Guns We Love: The Heritage Rancher .22

by Tommy Grant

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The concept of a “truck gun” isn’t much different than a saddle scabbard rig more than 100 years ago. It’s basically a utility long gun that’s easily carried and deployed for any number of reasons. One carbine I’ve been carrying around the farm lately is Heritage’s Rough Rider .22.

Rats, snakes and mice, oh my!

Cleaning up hay fields at the end of summer with a rotary mower to remove some noxious weeds like broom sedge before it produces seeds is an every-year event. As I make the last few rounds in every field the rats and mice start scampering in all directions, which gives plenty of opportunities to reduce the rodent population. The Rough Rider was a fun companion in the tractor cab, and it got a rat-blasting workout. It’s not uncommon to kill 30 or more vermin in a day’s mowing.

With a plentitude of rodents and limestone outcrops in the part of Tennessee where I live, the area produces an amazing crop of rattlesnakes. Timber rattlers abound in much of the Southeast, but I’ve never encountered a population density like we have here. They are so abundant that it’s seldom that I go unarmed outside the house. I’ve lost count of the number of rattlers I’ve removed from my property.

Don’t get me wrong, I like snakes. They’re a necessary part of the ecosystem to help curb the rodent population. Even though I shoot a lot of rats and mice every year, I can’t come close to putting a dent in their population. I do like my Labrador Retrievers better, though. Every rattler that gets a permanent dirt nap is a snake that won’t bite my dogs, or heaven forbid, one of my family members.

One of the things that I’ve learned about shooting big venomous snakes is that a .22 Long Rifle isn’t as potent as a .22 WMR, and I despise shooting a rattler and having it slither off into an armadillo hole. The Rough Rider’s .22 WMR capability got a workout this fall, too.

Another big workout for the Rancher Carbine came when the local armadillo population spiked on my farm. After turning my ankle… again…in the divots these vermin dig in my yard, I waged a mini war…again. The Rancher Carbine hangs on a hook by my back door, and I’ve hammered a half dozen “Possum on the Half Shell” in the last two weeks.

Throwback Time

The Rough Rider Rancher Carbine is a throwback to the Colt’s Model 1873 Buntline Special. Legend has it that dime novelist Ned Buntline had five Colt’s Single-Actions built with long barrels in 1876 to give to some of the West’s top lawmen, including Wyatt Earp. Supposedly, the gift of a special Colt’s was in thanks for letting Buntline have an interview. Problem is, this is a myth. Buntline never went to Dodge City, Kansas, where Earp was a Deputy Marshall.

The Rancher Carbine borrows much of its basic design from the Model 1873 Colt’s pistol. It differs, though, by having a butt stock permanently affixed. To work within ATF guidelines, the barrel must exceed 16 inches and its overall length greater than 26 inches to keep it from being classified as a Short-Barreled Rifle.

Gun Details

The Rough Rider Rancher Carbine .22 LR sports a black oxide 16 1/8-inch barrel. The barrel stabilizes bullets with 8-groove rifling. The gun’s overall length is 32 inches, and it weighs nearly 59 ounces. It holds six rounds of either .22 LR or .22 WMR, depending on which cylinder is installed.

Sticking with traditional wood, the butt stock is made of walnut. An interesting feature not found on the original Colt’s is a hammer block safety that rides just left of the hammer. The safety prevents the firing pin from moving and striking the cartridge head. The front sight is a fixed blade, and a buckhorn rear sight and leather sling complete the rig.

Range Report

To check sights and get a little accuracy data, I placed a target at 25 yards and fired 5-shot groups from a bench with three different .22 WMR loads.

The first up was Federal’s Speer 30-grain TNT HP. I didn’t have any problem keeping five shots under 1½ inches at that distance. Secondly, I fired Winchester’s 28-grain Jacketed Tin Hollow Point. This load, too, could keep all shots within 1½ inches, with the best group measuring 0.945 inch. The last load tried was CCI’s A22 Magnum 35-grain GamePoint. The Rancher Carbine didn’t like this load as well but could keep five rounds just under 2 inches.

Hands Off

It may be tempting to grasp this carbine by the barrel with the offhand while shooting or grasp this revolver just in front of the frame. Don’t. Hot gas gets vented from between the cylinder and the forcing cone, which can cause injury if any skin is nearby.

And as the manufacturer claims, “The Rough Rider Rancher carbine bridges the gap between rifle and revolver for simplicity and portability.”

Check one out. They’re a fun gun for plinking or reducing your local varmint population, too.



  • Manufacturer: Heritage
  • Model: Rough Rider
  • Action: Single-Action Revolver
  • Caliber: .22 LR or .22 WMR
  • Barrel: 16 1/8 inches
  • Weight: 58.9 ounces
  • Capacity: 6 or 9, depending on variant
  • MSRP: $334


For more reviews from Jay Langston on TTAG click here or visit his personal site at

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