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Ruger Single Six: Match grade barrel? Accuracy?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Prosser, Oct 2, 2011.

  1. Prosser

    Prosser Well-Known Member


    I sold my Freedom Arms 252 awhile back. It was a pain, since the cylinder was cut so tight ammo consistently stuck: "Matchgrade cylinder"

    So, I bought a Ruger Single Six, complete with 22 Magnum/22lr barrel and cylinders.

    Here is my plan: Have a matchgrade barrel put on the gun, then sell the 22lr barrel and 22 mag cylinder unused.

    Also: What barrel length? My revolvers run between 4.75" and 7.5". I'm trying to make this as close to my FA and Ruger Single actions as I can, as a training tool.

    Which barrel? Douglas, Kreiger, or does it matter, once you get into premium barrels? Seems like the prices are all pretty similar.

    What kind of sites? Scope?

    I'm getting old, eyes aren't what they used to be...

    Anyone done this? Suggestions?

    Has anyone put a matchgrade barrel on a 22 revolver, and, if so, what kind of accuracy did you get?
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    IMO: A match grade barrel will make no practical differance.
    The line-bored Freedom Arms cylinder would have.

    You would be better served to just test every brand of .22 ammo you can lay hands on.

    One or more of them will shoot in the Ruger barrel better then you can shoot it I betcha.

  3. robhof

    robhof Well-Known Member


    I haven't changed the barrel on my single six, but it gets pretty good accuracy, good enough to take squirrels with head shots. It came with a scope and I was going to remove it, but decided to try it first. Set up target at 25yds and proceeded to get 1" group in bulls eye, that was 5 yrs ago and still have the scope on it. Mine is the 5 1/2" barrel and bought used, if I was buying new and wanted the most accuracy and power out of the 22; I'd go with 7" or longer barrel. It also works with all the cheap ammo too.
  4. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Well-Known Member

    A "match grade" barrel is also much harder to install on a revolver than be fitted to an auto.
  5. Wil Terry

    Wil Terry Well-Known Member

    BOWEN re-built my old 1965 RUGER SSS 22/22MAG with a new Match gauge 7 1/2" .219" ID barrel. It averages right at .70" at 25 yards with any decent 22LR ammunition. Furthermore it shoots as well with the 22MAG cylinder with velocities right at 1700FPS or a bit more.
    I've shot prairie rats with this pistol so far away you fix an extra sandwich and carry more water to go find the corpus dilecti's.
    It's been 20 years now since I had Hamilton do this and I swear the pistol gets nothing but better everytime I take it out.
    If you think I am pulling your leg ask Taffin about this very sixgun.
    And so it goes....
  6. Prosser

    Prosser Well-Known Member

    Will Terry:

    That's the kind of accuracy I'm after. I will say the FA 83 shot .38" of an inch, with the right ammo, out of a ransom rest, at 50 yards, for it's new owner.

    My CZ rifle does that, with non-matchgrade ammo, and a scope.

    What did HB do to the gun, besides switching barrels? What make of barrel?


    Why did you settle on 7.5" for barrel length?

    The 252 was 9-10". One of the things I found a bit more rifle like then pistol.

    The older Single Six barrels were notorious for being anywhere from .223"-.227", sometimes on the same barrel. Have they gotten better these days?
  7. CraigC

    CraigC Well-Known Member

    It depends. I do believe that a new barrel will be a waste of money if bore/chamber alignment is not near perfect on every chamber. So in that, a new line-bored cylinder would have to be made. Of course, it could be cut with any of a hundred different .22LR reamers. This is probably one of those instances where a good gunsmith, not Joe Bob up the street, should look at the sixgun and determine how bad the alignment is before proceeding. David Clements offers accuracy work on the Single Six. I don't know if Stroh will do a line-bored .22LR cylinder but I do know that he will do one for the .327 so odds are good. Obviously Hamilton Bowen is an option and will probably have the fastest turnaround.

    I've long wanted to do a match-grade .22LR Bisley Single Six with the dovetail rear sight, largest diameter 5½" bull barrel that will fit and a line-bored cylinder. I already have the dovetail sighted New Model to do it. Perhaps Lilja would sell a 6-7" stub???
  8. Prosser

    Prosser Well-Known Member

    My work takes me to that area this week, and around one of those guys that know what they are doing.

    My list is to have my 1911 chromed, a red insert put in my FA 83 .500 JRH, and the Single Six evaluated.

    Why 5.5"?

    I'm considering 4.5-7.5" barrels, and have no idea what the ideal 22lr barrel is for accuracy.

    I do want something that is about the same site radius as my big guns, and, since one is 5" and the other two are 7.5", guess which way I'm leaning?

    What's the number one match grade .22lr barrel around?

    I could do the Bisley grip, but, I've already got a nice set of small, but beautiful Hogue cocobolo grips on the gun. Seems the stuff is hard to get, and expensive.

    Chopping down a .22lr rifle barrel and threading it is not a big deal for the guys I know.

    We'll see how this works out this week.

    I'm not real sure the alignment was really an issue. I do know the quality of the ruger barrels have long been suspect.

    We'll see what the evaluation is of this gun.
  9. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Well-Known Member

    I've not shot a single six, but for what it's worth, too long of barrels move the center of balance too far forward and fatigues the wrist in long shooting sessions.

    I had a 6 1/2" Blackhawk in .41 Mag a few years ago. I couldn't shoot more than a few cylinders full at a time for this reason.

    Granted, a .22 is significantly lighter than a .41, but the same principal applies - you get too much muzzle weight out front and it throws balance off.

  10. CraigC

    CraigC Well-Known Member

    Ruger makes a fine barrel, they just cut a sloppy chamber and unfortunately, use a compromise bore diameter on the Single Sixes. It's not the quality that is suspect. You can take a 10/22 barrel, set it back, rechamber it and recut the crown and it will shoot with many aftermarket barrels.

    I wanted a 5½", which is not a length I'm very partial to, for several reasons. One being that while I usually prefer shorter barrels, I wanted a little more sight radius. I think it would balance it out better aesthetically, because the big Bisley grip frame on the little Single Six frame makes it look bulbous in the rear. Because I despise the neither fish nor fowl 6½" length and 7½" would be too long to be practical. I want it to be an every day beltgun. Plus I already have custom holsters for a 5½" Single Six.

    Lilja is the accepted "best". Probably some folks will argue but you sure as hell won't get a bad barrel from them.

    While I do A LOT of shooting with the Ruger XR3 and Colt SAA pattern grips I find that I do my most consistent shooting with Bisleys. Cocobolo is not difficult to get or prohibitively expensive. It's one of my favorite woods for grips. Cary Chapman has used some gorgeous cocobolo in his grips and I was tempted to choose it for my newest set he's working on now but they will be claro walnut.

  11. BCRider

    BCRider Well-Known Member

    Prosser, I suspect you "shot yourself in the foot" on this one both financially and from final performance point of views. You stated that the 252 shot wonderfully accurately but the ammo is sticky. Seems to me it would have made FAR more sense both economically as well as effort to just have the existing chambers reamed or polished with a very slight taper such that the forward portion guiding the bullets was left alone and the rear was eased out a thou or two to allow the ammo to seat and eject easily. Then you'd have your easy to manipulate gun which shot to your accuracy expectations.

    Doing all the stuff, and as Craig notes the barrel is only part of it, to accurize the Ruger up to what you're after is going to cost a LOT more in gunsmithing than the 252 and some relatively simple chamber easing work.
  12. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    This is the kind of project where you could spend a lot of money, and gain little advantage. That said, I still have a Swiss-made .22 LR Hammerli barrel blank set aside just in case (If you don’t recognize the Hammerli name, they are famous for making target pistols used in Olympic style shooting, and their best “free pistols” can group around .250” at 50 meters).

    But on a Ruger Single Six, which is an excellent revolver for its intended purpose, the lack of line-bored chambers could eliminate any advantage the new barrel might offer. At the least, the original chambers would need to be bored out and lined, and new chambers bored and reamed. I would expect that the cylinder could (and should be) shortened to .22 LR length, and the barrel stub at the back extended to match. A removable cylinder bushing would allow proper adjustment to compensate and correct cylinder end-shake. A new hand-fitted cylinder pin would also be necessary to obtain maximum accuracy.

    And after all of this was done you’d still have to contend with the single action’s relatively heavy and slow lock time.

    But if nothing more then “some improvement” is considered to be O.K., you could get by with simply replacing the barrel, which is made to accommodate the .22 WRM bullet, with one with a .219 groove diameter with a 16 to 1 twist. This would likely give you tighter groups, but the question would be, “how much tighter?”

    Of course the Freedom Arms revolver would give you all of this and much more. If case extraction is (or was) a problem then experiments with different brands of ammunition would be in order. If an answer wasn’t discovered the chambers could be honed, which is less desirable but would eventually solve the problem.
  13. CraigC

    CraigC Well-Known Member

    I reckon it depends on the intended purpose. While it will cost probably $1200 for a custom barrel, line-bored cylinder and new front sight along with other tuning on the Ruger, the 252 still costs more and weighs a hell of a lot more. The 252 would make a great 100yd varmint gun but I'd hate to have to pack one in a holster!

    Once again, no one is gonna do this. It might've been standard procedure 50yrs ago when it was exceedingly difficult for a gunsmith to build a cylinder from scratch but today, they will always opt to build a new one. Besides, the cost of lineboring is in the labor and if you're going to the expense, you might as well go all the way with a new cylinder, rather than rigging up the original to save a little money. If it were even possible.
  14. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    It would seem that you are unaware that a number of today’s manufacturers (including Smith & Wesson) still occasionally line cylinder chambers and barrels.

    If the cylinder has sufficient wall thickness there is no reason the original chambers cannot be lined, and new ones bored. In the case of line boring the new chambers, the charge hole may not be concentric with the liner, but any difference would be so small that it would be inconsequential. While going to the considerable expense of having a new custom cylinder made apparently doesn’t bother you, others might have a different opinion and use the cylinder they had for a considerable saving, and as a practical mater, do so with no negatives. While in most cases lining would pose no problems, this would be particularly true in working with a .22 conversion.

    Looking at the conversion in question, even going to the question of line boring any cylinder is probably overboard. Buying a new custom cylinder is way, way overboard. But there shouldn’t be any objection to discussing the various ways that such a conversion might be done, and what can be done without having to take out a second mortgage on the farm. Custom cylinders do have they’re place, but this isn’t one of them.
  15. CraigC

    CraigC Well-Known Member

    I don't care what the manufacturers do. Like I said before, you won't find a custom gunsmith who will reline chambers. Name one. We even have `smith's these days, like Hamilton Bowen, that procure ready-made cylinder blanks from 3rd party sources. They sure as hell won't reline one when they can more easily fit a new one and cut proper chambers. Why? Because it's the way they do business. It's the better solution.

    I seriously doubt, even if you could find a `smith that would reline a cylinder, that it would save any money.

    Relining chambers would make a great deal more caliber conversions possible and some easier. They don't do it. If an existing cylinder cannot be rechambered a custom cylinder is made. They don't reline cylinders. I wonder why.
  16. Prosser

    Prosser Well-Known Member

    Buying a 252 and shooting it are two different things.

    You think that because you got such a great deal on it, you can live with it. I couldn't. I paid 1100, sold it for 1500. That alone was a good enough reason to sell it.

    On top of that, it's a 10" long gun, with huge sites. And, it's big.

    Since I'm not an iron chicken hunter, it would have taken cutting the barrel down, getting a new front site, and I'd probably be about 5.5-6.5", and putting custom grips on it. So, I would have another 600-800 in an already expensive field grade. and its a FIVE shot. May not seem like a big difference, but trying to pound your ammo out isn't fun.

    I realized after I bought it that if I wanted a small hand cannon, one that is really a single shot, I could have bought a bolt action .22lr for 300 bucks, and been darn close to the same accuracy.

    The guy I take my guns to align bores if need be, JRH Advanced Gunsmithing.
    I've watched him do so on a big gun, and, it takes time, and money.

    If you notice, a barrel change on Will Terry's gun cut the groups down quite a bit. The real question is what else Bowen did while he was in there.

    I guess I'll have to wait and see what the barrel specs are. I might also do nothing, and just pound my 22lr ammo out of Paco's accurizer to .224.

    Just getting suggestions and experience, I hope, here.
  17. OldCavSoldier

    OldCavSoldier Well-Known Member

    I think *somebody* has a pant-load of extra money and time on his hands.....
  18. Prosser

    Prosser Well-Known Member

    Not even. If I did, I'd have another 1000 in the 252, and still own it.

    I'm looking to spend as little as possible, for a decent accuracy gain.

    Sounds like the only one who has done this got a huge accuracy increase, Will Terry.
  19. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    You're not going to find much evidence because very few folks go to the trouble of re-barreling Ruger Single Sixes to .22 LR. More common conversions are to small center-fire cartridges.

    Going way back to the 1950's and early 1960's there were a few hard-nose bullseye target shooters that still shot revolvers in the .22 tournaments. Occasionally you would see a little S&W .22/32 Target Model, but most were Smith & Wesson K-22 Masterpiece or Colt .22 Officers Models. I don't believe any had line bored chambers, but all had match grade barrels bored and rifled to .22 LR specifications. With the right ammunition (as each gun was a law onto itself) machine rest groups of around .750" at 50 yards were common, and sometimes you'd get a tighter one.

    There is no reason you couldn't duplicate this performance using the Ruger Single Six platform, but more would be involved then simply screwing on a new barrel.

    If you want to keep the project as inexpensive as possible, Numrich Gunparts Co. (www.e-gunparts.com) have an extensive supply of barrels and barrel blanks available. If you wish, the current barrel can be bored out and relined (see www.brownells.com) which will retain the current front sight and screw hole for the ejector tube. Any gunsmith worth the title who had a lathe could do the work, and an expensive big-name custom 'smith whould be totally unnecessary. This would get you about 2/3's of the way. The rest would involve a custom fitted cylinder pin and possibly a cylinder bushing to remove cylinder end-shake that is common in the Single Six. I suspect Brownells could recommend some gunsmiths in your area, because they sell the tools and supplies to do the work.
  20. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    I suspect because the particular 'smiths you are dealing with would prefer, when they can, to make the extra money from selling a custom cylinder.

    In particular, these cylinders are advisable when going to high-pressure cartridges. Otherwise they represent a largely unnecessary additional cost. But using stock parts does nothing to increase you're bragging rights. Half the fun in having high-cost custom guns is showing them off.

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