In yet another spin on the Old West classical single-action revolver, Heritage Manufacturing goes “mini”

by Rob Reaser

About this time last year, the folks at Heritage Manufacturing, makers of the popular Rough Rider series of single-action revolvers styled after the original 1873 SAA handguns that “won The West,” introduced a novel little variant called the Barkeep. The Barkeep is, essentially, a standard Rough Rider with a bobbed barrel—sort of a modern take on the old Colt “Shopkeeper” but with a 2-inch barrel.

For 2022, Heritage decided to take the diminutive approach one step farther. By slicing off yet another inch of barrel length and exchanging the conventional plow grip for the bird’s head variety, they came up with the Barkeep’s offspring—the Barkeep Boot.

OK….while this is not exactly a “boot gun” like those teensy Deringer-style pistols the card sharps drew out of their boots in the old Western flicks, the spirit is there. You wouldn’t want to carry it in your boot, but as an easy-toting pistol well-suited for dispatching close quarter varmints or even keeping two-legged varmints at bay, the Barkeep Boot has grit.

Like the original Barkeep, the Barkeep Boot is built on the small-bore Rough Rider single-action revolver frame and is chambered for .22LR. Due to its small size, the gun comes with a bird’s head backstrap instead of the traditional plow handle version.

Three models of the Barkeep Boot are currently offered; the only difference between them being the grip. Everything else is standard across the line: 1-inch barrel, .22LR chambered cylinder, manual safety, and a top strap groove sight. The grip options include custom black wood, gray pearl, and engraved wood.

The laminated wood bird’s head grips are simply a pleasure to hold. The smooth, ergonomic contours provide a comfortable fit and easily balance the front half of the gun when shooting single-handed. The engraved grip is the one that won us over. The rattlesnake design not only looks cool and fits the revolver’s Old West theme, it also provides a bit of texturing for an improved grip.

Due to the stubby barrel length and short-engagement-distance nature of the revolver, the Barkeep Boot’s sight is a machined groove running along the top strap. As a result, don’t expect much accuracy beyond 15 feet or so. Just nestle the target in the sight groove and pull the trigger.

We started out shooting the Barkeep Boot at 30 feet, which delivered a 6-shot group measuring 3-1/8 inches. Moving up to 15 feet, our group tightened to 1-1/2 inches. Not bad considering the 1-inch barrel length and a sight radius of zero.

Since the Barkeep Boot utilizes the proven Rough Rider frame, all operation is the same for those familiar with the latter model. Half-cock the hammer, pull the cylinder rod, open the load gate, and remove the cylinder for cleaning. As with the Barkeep, the Barkeep Boot does not include an integrated ejector rod. To remove empty cases, the gun comes with a manual wood handle ejector rod (although cases can be plucked out of the cylinder if you don’t gnaw your fingernails to the nubbin).

While the Heritage Barkeep Boot may not be your go-to for serious target shooting or for cleaning out groundhogs around the barn, it is certainly a fun little piece to carry in your pocket and it wears comfortably in a classic leather holster. If you are among the many collectors of Heritage single-action revolvers, it is a must-have for your Old West firearm display.

Heritage Mfg. Barkeep Boot Specifications

  • Caliber: 22LR
  • Capacity: 6 rounds
  • Twist Rate: 1:10 RH
  • Firing System: Hammer
  • Action: SAO
  • Safety: manual
  • Sight: rear notch
  • Grip: bird’s head
  • Cylinder Material: alloy steel
  • Finish: black oxide
  • Overall Length: 38 in.
  • Overall Width: 50 in.
  • Overall Height: 86 in.
  • Weight: 5 oz.
  • MSRP: $196.80-$205.38

Shoot On Editor-in-Chief Rob Reaser is a lifelong outdoorsman, former magazine editor, columnist, and contributing editor to numerous national publications in the automotive and outdoor segments. He has also authored and co-authored several DIY gun building books. His shooting and hunting passions cover everything from traditional archery and big-game bowhunting to the latest in handguns, rifles, and reloading. Rob has a troublesome habit of pulling guns and things apart to see how they work; occasionally, he manages to get them back together...

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