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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.

The author with an armadillo he removed from his property using the Heritage Rough Rider .22. Jay Langston Photo

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.

Uncasing the Heritage Rough Rider .22 for a little range time. The small size makes this a great truck gun. Jay Langston Photo

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


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      • I’ve got a few. I’ve only had a timing issue with one shaving lead. Taurus fixed it under warranty – but, Taurus’ service department is either burried or in no hurry to get your firearms back to you. It took three months to get the revolver back. The issue was corrected. The firearm functioned perfectly. Many, many rounds later and it still plinks and removes undesireable critters on the farm efficently. If you use the .22 shot shells you can really play hell with pigeons. I really enjoy mine.

  1. Small vermin eradication is always about eliminating “populations” then dealing with stragglers. Severely limiting continious action with a six round cyclinder is a self imposed handicap working directly against the desired totality result. So many better tools available and are common knowledge to the readers here. Article is a poor justification for the item being marketed. A squirrel hunt would have been better suited application.

    • Dude, you’re never going to be trying to take out six-plus critters all at once, and if it takes you more than six rounds to get one, just give up. You shoot one, eject the spent casing (maybe two!), reload, and you can keep going all day. You don’t need one of those gatling gun kits to shoot groundhogs.

  2. When I bought one of these before last Christmas, there were no versions that shipped with a .22 WMR cylinder. I had to buy the .22 WMR cylinder from Heritage online and have it shipped. That’s not a big deal, of course.

  3. “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.”

    As I understand it, it’s 16 inches *or* 26 inches overall, was I advised wrong?

  4. Little known crotalid lore – 1) most of a pit vipers apparent head is the venom glands. The brain sits between the eyes, and is smaller than a 22 bullet. The back of the skull is right behind the eyes, not where it appears that the neck begins.

    2) In my experience this works – feed a bitten canine the fattiest meat you got as quickly as possible, as much as possible. This is not advice, but just saying I have tried it…

    Fried chicken skin and fat works great. I used to keep 4 to 6 large cans of Alpo chicken in the truck. High lipid levels in the blood stream apparently give the poison something harmless to destroy. Seems to speed recovery time a lot, with the typical bites on the nose/muzzle.

    The worst place for dog to be bitten is where the bite will drain into the abdominal cavity, risking peritonitis, l am told. Antibiotics are mandatory, I am told. That said, I have no experience with such a bite.

    Disclaimer – this is not peer-reviewed science or advice, but experience backed by a good veterinarian’s advice. Your results may vary.

    Also you may suddenly find you have a dog that sees a snake as an opportunity for a chicken binge. Had that happen with a hog dog…

    • “this is not peer-reviewed science or advice, but experience backed by a good veterinarian’s advice. Your results may vary.”

      Corrected to: this is not peer-reviewed science or advice, but opinion backed _personal_ experience backed by a good veterinarian’s _personal_ advice and comment. Your own results may vary.

  5. This I like would be a great “gray man” firearm. If stuck behind enemy lines, this is a very good long gun. Same as a lever action rifle.
    A 16 inch 22 magnum rifle will take care of any 2 legged pest. Too bad it doesn’t come in a 9 shot version.

    • I really wonder what kind of velocity you get with 22wmr in these carbines. With the cylinder gap, I think you will lose a LOT of energy.

      From a practical standpoint, I think a basic 22lr rifle will generally be preferable and cheaper to shoot (Marlin 60/795, Henry 001, 10/22, or Rossi RS22.

      I am glad the author enjoys his carbine. I enjoy my Rough Rider revolver.

      I am VERY impressed with the accuracy reported in this article considering the very basic open sights.

      • “With the cylinder gap, I think you will lose a LOT of energy.”

        Yeah, but won’t the extra barrel length add some?

        It’s a good question, I’d like to find out. I believe .22 lr is optimized for a rifle barrel, I imagine .22 wmr is, as well…

        • I saw someone on YouTube (Paul Harrell I think) shooting 22lr out of various length Heritage revolvers. As I recall the 4.5″ actually had higher velocity than the 6.5″ and 16″. I found that shocking , as it is contrary to the usual (perhaps related to the relatively low quality of Heritage).

          I imagine it would be different with the 22 magnum. I’m sure it picks up steam with the 16″. I just wonder if the cylinder gap might slow it down enough that hyper velocity 22lr (like Stinger or Velocitor) might be as fast out of a regular rifle.

  6. I love a .22, but not this one. I’ve found Heritage Firearms to be serviceable, but not desirable. Besides, who would shoot a rattle snake? I’ve done it a few times, but I want to save the hide. I generally just find a good stick and beat them over the head. This is the time of the year to trip over one. Most of the rattlers I’ve killed have been during turkey season. Went back to the truck more than once with a snake and a gobbler in the vest. I’ll let you guys know how it turns out tomorrow. I’ll be in Grady County, GA at sunrise.

    • The revolvers are fun assuming the are under $150 in price. I picked one up ten years ago for $129, and another last December for $99. In that price range, I am happy with it.

      I definitely don’t think the carbine is worth $334. I can almost get a PSA AR15 for that, and can get a used Marlin 60 or new Rossi RS22 for way less. A Ruger 10/22, a Henry 001, and a KelTec Sub2000 would probably run around $300. All of these seem like way better guns.

      • I got mine for about $250. One thing that isn’t obvious from photos is how incredibly diminutive and light it is compared to my Browning BLR-22, which isn’t a big, heavy gun by any means.

        I think it’s lighter than my M6 Scout .22/.410.

        The “has to be held a certain way” Debbie mentions isn’t really that hard and fast. If you’re wearing a jacket, you won’t feel anything. It’s only a .22, not like the .45 caliber revolver carbines that have been produced previously. But, in any case it’s so light it’s very easy to hold steady in the recommended grip.

  7. Drop the deck down on the LawnBoy and run faster.
    I’m not good enough a shutem to hit a running field mouse from a moving tracto with any kind of pistolabarine.
    With my luck I’d be bouncing along trying to blast the field mouse and run the tractor off into a ditch.
    I used to shoot coyotes until I watched them work a small field over behind the barn, they was hell on the rats.
    Snakes unless you’ve got a bunch really dont cut down on the rat population liked you’d think. Once they get full they just lay around a week.
    I pulled up a piece of tin and there was a Blacksnake curled up around a mouse nest with baby mice crawling around on the snake, no sht.
    Fence the place in and run hogs, you’ll get rid of everything.

    • If you want to get a real solid hate on for coyotes, grow watermelons. That’ll do it every time

      You are right about the rodent issues. Cats don’t work much either. At all. Ever.

      The lady said “my cat is so sweet, she catches mice and brings them to me”.

      Ma’am, she is trying to get you to cook them for her.

      • I’d never thought about coyotes eating watermelons, I suppose anything if your hungry.
        We had a cat at the grain elevator I worked at, there was a lot of rat poison, the cat ate the mice and when she had babies she hemorrhaged to death.

  8. Sorry about the cat.

    Coyotes love watermelons, and can smell a ripe field for miles. Assholes will bite 8 or 10 melons until they find one they like, then do it again the next night. Three yotes, 30-40 melons ruined per night. Stay up all night, watching, they will hit the field at noon while you’re at the store. It’s another case of what works ain’t legal…

  9. Only one of two times I’ve called ‘Cease Fire’ on a range when a Heritage Arms revolver resulted in a dozen superficial shrapnel wounds to my torso and face from a distance of 20′. POS.

  10. i did some reading on these when i went thru their catalog
    if i remember correct, the shorter the barrel, the faster the twist rate
    under 4″ is 1 in 9
    it goes up by steps till to 1 in 16 with the 12 and 16″ models
    surprised the heck if me — above my paygrade

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