Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report. This ongoing series is all about the rimfire firearm universe and its various firearms, ammunition, sports, mysteries, and stories. This week we’re going to talk about the recently released Ruger Wrangler Birdshead Single Action Army 22LR revolver (that was a mouthful). Ruger released the Wrangler 22LR SAA pistol back in 2019 and it quickly became a favorite within the rimfire community for its build quality, reliability, and fun characteristics. Another contributing factor to the Wrangler’s success was its price – coming in at about half of what Ruger’s other SAA revolvers were running you. Building on the success of the original Ruger Wrangler is the Wrangler Birdshead revolver. Today we’ll take a look at a copy of the Birdshead revolver that Ruger sent out for testing and evaluation to see what it’s all about.
More Rimfire @ TFB:
- Was this Rare .22LR Pistol Used by CIA Agents?
- The Rimfire Report: HK91 Conversion Kit – It Shoots .22LR
- The Rimfire Report: The Best Rimfire Guns From SHOT 2022
The Rimfire Report: Ruger Wrangler Birdshead .22LR Revolver
Officially announced in early January, the Ruger Wrangler Birdshead Single-Action Army 22LR revolver features a shorter barrel compared to the original Wrangler (3.75″ vs 4.62″) and also makes use of a “Birdshead” grip. A Birdshead grip is a variation on a standard “Plowhandle” grip commonly found on many Single Action Army revolvers, simply featuring a rounded butt instead of a flared one. I’ll leave it up to you guys down in the comments to argue about which grip style is better but right off the bat I have to say that the Birdshead style grip does feel quite good in the hand when gripped as intended.
Before we get into the rest of the Birdshead review, let’s check out what the Ruger Wrangler Birdshead SAA says about itself on the spec sheets. For reference, the model that Ruger sent me is their Silver Cerakote model (Model 2016). The fit and finish of the Ruger Wrangler Birdshead are top-notch, and I wasn’t able to spot any outstanding flaws in either the construction or the finish of the firearm.
- Grips: Birdshead Synthetic
- Cylinder Capacity: 6-rounds
- Caliber: .22 LR
- Barrel: Cold hmmer-forged 3.75″ 1:14 RH 6-groove
- Overall Length: 8.62″
- Weight: 28 oz.
- Cylnder Frame Material: Aluminum Alloy
- Cylinder Frame Finish: Sliver Cerakote
- Intergal rear notch sights with blade front (non adjustable)
- MSRP: 279.00
The Birdshead Grip
Birdshead grips look quite odd if you’re used to modern semi-automatic pistol grips, however, I’ve found that birdshead grips sit very comfortably in the hands and provide you with good positioning when shooting one-handed. I think Ruger correctly recognized the insane success of the Heritage Barkeep and decided to adapt the Wrangler to match and provide customers the same features but in a more ruggedized form. The grips themselves are made from a smooth matte finish plastic that doesn’t feature any checkering.
The lack of checkering might be a concern if your hands are wet or sweaty but because of the grip style, I didn’t really find this to be an issue when testing it out at the range. TALO Distributors makes an exclusive model featuring a Cobalt Blue Cerakote finish and wood grip panels if you’re not a fan of plastic grips but this model will set you back about $100 more than the standard plastic grip models. The Wrangler is also available in a few different Cerakote versions if silver isn’t your fancy.
Overall, I find the Birdshead grip to be fun and comfortable enough for the type of shooting you’re likely to be doing with the Wrangler Birdshead (plinking). Whether or not the Birdshead grip works well with you or not is largely going to come down to your particular hand length and girth.
In short, the Ruger Wrangler Birdshead performed very well at the range. The Wrangler uses a rounded firing pin which covers a lot more area than most rectangular style 22LR firing pins use. This lead to flawless performance when it comes to setting off primers and as a result, I had zero failures to fire with it and had no light primer strikes. I did, however, run into an issue where I was unable to fit Winchester Super-X 40-grain into the cylinder on a handful of occasions. It turns out that the cases (or the projectile) were just slightly too wide to fit inside the cylinder. The other ammunition I tested included Federal 45-grain subsonic, CCI 40-grain Mini-Mags, and some CCI 40-grain Velocity – all of which performed flawlessly. If you’re plinking on a budget, you could make use of Aguila 22 LR Colibri powerless 22LR which is inexpensive to plink with at close ranges.
The single-action nature of the Wrangler means that it has a nice light trigger pull that breaks right around 4-lbs. While it’s not the lightest single-action trigger I’ve experienced, it’s good enough at what it does for me to not feel compelled to complain about it. The sights of the Wrangler are what you’d expect from an SAA revolver so they aren’t exactly precise. I found that the Silver Cerakote finish left something to be desired for when trying to aim as the lighter-colored front sight post tended to get “washed out” in certain lighting conditions and it took extra time to re-focus on the front sight. All that being said, at 10-yards I was able to manage this passable group when shooting from a 9-hole firing barricade.
Fun Factor (and Safety)
The most important question I have for these types of .22LR firearms is “how fun is it?” Well for starters, plinking steel, cans, or empty shotgun hulls is always fun and if you don’t think it’s fun I think you need to get your pulse checked. The Ruger Wrangler Birdshead revolver excels at plinking and when combined with 22LR Colibri powerless ammunition, you’re talking about some seriously cheap and quiet plinking fun.
If you’re looking to replicate your favorite Hollywood Western scene, you can fan the hammer of your Wrangler Birdshead to dump your 6-round cylinder in just a second or two. Fanning isn’t accurate or useful in any way and also puts additional wear on your revolver but it sure is fun to do a few times. The safety features of the Wrangler Birdshead ensure that unless your finger is on the trigger at the time that the hammer is released, the revolver won’t fire. This is due to a transfer bar mechanism and loading gate interlock that help greatly decrease the chances of an accidental discharge.
Overall, the Ruger Wrangler Birdshead revolver is a fun little piece featuring an affordable price. At an MSRP of $279.00 you’ll be able to pick one of these up for pretty cheap and because of Ruger’s focus on creating durable firearms, it is sure to last a lifetime. If you’re heavily focused on competition shooting, target shooting, or hunting, the Wrangler may not be your cup of tea. However, if you’re looking for a classic design that is affordable to plink with, I’d highly recommend the Ruger Wrangler Birdshead for any rimfire junkie.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on the Ruger Wrangler Birdshead edition. How do you guys feel about Birdshead style grips? Is a Cerakote finish on a Single Action Army revolver out of place? If you own a Wrangler, your comments and opinions are always welcome and appreciated here on The Rimfire Report and on TFB. We’ll see you all in the next edition!
We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.