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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.