The Rimfire Report: The Heritage Rough Rider Rimfire Revolver

    Hello and welcome to another edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is all about the rimfire firearm world and its many types of guns, ammunition, and of course its rich history! Last week we took a close look at the Desert Tech Trek-22 bullpup conversion for the Ruger 10/22 Carbine. I like the Trek-22 and want to do some more testing with it down the road – perhaps even a dedicated assembly rather than just stuffing my off-the-shelf 10/22 carbine into it. I think the Trek-22 has a lot of potential and that we can increase its accuracy even with the sub-optimal optic mounting solution. The Trek-22 will definitely be back for more. This week we’re flipping the table from last week and testing out another pistol – this time courtesy of writer Paul B. Paul came into town to enjoy the sweltering mid-south heat and humidity and he brought along a firearm I’ve actually never had a lot of trigger time with – the Heritage Manufacturing Rough Rider. Despite what I’ve heard about it, the Heritage Rough Rider has perhaps become my favorite Single Action Army (SAA) style rimfire revolver and today we’re going to take a look at it and compare it to one of my more recent reviews on the Ruger Wrangler series of revolvers.

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    The Rimfire Report: The Heritage Rough Rider SAA Rimfire Revolver

    AOD Writer Paul B.

    The Rimfire Report: The Heritage Rough Rider Rimfire Revolver

    The Heritage Rough Rider is a 6-shot 22 Long Rifle or 22 WMR revolver that comes in well over two dozen different configurations of barrel length, cylinder, and grip styles. Although the talk of the town is that the construction quality of the Rough Rider isn’t always great (and to a certain extent it isn’t), the Rough Rider makes up for its shortcomings with an absurdly low up-front cost and its neat set of features that appeal to both casual rimfire plinkers or those who like to have something traditional for their pest control duties on the farm.

    The Rimfire Report: The Heritage Rough Rider SAA Rimfire Revolver

    Photo: Heritage Manufacturing

    The model that Paul brought over with him was his personal 6.5″ case hardened model with personalized wood grips. The base cost for this model is $164.94 making it probably one of the most affordable firearms you can find right now. The base model lacks the accompanying .22WMR cylinder but Heritage does sell combo models of nearly all of their firearms that include both a .22LR and .22WMR cylinder. In the case of the 6.5″ model, the combo deal only costs an additional $40 bringing the total price to $206.52

    The Rimfire Report: The Heritage Rough Rider SAA Rimfire Revolver

    Compared to the Ruger Wrangler series, the Rough Rider might not be as polished when it comes to its choice of materials or finishes, but it also costs much less, is available in more configurations, has the option to swap out for a .22 Magnum cylinder, and I think those considerations alone make the Rough Rider worth considering for a first-time rimfire SAA purchase.

    Features and Function

    The Heritage Rough Rider has a number of small differences in terms of how it is operated compared to the Ruger Wrangler series. The Wrangler and Rough Rider have different approaches to how they deal with safety. The Heritage Rough Rider features a manually operated safety whereas the Wrangler does not. Instead, the Ruger Wrangler features a transfer bar that will prevent the gun from firing if the trigger is not being pulled while the hammer is falling to strike the firing pin. The Ruger might technically be a little safer in some respects but I can see how carrying the Rough Rider cocked and locked could prove to be more useful for an enterprising varmint hunter. I have no preference either way.

    The Rimfire Report: The Heritage Rough Rider SAA Rimfire Revolver

    One area where I think that the Rough Rider really outshines the Wrangler is in how it is loaded and unloaded. Both revolvers feature a fixed cylinder that doesn’t swing out, and as such, they both have to be loaded by rotating each empty chamber to the loading gate to put a round in – emptying out spent cases is accomplished in the same way but with the aid of a spring-loaded ramrod. The big difference here is that the Wrangler’s cylinder is allowed to spin freely when the loading gate is opened meaning it can be a chore sometimes to rotate the cylinder holes into the right alignment for loading or unloading. Meanwhile, the Rough Rider retains its timing throughout the loading and unloading process meaning you’ll have a much easier time reloading and getting back to shooting – suffice it to say I much prefer the Rough Rider’s approach to how the cylinder operates. In addition, you’ll have to half-cock the Rough Rider in order to rotate the cylinder whereas the Wrangler can remain completely uncocked while loading.

    The Rimfire Report: The Heritage Rough Rider SAA Rimfire Revolver

    Even with the loading gate open, the cylinder cannot be rotated with the hammer down.

    Both revolvers feature serviceable non-adjustable blade sights, although the Rough Rider has a slightly smaller front sight post and a more narrow rear channel while the Wrangler has a much fatter set of sights. However, both are refined enough to give you a sporting chance at pesky squirrels, or beer cans without issue. Both hammer’s spurs feature checkering but the Rough Rider’s checkering is a bit more shallow compared to the Ruger’s aggressive texturing. Both are great but on hot summer days, the Ruger might give you a better experience if your hands are hot and sweaty.

    One final positive note is ammunition compatibility. One round I’m always trying to stuff into my rimfire guns is 60-grain Aguila Sniper Subsonic. The super long 60-grain projectiles would not fit inside of my Ruger Wrangler but they slid right into the cylinder of the Rough Rider (giggity). This combined with the Rough Rider’s 1:14 twist barrel made for a fun, quiet, but gassy experience. These super heavy .22LR cartridges worked just fine out of the Rough Rider and just made me appreciate the design of the revolver that much more.

    The Rimfire Report: The Heritage Rough Rider SAA Rimfire Revolver

    Final Thoughts

    I think the Heritage Rough Rider might be one of the best-kept secrets in the rimfire revolver world. Despite its Saturday Night Special price, the Rough Rider is a very serviceable plinking or close-range varmint hunting rimfire revolver. For $200 you’re getting access to two different chamberings, a manual safety, solid timing for its cylinder, and best of all, all the fun that comes with shooting a Single Action Army revolver without the high cost of centerfire ammunition.

    The Rimfire Report: The Heritage Rough Rider SAA Rimfire Revolver

    Ruger also has the Wrangler available in a standard plow handle grip configuration. The Birdshead configuration is more of a personal preference.

    I know plenty of you out there have had experience with the Heritage Rough Rider so I’d like to hear your thoughts! What do you think about the Heritage Rough Rider and how it stands on its own as a firearm? Are there better options out there like the Ruger Wrangler series or another SAA-style rimfire revolver? Let us know down in the comments! As always, thank you for stopping by to read The Rimfire Report and we’ll see you all next time!

    The Rimfire Report: The Heritage Rough Rider SAA Rimfire Revolver

    The Rimfire Report: The Heritage Rough Rider SAA Rimfire Revolver

    Big thanks to Paul B of for letting me shoot his revolver!

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