Review: Heritage Barkeep .22 LR Revolver

heritage barkeep revolver

Among the guns everyone should have is the Heritage .22 caliber single-action revolver.

Not only should you own one, but the Heritage Rough Rider is also among the least expensive revolvers around—and a handgun that doesn’t hurt the wallet.

While the Heritage revolver isn’t expensive, it always works.

I have never seen one in the gunsmith shop and the revolver is accurate enough, easy to use well and rugged in operation.

While there are many types of .22 caliber handguns, there are not many that fit a young shooter’s budget better.

The .22 LR revolver is designed to provide a platform for learning marksmanship. The Heritage performs this chore splendidly.

There are quite a few grip options, including wood and various motifs on plastic.

I have seen versions with adjustable sights, although I don’t own one among the several Heritage revolvers in the safe.

There are also versions with a spare .22 Magnum cylinder.

This is a good option that gets the revolver into a larger class of small game, even providing some utility in keeping pests and feral animals off the homestead.

Heritage Barkeep Revolver
The Heritage Barkeep is a well-made and attractive revolver.

Typical Features of Heritage Revolvers

Most Heritage revolvers seem are supplied with a 6.5-inch barrel, with the 4.75-inch barrel also popular.

The fixed sights offer good accuracy at modest range and are usually properly sighted for the 40-grain high-velocity loading.

The Heritage Rough Rider is a firearm similar in profile and operation to Old West single-action revolvers.

The wooden grip, alloy frame, and blue finished barrel and cylinder are attractive. While the revolver isn’t heavy, it is well balanced.

Build quality is good, even impressive for a revolver in this price range. The small size and well-designed grip make for an easy handling revolver.

The single-action revolver features a fixed cylinder that doesn’t swing out for loading. To load, you first place the hammer in the half-cock notch.

This allows opening the loading gate and revolving the cylinder to load cartridges one at a time. Load six cartridges and you are ready to fire.

The revolver is fired with a single-action press — cock the hammer and then press the trigger to fire.

To unload the revolver, place the hammer on half-cock and line up the spent cartridge cases in the chambers with the ejector rod.

Press the ejector rod to the rear, ejecting one spent case, then move the cylinder and eject another.

This isn’t a fast system, but the typical single-action revolver system that many of us enjoy using.

This revolver is a good tool for learning handling and marksmanship. To remove the cylinder for cleaning, be certain the chambers are empty.

Then place the revolver on half-cock, press the base pin release, pull the base pin forward until the cylinder is released, and press the cylinder out.

Disassembled Heritage Barkeep
The single-action Heritage revolver is easily disassembled for cleaning.

The Rough Rider Difference

A difference between this revolver and most single-action revolvers, is that the Heritage revolver features a manual safety.

This lever is located to the left of the hammer on the receiver. It is moved down to fire, up is on safe.

The revolver may be manipulated while the safety is on, but it will not fire.

The trigger action of the Heritage Rough Rider breaks between five and six pounds, with most examples exhibiting a six-pound trigger compression.

The trigger is tight, with little movement and is easy enough to learn well. As for recoil, movement is practically nonexistent.

Cocking the hammer, aligning the sights, firing, then repeating, leads to excellent training.

The Rough Rider has advantages in ammunition versatility and performance.

Whether using .22 Short, birdshot, standard-velocity or high-velocity loads, there is no question of reliability.

The revolver doesn’t require the load to cycle against recoil springs. The Rough Rider is a fun gun that isn’t ammunition sensitive.

I have used CCI shotshells, Federal Handgun Hunter and the CCI Mini-Mag with good results.

Rough Rider Safety
In this illustration, the safety is in the fire position.

How the Barkeep Compares

Over the years, there have been many short-barrel single-action revolvers introduced.

Sometimes called the Sheriff’s Model, Shop Keep, or other terms, these have been popular revolvers.

In centerfire calibers, they have been used for the intended purpose as fast-handling carry guns or revolvers for defending a business.

Heritage has introduced an attractive version of the Rough Rider named the Barkeep. This revolver features a three-inch barrel.

The grip is large enough for a good hold when manipulating the revolver.

I don’t think a small size grip would be helpful when teaching shooters to use a revolver. The Barkeep handles quickly.

It is a great deal of fun to fire at small targets at known and unknown ranges. This type of shooting builds marksmanship.

The Barkeep is a nice looking revolver that seems a step up in finish and handling over the standard Rough Rider.

The grip in my revolver features nicely engraved wooden stocks and the receiver is finished in a metallic contrast to the blued cylinder and barrel.

Since the Barkeep doesn’t have an ejector mechanism, the revolver is supplied with a wooden handled rod for knocking out spent cases.

Heritage revolver and .22 ammo
Whichever ammunition the Heritage Barkeep is fed, it always works well!

Barkeep Performance and Feel

On the range, the Barkeep is a joy to use and fire. The Barkeep is a great plinker.

The sights are properly adjusted for .22 Long Rifle high-speed loads at 15 yards using the six o’clock hold.

The Heritage Barkeep will keep a cylinder full of ammunition in a two-inch group at 15 yards on demand.

Conclusion: Heritage Barkeep .22 LR Revolver

I like this revolver very much. It is a fun gun, affordable, and one that may be relied on for training and small game use.

It is a unique and useful trail gun as well.

Have you ever tried a Heritage Rough Rider? Tell us what you thought in the comments below!

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
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 (13)

  1. We have owned a heritage with 6.5 inch barrel for 3 years…have both cylinders, but rarely use the .22wmr cylinder…the gun has been been absolutely reliable with the exception of losing a screw…took about 3 weeks for replacement to arrive in the mail, and would strongly recommend folks check screws after range use -loctite is wonderful stuff…the gun will shoot anything, and if a round doesn’t go bang after rotating and trying again, it is simply a dud round -even today a common occurrence with cheap .22lr bulk ammo…with good ammo, great results…the safety doesn’t bother us, we’re not into that traditional thing, and if training a new shooter is actually a good thing…completely love the pace of using this gun, it is so much slower than than the fast mag dumps of expensive ammo we see other shooters employ…if we ever wear out this gun (several thousand rounds, still runs like a Timex), we will simply buy another one -That our endorsement…

  2. Apparently nobody knows how to load 1873 style single actions. I have many “old style” Rugers and never had a problem with them. If your heart tells you to load 6, then do so. Otherwise load 1873 style. If you don’t know what that is, ask your great, great grandmother- she knows.

  3. A few years ago I fired a friend’s. He and I both liked it vfc with longer barrel. Using a dowel to eject cases is a deal breaker for me.

  4. I bought the Rough Rider at Academy sports for $123 plus tax, no background check fee, and the Magnum cylinder from Heritage for $30 with free shipping. Those prices are hard to beat! It does look and feel like a costlier gun. A few minor quibbles, if I may ask your collective indulgence.

    1. The sights need improvement. There’s a lot of YouTube and internet discussion of how to install improved sights, but the weapon is not designed with adjustable sights, or any way (please advise if I’m wrong) to install better ones without modifying the gun. Maybe a dot of fluorescent paint on the front sight would help.
    2. It takes four clicks of trigger movement to cock the gun. It is possible to pull the trigger on three clicks, but it doesn’t fire. This is an easy mistake to make especially if you’re wearing hearing protection.
    3. Loading gate closes too easily when changing cylinders, a process that takes a certain amount of finesse.
    4. Comes with plastic grips, but I’ll accept that as a means of keeping the gun so inexpensive. Even a set of wooden grips won’t add much to the overall cost.

    I’m left-handed, perhaps changing the dynamics of the typical learning curve for this firearm. Also I’ve never prior to this gun used a single-action, but that’s a flaw in the shooter and not the gun! Using my shooting thumb to cock the gun with my trigger finger within the guard has caused a few miscues, but this is not intended to be a rapid-fire or self-defense weapon. This I accept these minor challenges as opportunities to hone my technique.

    Overall an impressive and inexpensive gun that digests even the cheapest ammo, although the cheapest is of course a whole lot less cheap than it was 18 months ago! Would definitely buy again, and considering the Barkeep after reading the review.

    Feedback on how to better use this gun is welcome and appreciated.

  5. I bought a Heritage a year and a half ago for the wife to start her journey of gun ownership. I fell in love with it also. The only issue I’ve had was one squib round so far.

  6. i have a heritage rr standard length, black with white grips. fun to shoot, a good training gun for new shooters. i keep it loaded with sub sonics for the occasional varmint that ventures into our garage, doesn’t wake the neighborhood

  7. I purchased a Heritage “Rough Rider” about 3 years ago and absolutely love it. It has a 6 inch barrel and came with “long rifle” and “magnum” cylinders. The gun performs very well with no issues. I highly recommend one if you want a gun that is inexpensive and fun to shoot. The close tolerances of the machine work in fitting of the cylinder is excellent.

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