Heritage Rough Rider Rancher .22 Carbine

Heritage Rough Rider Rancher .22 Carbine right profile

Heritage Manufacturing has earned an enviable reputation as being reliable, trouble-free firearms. For those reasons and others, Heritage is also known for providing excellent value for the money. The Rough Rider single-action revolvers are fun plinkers and accurate enough for small game hunting. They are well suited to training young shooters in safe gun handling and marksmanship.

The single-action design is not only trouble-free, but it’s also simple to use. The need to load and unload the chambers one cartridge at a time is beneficial for those learning safety and isn’t a drawback in a recreational firearm. I own a number of Rough Rider handguns and enjoy using and firing them.

Heritage Rough Rider Rancher .22 Carbine right profile with leather sling
This is a handsome carbine well worth its modest price.

Heritage Rough Rider Rancher

Heritage introduced a 16-inch barrel Rough Rider a few months ago. This is a fun gun, even if it is not the most practical. It allows shooters on a budget to enjoy owning and using a Buntline-style single-action revolver.

The long barrel Rough Rider is a good shooter, but not at the top of my personal list. For some, it is a dream gun. I have on hand a new Heritage that is more to my liking. This is the Heritage Rough Rider Rancher Carbine — a time-proven design in a revolving carbine.

This type of firearm has been around for about as long as revolvers. The Rough Rider Rancher Carbine is a neat trick that is well worth its modest price. The Rough Rider Rancher Carbine isn’t a reproduction of another design, but it certainly draws on historical precedent. As for myself, it is nice to own and fire a rimfire revolver carbine that is inexpensive to own and cheap to fire.

Let’s get a warning out of the way. Be certain to study the manual and learn how to properly hold this carbine. This means keeping the hands well clear of the barrel/cylinder gap. I assure you that you will get a sting at the least and perhaps a nasty burn from the barrel/cylinder gap.

We have understood this for 180 years! But then again, to be fair, modern folks don’t handle the revolver day in and day out. Commit this to memory. It isn’t awkward at all to hold the carbine with a two-hand pistol-type grip. A well-designed brace under the trigger guard allows for a good, solid hold.

semi buckhorn rear sight on a gun
The Heritage carbines traditional rear sight provided good accuracy potential.

Rancher Carbine Features

The stock was well designed and offered a good fit. The round barrel was 16.25 inches long. This barrel and the rest of the firearm were nicely finished with a credible blue finish. The sights are not the usual groove in the top strap and post front of the Heritage Rough Rider Revolver.

The sights included a front sight with a brass bead insert. The rear sight was a semi-buckhorn offering elevation adjustment. The stock and barrel were fitted with sling swivels for the supplied leather sling. This sling wasn’t cheaply made, it was rather nice. The finish was nice — as noted with the aluminum parts of the revolver including the ejector rod and frame housing having a slightly different shade of blue.

Despite the carbine’s low price, the hammer spur was nicely checkered. The Heritage revolver is among a very few single-action revolvers with a manual safety.

Close up showing the checkering on the stock of the Heritage Rough Rider Rancher .22 Carbine
Checkering on the stock was excellent.

I still carry my single-action revolvers with an empty chamber under the firing pin, but the safety makes for good training. Most long guns have a safety of some type, and this feature may be appreciated or ignored.

If used, the revolver carbine may be carried with six shots in the chambers. If not, load five by using the following procedure. Load one, skip one, load four, cock the hammer, and then lower it on an empty chamber.

The Heritage single-action system includes a half-cock notch. Place the revolver on half cock, open the loading gate, and load the revolver one chamber at a time.

Heritage Rough Rider Rancher .22 Carbine with the hammer back in the half-cock position
Loading and extraction was always smooth with the hammer in the half-cock position.

Unloading spent cartridges is accomplished by opening the gate with the firearm on half cock, and then using the ejector rod to knock out the spent cartridge cases one at a time.

The revolver frame leads into a rifle stock. This is a straight-stocked carbine. I was surprised at the quality of the wood on this affordable carbine. The wood grain and the checkering were excellent. The combination of a nice fitting stock, good sights, and a four-pound trigger made for good practical accuracy.


Accuracy and Handling

Firing the carbine was simple enough. The thumb was easily placed in a position to cock the hammer. After just a few shots, the two-hand firing grip was simple and comfortable.

The Heritage Rough Rider Rancher was a fun gun to test and take to the range simply to plink and have a little fun. Throughout testing, recoil was nonexistent. Occasionally, there was blowback felt from the barrel cylinder gap but nothing to mention.

The carbine is more accurate than most would think. It wasn’t difficult to turn in a five-shot group of 1.5 inches at 25 yards without trying very hard. Most 40-grain loads clock about 1,200 fps. I used quite a few. It isn’t expensive to set down on a bench and lean the carbine across the MTM K-Zone shooting rest and check accuracy with a wide range of .22 caliber loads. The results were very consistent.

Showing the difference between the .22 LR cylinder with flutes and the .22 Magnum cylinder without fluting
The .22 LR cylinder was fluted, the .22 Magnum cylinder was not.

Run-of-the-mill loads such as the Remington Thunderbolt, Winchester Wildcat, and Fiocchi HV turned in very similar groups. The CCI Stinger, Winchester Silvertip, and Fiocchi high-velocity hollow points were also quite accurate.

But there is more to the story. I also purchased a .22 Magnum cylinder. It dropped in without any fitting. Results were good to excellent. CCI Maxi Mag 40-grain loads averaged 1,400 fps. I had on hand a few of the 30-grain CCI loads. These broke at over 1,500 fps.

Accuracy was best with the 40-grain load. This option brings the Heritage Rough Rider into a different category for dealing with pests and ‘larger’ small game. With the .22 Long Rifle cylinder in place the carbine is certainly accurate enough for knocking squirrels out of a tall tree.

Bob campbell shooting the Heritage Rough Rider Rancher .22 Carbine with a two-handed grip
Note the two-hand hold necessary to avoid barrel/cylinder gap.

This Rough Rider Rancher may be primarily a recreational firearm — at least I thought so, at first. After evaluation using different loads, I find that the carbine certainly has potential for taking game and carrying when hiking or exploring. The .22 Magnum option ups the ante in power and makes it a good camp defense option — if the threat isn’t too big.


Manufacturer: Heritage Manufacturing Inc.
Action: Single-action revolver carbine
Caliber: .22 LR
Barrel: 16.25 inches
Front Sight: Brass bead
Rear Sight: Adjustable buckhorn
Trigger Pull: 4.0 pounds
Length of Pull (LOP): 14.25 inches
Overall Length: 32 inches
Weight: 3 pounds, 14 ounces
Capacity: 6 rounds
Twist: 1:16 RH 8 grooves

Holster Options?

During the test, I obtained a Heritage snap-off holster for the Rancher. The supplied sling was handy and made for easy carrying. But the holster, well, the holster was way cool. The holster, originally introduced for the 16-inch barrel revolver, was something I wanted to explore.

With the carbine, the holster wasn’t the best. Not quite awkward, but it was difficult to draw the carbine from a holster. Obviously, of course, the holster was intended to be used as a long-barrel revolver holster. However, as a scabbard for storage, or use on a horse or four-wheeler, this scabbard has much merit.

I like the holster for storage behind the truck seat. For a walk in the woods, the sling will be used. After a few weeks with the Heritage Rough Rider Rancher, I find it a super-fun gun with quite a few real-world applications.

How does the Heritage Rough Rider Rancher Carbine compare to your favorite .22 LR pistol or rifle? Share your answer in the comment section.

  • Heritage Rough Rider Rancher .22 Carbine right profile
  • Heritage Rough Rider Rancher .22 Carbine in a leather scabbard
  • Heritage Rough Rider Rancher .22 Carbine with the hammer back in the half-cock position
  • Heritage Rough Rider Rancher .22 Carbine with the cylinder removed
  • Bob campbell shooting the Heritage Rough Rider Rancher .22 Carbine with a two-handed grip
  • Showing the difference between the .22 LR cylinder with flutes and the .22 Magnum cylinder without fluting
  • semi buckhorn rear sight on a gun
  • Steel front post sight on a gun barrel
  • Close up showing the checkering on the stock of the Heritage Rough Rider Rancher .22 Carbine
  • Heritage Rough Rider Rancher .22 Carbine right profile with leather sling
  • Bob Campbell shooting the Heritage Rough Rider Rancher .22 Carbine at an outdoor shooting range

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 (11)

  1. Excellent article and comments. Two questions: Will holding the barrel to steady it with the non-trigger hand result in a hand and/or arm burn?
    Is there any reason that the Aguila Colibri ammo would not function properly in this carbine?
    Thanks for your quick response!!

  2. Be a fun gun for days when whole family camping or just plinking away.
    Never can have enough and varieties of 22 Lr and 22 Mag. Everyone in family will eventually find their dream 22.
    FROM WEE TYPE crickets to very accurate and even a few clunker El cheapest are fun..Galling gun style of from 2 to 4 rulers great fun. 22 ammo is about all one can afford today and in accuracy some target rounds are bank busters. My first gun was an old brass and wired together Singgle shot crack shot, trading post in a barrel trade in rifle couple box of what were gallery 22 shorts would kill fox porky rabbits and grouse or gray squirrels.
    Every 22bi have owned I found most accurate rounds for them.surprisingly some old long barreled Remingtons firing 22 shorts under .75 inch at 25.

  3. Looks like my Henry survival rifle which is a fun to shoot. Very accurate!
    I bought my wife her first pistol the Heritage 6 shot in 22 & 22mag. I have knocked squirrels out of trees and made soup cans dance. My wife is a dead eye with her pistol having no bad habits.

  4. Have had mine for almost one year, got it when they were totally impossible to find. Also have the RRCH6 ‘Johnny Boy’ with 6.5 inch barrel and .22 Mag cylinder. This gun is just plain fun and different. Always wanted a revolver carbine, but too much money and too expensive to shoot bigger bores just for fun. Accuracy is very good with both 22 LR & Mag. This is one gun where you want eye and ear protection both; that cylinder/barrel gap is responsible. Just got a Stevens Favorite 1915 made in 1921 that is a rolling falling block single shot 22 LR. The Rancher and the Favorite make for a good relaxed pair just for fun shooting. Do have all types of firearms; variety is the key.

  5. Like my HERITAGE .22, and being able to swap out .22LR & .22WMR cylinders is a big plus. With the RANCHER model, hope the next option would be that HERITAGE brings back their large bore revolvers, but in a .45LC and .45ACP cylinder swap version. This would be a great next RANCHER type rifle. However, I am also a dreamer, and image how a .22 HORNET or a .357 MAG RANCHER style rifle would be! Note that the “new” 5.7×28 cartridge is almost up to the performance level of the .22 HORNET, but without the versatility.

  6. to repeat:keep your fingers away from the cylinder gap[and on any revolvers too].I find that 14.25″ l.o.p, useful for any long guns[re-attached retina].I’d prefer a more fully adjustable rear sight.

  7. Definitely looks like a fun-gun. I think I would prefer the adjustable sights of the revolver over the buck-horn of the carbine. As for the cylinder gap burn, reminds me of the M1-thumb issue. WHEN it happens, don’t think of it as an injury, but rather an education, for you have just LEARNED to NEVER do it again. That is actually in the M1 manual. LOL. A single action is a great tool for those learning, as the focus is on safety, and accuracy, instead of mag-dumps.

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