Cowboy Tactical: Heritage Manufacturing’s Most Useful Revolver

Heritage Cowboy Tactical with a red dot mounted, spare cylinder and suppressor

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?

Heritage Cowboy Tactical top and Rough Rider revolver bottom
Heritage Manufacturing offers a wide range of revolvers built on the Rough Rider action.

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.

Heritage manufacturing Cowboy Tactical .22 LR revolver left profile
While instantly recognizable as a Heritage Rough Rider, the new Cowboy Tactical is a unique revolver.

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.

Heritage manufacturing Cowboy Tactical .22 LR revolver right profile
Fit and finish were excellent, even considering the low price.

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.

Top optics-ready sight rail on the Cowboy Tactical .22 long rifle revolver
Whether you choose to mount your favorite plinking optic or use the mount as a rear sight, you are sure to have plenty of fun.

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.

Heritage Manufacturing Cowboy Tactical revolver with the hammer cocked back
The Heritage Cowboy Tactical is a single-action revolver with a crisp trigger and good accuracy potential.

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.

.22 LR revolvers and pistol are always a fun choice for plinking cans or introducing someone new to the shooting sports. The Heritage Cowboy Tactical takes that fun potential to an entirely new level.

  • Rear view of the Cowboy Tactical revolver
  • Heritage manufacturing Cowboy Tactical .22 LR revolver left profile
  • Heritage Cowboy Tactical with a red dot mounted, spare cylinder and suppressor
  • Top optics-ready sight rail on the Cowboy Tactical .22 long rifle revolver
  • Heritage manufacturing Cowboy Tactical .22 LR revolver right profile
  • orange fiber optic front sight on a revolver barrel
  • Top optics-ready sight rail on the Cowboy Tactical .22 LR revolver
  • Heritage Manufacturing Cowboy Tactical revolver with the hammer cocked back
  • Heritage Cowboy Tactical top and Rough Rider revolver bottom
  • Heritage Manufacturing Cowboy Tactical revolver with optics rail and fiber optic front sight

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (14)

  1. Dglock

    Please note the rear sight is there when red dot is mounted or not.


    Yes, there have been .17 revolvers, I think both Heritage and Ruger. Both guns and ammo are scarce these days.

    Thanks for reading.

  2. It should be possible to alter an existing 16″ revolver, but I suspect if you ask then, Heritage might build one. Be sure tot tell them to include a detachable stock.

  3. Bora, there have been .17 HMR handguns. Ruger and Heritage both used to advertise them. Not for several years now, though.

  4. Colonial K: “Seriously the 16″ version of this (picatinny rail model) could be VERY interesting, not to mention a new level of fun.” Yes, I know they already make a 16″ version of the SA, but one outfitted with a rail for red dot, or scope, and a threaded barrel like THIS COWBOY TACTICAL VERSION could really get interesting, as it’s accuracy would be more on par with a carbine, convertible to 22WRM, NOT have the ATF pistol brace issue, and still have a very affordable price.

  5. Bob: you write an outstanding article on the Heritage Cowboy Tactical, with nice photos and attention to details. Being a fan of small caliber weapons, I’m wondering if any wheelgun manufacturer has experimented with the .17 HMR cartridge, yet. Thats a review Id enjoy reading, even if its a bust. Thanks for your review and considering the reader responses, Heritage ought to provide you some serious rewards for creating such a robust interest in their products! Looking forward to your next review(s).

  6. Kind of torn between keeping a SA traditional, and some of the interesting things the SA can become. Like I would like to see a 16″ version, and maybe call it the Pinocchio? LOL. Seriously the 16″ version of this could be VERY interesting, not to mention a new level of fun.

  7. I always pause to look over Heritage Manufacturing’s “dual cylinder” revolver offerings that will handle either .22LR or .22WMR. I just plain like the fun of plinking with relatively cheap .22LR AND also having a little more bang available with the .22 mag, and in that case the longer the barrel the better to get all the velocity possible, as otherwise a lot of it is just more muzzle flash. (In the course of looking around you will sometimes see a .22LR / .22 WMR revolver on sale with a silly long 16″ barrel, and I always find myself seriously thinking about buying one for some reason… 🙂

    Side Note: Do a DuckDuckGo search for “Ballistics By The Inch” and reference the barrel length charts at their website, which list the measured velocities of selected calibers fired from different length barrels. A 40 grain .22WMR projectile at upwards of 2200 fps is not so ridiculously far removed from, say, 55 grains of a different and very familiar (.223 / 5.56) caliber at 2500 – 3000 fps. Not near the same thing of course – especially at any distance – but then again, not quite so drastically far removed for closer distances as you might think without looking into the measured velocities and calculating those foot pounds and such. Just food for thought…

    If this “Cowboy Tactical” revolver comes out in a long barrel two cylinder version so I could have my (.22LR) cake and eat it too (.22 WMR), then I would be overwhelmingly tempted to stretch my pitiful little budget and buy one. I probably only represent a niche market for this of course, but that is what *I* would go for, anyhow. 🙂

  8. The rear sight is hard to see in the photos, but there is one there and I think it is adjustable. With regard to red dots, I specified I would not use them on a training firearm. Hunting or varminting with a scope or red dot is fine.

  9. I would want a real rear sight to use if i didn’t want the red dot.Can the dot sight be removed and a regular sight installed?

  10. Looks like Heritage is going to get more of my money! While not as quiet as an auto, a suppressor will reduce sound some. An I will finally buy an optic for a handgun.

  11. Colonel like it or not you are the distinct minority on red dot sights. Traditional marksmanship is one thing- but using a red dot to quickly make hits is another. This is a fast, fast combination. As for the supressor – dont know at all. However, with the CCI Quite load any .22 is pretty darned inoffensive. Just have to seen.

  12. I was unable to delete my first post. I meant to say one feature I would NOT want on a training firearm is an optic. Two of the basic principles of marksmanship are learning how to maintain a good sight picture and proper sight alignment. An optic, be it a scope or red dot, distorts the former and eliminates the latter.

  13. I think this revolver is mostly a gimmick. Suppressing revolvers that have a cylinder gap is largely a waste of effort because a good deal of gas and noise escape when there is no positive seal. One feature I would want on a training firearm is an optic. Two of the basic principles of marksmanship are learning how to maintain a good sight picture and proper sight alignment. An optic, be it a scope or red dot, distorts the former and eliminates the latter.

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