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Heritage vs. the Single-Six!

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by C5rider, Jan 29, 2012.

  1. C5rider

    C5rider Well-Known Member

    No doubt we've all seen threads asking whether or not so-and-so should purchase a Heritage Rough Rider and many times, someone chimes in and suggests saving a little more and getting a Ruger Single-Six. They make claims that "you get what you pay for" and the additional money is well spent.

    I just came across a super deal on a Single-six and, I already had a Rough Rider so, it became obvious that I'd burn up a little bandwidth and do a non-scientific, side-by-side comparison. I hope it will help anyone else who is trying to make a similar decision.

    The Key Players: I bought my Heritage a little over a year ago at right around market value for a new one. It has the 6.5" barrel. It does not have adjustable sights. I've added a bright yellow dab of paint on the front sight and if i put the dab on the target, that's where the hole is soon to go. It's pretty reliable that way.

    I just located a used '61 Old Model Single-Six in a local gun shop. It has both cylinders with a 5.5" barrel. It is blued with a dovetailed, windage-adjustable rear sight. The kicker is that I found this jewel for $20 LESS than I paid for my Heritage RR! They ARE out there, if you can wait and keep your eyes peeled for the deal.

    Attached Files:

  2. C5rider

    C5rider Well-Known Member


    FORM: Both guns are blued and where the Heritage has a great finish (so far as shiny goes) the Ruger has the upper hand in quality. Where the HRR shows a lesser grade casting for the body, the Ruger exudes quality craftsmanship in both fit, and finish. Although the finish on the Ruger is slightly worn and thin in areas like the tip of the barrel. If a worn finish would drive you nuts, the HRR has a nice, new-looking finish. But, it also has a white-ish coating on the finish that I've been unable to remove with any solvent or cleaner. It's kind of like a glazing that is on the gun. It doesn't hinder the gun's effectiveness, but, if you're looking for a deep blue (black) finish, it definitely detracts from what could be.

    FUNCTION: Comparing the two guns is interesting and it depends what you like. The Ruger is tight, and I don't expect that to change. The gate isn't hard to operate, but it moves ONLY in the direction that it's designed to do. There is no slop or excessive play in the mechanism. The HRR, can easily be flipped open and while I've never considered it "sloppy", if you work it after playing with the Ruger, it does feel a little loose, or should I say, "the gate opens much more easily".

    Ejecting the spent cases in both guns is done relatively easily. The HRR cylinder spins easily and aligns with the ejection rod easily. But, the ejection rod needs a little oil once in a while to keep running smoothly. I believe this to be a machining tolerance issue. A good example of the cost-difference between the two guns. The Ruger works as well (or better) when ejecting the spent cases but, I believe that is partly attributable to the fact of it being an Old Model. I cannot say definitively but, if the new Single-Sixes are like the New Model Blackhawks (I own one) for some reason, the ejection rod doesn't match up with the cylinder bore when ejecting the cases. I find this to be a little cumbersome on my New Model Blackhawk and again, since my Single-Six is the Old Model, it doesn't have this issue. A New Model may. Welcoming any New Model Single-Six owners to chime in on this fact.
  3. C5rider

    C5rider Well-Known Member


    I was VERY interested to see how the Single-Six stacked up against the HRR. I have heard stories of folks bending front sights on their HRRs. Either Inter-web fiction or fact, all I can say is that my HRR will show you EXACTLY where the sights were when you pulled the trigger-- repeatedly.

    With the Ruger's somewhat adjustable sights, I knew I could move it around a little. I shot at a printed target at about 10 yards. Any more than that and accuracy could be hindered by my eyes, more than the gun's input. The targets are a one-inch circle. I put one cylinder into each attempt after shooting a couple of cylinders of ammo through each gun. I started with the Ruger and, because I didn't have a means of moving the rear sight, I did have to do a little Kentucky windage to center up the shots. The first couple reminded me of that. Had I been able to move it (this was my first trip with this gun and didn't know how much, if any, I needed to move it) I'm sure that it would have hit dead-on from the first shot.

    The HRR (with it's fixed sights) took a shot or two to re-acquaint myself with the gun. A couple of shots in, and I was hitting right where I wanted. As much as it may hurt some Ruger fans to read this, accuracy seemed to me, to be very close between the two guns. The HRR MAY have a slight lead on the Ruger but, that will need to be determined as time moves forward. I may just be used to the HRR more than the Ruger. Time will tell.

    The Ruger has very distinct "clicks" as you operate the hammer and cylinder while the HRR is not nearly as loud but just as usable. It does have a flip-up safety on the left, rear of the cylinder on the frame so, it could be carried with a full six shots safely. The Old Model Ruger is advised against this. The New Models use a transfer bar for safely hauling six shots, but the ejector rod alignment may come into play at that point.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 29, 2012
  4. C5rider

    C5rider Well-Known Member

    The bottom line:

    At this point, if someone were to ask me which one to buy, they'd have a few questions to answer themselves.

    First, how quickly do you need it? If you can wait and find a great deal on the Ruger, it IS better quality and, will last longer than the HRR. If you're looking for a long-term investment.

    Secondly, how much do you have to spend- TOTAL? If $200 is about your limit, either wait for a kickin' deal on a used Ruger or, go with the HRR. In understanding the lower cost and the resulting decisions made when engineering it, you can have an economical 22 caliber that will be great fun to shoot without breaking the bank.

    The third question is, how much does other people's opinions of your guns mean to you? Folks like to look at Rugers, especially older ones. The new HRR is going to be met with many not-so-enthusiastic, "okay truck gun..." statements. If you don't care, buy the HRR and laugh all the way to the bank. If it bothers you, wait for a Ruger that your friends will like.

    My experience (it's worth exactly what you paid for it) is that you can own either gun and be happy, if you understand each one's strengths. The HRR does give up some quality of build and, the resulting longevity. The Ruger, while quite capable as a bang-around gun, I would have a hard time doing that. For me, the gun has earned the right to be treated better. Heck, I wouldn't treat my HRR that way!

    I'm glad that I own a great example of both of these guns and I consider them equals so far as shooting is concerned. I don't think that either gun gives up anything to the other in this regard. If bottom dollar is the deciding factor, Heritage has your firearm, if longevity and ultimate quality is king, then save about twice as much (or wait for that deal) on the Ruger. Either way, you'll wind up with a great shooter and by understanding your particular needs, it'll be the right choice for you.
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    The Safety issue is a game changer for a new owner with no Single-Action experience.
    The Ruger wins hands-down in that regard.
    And IMO, is worth the extra money for a new shooter.

    No Buttons to punch, No Levers to Switch, Nothing to forget.
    All you gotta know is:

    Load the Son of a Bixxh

  6. hogshead

    hogshead Well-Known Member

    Well said. I don't know if we are supposed to reply or not' but I will and as you will see I am a Ruger man.
    While the Rough Rider [when you cock it you will know why its called rough] is a functional gun . I have a few issues with them.
    1.Need a model with adjustable sights.
    2.When you cock it back it feels like something is breaking or it has square bearings
    in it.
    3.That stupid safety. If I had to carry one I would move it to fire and take a
    screwdriver and break it off. If its got a hammer it does'nt need a safety
    There I am glad I got that off my chest. I prefer Ruger but won't down anybody's gun.
  7. snakeman

    snakeman Well-Known Member

    My parents weren't so lucky with either of their HRRs and neither is my uncle. None of them are even close to poa. My dad sold his and went and bought a used ruger and started hitting turtle heads with it on stock tanks. I can say the same about my 1970s ruger. The HRRs we had shot terrible groups with various types of ammo, magnum and lr. Just another cheap belly gun. Just be glad you're one the lucky ones who got a decent one.
  8. BCRider

    BCRider Well-Known Member

    One ommision in this otherwise very thorough comparison report is the trigger pull. I didn't see anything about how it felt to actually pull the trigger on the two guns.

    I've seen an HRR in the flesh and while it's certainly servicable I wasn't impressed with the fit of the side plate on the receiver frame from the right hand side. I opted to just let it pass by rather than buy.

    A few months back I tripped over a screaming good deal on a Ruger SS with only the .22 cylinder. But that's OK since the magnum cylinder would have been used once then packed away to be forgotten. Mine looks just like yours with the windage only rear sight but it's a little younger. The trigger on my SS is quite delightful. It's not "match" sensitive but it's smooth and breaks with not a lot of pressure. Mine has it's share of "holster patina" much like yours. In fact mine is more worn then yours. But that's OK since it looks and shoots so nicely.

    The chamber misalignment seems to be something that comes with the Ruger method of disengaging the cylinder bolt with the opening of the loading gate. I have a .44mag SBH which works this way and fails to line up as well. I have to hold it by thumb pressure instead of just backing it up against the hand and cylinder ratchet. My buddy's Vaqueros that have the same loading gate bolt disconnect are the same. Seems to be tied in with that loading gate cylinder disconnect. For my money I prefer the half cock bolt disconnect where you can just pull back on the cylinder against the hand so the chamber lines up perfectly with the ejector. Yep, ol' Sam Colt knew what worked... :D
  9. skidder

    skidder Well-Known Member

    I've never had an HRR, but I have had a Single Six. The loading gate on my Ruger was a sloppy mess. I guesstimate about 1 out of 5 rounds would skip without firing. I miss the gun but not the miss fires.
  10. C5rider

    C5rider Well-Known Member

    Yes, please.

    Again, I must be one of the very lucky ones. I've never considered the action of my HRR as "rough". Now, I believe the spring for the hammer is heavier than the Ruger and, there seems to be more contact with the sear as it requires not only a little more movement of the trigger, but also a little more force. If you subscribe to the "breaking glass rod" description, imagine the HRR having a slightly larger diameter rod than the Ruger. On the other side of the coin, the audible "clicks" as you pull the hammer back are much quieter on the HRR.

    Best way to describe it would be the "larger glass rod" description above. It's not a major difference, just noticeable if you work each one a few times. I don't have a scale and I haven't been calibrated lately so I won't try to guesstimate numbers. The slightly lighter trigger pull on the Ruger may also be because of the gun's age. Keep in mind that it's over 50 years old! :what:

    I am.
  11. C5rider

    C5rider Well-Known Member

    I went back and tried both guns again. I wonder if you're comparing the HRR with a New Model Ruger? I checked and both of mine (save for the clicks) are about the same. Now, the New Model doesn't have the clicks throughout the hammer's travel. I checked my NM Blackhawk and it's buttery all the way through. You start moving the hammer back and before you know it, it's at the end of its travel-- one click. That is more the design of the NM over any quality differences between the HRR and the Ruger. That's my thinking anyways.

    Again, both guns are different, but I'd have a hard time putting one in front of the other without more specifics of exactly how someone would be using it or, their expectations.
  12. dscampbell

    dscampbell Well-Known Member

    I have both HRR and Single Six. I have the HRR. With the .22 magnum cylinder and use it for pest control. I the the Single Six with the .22 LR cylinder and use it for fun. I like both.
  13. Confederate

    Confederate Well-Known Member

    Make mine a Ruger.

    Ruger wins because it's available in stainless steel.


  14. 03Shadowbob

    03Shadowbob Well-Known Member

    I love my SS Single Six. Won't ever see a HRR look, feel or shoot this good no matter how much you pay. :)
  15. shootniron

    shootniron Well-Known Member

    In my opinion, the Ruger SS Single Six is one of the best handguns made and the blue version is not far behind it. So, comparing it to the HRR is tough...as there really is no comparison other than both are SA.JMO
  16. C5rider

    C5rider Well-Known Member

    There must be something to it. If there really wasn't any comparison, then why are they often compared.:neener:

    The reality of it is that I like my Ruger, but I also like my HRR. Had I not found the Ruger at such a good price, I probably would not have purchased one and been quite content with my Heritage. You can say that my standards are low, or that I'm cheap, or, even that I don't know what I'm talking about. But, my HRR has done everything that I've asked of it in very satisfactory fashion. On the other side of the coin, I DO like, and can appreciate the higher quality of the Ruger. The hardest question that I try to answer is whether or not I would recommend that someone save up about twice the money to get one.

    Those stainless guns ARE nice! :cool:
  17. shootniron

    shootniron Well-Known Member

    Good question, I don't understand that myself. Compare what is argueably the best single action rimfire pistol ever made from a quality and performance standpoint to a plinker...it just beats me.
  18. shiftyer1

    shiftyer1 Well-Known Member

    The ruger is a better firearm as far as quality is concerned. I would own either one for the right price. I'd use the heritage hard like I do my rohms.
  19. C5rider

    C5rider Well-Known Member

    I think Shiftyer1 says it best.

    Like almost everything, it comes down to price. There will be some folks where the additional quality of the Ruger will simply be viewed as an additional cost and the economy of the Heritage will be considered "saving money". Others will consider the additional cost as an investment in quality. The third group will shop and try to find the quality for not much more cost than the "economy" version. If it has a little wear, so be it. If it has very little wear, even better.

    It has all the makings of a great market- something for everyone!
  20. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Well-Known Member


    With the exception of the New Vaquero, all New Model single action Rugers do that. It is because of the relationship of the travel of the hand and the hammer position.

    With the Three Screw Models, they functioned exactly like a Colt. Soon after the hammer is first pulled back, the bolt (Ruger likes to call it the Cylinder Stop) is withdrawn from the cylinder, freeing it to rotate. There is a bit of slack until the hand (Ruger likes to call it the Pawl) engages the ratchet teeth at the rear of the cylinder and begins to push the cylinder around. The half cock notch on the hammer is located so that when the hammer has moved back far enough for the sear to pop into the notch, the cylinder will have rotated far enough to line up a chamber with the loading gate. This makes loading and unloading very convenient, each ratchet tooth on the cylinder engages the hand as the cylinder is rotated for loading, and each ratchet tooth lines up a chamber with the loading gate. Exactly the same thing happens with the Colt mechanism.

    Yes, old Sam Colt did know what he was doing, but he was dead when the SAA came out. Of course this feature is a carry over from Colt's earlier Cap & Ball revolvers, and it was used to line up the nipples on each chamber with the recess in the recoil shield for seating caps.

    When Ruger redesigned their single action line in the 1970s, in addition to adding the transfer bar they did away with the 'safety' cock and half cock notches on the hammer. They also changed the mechanism so that the hammer no longer actuates the bolt, the loading gate does. The situation with the hand and the cylinder ratchet teeth is that there is no longer a half cock notch on the hammer to line up the chambers with the loading gate. Instead, when the loading gate is opened, the hand has not advanced at all. The relationship of the hand and the hammer is still the same. There is still a bit of slack before the hammer raises the hand enough to engage the ratchet teeth. The upshot of that is that once the loading gate is opened, freeing the cylinder to rotate, the cylinder can rotate backwards slightly until a ratchet tooth is caught by the hand. That backwards rotation is the 'default' position of the cylinder regarding indexing chambers to the loading gate. Every time the shooter rotates the cylinder to line up the next chamber with the loading gate, he has to rotate the cylinder significantly past the 'default' position of the cylinder to line up a chamber. And it is very easy to accidentally rotate the cylinder just a tad too far, allowing the hand to engage the next ratchet tooth, which leaves the chamber rotated just too far to allow loading or unloading of that cylinder.

    I found this arrangement so annoying that I eventually installed Power Custom half cock hammers in three of my Vaqueros. The PC half cock hammer has a half cock notch cut into it just like the one on a Three Screw hammer. It allows placing the hammer at half cock, which lines everything up very nicely for convenient loading and reloading. My old New Model Blackhawk that I bought in 1975 does not get shot enough to warrant installing a half cock hammer, its lockwork is just as it left the factory. And it can still annoy me by clicking the cylinder to the 'default' position when I am trying to load or unload.

    Ruger did address this problem with the New Vaquero. Although the New Vaquero has the same lockwork as any other New Model Ruger single action revolver, Ruger cleverly installed a small spring plunger in the recoil shield. This plunger is located precisely so that when the cylinder is free to rotate, it will pop forward and engage a ratchet tooth at just the right moment to line up a chamber with the loading gate.

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