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Like most people reading this website, I love guns. I love shooting, and I love lusting over the latest and greatest firearms. I’m always pumped to try out a new firearm. However, it’s rare that I’m truly excited to get my hands on a particular gun. Don’t get me wrong; all guns are fun. Sometimes something just really appeals to me, and it’s usually something weird.

Recently what’s appealed to me is the Heritage Manufacturing Rancher Carbine.

Look wow cool this thing is. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

After seeing one at SHOT, I knew I had to get my hands on one. It took over a year to finally find one. The COVID surge seemed to dry up dang near everything.

One day I walked into my gun store, and there it was in all its glory. Heritage made their name producing the affordable and fun Rough Rider revolver. For the Rancher Carbine Heritage just took a Rough Rider and extended the barrel 16 inches, and added a stock.

Custom stocks are available (Travis Pike for TTAG)

It all started when Heritage released that goofy 16-inch barrel variant of the Rough Rider. Someone then thought, heck, let’s stick a stock on it. They did, and we got the Rancher. I love weird guns, and the Heritage Arms Rancher fills that weird slot. Revolving rifles aren’t exactly a dime a dozen and are often expensive.

Into the Rancher

The Heritage Manufacturing Rancher Carbine cost me a mere $250 and is chambered in .22LR. Like the Rough Rider, you can toss a Magnum cylinder in for a little more oomph. The .22LR cylinder can also handle .22 shorts. The stock is a very attractive wood with a checkered grip. Overall I’m in love with how the rifle looks.

It’s just so cool! It may be a little goofy, but I like weirdness. As much as I love your more modern guns, there are only so many ways to skin a cat and only so many ways to build an AR. Stuff like this entertains me and does so affordably.

Its sweet and light (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The buckhorn sights offers a good radius for accuracy. They’re adjustable for elevation to a degree, but not anything crazy. They were dead-on out of the box, so I didn’t fuss with them.

The Rancher Carbine also includes a leather sling that’s okay. It works as a sling, but feels likes it’s made more for a kid than my six-foot-five-inch frame. I give them a thumbs up for including the sling with the gun.

The overall length is 32 inches, and it weighs a very light 4.12 pounds. The Rancher’s length of pull is short and sweet, and my ten-year-old son found it quite comfortable to shoot.

The Sling is okay! (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Like the Rough Rider, the Rancher has that silly manual safety. I don’t hate it, and I never use it, but the Rancher would look much cleaner without it. It functions just like any other SAA clone with a loading gate, single action only trigger, and ejection rod.

On The Range

As someone who knows weird guns, I knew there would be a cylinder gap issue. With 99% of revolvers, a gap exists between the cylinder and the barrel. Hot gases, unburnt powder, and lead shavings often fly out of this gap. Most people don’t use a thumbs forward grip on a revolver for this reason. Or if they do, they don’t do it for long.

Look at all that smoke (Travis Pike for TTAG)

On a rifle, this becomes an issue when you reach forward with your support arm. The old Colt percussion revolving rifles would burn the hell out of a shooter, and in the event of a chain fire, the user could end up losing their hand. The instructions included with the Rancher advise you to keep both hands south of the cylinder and action.

It feels weird, but the gun’s light enough to pull off the weird shooting stance (Travis Pike for TTAG)

You’re supposed to use the spur to rest your rear index finger and form a two-handed quasi pistol-like grip with the Rancher. This keeps your forearm from getting stung.

For the sake of science, I established a more traditional grip and used the sling as a bit of a vertical grip. Sure enough, it stung, and after six rounds, I had a healthy amount of black powder on my wrist and some broken skin.

Hold it the right way folks (Travis Pike for TTAG)

A .22LR doesn’t produce a whole lot of firepower, and the hot gas isn’t necessarily the issue. The real issue is the unburnt powder and lead shavings hitting you in the wrist. That tends to sting, and a long sleeve shirt would work wonders. That being said, the recommended method of shooting works because the Rancher is super lightweight, and .22LR recoil isn’t exactly challenging.

In Your Face

One major downside is the cylinder gap is close to your face, and you get some gas blown at you. It’s not a big deal, but on occasion, some unburnt powder flings rearward and hits the face. You’ll be really thankful for wearing your eye protection when shooting the Rancher.

The big buckhorn sights are nice for both snapshots or more precise shooting. Out to 50 yards, I was ringing a 4-inch gong consistently with the little iron sights. This is not a precision weapon, but for iron sighted .22LR work, the Rancher rings true. There doesn’t seem to be a way to mount any kind of optic either, so it’s nothing but irons.

The buckhorn sights work for quick snaps and more accurate shots (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The single-action trigger needs nothing more than a light touch to activate. The pull is super short, and the trigger surprised me for a $250 rifle. I don’t hate it by any means.

This is a fun gun, and the hammer hits hard. I didn’t run into any kind of light primer strikes. Even with bulk ammo, the gun always went bang. Speaking of, that extra cylinder blast makes this one of the louder .22LR rifles out there.

The front sight is not very special (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The Rancher isn’t for everyone. For the price, you can get a Ruger 10/22, which is faster to reload, can accept an optic, has a higher capacity, and ultimately doesn’t blow gas and lead at you.

The Rancher, however, delivers some fun. If you are looking for an efficient .22LR, then the Rancher probably isn’t it. If you’ve ever wanted a revolver rifle but didn’t want to spend the money on a high-end replica, then the Rancher is for you.

Specifications: Heritage Manufacturing Rancher Carbine

Caliber – .22LR (.22 Magnum with proper cylinder)
Overall Length – 32 inches
Barrel Length – 16.125 inches
Weight – 4.12 pounds
Capacity – 6
MSRP: 333.80 (Street Price about $250)

Ratings (out of Five Stars):

Ergonomics: * *
You can only hold it one way to be pain-free, and even then, sometimes, you might get stung in the face. Other than that, the Rancher Carbine is lightweight and everything is easy to reach. However, points off for the pain factor.

Reliability: * * * * *
It’s a .22LR revolver, so it’s tough not to score high in the reliability department. It goes bang without issue.

Accuracy: * * * *
Not bad. I could kill squirrels and rabbits with this thing all day long. It’s not a 1 MOA gun, but performs just as you’d expect from a .22LR rifle.

Customize This: *
Not much you can do here. Maybe a different sling. You can swap cylinders, and Heritage offers some custom wood stocks for the Rancher Carbine, too. That’s it. I think a mini red dot would make it a blast.

Overall: * * * *
Four out of five stars seem high for such an ergonomically challenged design. However, I can’t help but love the Heritage Rancher Carbine. It’s a fun gun to shoot, and I breezed through a brick of Remington Golden Bullet .22LR and couldn’t wait to get another. It satisfies the silly part of my shooting efforts.

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46 COMMENTS

  1. Oh sht that’s cute. $250 I can do.
    Dont care for the powder burn and face blast stuff but that gunms just to cute not to own.
    BTW a Ruger10-22 for $250? Not around here.

    • Yes. 250 for a 10-22 sounds a bit light.

      I’ve never seen the appeal of a revolver carbine and I really like my revolvers.

      • Bi-Mart very frequently has them on sale for $199. Bi-Mart is mainly found in Oregon, with a few stores in Idaho and Washington.

        Bi-Mart is a great store, but that doesn’t help people in the rest of the country.

    • The photo of the writer’s smokey wrist is why S&W only made around 900 revolver based rifles chambered in .38 and quickly discontinued it. The rare S&W is highly sought after by collectors who pay big bucks for one. Apparently Heritage was not aware of the design drawback. For the smokey wrist reason inherent with the design thanks but no thanks.

      • S&W’s Model 320 ‘rifle’ was chambered for a weird proprietary .32 cartridge, with an elongated case, an enclosed 100 grain ‘picket-ball’ bullet and about 18 grains of black powder; They weren’t much good for anything except target shooting, and not much good for that-and were very expensive to boot.
        Although the 320 was a failure, S&W offered the cartridge in their New Model 3 Target revolvers with more success.

  2. Where in the USA did you find black powder .22lr’s?

    A buddy likes Heritage firearms…I’ll wait to shoot his (when he gets one).

    Appreciate the off-beat firearms reviews…please keep ’em coming.

  3. Revolving rifles are fun.

    I have the Rossi Circuit Judge and it’s such a disappointing rifle because it’s so close to being good.

    It’s perfectly fine as a .410 shotgun, so that’s how I generally use it, but nobody really needs a .410 shotgun.

    As a .45 Colt rifle, it’s lackluster, because that long 3″ cylinder negatively affects the accuracy of .45 rounds. Get yourself a lever action if you want accurate.

    Rossi addressed the gas problem pretty effectively with a set of baffles that deflect the gas away from your forearm, allowing you to hold it in a traditional rifle fashion.

  4. I’m reluctant. Every time I handle one of these in a gun store (you kinda have to for $149 standard model) they seem rickety. Are these die-cast, like a HotWheels car? I’ve never fired one, but when you pull the hammer back you get about four clicks. Fine. When you try to relax the hammer it goes forward in a crunchy manner and it feels like it’s hanging on a spring and just not landing true. Just not sure. Finally, when alongside a Ruger Wrangler the death knell sounds for me. I wish them the best, but I’ll hold off until I can shoot someone else’s. I’ve owned shitty .22 revolvers in the past and remain safely critical – pre shoot – of anything that fails the “feel test”. 50 years of experience blabbing off here.

    • “Are these die-cast, like a HotWheels car?”

      Zinc-alloy frame, steel barrel liner, just like the $250 Ruger version of that revolver…

  5. Regarding the Heritage safety. It’s not very “authentic” but I kind of like it, especially for new shooters, and the Rough Rider is often a gun that finds its way into the hands of new shooters. My oldest daughter had an AD once when decocking a different loaded revolver and her thumb slipped (fortunately nothing worse than an unexpected bang. All safety rules were being followed). Having a new shooter learn to routinely engage the safety on the Heritage helps minimize potential incidents like that.

  6. “Cute” firearms never really appealed to me, this is “cute” but overall aside from the novelty of it I don’t think it very practical unless you just happen to like this sort of thing. And although there are some revolvers I do like and even own a few I don’t like the idea of a revolver carbine.

  7. This is why you go to you holster maker and have him make some leather wrist covers that look cool when shooting these kind of carbines. They did and do serve some purpose besides retro cool ? If a layer of kydex is added in behind the leather between layers they will even stop a slashing knife to some extent.

  8. Just looks awkward to shoot with nowhere to put your forward hand. If they are not trying to make an historically accurate version, why not make it double action with some front grip to hold on to? Make something similar to the circuit judge and I’d like it a lot more.

  9. My rather friendly but honest review must’ve hit pretty close to home to get an instant removal. Whatever.

  10. Interesting.

    That looks like it is about as close as I will ever get to owning of those .22 short ‘Gallery Guns’ at the county fair back in the 70s.

    (Dumb-ass millennials like my mentally-ill troll will never know the joys that were to be found at fairs like that in ‘The Tunnel of Love’ with an actual girl… 😉 )

  11. As virtually every one of these ‘revolver carbines,’ from the Colt 1855s through the Remington 1858, were complete technological and sales failures, I’m not seeing a really good reason for another one. Yeah, it’s ‘cute,’ but it’s never going to take the place of a proper ‘rifle’ with a foregrip and without cylinder-gap gas leakage.

    What WOULD make it all better would be to make the stock detachable, from a regular pistol grip, and shorten the barrel, but of course the only possible use for it then would be to rob banks, rub out gang rivals, assassinate heads of state, mass-murder children, minorities, and puppies, and overthrow the government, which is why such Instruments of Satan are appropriately banned for our protection.

  12. I’ve seen these around here and there. It just doesn’t appeal to me much. Maybe if it were atleast a Ruger Wrangler or even a Uberty. They do make a regular SAA with a long barrel (16 inch I think) that puts a smile on my face. It might make a nice novelty. Personally, I think Ruger makes the best 22’s.

    • There’s really not much that comes close to a Single Six or a Bearcat. I think Century Arms imports a Pietta 1873 copy that’s at least made of steel but beyond that everything seems to be aluminum alloy (Wrangler) or Zinc (Heritage).

  13. I have a similar rifle in 22/22 mag. Taurus/Rossi. It’s built better than the Heritage revolvers. Heritage SA revolvers are fun to shoot and cheap. They’ve got a nice selection of grips, engraved cylinders and holsters to do a little customization. Cheap reliable fun is what they are.

  14. I don’t have the Rancher but I have the Rough Rider (pretty much the same). No these are not high end, tactical firearms. But they are a fun time. People get so serious with tuning their AR, or making their Glock a show piece, sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy plinking again. Something about slowing down with cocking every shot and the PITA reloading just makes it enjoyable.

  15. Yech, impressive amount of crud expelled. Since OP calls it black powder I assume he’s playing loose with terminology or a flake, so I’m taking the supposed lead shaving with a grain of salt. Still this could be tighter, it’s not rocket science. The fact that it’s not would make me wonder if the velocity is sucking and, long term, whether I’d catch a squib in the barrel.

    • The cylinder and frame are the usual rough rider model. I’ve never heard of Rough Riders being particularly prone to squibs and there must be tens of thousands of them out there. They’re by no means *that* loose. You find many looser cylinder gaps on older black powder percussion revolvers that still shoot heavier loads reliably with slower-burning powders.

      • I’m by no means an expert. But I’ve been doing this for more than 50 years. The only squib loads I’ve ever seen have been rounds with no powder in them. The primer has enough oompa to push the bullet into the barrel. I had a model 19 Smith where a reload with no powder lodged the projectile between the cylinder and the forcing cone. Had to get a cleaning rod to tap the bullet back in the case to unjam it.

  16. The rancher carbine has been on my list to get since it first came out! This is a perfect slave state gun. It may be the only thing people who want a rifle will be allowed to have. No detachable magazine. Limited to 6 rounds. You have to pull the hammer back to fire it each time. All perfect for slave state ownership. And I like weird guns too. That’s why I have a Taurus Judge. It’s a fun gun. A great night stand gun too. But not allowed in the former golden state.

  17. GET WHAT YA PAY FOR , NOT FOR ME , DON’T CARE FOR THE CYLINDER BLOW BACK DUE TO BEING RIFLE STOCK , GO BUY A HENRY .
    OK EACH TO THEIR OWN .

  18. It’s cute! But very loud and burned powder or something hits my face and wrist. Not very accurate. Wish I could return it

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