of the ignition sequence. That’s why they’re able to be dry-fired — the hammer hits the block, not the firing pin. You make a lot of sense – more folks should try a .22 before “graduating” to bigger calibers for everyday pest control, etc. I appreciated reading your comments- thanks for writing!

  2. I like your articles. But write some about the Chuck Connors 1958 The rifleman good looking rifle if you may.

    1. Toddy, I wish I could, but I can only write about the guns companies will send me. I do know that Rossi made a similar gun as featured on that TV show, but their website does not show it now. You could still find one online, I’m sure, if you like that style. Thanks for writing!

  3. Thank you, for all your work with firearms and ammo.
    It is very much appreciated in our family. New Zealand.
    Very best regards,
    Rick.

    1. Rick, I appreciate your comments. I’m glad to know I can do something to help keep our fellow shooters “down under” informed. I wish your political situation was more supportive of the shooting sports and gun ownership. I really do appreciate hearing from you. Thanks for writing!

  4. Very good review! I own one of the revolvers. Got it in a buy one get one free! ha! Deal at Academy. Now after reading your opinion of the rifle I admit I just have to have one to pass on to the Grandson.So vintage looking and as the revolvers!safe for a starter?
    Thanks for your efforts
    K

    1. J, these guns are as safe as any I could recommend for beginners. Have to cock it to shoot, have to move the safety lever down…they’re a good value if you’re looking for a “just-plain” fun gun. Thanks for writing!

  5. Hi Mike, as always you do a great job of reporting, attention to details as I like to read. I have owned a Ruger 22 10 rd. revolver, very heavy duty, but I has issues with the correct timing for each round to fire. Ruger repaired it at no cost. I am considering buying a Springfield Armory Saint-Edge rile of .223/.556, I have read a lot of reviews all seem to be good. Do you have an opinion regarding this rifle? I own other SA and have had good luck with their products. Thanks Mike stay safe and healthy.
    Jim

    1. Jim, I have no personal experience with the Saint, but I read good things about it. I don’t believe Springfield would leave a gun on the market that wasn’t good quality. I’m glad Ruger fixed your revolver – they have excellent customer service. Thanks for the kind words and thanks for writing!

      1. We have owned a heritage for several years now, the 6.5 barrel with both cylinders…we have nothing but good experiences with it…love the slow pace of operating the gun, it eats the nastiest bulk ammo (by the way, CCI shorts 1080fps might be the most accurate ammo we have tried), it is easy to clean, and it has been totally reliable…the gun is beginning to show a little wear, and loctite is needed to keep the screws tight, but like the safety all that is small potatoes to us…at the moment the gun is loaded with Hornady. 22wmr and staged in our basement, the missus noted it the only place in the house where a firearm isn’t immediately handy, and as she is down there for the laundry it seems a good idea…for us the bottom line on this gun is if it ever wears out we will simply buy another one, we like it that much

  6. Donald, glad you like your Heritage. I’ve been impressed by their quality for the price. They are decently-made. Thanks for writing!

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