The new Heritage Rough Rider Rancher carbine blends practical farm/truck gun performance with an Old West flair

by Rob Reaser

One of the things that keeps the firearm hobby fresh and exciting for so many of us can be summed up in one word…diversity. There are numerous firearm platforms to meet specific objectives, and each one fills a niche. In other words, we can always find a reason (or is it an excuse?) to buy another gun. Heck…we can find reasons to buy multiples of a firearm in different calibers. Sometimes, we don’t even need a reason; we want a new gun “just because.”

A good example of the latter is the new Rough Rider Rancher carbine from Heritage Manufacturing. While many will look at the Rancher as a novelty (and so be it, if you do…nothing wrong with that), this little revolver/rifle hybrid delivers practical function as well as fun.

Heritage is best known for their 1873 Colt SAA clone revolvers. You know…styled on the “gun that won The West.” The company’s bench is deep when it comes to small- and big-bore single-action revolvers steeped in that rugged West persona. We’ve shot many of them over the years and, going back to that diversity thing we just mentioned, these beauties deliver a heaping helping of fun on the range or as a plinking sidearm that you can tote when you’re working the land. After a steady diet of shooting mostly defensive pistols for training or for reviews, it is downright refreshing to slow things up a bit and bust targets with a classic-styled revolver.

 

Although based on the SAA revolver, the Rough Rider Rancher carbine is certainly no handgun. It’s a feisty little .22 LR with a 16-inch barrel and a rich walnut stock. A fun plinker, yes, but also an honest dispatcher of barnyard varmints. Need to clear out that passel of groundhogs burrowing under the shed? The Rancher carbine turns that task into high adventure.

The Rancher carbine is based on Heritage Manufacturing’s popular Rough Rider revolver series—more specifically, the previously-introduced 16-inch-barrel Rough Rider revolver. By changing the sight configuration and adding a modified backstrap to accommodate a shoulder stock, the Rancher presented only a small step from handgun to carbine. How’s that for modularity?

The Rancher comes with a .22 LR cylinder, but as with most Rough Rider models, you can purchase from Heritage a .22WMR cylinder for a little extra UMPH! when you’re working to thin out renegade critters.

Removing the cylinder for cleaning or cartridge swapping is a simple matter. With the safety block up and the hammer pulled to the second notch, depress the base pin lock and remove the base pin to free the cylinder. Installation is the reverse.

The loading gate is located on the right side of the frame. Pull the hammer back to the second notch, make sure the hammer block is engaged, and the cylinder can be rotated for easy loading.

Ejecting empty cases requires lining up the cylinder chambers with the ejector rod and pushing on the spring-loaded ejector. It’s a slow process compared to unloading a swing-out cylinder, but what’s the rush?

As with all Rough Rider revolvers, the Rancher utilizes a hammer block safety system. Rotate the lever up for safe or down (red dot exposed) to disengage the safety block for firing.

In keeping with the Old West flavor, the Rancher is fitted with the classic buckhorn-style rear sight and an elevation ramp.

The one-piece walnut stock is a highlight of the Rancher. It has a low-luster finish and tasteful texturing along the wrist.

An adjustable leather sling is included with the Rancher. This is a robust bit of strap that will likely last the duration of the firearm ownership. A barrel band mount and swivel come pre-installed forward of the rear sight.

A diamond point-checkered butt plate with the Heritage Manufacturing logo rounds out the stock.

There’s no doubt that the Rancher is an entirely different critter than your typical .22 LR carbine. The exceptionally light and nimble platform takes a little getting used to, as does the lack of anything resembling a forend. But that’s OK. It is the divergences from the norm that make this such a fun rifle to shoot and to tote around. As you can see, the Rancher’s diminutive size makes it a comfortable fit in a truck or on a tractor. Heck…get your local leather smith to craft a custom scabbard and add it to your horse tack.

Another strong case for the Rough Rider Rancher beyond its practical fun factor is the price. With an MSRP of $297, this is one firearm that you can justify buying “just because.”

Heritage Rough Rider Rancher Specifications

  • Caliber: .22 LR
  • Capacity: 6 Rounds
  • Finish: Black Oxide
  • Action Type: Single Action Only
  • Lands & Grooves: 8
  • Front Sight: Fixed
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable Buckhorn
  • Safety: Thumb / Hammer
  • Grips: Shoulder Stock
  • Weight: 65.92 oz.
  • Barrel Length: 16.125″
  • Overall Length: 32″
  • MSRP: $297
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