The Ruger Wrangler .22 LR Single Action Revolver

If you are looking for a .22 caliber handgun, consider the Ruger Wrangler. It should be a great plinker, trail gun, or in a pinch an emergency defensive arm that is pretty impervious to the elements.

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I was quite pleasantly surprised when Ruger introduced a new single action .22 LR caliber revolver. After all, these days it seems that semi-automatic firearms are the type that firearms consumers are interested in most, rather than manually operated repeating. I am happy to report that is not the case-the new Ruger Wrangler .22 caliber single actions are flying off the shelves at Vance Outdoors, and with good reason.


The Wrangler series consists of three six-shot .22 LR caliber revolvers all with 4.62-inch barrels. They are available in three different Cerakote colors; Black (which I tested), Silver, and Burnt Bronze. All are built on the Single-Six pattern grip frame. If that wasn't good enough, the MSRP is only $249! By way of comparison, a blued Single-Six with spare .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire cylinder is priced at $629.

Like the Ruger Single-Six, the Wrangler is built on an aluminum frame, and weighs in at a solid 30 ounces giving the Wrangler full-sized gun heft. The grips are checkered polymer. Fixed sights on the Wrangler are in the traditional "old west" style. The barrel is cold-hammer forged, which results in rifling that is ultra-precise.

The Wrangler utilizes the same transfer bar safety mechanism and loading gate interlock system found on all Ruger single-action revolvers. There is no additional manual safety. The transfer bar system eliminates the need to carry a Ruger with the hammer down on an empty chamber to prevent accidental discharge if dropped. The loading gate interlock eliminates the need for-or use of- a "half-cock" hammer notch to open the loading gate for loading and unloading. Open the loading gate, and the cylinder turns freely to align the chambers with the manual ejector rod.

So how is it that the Wrangler is $300 or so cheaper (sans .22 WMR cylinder) than the Single-Six? The answer is simple-the Cerakote finish. Cerakote-which is highly rust resistant-covers minor flaws in the metal that would normally need to be buffed or polished out in the final finishing process. Cerakote saves time and man-hours, and the savings is passed on to the consumer. The hammer is left with a matte silver finish.

Range Time

I tested the Wrangler at the Vance Outdoor's range using CCI's .22 LR Mini-Mag high velocity round nose, copper plated ammo. It should be noted that manually operated .22's are more versatile than equivalent semi-automatic arms because they aren't ammunition sensitive-standard velocity .22 ammo functions just as well as more expensive hi-speed stuff. And ammo with truncated cone profiles such as Remington's excellent .22 Viper and Yellowjacket presents no issues with feeding as they might in more sensitive semi-auto arms.

Recoil was absolutely non-existent due to the solid 30-ounce weight of the Wrangler. The fixed sights were easy enough to pick up on, even though both front and rear are plain black. The natural pointing qualities of the centerfire Ruger Vaquero were readily apparent in the smaller Wrangler.

At a distance of 20 feet, I was able to easily maintain six shot groups in the 2.5 inch (or less) range. The trigger was crisp, and the hammer arc was shorter than larger centerfire single action revolvers. I noted that the hammer required more effort to cock than those in centerfire single actions. This is due to the fact that more impact from the hammer is needed to insure reliable ignition of rimfire rounds.

By the time I increased the test distance to 30 feet, I had settled in with the Wrangler. My best group dropped five shots grouped into a 1 1/4 inch cluster, while the sixth round was a called flyer. Pretty impressive performance. There were no malfunctions and ejection of spent cases was easy. After working with centerfire handguns and rifles so often, it was a real pleasure to work with a .22 again.

If you are looking for a .22 caliber handgun, consider the Ruger Wrangler. It should be a great plinker, trail gun, or in a pinch an emergency defensive arm that is pretty impervious to the elements.