When a new model is introduced, we judge the piece’s reliability potential and accuracy based on experience with previous offerings. We must decide whether the new model is worth the money. I have enjoyed the BarKeep perhaps the most of recent .22 revolvers. However, on a practical matter, the Heritage Cowboy Tactical is easily the most useful. For training young shooters, taking small game, and firing at targets at long handgun range, the Cowboy Tactical is a formidable handgun.
At just over $200 MSRP, the Cowboy Tactical isn’t very expensive. Just the same, I had to ponder its application and convince myself whether it was worth thinning my wallet a bit. What advantage would this revolver offer in my battery?
Some may ask how a quality revolver may be offered at such a low price. First, consider the modest pressures of the .22 caliber handgun. Materials that would not hold up to the tight tolerances mandated in a powerful .357 Magnum revolver, are suitable for the well behaved .22 LR. Then again, it could be the fact that the handgun isn’t difficult to manufacture.
The single-action revolver design has proven reliable. While there is some hand fitting, it isn’t that difficult. My main point? Don’t question the price. This is a good revolver for the money.
Heritage Cowboy Tactical Features
The Cowboy Tactical is a modification of the Heritage Rough Rider. The Cowboy Tactical illustrated is a 6.5-inch barrel model. No word yet on 4.75-inch barrel versions.
The front sight is a bold ramped post using a fiber-optic insert. The rear sight is a high-profile rail-type that is designed to accommodate optics such as a red dot. An addition to this rail sight, however, is a broad, useful, fast handling, rear sight. This combination is superior to anything used in the Heritage line previously. Other significant improvements include a threaded barrel and well-designed synthetic grips.
An advantage of Heritage revolvers that is often noted by users is the superior trigger action. The Cowboy Tactical action was well above the norm for more expensive trigger actions. The trigger compression broke at 3.25 pounds. This is a clean crisp trigger. Practical accuracy is excellent in part due to this trigger action.
Operation and Handling
Handling a single-action revolver is simple and intuitive. To fire a single-action revolver, the hammer is pulled to the rear, and the trigger locks in place with a distinctive click. Press the trigger, and the hammer drops, firing the revolver.
To load the Cowboy Tactical revolver, place the hammer in the half-cock notch by pulling the hammer back until it clicks. A word to the wise. Do not hold the revolver on half cock and pull the trigger just a bit to release and lower the hammer. Pull the hammer all the way back to full cock, grasp the hammer, and press the trigger to lower the hammer.
Using the proper procedure prevents scarring the cylinder and reduces wear on the hand. With the revolver at half-cock, open the loading gate, and load the cartridges one at a time, by loading, turning the cylinder to the next chamber, and continuing until the revolver is loaded.
The Heritage revolver is among a very few models that incorporates a safety into the action. The safety is a lever-type located on left side of the receiver. This safety prevents the revolver from firing, when dropped. The action may still be operated, and the hammer fired, but the revolver will not fire.
Another option is to ignore the safety and load ‘five beans under the wheel.’ To load five cartridges, load one cartridge in the chamber, skip one chamber, load four, and then cock and lower the hammer. You will have the hammer resting on an empty chamber.
The Heritage cylinder dropped in easily. It is a tribute to Heritage Manufacturing and modern manufacture that it can provide an aftermarket cylinder that will fit any of its revolvers — at a modest price.
One the Range
I fired a good mix of .22 Long Rifle ammunition before mounting a red dot sight. These included the standard bargain basement 40-grain RNL High-Speed loads, a good mix of hollow point loads, and even rat shot. Among the strongest .22 LR loads is the CCI Mini Mag. This is an accurate and hard-hitting loading.
Among the most accurate loads tested was the Fiocchi HV 22. This is a load intended for small game use. While any of these loads are excellent choices for training and target practice, the more specialized loads are often very accurate.
As an example, both the Fiocchi SV and CCI Mini Magnum load exhibited a five-shot group of less than 2.0 inches at 25 yards. A heavy, long, barreled .22 should be accurate — this revolver certainly is.
The .22 Magnum offers considerably more power than the .22 Long Rifle. I used the CCI Maxi Mag — among the most proven general-purpose loads for .22 Magnum firearms — for most of the testing.
During this part of the test program, I added a TruGlo red dot sight to the Heritage Cowboy Tactical. Firing against small targets at 50 yards with this combination was quite simply a ball. Hit probability was excellent. Bring the revolver to eye level (with both eyes open), practice good trigger discipline, and you will get a hit.
During testing, I also used the Hornady 45-grain FTX. The hard-hitting Hornady Critical Defense loading is an accurate loading that offers a good balance of expansion and penetration.
I find the newest Heritage a must-have revolver for small game, clearing out pests, and marksmanship training.