Ruger Wrangler .22 LR SAA, by Pat Cascio

Its been quite a while since Ruger has offered a new SAA (Single Action Army) style revolver. I used to do some hunting, many years back, with Ruger’s big bore revolvers chambered in .44 Magnum or .45 Colt – and to be sure, you can handload the .45 Colt to where it is more powerful than standard .44 Magnum – but that’s for another story. But you can’t do that with much of anything other than a Ruger.

I was more than a little excited when I got the press release from Ruger, announcing their new “Wrangler” .22 LR SAA revolver, especially the retail price – more on this later. I rarely, and I mean, rarely, shoot in competition these days, if I do, some of it is little side-bets with friends, and they regret it. I’m not the world’s best shot with handguns or long guns, but I did shoot competition many years back. I don’t try to sucker anyone into any bets as to who is the better shot, but when push comes to shove, and they want to see if I can really shoot, I figure its best to teach them a lesson – usually lunch.

Make no mistake about it, Ruger is well-known for the strength of their handgun frames – all of them. If you want to hot-rod a load, when handloading, you need a Ruger – they are “that” strong! However, remember to keep within reasonable limits or you will have a blow-up. There’s no problems when it comes to .22 LR chambered handguns – no one reloads this round – they are what they are, from the factory, and you can get different levels of power, depending on the ammo off-the-shelf. I see the .22 LR as mainly a plinker round, or for small game like rabbits or squirrels. However, it can be used as a caliber for survival as well, so keep that in-mind. A .22 LR chambered handgun wouldn’t be my first choice for self-defense, but it can be used to effect, if need be.

I don’t recall when I last owned a revolver chambered in .22 LR, but it’s been at least 20 years, maybe longer…much of my .22 LR handgun shooting has been done over the years, with a semiauto handgun. So, it was refreshing to read that Ruger came out with a new SAA revolver in .22 LR – at least these days, the prices on .22 LR ammo have come back to almost normal once again, after close to a 6-yr drought on this caliber. So, a person can enjoy going out and plinking or punching paper, once again, with a brick of .22 LR for a weekend of fun shooting.

Three Cerakote Finishes

The all-new Wrangler comes in three different colors, all Cerakote, my sample is all-black, and they offer burnt orange, and silver. My long-time friend, and fellow gun writer, John Taffin, who is “the” authority when it comes to SAA revolvers, ordered guns in all three colors. When Ruger announced the Wrangler, I placed an order the next day, and it took several weeks for my sample to arrive – they are swamped with orders, with good reason – it’s a Ruger, and the price is more than right. Keep in-mind that, if you sent a handgun out to have it coated in Cerakote, it would probably cost you at least $75 and sometimes quite a bit more than that, depending on the design on the handgun, and how much is involved in stripping it to get the entire gun coated. So, this is an added plus in my book – Ruger did it up right.

Ruger WranglerA run down on the specs on the Wrangler, are in order. First off, as already mentioned, it is a SAA revolver, the hammer has to be cocked for each shot. And, as already mentioned, it is chambered in .22 LR – wouldn’t surprise me to see Ruger offer a .22 Mag conversion cylinder at some point. Capacity is six rounds, enough for punching paper and just fun shooting between reloading the gun. The barrel is cold hammer forged. The main frame is an aluminum alloy, and the grip frame is aluminum – this helps keep the weight down, as well as the price. The gun weighs-in at 30 ounces unloaded. The front sight is a fixed, blade  and the rear is notched – integral with the frame. The grips are a black synthetic with the Single-Six pattern – very nice and provides for a sure hold. The barrel is 4-5/8-inches long – perfect! Ruger has a transfer bar mechanism for loading/unloading and provides a measure of security against accidental discharge. You simply open the loading gate, and you don’t have to put the hammer in half-cock or anything like that…and you can easily rotate the cylinder for safe, easy loading and unloading.

Ruger WranglerThe hammer and trigger are stainless steel, and the top of the hammer is checkered, for easy cocking, and the trigger is smooth – the trigger broke right at 5-lbs on my sample. The cylinder is unfluted, so there is plenty of strength there for the hotter .22 LR ammo. All-in-all, this is one handsome SAA revolver from Ruger, and I like that it is available in three different colors. To be sure, Cerakote, provides a good measure of protection from the elements. Many places charge a hundred bucks or more, to coat a handgun in this space-age material.

Target Tests

After inspecting my Wrangler sample, I grabbed a box, a nice sized box of mixed .22 LR ammo – and this box contained just about every kind and type of .22 LR ammo you can think of – including hollow point and solid bullets, as well as mini-mag ammo and hi-velocity, as well as standard velocity. In more than 300-rds of shooting, there were zero problems – I killed every rock in sight. There really wasn’t any difference in the recoil between any of the .22 LR ammo to speak of. Just remember, as always, to wear hearing protection – even when shooting a .22 LR – you can damage your hearing without protection.

Accuracy testing was done off a big rock – boulder – with a padded rifle rest – shooting was done at 25-yards, more than a fair distance. I can’t say there was a real “winner” with the shooting, because all the ammo was a mixed sort. However, if I did my part, and the nice crisp trigger pull helped me get groups of 3-inches most of the time – had a couple groups down there close to 2-inches – but those were the exception – not the rule. Of course, this type of handgun is meant to be shot standing, on both legs without a rest of any sort – it’s a fun shooting gun, remember that!

Ruger WranglerSlow SAA Loading

The only thing that took some time to get used to was, loading/unloading, one round at a time through the loading gate. I’ve watched the old Roy Rogers, television show, and even some of his old movies – he was my favorite movie star when it came to cowboys. I couldn’t tell you the number of times, I watched Roy empty his -six-shooter and reload it – and he reloaded it without ejecting the empty brass – he must have had one of those new-fangled SAA revolvers, that automatically ejected the empty brass after he was shooting…LOL! Yeah, it slows you down, having to removed/eject the empty brass, and then reload with live rounds, but that’s not the point, this gun is made for fun shooting – of course, it can be used for self-defense if it came down to it. And, of course, out on the trail – hunting rabbits and other small game – if you do your part, the Wrangle will fill your campfire pot with a meal.

I’ve saved the best for last, and that is the retail price, the Wrangler is selling for $249 – however, my local FFL dealer looked up their cost, and said they would probably sell ‘em for around $200. That’s a great deal, on a Ruger SAA revolver if you ask me – it will provide you with a lifetime of fun. Check one out, I think you’ll want one – or two, or maybe all three colors.

Ruger WranglerIf you’re in the market for a fun-shooting little .22 LR revolver, for a day at the range, or you want a nice little trail gun on your hip, then you might want to take a close look at this new revolver from Ruger, it really is a lot of fun, and since .22 LR ammo prices have come down over the past year or so, you can afford to burn through a brick of .22 LR ammo on the range, or some small game hunting, you could do a lot worse if you ask me than to pick-up one of these super cool revolvers. Throw in a brick of ammo, and head off to the range and just relax and enjoy the day. You’ll thank me on this one – it’s a lot of fun in a little gun!


  1. Good review of the new Ruger Wrangler in .22lr. Ruger makes good guns, and this one is very inexpensive [Made in the USA]. … This revolver would be about as safe, as a handgun can get to teach kids how to shoot. Plus, it would be a fun~gun to take along fishing or camping.
    … +It might be slow to reload and shoot, but kids will NOT be machine-gunning off all the ammunition, in just a few minutes. …. Learning to shoot accurately is a learned skill, and should be practiced from the beginning.
    … A single action .22lr shouldn’t be the first choice for a defensive handgun. >But, the Ruger .22lr Wrangler is about as safe as a family handgun can get; +it’d work as an >extra gun in emergencies.

  2. What a timely review since I had one in my hands on Friday. I was impressed with the price. I was originally looking for a Ruger Bearcat to use to get the kids shooting pistols but they seem to be in the $400 to $500 price range and IMO that is too much for a 22 revolver.
    I did think it might be a tad bit on the heavy side for the kids but after seeing Pat’s review with it only being 30 ounces perhaps it was just a perception based on it being unload and off balanced? I was disappointed that it was only 22LR with no 22 mag cylinder. I have a Ruger Single 6 and really like the option of the two.

  3. RE: Roy Rogers reloading. I once counted the number of shots fired by John Wayne in a Western movie before reloading, and it was 18. But at least they showed him reloading. How many Western movies didn’t show that at all?

  4. to the point regarding the strength of the Ruger revolvers, I once watched my ‘smith drive 6 JSP slugs out of the barrel of a Red-Hawk in .454. Still trying to figure out how some dimrod could shoot one of those six times without realizing SOMETHING wasn’t right, heh,heh.

  5. I have the Heritage Sheriffs birds gripped revolver. Way less expensive than the Ruger model, now about three times as costly. This is a plinking handgun, but the fully adjustable sights from my Super Single-Six have spoiled me. Zeroing different ammunitions is much harder with fixed sights like these and it can be frustrating shooting for accuracy without them.

    Ruger was genius for bringing this one out – what a neat little woodswalker – streamside fishing companion this would make.

  6. Bill Ruger was a great innovator and excellent businessman albeit, a couple of bad (politically forced) decisions he made to survive, but since his passing, the company has made some excellent changes and additions to their lineup to include a greatly improved front site post on the Mini-14/30 (minor but a substantial improvement), the PC-9 Carbine allowing the use of Glock magazines and now this SSA .22LR at a very reasonable price.

    Thank you Ruger.

    I do believe in their catalog, I saw this available with a .22mag cylinder for about a $75 mark up, but it wouldn’t be the first time a product was put in a catalog and not yet released. (anyone remember the XGI .308 Carbine around 83-84?)

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