Firearms

Review: Heritage Rough Rider .22 LR Single-Action Revolver

Heritage Rough Rider

In a world where tactical and self-defense firearms take the spotlight, it’s nice to take a step back and look at something different. A rimfire, single-action revolver modeled after the guns of the Old West seems like a good place to start. 

Heritage Manufacturing has been offering a number of fine, inexpensive cowboy-style firearms since 1992. The Rough Rider is the company’s mainstay, and the flagship model is offered in different variations. These wheel guns will have you shooting like a cowboy in no time. 

Heritage 16-inch revolver
The 16-inch version is sure to turn some heads at the range.

Heritage Options

Heritage offers the Rough Rider in different configurations with varying barrel lengths, grips, and finishes. There are versions available with both .22 LR and .22 WMR cylinders. The Barkeep and Boot models feature short barrels reminiscent of old shopkeeper guns. There are long 16-inch barrel and rifle stock models. These models will turn heads at the range. There’s even a new “Tactical Cowboy” model with an optic rail and fiber-optic sight. 

At around $250 or under each, you can collect a whole cowboy arsenal in no time. And, plinking with .22 LR is a great way to save money at the range without sacrificing trigger time. It’s hard to think of a reason someone would not want to have at least one of these fun revolvers in their gun collection. 

Rough Rider 6.5” Features

The pistol reviewed is my father’s 6.5-inch with the standard blued finish and wood grips. This is a classic setup that is fun for plinking. The sights are rudimentary on this model — and most of them — but that’s fitting with the older design. The grips appear to be some type of wood laminate. This is a good looking low-cost option. Heritage also offers a number of pistols with acrylic grips for those who prefer the look. 

One modernization Heritage chose to include is the addition of a manual thumb safety with coordinating firing pin block. Although it looks unsightly, it works as intended and does not interfere when plinking at the range. It may even be a welcome sight for newer shooters or those young shooters. 

Other than that, this is a standard .22 LR single-action revolver. The loading gate opens and closes easily and the ejector rod operates smoothly. You can hear some squeaking as the spring compresses, but at the price point, I’m not concerned. The pin that retains the cylinder locks in nicely, and the gun locks up well on each chamber. I have no complaints on the fit or finish of the revolver. 

Heritage Rough Rider Hammer
This is the Heritage Rough Rider in the full-cock position.

Shooting the Rough Rider

Moving to a six-shot single-action revolver really forces you to slow down and take your time on each shot. This revolver will save you money on all fronts. Fire six, eject, reload, fire again… there’s something meditative about it. This is a great firearm to practice and build your shooting fundamentals. 

To load, place the hammer at the half-cock notch and open the loading gate. Insert six cartridges, one at a time, as you rotate the cylinder. Close the loading gate and you’re ready to place the hammer in the full-cock position and fire. To unload, place the hammer back at the half-cock notch and open the loading gate. Each notch, rotate the cylinder, press the ejector, and eject a casing. Do this for all chambers until the firearm is empty. You may try and angle the gun back, to help the casings fall free. Be sure to keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction the whole time and remember your rules of firearm safety. 

Heritage Rough Rider sights
The sights are minimal on the Rough Rider.

.22 LR exhibits little to no recoil, which makes the Rough Rider great for all-day fun. A .22 LR revolver provides a great platform for learning marksmanship. Heritage performs this chore well. While there are many different .22 caliber handguns, there aren’t many that fit a budget better than the Rough Rider. 

The trigger is surprisingly crisp. I wasn’t expecting much at the price, but this was a pleasant surprise. My example measured 2.5 to 3 pounds on my trigger pull gauge. Plenty good enough for plinking accuracy. Standing, doing my best to shoot like a cowboy, I was able to get six rounds into about 3.5 inches at about 10 yards. From a rest, I was able to shrink the groups to just above 2.5 inches. Not bad for being new to the gun. The single-action design lends itself to some inherent accuracy and Heritage builds a good gun. 

Disassembled Rough Rider revolver
The revolver easily disassembles for cleaning and maintenance.

Final Thoughts

As my final day borrowing the Heritage Rough Rider came, I found myself with a new interest in single-action revolvers. I think I’ll start with my own Heritage, the Barkeep perhaps, but may soon move up to something such as a Ruger Blackhawk. That’s the fun of firearms, there’s always a new avenue to explore. 

Heritage Manufacturing makes a fine firearm at a price that can’t be beat. If you’ve been eyeing a Rough Rider — or even if you haven’t — you should consider picking one up. You’re sure to have a fun and reliable plinker. 

Have you fired any revolvers from Heritage Manufacturing? What is your favorite Rough Rider? Let us know in the comment section.

  • Heritage Rough Rider
  • Heritage Rough Rider Hammer
  • Heritage Open Loading Gate
  • Heritage Loading Gate
  • Heritage Rough Rider
  • Disassembled Rough Rider revolver
  • Heritage Rough Rider
  • Heritage Rough Rider sights
  • Heritage 16-inch revolver

About the Author:

Alex Cole

Alex is a younger firearms enthusiast who’s been shooting since he was a kid. He loves consuming all information related to guns and is constantly trying to enhance his knowledge, understanding, and use of firearms. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t do something firearms-related and he tries to visit the range at least a couple of times a month to maintain and improve his shooting skills.

His primary focus is on handguns, but he loves all types of firearms. He enjoys disassembling and reassembling firearms to see how they work and installs most of the upgrades to his firearms himself, taking it as a chance to learn. He’s not only interested in modern handguns and rifles, he appreciates the classics for both historical value and real-world use.
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 (15)

  1. Bought one , a rough rider .22 last weekend shot it today, at 40ft. all shots were 2 to 3 in. to the left no matter who shot it , what’s up with this?

  2. I trully think the Heritage Rough Rider pistolcin 22LR with a 6.5 inch barrel is an unsurpassed firearm. First, it’s incredibly accurate. Second the manual safety is well placed an swell thought out. Third the metal finish and wood grips are beautiful. Fourth you can get a cylinder for 22Magnum. That was an inspired idea. With a 6.5 inch barrel the 22 Mag has a Muzzle energy of between 160 and 220 pounds. And that takes the cylinder gap into account. Great for snakes, varmints, and even last ditch personal defense.
    I’ve been shooting mine for years. Couldn’t be more pleased

  3. The thumb safety is ugly and unnecessary!! I have several old model Rugers, and an Uberty in 22LR. All you have to do IS LEARN how to load 1873 style. If you are that concerned with a round under the hammer; LEARN how to load 1873 style, or don’t shoot western style revolvers.

  4. I have two Heritage pistols and both are the 22WMR models which also have 22LR cylinders. They are very fun and economical to shoot. The 22WMR cylinders allow for more punch as a self defense pistol plus I can share ammo with my Henry lever action 22WMR rifle. The 22LR and 22WMR are more cost effective and when accurately fired can be deadly. The weapons and ammo are relatively lightweight so very good when you are on the move. As a precaution I’d have one member of my group bring a shotgun with 00 buck and slug rounds for big opponents.

  5. When you referred to a compressed spring, I am thinking that Heritage is using a coiled mainspring, like Ruger? If so, I view that as a big improvement over the leaf mainspring used by Colt and others.

  6. I originally bought one in order to teach my wife to shoot; with the price of entry it was a no-brainer. It turned out that gun was just great fun to shoot: no recoil to speak of, an easy trigger pull and easy on the ears. What a pleasant (and affordable) way to practice!
    In addition to different barrel lengths, you can get a .22 Mag cylinder and customize it with different color cylinders and custom grips. Pretty versatile.

  7. I own serveral Heritage in different barrel length 3 /12 to 6 1/2. And have
    Found them to be very reliable and
    Accurate from 10 yards to a 100 yards.
    I shoot often and have managed to hit
    Soda cans at 50 yards with the 4 3/4 in.
    Barrel with regular 22 ammo at 100 yards I have to shoot in 22 Magnum
    Because in regular 22 I would have to
    Raise sites above the target which means I can’t see it.
    I manage to hit soda cans at that distance. With 22 mag at 100 yards I use a rest with my 6 1/2 at 50 yards with 22 rimfire 4 3/4 at 50 I don’t use a rest. I wrote this so others can know how accurate and reliable the Heritage
    Revolvers are. Plus a little brag of course. All in all I love my six shooters
    And dressed them up with fancy grips and cylinders.

  8. I recently purchased a Rough Rider with the steel frame (so it is legal in MN). It’s fun & cheep to shoot, tho not as cheep with 22mag shells.

    My only complaint is that the 22mag cylinder will not work properly. It will not advance to the next shell smoothly.

    I will be contacting the company for warrantee work. Did anyone else have this issue??

  9. I have several of these guns. One has a spring that broke and now the cylinder spins freely. Rough Rider refuse to warranty it.

  10. A friend and I stopped in at a local gun shop looking for some reloading supplies. He gets distracted with a 10mm pistol, so I take a look in a display case and see this cowboy gun for a good price. I didn’t have a single action revolver and this had a nice feel to it. So my reloading funds went to a Heritage 6.5. I liked that it was .22, one chamber eject, and single action. Like the author says, it slows down the shooting, makes me think more, and is lots of fun. I can shoot it all day and not go broke. I’m a terrible shot but this gun is really helping me get better. At the range, when I pick it up though, it makes me want to have a gun belt so I can draw like Paladin.

  11. my buddy rocky came by..this was some 10 plus yr ago..he had a haritage and i looked at it and said how much…3 weeks later…i had mine..from my back deck to my shop its 50 yards..i put up a large target…all 20 plus shots where in a 24” target….give me a brake..really…i could not for the life of me do that with my (sold it)..44 mag…great little gun…the last time i had a six shoot like that was in the early 90s..a 357 blackhalk….my daughter kristina….would walk a pop can like nothin …

  12. I have two Heritage revolvers. I have returned five (5) .22 WMR cylinders to Heritage because of manufacturer’s defects. I have had fired brass to “STICK” in the chamber of the cylinder five (5) times where I have had to remove the cylinder and pound the brass out of the cylinder with a wooden dowel and rubber mallet. At least once the inside of the cylinder was scarred by the mandrel. I have spoken to Heritage/ Taurus, who acknowledges they have an QA/QC problem. Heritage has sent me a new cylinder every timeonly to repeat. I now have the sixth cylinder, guess we will see if the problem repeats itself!

  13. We love our Heritage 22. My son likes to shoot it. This was his first firearm to shoot and it was easy for him. The quality is nice for the money and you get the option to get the magnum drum. Highly recommend this firearm! 5 stars!

  14. Alex, you’re right on the money about how Heritage makes gun ownership fun and affordable. I just counted the variations offered by CTD and it’s 102 with the primary differences being color schemes, barrel lengths and grips. My family has so much fun with ours. We actually shoot them more often than the Ruger Wranglers or Single Six and Single Ten. I think it’s the weight the kids and wives like about them. No, I don’t I don’t have multiple wives, but my sons have wives that are part of our shooting family. I’ve owned my first Heritages for at least 15 years and have no issues with them. None.

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