Gun Review: Ruger New Model Single Six [P320 Entry]

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By Renner

“Excuse me?” “That’s right, sir. 22 rimfire is the only firearm caliber that is allowed for hunting feral hogs at this time.” As the Game and Fish Commission representative hung up the phone, so began my impossible quest for the best .22 rimfire hunting sidearm I could find to back up my bow in pig country. With the KelTec PMR-30 well known for being constructed entirely of 100% unobtainium, my journey ended with a Ruger New Model Single Six Hunter . . .

The Single Six Hunter has the classic single-action cowboy six-shooter lines but is all business when it comes to critter control. The long 7 1/2″ barrel and integral scope mounts are evidence that Ruger chose the Hunter moniker for good reason. Oh yes, scope rings are included too. My Leupold FX-II fit the included 1″ rings perfectly, but if your scope has a different objective or tube size, Ruger will typically swap the proprietary rings for free.

The frame and cylinders are stainless steel and have a satin finish. The quality of manufacture is very good and I could find no blemishes or sharp edges worth reporting when I first brought it home. Unfortunately, after two years and nearly 500 rounds downrange this working gun shows it. Quit drooling, this photo was was taken before the Great .22 Ammo Drought of 2013-14!

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The Single Six Hunter comes with both .22 LR and .22 Magnum cylinders, and each holds six rounds. The gun is loaded and unloaded with the same technique as many single action revolvers: open the loading gate, rotate the cylinder slightly to drop in the first round, rotate to the next chamber and repeat. To remove spent casings and unfired rounds, open the gate, rotate the cylinder to line up with the ejector rod, and slide the ejector rod rearward to dump the cartridges. Repeat for each chamber.

I always carefully check each chamber a couple times more to make absolutely sure there are no remaining rounds, because it is not hard to miss one and there is no other obvious means to indicate a loaded round. This revolver has a transfer bar under the hammer to prevent unintended discharge upon dropping it. It’s not necessary to carry it with an empty cylinder under the firing pin.

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Converting from one cylinder to the other is as simple as opening the loading gate, pushing a button, and pulling the cylinder pin. While the .22 LR cylinder is also compatible with .22 Short and .22 Long, the .22 Magnum cylinder must only be used with .22 Magnum (.22 WMR) ammunition. The difference between the two cylinders is obvious: the .22 LR cylinder is fluted while the .22 Magnum cylinder isn’t and is roll marked .22 WIN. MAGNUM CAL.

In addition to the included two cylinders and scope rings, there are a fair amount of aftermarket options available to personalize this firearm to your tastes. The sights can be replaced with Williams adjustable fiber optic sights or other styles. I love the Firesights on my GP-100 for low light conditions and they would be equally useful on this varmint stalker.

Hogue Monogrips are definitely an improvement over the stock laminate grips. Wolff springs and shims are available for the Single Six to fine tune the trigger if you so desire. I have an Uncle Mike’s holster for use when I don’t have the scope mounted and a bandolier style holster when I do. Leather cowboy holsters are also available and are probably a better match for the western motif of this traditional looking piece.

Cleaning the Single Six is fairly straightforward. First unload the cylinder and then remove it. Scrub the chambers and barrel with your favorite solvent and brush. Clean the crevices around the forcing cone as best you can with a brass brush and solvent. The cylinder face can be scrubbed to remove the heavy stuff, but the discolored rings won’t hurt the function any if you decide not to polish them away every time.

Like most revolvers, this gun will still fire reliably even if it isn’t kept spotlessly clean. If enough dirty *cough* Remington *cough* rounds are fired between cleanings, the chambers can build up enough crud that you have to lightly press on the round to seat it before rotating to load the next one. However, I never once had a failure to fire.

The first time I took the Single Six along on a range date with my wife, I felt like I was cheating. Just ease the single action hammer back manually with your thumb and squeeze the respectable 4lb. 1oz. trigger. It’s not a crisp break like the custom triggers Nick is fond of, but it’s short and predictable for an off-the-shelf production gun. The long sight radius from the replaceable front bead to the adjustable rear sight made short work of the bullseye at 7 yards. But then I started to fall out of love with this gun.

The grip did not fit my average sized hands well at all. The old cowboy style grip was originally designed to roll up in your hand to help absorb the recoil of a powerful cartridge. On this little .22 it had the opposite effect. Because of the long heavy barrel and small polished wood grip combination, the gun had the urge to roll forward in my hand. The balance just felt way off, and only got worse with the addition of a scope. “But that’s okay”, I thought to myself, “My wife has small hands and it will probably fit her just fine.” Wrong, buck0. She didn’t like it either.

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Later, I swapped out the laminate grips for some Hogue Monogrips. That helped the situation with finger grooves and better traction on the rubber material, but it was still too front heavy to feel comfortable in my hands. Then the funniest thing happened. As I wrote these words, “there is nothing that can be done to fix the balance on this gun”, the following modification idea hit me.

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This…actually…works! While moving the scope back doesn’t fix the balance problem entirely, it does make it much more manageable and doesn’t fatigue the hands quite so quickly.

So what kind of punch does my pig pistol pack? I decided to compare its performance against two other popular rimfire small game hunting guns, the Ruger Mark II and Ruger 10/22.

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To make sure I was comparing apples to oranges, I had the aforementioned 2X scope on the Single Six, a 1X red dot sight on the Mark II, and a 4-12X scope on the 10/22. Who ever said life was fair?

Accuracy was tested in each case using an improvised rest typical of a handy stump or tree one might find in the field for support. The targets were set out at 25 yards to better simulate real game hunting ranges. All .22 LR tests were performed using CCI MiniMag 40 gr ammo, except for the .22 Magnum which used CCI Gamepoint 40 gr jacketed soft points. Six shots were used in each group, mostly because this is a six shooter review after all.

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Single Six Hunter.22 LR 2 1/2″
Single Six Hunter.22 WMR 2 1/8″
Mark II .22 LR 3″
10/22 .22 LR3/4″

The Single Six and Mark II groupings undoubtedly reflect my questionable handgunning skills. The point of impact changed when switching cylinders, so not surprisingly you have to decide which setup you will ultimately dial in. The Single Six did outperform the Mark II in my accuracy test, but the venerable Mark II was much better balanced and comfortable even with a comparable 6 7/8″ barrel. As expected, neither were a match for the vastly superior precision obtained from the ubiquitous Ruger rifle.

I was more interested to see how the velocity of the 40 grain .22 Magnum of the Ruger Hunter stacks up against the 40 grain .22 LR from the longer barreled 10/22.  All velocities are measured in feet per second.

Chrono

I expected barrel length would make a larger difference than it did, but I was pleased to see that the .22 Magnum launched from the Single Six has substantially higher velocity, and therefore more energy, than the same weight .22 LR bullet fired from the 10/22.

Hunting firepower is always subjective to the hunter. Squirrels? No problem. Rabbits? You bet. Raccoons, foxes, bobcats? I would be very comfortable with that. Maybe even something as large as a coyote. Pigs? I’m not so sure.

Because of the higher energy of the .22 Magnum, whatever a .22 LR can kill, the Single Six can kill it deader. But while taking down a small-to-average sized feral hog by hitting the sweet spot behind the ear would certainly be possible, I don’t trust my own skills to get close enough to make that ethical kill shot cleanly on a hog in the wild. And I would have no faith whatsoever in this single action sweetheart to be able to stop a surging swine in those critical seconds after a stray shot. That’s not what Ruger intended it for. This is a gun for small game hunting, and in a survival situation I would be happy to have it to put fresh meat in the campfire stew.

So how did the Single Six Hunter fare on my bowhunting trip you may ask? It sat locked warm and safe in its case, while I invoked the concealed carry provision of the law to bring along my outstanding 6″ GP-100. For self defense purposes only, of course.

Specifications:

Model:                    Ruger New Model Single Six Hunter
Caliber:                  .22 LR and .22 Magnum
Material:                Stainless steel
Finish:                    Satin stainless
Front Sight:          Replaceable Bead
Rear Sight:           Adjustable Windage and Elevation
Barrel Length:     7 1/2″
Overall Length:   13″
Weight:                  45.0 oz (excluding scope)
Grips:                     Black laminated wood
Twist:                      1:14 RH
Capacity:                6 rounds
MSRP:                    $799.00, Actual Price $699.00

 

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style * * * *
I like how Ruger pulled off the blend of traditional revolver styling with added modern features like integral scope mounts and adjustable sights.

Ergonomics *
I can’t get past how muzzle heavy it is. My wife and son didn’t like it either. Had Ruger put the rear scope mount on the top strap where it belongs, it would be a whole different ballgame.

Reliability * * * * *
Solid primer strikes and no failures whatsoever with all the ammo brands I’ve used.

Customization * * * *
Included cylinders for .22 LR and .22 Magnum. Sights/scopes, grips, spring kits, and holsters are all readily available and interchangeable. What else is there for a revolver?

Overall Rating * * * *
If you’re hunting small game and can’t pack a long gun, the Ruger Single Six Hunter has enough of what it takes to be the next best thing.

comments

  1. avatar gej88 says:

    The pictured Single Six, like the New Model Blackhawk, has a transfer bar system to allow you to load six rounds. IIRC, the New Bearcat also has a transfer bar.

  2. avatar B says:

    What state is insane enough to limit hunters to a .22 rimfire while hunting vermin hogs?

    1. avatar Don says:

      seriously. landmines and claymores would almost be appropriate in some parts.

      1. avatar J.C. says:

        You’re not kidding, some parts of Texas are downright dangerous with these pigs. I always carry a 10mm sidearm with a spare mag in pig country. They are aggressive and unpredictable in many encounters I’ve had with them.

        1. avatar VF77 says:

          I couldn’t get even past that part either. .22 for feral Hog? Wha?

        2. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          I also had a wtf moment.
          The fish and game folks obviously don’t hunt.
          Good grief.
          Next up, fishing with a hookless hook.

        3. avatar Another Robert says:

          One of my spookiest moments as a parent came about in a pick-your-own blueberry field we were working near Canton, Texas. We were headed down the dirt road back to the car, kids well in front, when a handful of black hairy pigs ambled out of the woods ahead of us. Of course, the kids headed right for them. And I wasn’t carrying at that time. Fortunately they heeded my instructions to stop and come back our way, and the hogs continued on their way. Like I said, I was pretty spooked.

        4. avatar insertjjs says:

          Yeah, I have a WASR AK with a 75rnd drum that I only half jokingly call my pig gun.

        5. avatar MMinSC says:

          In SC, on public lands, you must hunt with whatever is required for the season. For instance, during small game season you must use rimfire or bird shot. Since hogs are in season year round if you want to hunt them during small game season, you must use one of those. The rules aren’t for pigs per see, they are for whatever the in season game is. During deer season i use a rifle or handgun. Lotsa guys here use 17 HMR for hogs during small game. I don’t.

    2. avatar Renner says:

      MMinSC hit it on the head. Arkansas requires you to use a weapon legal for any other game in season. Back then it was .22 rimfire for small game or bow for deer. This year the bow deer season aligns with an any-caliber centerfire season.

  3. avatar scurvy dog says:

    Wonder what G&F commission you spoke with. You must live in the NE. Down South you don’t get such stupidity. A .22 for a wild hog? Give me a break. And further, if you aren’t confident in your ability to hit what you aim at with that long barrel and pistol-mount optic rigamarole, you shouldn’t pack it at all.

    1. avatar Don says:

      Uhhh….I think thats what he said he did bro!

  4. avatar Stu says:

    I’m glad you actually use your GP-100. I was thinking through the whole read about our PA game laws and using a CCW permit instead. .357 is much more appropriate when something wants to tangle with you

  5. avatar Brian says:

    I think you picked the wrong single six for your purposes. I have and carry often my 4 5/8″ version. It is handy, compact, well balanced and when loaded with 22 Mag Hornady critical defense it is a respectable small game getter. My only wishes are that the 4 5/8″ version would be made in the stainless steel as a standard catalog option not a special item and that the single nine version would be made convertible.

    Just think, Ruger Single Nine in stainless steel with 4 5/8″ barrel with 22 Mag and 22 LR cylinders. That could be the best handgun companion a man can find.

    1. avatar Renner says:

      You raise great points. I strongly considered the Single Nine and it might have been the better choice. I didn’t know the Single Nine was convertible to .22 LR or I probably would have gone that route. But I thought the scope mount would be a neat feature because I already owned the scope, and I figured maybe I would get a tick more energy with a longer barrel. Against pigs, I wanted as much energy as I could get. Either way, Its still a fun little gun to plink with.

  6. avatar Gs650g says:

    I have the shorter version and love it. Bought the hogue grips as well. The thing is a tack driver. I use mine for squirrels

  7. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    My Stainless Single Six is my fun gun. My 10-22 is actually boring it does so well with most ammo at 100 yards. If I do my part it will do its every time.
    My MarkII Stainless Slab Side is actually more accurate at 100 yards then my 10-22.
    I did however sell my GP100 many years ago as I had no use for a Stainless 6 inch 357 magnum at the time.
    I think what Im saying here is I like my Rugers ALOT.

    1. avatar jp says:

      you actually believe that yo’re ruger pistopl is more precise at 100 yds thanyour 10-22?
      At a 25 yd zero your 10/22 will be 8″ low at 100 yds wuth a 40 grain bullett.
      Ill bet your pistol cannot be prdictable at that range regardlessof the ammo.

  8. avatar Accur81 says:

    While I also feel that the longer barreled single six is muzzle heavy, I thought you were pretty tough on the ergonomics portion of the review. I figure 1 star would be more for something like a titanium .45-70 derringer.

    Nice review, and like the velocity info. I would be remiss if I didn’t state that CCI and other companies offer high velocity ammo (Velocitor, Stinger, etc.) that will indeed beat the .22 WMR from a 7 1/2″ revolver barrel. Fortunately, the prices on .22 rim fire are starting to come down just a bit.

    1. avatar Renner says:

      I actually had one box of CCI Stingers but they’re too valuable to use up right now. More importantly, I did want to compare the same weight bullet for .22LR vs. .22 Mag velocities and the Stingers are only 32 grain. I figured the heavier 40 grain bullet would get better penetration on a larger animal but I could be wrong. Lastly, I consider CCI MiniMags to be the standard that all 22’s are compared to.

    2. avatar Renner says:

      Its hard to rate something on comfort. I got the balance to where its better for me. But I gave it the one star because both my wife and 10 year old son said they didn’t even want to try shooting it after handling it. I figured Ruger would probably want to do better with this gun in those two demographics.

  9. avatar Dogman says:

    I am envious. Not of the handgun but that glorious selection of .22 RF ammo in the photo.

    1. avatar Renner says:

      Tried to warn you about the drool. =)

  10. avatar Paul W. says:

    I love single sixes (first handgun I shot), but holy shit, not for hogs! That states F&G laws are dumb.

    1. avatar Renner says:

      I pretty much choked when the desk jockey explained the rules, I certainly didn’t make them. Turned out the Arkansas warden we met in the field asked us if we had other firearms along. He told us he didn’t care what we used, just kill the d***** hogs!

  11. avatar lolinski says:

    .22 LR for feral hogs?

    I like .22 and trust it and everything, but I wouldn’t use it for hogs. Something like a 6.5mm or 308 is what I would use. If you are talking pistolas then I would go for the 7.62 tokarev (especially if you have subgun or AP ammo) or one of the magnums (.357, .44, you know the drill).

    Also, does a sawn off shotgun count as a handgun?

    http://gunsetc.tumblr.com/post/83139376221/a-sawn-off-mts-255-revolving-shotgun

    The MTS-255 shown there would be perfect. All the fun of big bore revolvers with all the cheapness and availability of 12 gauge or 20 gauge shells.

  12. avatar Anonymous says:

    Sure… a 22 rimfire. In texas the hogs get too big for a 22 anything:

    http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=48655

    1. avatar Renner says:

      Ah, I beg to differ. 22mm would be perfectly adequate for hogs in my book, even an 1,800 lb one!

  13. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    One of the things that will affect your accuracy on a Single Six with .22LR ammo is that the Ruger’s bore diameter is sized for .22 WMR, not .22LR. That is to say, the .22 WMR has a .224 groove diameter bore, and a .22LR needs a .220 groove diameter barrel (which would be a “tight” bore .22LR match barrel) to .222 groove diameter (more common).

    Ergo, you might find (as you did in your groups above) that the .22 WMR shoots tighter groups than .22LR out of that barrel.

    There used to be a tool sold by a fella out of Arizona (I think the company’s name was “Pacco” or something like that) that would allow you to “mush” the .22LR bullets outwards the required amount to fully obdurate the WMR bore in just such a revolver with LR rounds.

    1. avatar Renner says:

      DG- Thanks for the detailed explanation. I had read that it would be more accurate with the magnum cylinder, and anecdotally it always seemed that way for mine but I didn’t know why. I’m glad the results of my test can be backed up with a reason other than that am just a lousy shot! The tool you mentioned looks like a great idea.

  14. avatar Legioinvictus says:

    Dan,

    Which Hogue Monogrips fit? I also have a Ruger Single SIx Hunter (which I love) and purchased the Hogue Monogrips model 83000 per Hogue’s recommendation. They do not fit and per your photos, your grips look different and seem to fit perfectly. Please let me know.

    Thanks.

    1. avatar Renner says:

      I used the 83000 Monogrips. I probably should have mentioned in the review that the installation is a royal pain in the rear, but that is an issue for Hogue, not Ruger. You have to visualize the plastic track inside the grip and slide it on at a fairly severe angle at first. Halfway up, the sides of the grip get caught on the frame, and I had to use a flat bladed screwdriver to pry both sides of the grip over the frame. Once that’s done, you can rotate the grip in place with a lot of wiggling and cussing. Sometimes it takes a couple attempts to get it right. The back of the grip does not align perfectly flush with the backstrap, but it’s reasonably close.

      1. avatar Legioinvictus says:

        Thanks Renner for your response. I experienced the same issue with fitting the grips initially but finally was able to make it work. I was glad to hear that they didn’t fit perfectly as you described, for that was my experience, and I just wanted to make sure I was missing something. As you stated they aren’t a perfect fit but work well (once you muscle them in there) and are much better than the original cowboy grips.

      2. avatar Legioinvictus says:

        Renner, in my previous reply I forgot to ask you about the Williams Fire Sights. Everything I’ve seen online suggests that they are not compatible with the Ruger Single Six Hunter, Could you comment on this? Have you actually installed them on the single six hunter?

        1. avatar Renner says:

          I have not installed the Williams Firesights on my Hunter model yet. At the time I thought ShopRuger had it on their website but I don’t see it there now. The Williams website lists Part#70960 for the New Model Single Six but there is no picture so I don’t know for certain if it works on the Hunter. I’ll take it to the LGS and see which model, if any, fits it. Sometimes they recycle their accessory designs from different Ruger pistols.

  15. avatar flboots says:

    My son-in-law used a 22lr to take out a small to midsize pig. Shot it right behind the ear. Dropped it where it stood. Used the 22 round due to houses in the area. To be fair if he could he would have used a bigger caliber gun.

  16. avatar CCC says:

    I recently purchased a “new model” single six that has both 22lr and 22winmag cylinders.

    A bit strange, as the weapon had been sitting with the dealer over a year, hence a really good price. Test fire was March 2013. I bought it, and discovered some assembly issues, so it went back to sort out some stripped screws.

    Took it to the range this week. Used only the .22lr cylinder (no win mag on the shelves here for months).

    Runs like a top on Federal auto match and some other stuff that won’t cycle my 10/22. But …

    My CCI .22lr stingers do not seat fully in the .22lr cylinder. There are three cylinders in which they will fit with heavy pressure, three that will not seat at all. It is clear that mine has an issue with stingers.
    As well, a large number of rounds from a box of Winchester 333 would not seat properly, and some casings would not eject without what I consider undue force (pushing with two hands on the plunger with the grip planted firmly on the bench).

    Ruger will be getting a call Monday. Two trips to the range, two trips to the mother ship. Beginning to sound like my Shield.

    Where I run into hogs, a .357 or .308 scout are appropriate if you don’t want to get torn up.

  17. avatar CCC says:

    The Single Six is back from Ruger (they got it out before the holiday closure, which really surprised me).

    They replaced the cylinder, trigger, and hammer. No real explanation of why, but I did get a call from them. Seems it went for test firing and came back again, so I was not crazy.

    The CCI Stingers now fit easily, but they did tell me that they should not be used in my New Model Single Six. We had the typical discussion of where it says that in print, but since they went out of the way to call to discuss it, I’m presuming there is a reason.

    The 333 Winchester rounds I was having issue with still do not fit, and Winchester has asked me to send them in, which I will do. I opened a box of every other type of .22 ammo I have, and everything but the 333 Winchester fit (even other Winchester types fit fine). So there may have been a production issue there as well.

    So I am pleased with Ruger’s work in this exercise. Seems that everyone is doing their part.

    I was going to complain that I didn’t get the traditional yellow Ruger cloth that the semi-auto folks send out, but when I pulled the pistol from the bag, I realized they had swapped out my generic black plastic grips for the wood ones that normally come on the higher-end model. So no complaints about the $2 yellow cloth.

  18. avatar L.J. Smith says:

    On my single-six which I have had since 1981 both cylinders are fluted. Also the pictures on the front of my owners manual (P6A-35-2-74) shows both cylinders as fluted.

  19. avatar Mark Wynn says:

    Having read you review, thanks, I plan to replace my Single-Six, 6.5 barrel, stainless that was stolen (a Bi-Centennial year model) with … another of same. The balance on that pistol was ideal, the trigger seemingly match grade, and with .22 WMR more accurate than moi. The Single Six Hunter seems overbuilt and over weight for a .22 pistol.

  20. avatar Mike says:

    If you can’t go into the wilds confident of your 22M, you are below the grade of sissy. I want to be legal, but I am not possessed by the notion. A 22M in a Ruger single action is all I need or want. I don’t live where grizzly bears roam, and I don’t want to kill elk or other large meat animals. A man, and I mean a real man, with a .22M revolver and a large heath knife can not only survive, but live comfortably in the wilds. I would of course rather have the ballistics available from a 22M rifle, but such is not worth the weight of a true mountain walker. Carry the minimum, even if your stay in the wilds, especially if those days are many, exchange the weight of a rifle for a reliable and tough Ruger 22M, which will serve you well for camp meat and self defense, unless you are in dangerous big game territory, which most of us are not. The accuracy and energy of the Ruger is plenty enough to keep you alive and filled with meat. Under perfect conditions, which are not all that difficult to attain, said weapon will cleanly take a deer. I think the wilderness “experts” are sissies. Take control of your own adventure and choose a 22M for an afternoon of hunting or for your survival weapon on extended stays in the back country. So many would be survivalist believe they need massive fire power more than they need common sense.

  21. avatar jstert says:

    my go-to survival, trunk, bugout piece is a ruger “single eight,” a gently used single six that came to me cheap. it was missing the 22wmr cylinder, to which i added an 8 shot replacement 22wmr cylinder purchased from midway. after a bit of polishing and a 100 rounds to break it in, it is absolutely my most accurate, reliable and fun piece ever. 22lr is fun plinking and 22wmr is a working round. a ruger single six is an essential firearm.

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