Those in my age cohort (I’ll be 60 in a few months) can attest (or perhaps confess) to enjoying many an evening watching 60’s /70’s vintage TV “Westerns”. Some of my favorites were The Rifleman, Alias Smith and Jones, Bonanza and The Wild Wild West. No matter the favorite “we kids” could count on the good guys winning the day and cowboy guns in play. Even with a steady diet of those old shows with plots that carried good moral and ethical messages to us youngsters in the audience, I never really had a hankering for a single action revolver, until yesterday.
What happened yesterday? I spent a full day on the range with a humble and adorable little single-action 22LR revolver, the Ruger Wrangler!
Woohoo this little buckaroo (a little poetic license here guys) is quite simply a joy to shoot! I, not so secretly, have a love affair with 22 rimfire’s, not only from a cost standpoint but for the many things YOU can learn from burning a-brick-a-week through one! No real noise or recoil to distract you (or mask poor fundamentals) from breaking clean shots on target. And it sure beats “dry fire” for me!
Ruger’s Wrangler lets you practice or just plink on the cheap. Not only from an ammo cost standpoint but by making the Wrangler so dadgum affordable! The Wrangler is NOT a cheap gun. It is, however, a well-engineered gun that makes use of materials and engineering that keeps the costs down so anyone (everyone?) can roll tin cans and slay steel (or pot a squirrel or two) with impunity!
Let’s look more closely at this little gem and we’ll take it out for a spin (revolver joke) to see the how and why behind the Wrangler.
With an MSRP of $249.00 and a “street” price somewhere in the low 200’s the Wrangler gives you way more than you pay for! First, it is reliable as the day is long. Now, that is not a major feat for a single action revolver, but it is no less factual. Second, this Ruger rimfire, while not ready for Camp Perry’s bullseye line, it is rather accurate, producing groups from 1.6” to just under 3” at a full 25 yards with my eyes and off of sandbags. Third, the sights are very well regulated for windage, only falling a bit short of POA/POI for elevation with bullets impacting just below the front sight. Fourth, the Ruger Wrangler is a crazy fun gun to shoot! I had a hard time containing my enthusiasm for this little cowboy gun! Hip shooting and “thumb slipping” the hammer seemed to be how the Wrangler wanted me to shoot it! I would offer a fifth…durable, but I only put about 350 rounds through this cool tool so I can’t say for sure, but I can speculate. Based on the use of the right materials for the correct application, I don’t see how this offering from Ruger would not stand up to whatever one might throw at it! Like I said ”slip thumbing” took the bulk of my range time and I can’t see anything post range day that raises any concerns.
Let’s talk about materials and construction so you can know “the how” behind the low price tag. Steel is used where it still NEEDS to be used. Chromoly steel for the cylinder (chambers are recessed to encircle the rimfire’s case head) and Chromoly is again used for the hammer-forged barrel (sporting a nicely finished crown). Steel is also employed for all the various pins and screws, from the five “torx” head that fasten the grip frame/trigger guard to the aluminum cylinder frame, to the fire control cross pins and ejector rod mounting screw. The grip frame/trigger guard assembly is made from a zinc alloy while the ejector rod housing is crafted from aluminum. Material choices that greatly reduce cost and sacrifice nothing in their use.
MIM parts (yes MIM!) please don’t let the internet sway you away from the proper use of MIM fabricated parts! They are used in almost every sector of industry and they work! The Wrangler uses MIM for the Hammer and Trigger and other fire control elements. And those MIM bits work really well with my example sporting a trigger pull with a clean “let-off” just under #5! Ruger has a heck of a good reputation for making rugged guns and has no reason to bet on MIM in these applications unless they have proven themselves. Considering the overall quality of engineering and execution, I’d say load it up and run the crap out of it and enjoy it! My bet is your kids and grandkids will too, MIM and all! Speaking of kids what better tool to have them learn on than the humble and predicable single action revolver! Being a single action revolver it is “Fully manual” in operation and that lets you the “instructor” know at a glance the condition of the gun in the “students” hands. And heaven forbid anyone drops a gun if the Wrangler happens to take a blow to the hammer, Ruger’s long used “transfer bar system” will insure you won’t hear a bang!
Lots of Pro’s any Cons? A couple of small things. After about 200 rounds it got more difficult to fully seat little cartridges into the recessed chambers. Not a big deal as a little more focused finger pressure and they all went home and functioned perfectly. I like to collect hard data so I measured the cylinder gap and thought it was on the large size for my tastes at 0.012”. While the gun shot very well, I would imagine a bit of velocity might be sacrificed crossing over that gap. The hammer face is SHARP! If ya drag your flesh across it at speed you will draw blood! And for the record the Cylinder End Shake was at 0.005” and that is just fine. So, for the most part, I got nuttin’ on the “Con Side” of the Wranger ledger. Bravo Ruger!
How did it shoot? From the hip, or fully sighted, employing the proper fundamentals of trigger control or goofing off and “slip thumbing” the Ruger Wrangler was a pure joy on the range! Maybe because it has been so long since I enjoyed the company of a cowboy gun (I shoot lots of games, but SASS has not been one of them…yet). Maybe it was because the Wrangler let the inner kid in me out to play! And play I did! Ruger has hit the mark, at least with me, on this single action 22. It is a very affordable, nicely made, accurate and fun little gun to shoot and shoot and shoot. I think you will feel the same way.