When it comes to firearms, there are two things I absolutely love; inexpensive and reliable. When my son and I were on one of our many trips to our local gun shops and spotted this revolver in the case for $119.00, it was no question that this gun was coming home with us. Gavin had been asking for something he could manage for our range outings since the .44 was just a tad too scary for him at eleven years old, and although I had heard of Heritage, I had never used their products. If I can be totally honest, between the price point and the way Gavin's face lit up at the prospect of having a pistol to accompany his rifle on range day, I was totally ready to lose the $119.00.
Let's be honest, we've all had a .22 pistol that we picked up at a pawn shop for $80.00 or less that functioned, but just barely. The semi autos always seem to be too stiff to cycle, and the revolvers just don't strike the primer every time. However, since we gun owners are rarely if ever picking these types of pistols up to do anything more that make tin dance in the backyard, we accept that trade in reliability to have something fun and cheap to shoot. Upon first glance, I figured if anything, I would just make my kid happy and get him excited about gun ownership at the same time. My first pistol as a child was a Beretta 950 in .22 short, so I know the feeling well.
Gavin danced around eagerly while we waited for the clerk to come open the case and hand over the revolver for us to check out. As soon as the clerk placed the Rough Rider on the counter, I noticed the deep "thump" it produced. I was slightly more interested now. I picked the thing up, and immediately noticed the weight.
The Rough Rider clocks in at 33.4 ounces! That's over 2 pounds! However, the gun is incredibly well balanced and features unparalleled ergonomics. If you've ever handled a Uberti Cattlemen, or any other higher end SAA clone, the experience is the same. The Rough Rider grip contour fits perfectly in my hand, and the tapering reminds me of the older Dan Wesson target grips but without the cutout for the thumb. The Cocobolo wood is expertly polished and sanded and I could not find a single imperfection or burr. These grips also don't feel cheap, the wood and craftsmanship is on par with any other high end revolver out there. And I've played with a lot.
Okay, color me impressed. Now I have to find something wrong with this pistol in the shop, otherwise I'm nervous it's not going to fire at all. There's always that trade off in the gun world, right? RIGHT?
I started to look over the finish, surely at this price point the bluing had runs or pits. Once again, my expectations were far exceeded. The Rough Rider features a mirror-like bluing on all surfaces, except the hammer, that is once again on par with Ruger, Smith and Wesson, Colt, and just about every other manufacturer at the same price point. I don't know what Voodoo they employ over there at Heritage, but it's surely proprietary. Just check it out below, I assure you the picture is not doing it justice. Not at all.
Okay, now I'm sold and trying to figure out how I'm going to tell Gavin that this one is going to live in my safe. Sorry bud.
The last thing I want to check out before I fork over the cash is the fit and accessories. This one did not come with the .22 magnum cylinder, but that wasn't a problem. I looked over the safety, trigger, ejector rod, and muzzle. I noted some polymer on the ejector and safety, but if these were the only two trade offs where Heritage needed to cut a corner to make a buck so be it. The polymer is very sturdy and I don't dwell on the fact that it exists. That mirror finished flat side hammer looks amazing and the texture cut into it makes for a very sure thumb grip when cocking it. The crown is smooth and burr-free. The cylinder locks up tighter than a Victorian chastity belt. I can't find a single thing wrong with it. I casually ask for the forms and slide my card across the counter, surely the shop made a mistake they're about to catch.
Nope, within five minutes I'm settled up, bagged up and out the door with a complimentary brick of .22! Surely the gun gods have selected me for something this day and I don't realize my true calling. Either that, or I failed to notice the huge ass promotion sign behind the counter. I think it was probably that. Gavin and I raced back to the house to strip this thing down and find out more about why it was so cheap. It's a mission now. A competition with Heritage to figure out their Voodoo and use it for my own gain. Spoiler, still haven't.
The Rough Rider really only breaks down into 3 parts at what I'll consider the field strip level, frame, cylinder, and base pin. That's typical of any single action revolver, and the take down is quite easy, just set the hammer to half-cock, push the base pin lock in, pull out the pin, then push the cylinder out of the right side of the frame. A further inspection of the revolver confirmed my suspicion. Black magic. Has to be. The same quality apparent on the outside carries on to the internals too. Rifling, mechanics, finish, all high quality. I don't know who does QC over there at Heritage, but they don't seem to miss anything. Now we had to wait until the next day to really test out the Rough Rider, on the range.
After what I'm sure was a very restless night for Gavin, mainly because he was up and dressed before me meaning he probably didn't actually sleep, we finally packed up and headed to the range. Of course, being the kind of dad I am, we stopped for coffee and chats along the way just to draw it out a little. Right at the point when I could sense an aneurysm brewing in his 11 year old brain, we turned down the dirt path to the range and set up.
Gavin had already run through the procedure the night before with snap caps, so he knew the process of loading and unloading. What he didn't know was how to actually fire accurately. We did some training on the range, and then he was handed some live rounds. As the new owner, I gave him the first rounds out of the revolver, and all 6 rounds went everywhere but the target. OK, normal, he doesn't know what he's doing. I took the pistol from him and fired some of my own rounds. Same thing, rounds went everywhere.
The Heritage sights are fixed groove and blade, and VERY narrow. I had heard from my grandfather about the days of cap-and-ball Colts where if the gun wasn't on from the factory, it was now on you to become the gunsmith and file them into accuracy. I finally had found it, the weak point in the armor of Heritage. I HAD WON! I was cursing the task ahead of me as I walked back to the car to grab some tools. Luckily for me, when I set my bag down on the bench, the first thing I saw was a white paint pen and a stroke of genius come over me. "What if I'm just blind?"
I ran that puppy over the front blade, loaded up the cylinder and fired away. Six shots, center mass. I'd have taken a picture but we use steel reactive targets. Now I really had nothing on Heritage. Black magic, like I said before.
But how good was this gun? Out of the box with no adjustment? Well, between myself and Gavin, we ran through that 500 round brick that day, ringing steel more times that not. This revolver shoots so exceptionally well. It's 33 ounce weight means there's almost no recoil, allowing you to stay on target. The texture on the hammer is just a gripping as it looks, and believe it or not, we did not experience a single misfire that wasn't due to the ammo itself. It is unbelievable how great this revolver is at the price I paid. Even at the Heritage MSRP of $147.00 this is a steal.
Whether you are considering this revolver for your child or yourself, you will not be disappointed. We have had this in the safe for a year now, and it continues to find its way into the bag on every range trip. The reliability and accuracy are stupid amazing, and we find ourselves spending most of the afternoon shooting this cheaply fed, yet incredibly fun revolver!
Heritage Rough Rider
Caliber: .22 LR
Barrel: 6.5 Inch
Capacity: 6 Shot
Weight: 33.4 Ounces
Action: Single Only
OAL: 11.78 Inches
Fun Factor: 10/10, cheap ammo, high accuracy, solid construction and zero failures ever related to the pistol.
Beards Bullets and Bibles Rating: 5/5