Ruger Wrangler: Rough and Ready or just Rough?
Though I was aware of the Ruger Wrangler as a budget .22 single action revolver, I did not pay much attention to it. That all changed after Industry Day at the Range at SHOT 2020. I was at one of Ruger’s multiple booths, wanting to check out some of their new wares. I noticed the Wrangler was at one of the tables and thought I’d try out a few shots with their budget wheelgun. Loading 6 in the cylinder, I aimed at a 25-yard “Evil Roy” silhouette and hit all six easily. Moving on to the 50y target, I found all 6 landed easily as well. There are not many handguns that I can do that with on the very first attempt. I was hooked right away, and promptly fired 4 more cylinders of ammunition before moving on.
Following SHOT, I wanted to get a more in-depth look at one of these low cost wheelguns, and Ruger was kind enough to send one of their Wranglers over to TFB so we could do so.
The Ruger Wrangler ships in a plain cardboard box with a few strips of foam to keep it from rattling around. Aside from a purpose written manual for the Wrangler and a cable lock, the Wrangler rides into town solo. Though it is a budget firearm, it’s 30 oz heft feels solid, and the parts fit pretty well. The matte black Cerakote on the frame looks decent, and the machining marks, though visible, aren’t too obvious or ugly. The 5lb trigger has just a bit of creep as the transfer bar moves up before releasing the hammer, but nothing too bad. The spur of the hammer is checkered nicely, not overly aggressive.
The non adjustable front sight blade is a narrow .071″, but allows for good sight picture with just enough daylight when lined up in the rear notch and also allows for decent accuracy at 50y ranges. The loading gate at first was a bit rough to open, but this improved with time and lubrication. The Hammer is also a bit rough to operate, especially when manually de-cocking.
There is a very little gap between the cylinder and the barrel itself. The ejector rod is very smooth and easy to operate itself. With practice, one can unload this sixgun pretty quick. The loading gate is also oversized, allowing even sausage thumbed individuals such as myself to load this rimfire Wrangler without too much difficulty. Speaking of fingers, the grip allows just enough real estate for all my digits.
Specs, Per Ruger:
- Colors: Black, Burnt Bronze, or Silver Cerakote
- Caliber: .22 s, l, lr
- Capacity: 6
- Grips: Checkered Synthetic
- Barrel: 4.62″, 1:14 RH, 6 groove
- OAL: 10.25″
- Weight: 30oz
- Fixed sights, Notch Rear, Blade Front
- Frame: Aluminum Alloy
- MSRP: $249.00
Home, Home on the Range
I headed out to the range with the Ruger Wrangler and about 10 different .22LR loads. The Wrangler has a very similar holster profile to the 4.62″ Ruger Vaquero I use in SASS style shooting, and therefore rode nicely in a holster and rig I already had set up. A low cost .22 trainer would be a great role for the Wrangler in this regard.
First trying my hand with some Aguila Colibri .22, I was able to keep all shots in the A zone of an IPSC target at 25y offhand. After 20 cylinders full of ammo and trying out all the loads without any malfunctions, I fired a representative sample for accuracy. Braced off of bags at 25 yards, the Wrangler showed a preference for cheap, bulk pack ammo. Results are below, groups are 6 shots measured center-center:
- Federal Value Pack HV Copper Plated HP 36gr: .98″
- CCI Clean Polymer Coated 40gr: 1.02″
- CCI Minimag Copper Plated HP 36gr: 1.43″
- Lapua Center-X: 1.5″
- CCI Quiet LRN 40gr: 2.6″
Impressed with the overall accuracy of this sub-$300 revolver, I moved on to putting copious amounts of cheap ammunition downrange. Not only would the Wrangler put on six on a silhouette in a hurry at 50y, but it would also do it at 75y. The 5lb, smooth-faced trigger takes a bit more determination to shoot well than a lighter, crisper trigger, but it wasn’t a major hindrance. After firing over 300 rounds, the Wrangler was 100% reliable for me. Even when point shooting and fanning the hammer as fast as I could, I could not get the Wrangler to malfunction or misfire.
If one is going to put a lot of lead through the Wrangler, one is eventually going to have to clean it. Thankfully, that is an easy proposition. Pressing the base pin latch from left to right, one can then easily remove the non-retained base pin. Opening the loading gate then allows one to remove the cylinder and you’re done with disassembly for routine cleaning. To reassemble, place the cylinder back in the frame, reinsert the base pin until it latches into place, and you’re done. I feel that Ruger has made great strides over the years in improving cylinder and base pin alignment to the frame to allow for easy reassembly. The Wrangler is especially easy and smooth in this regard.
The Ruger Wrangler, at its $275 MSRP price point, draws the inevitable comparison to the Heritage Rough Rider (though some SKU’s of the Rough Rider are 1/2 the price of the Wrangler). I can say that the Rough Rider is going to have an even rougher ride, given the overall quality of construction and accuracy of the Wrangler. I’ve handled and sold a few rough riders over the years, and the Wrangler is in a much better league quality-wise.
Objectively, the Wrangler is a heavy, yet rather accurate single action .22 revolver at a very affordable price point. Its proclivity for value priced ammunition is also a boon to those with a tight budget. Subjectively, the Wrangler is one of the best sub-$300 handguns I’ve seen in many a year, and I’m a bit sad to see this one ride off into the sunset. If I didn’t already have a Single-Six, I’d add the Wrangler to my holster.
- Excellent price point
- Performs well with budget ammo
- Can be a low cost SASS training substitute for Vaqueros, et al
- Durable finish
- Trigger Pull, Hammer, loading gate can be a bit rough to operate
- Color scheme/finish isn’t “classic revolver”
For more information, please visit Ruger.
Thanks to HSS for logistical support.
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