THE RUGER SUPER SINGLE SIX
a note from the Miles; As this was AK's 1st article we didn't save any of the image files. We have been unable to find them so , after the server crash, we were left with zip for pix here. When time & priorities permit, we'll try to get the guns re-photoed. The target images are gone.
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It was better then ten years ago I went out to a friends farm to shoot a sort of Victorian version of metallic silhouettes. This was at steel fuse box doors, hung on wire at 100 yards & shot two handed with .22 handguns. If you hit, you had immediate feed back. I had hauled along what I considered tops for the job, a Ruger MkII loaded with target ammo. I knew my friend Steve, owner of the farm, had a similar bull barrel Ruger & I thought he would use it but, he shot the match with a bone stock Ruger New Model Single Six! He smoked the rest of us. When he mentioned that it was his favorite, I was intrigued. Since then, I've discovered my circle of friends includes many who own Single Sixes and, for a lot of them, they are their favorites too.
A short history. Until the early '70s, Ruger built a Single Six using improved Colt Single Action Army type lockwork. Lawsuits by people who failed to leave a empty chamber under the lowered hammer and then proceeded to shoot themselves prompted Ruger to introduce the "New Model" series of revolvers. It's easier to redesign good guns than defective people. These New Models use an Iver-Johnsonish transfer bar between the floating firingpin and the hammer face. Many people lament losing the silky smooth action the "Old Models" acquired with use but, it must be said that, the New Model safety arrangements work very well.
The New Models are now far more common on the used market, and they are the focus here.
These revolvers are easy to get. Ruger continues to produce them but, hardly anyone I know bought theirs new. They are very common on the used market. I find few stores without at least one for sale. Stainless are less common and more expensive but, they are out there. Ruger occasionally builds limited edition runs of Single Sixes. Fixed sight, "Bisley" grip frames and other variations show up from time to time. For practical purposes, the gun you're going to find will be blued with a 6 1/2 " barrel & adjustable sights. Ruger produced blued guns with 4 5/8", 5 1/2", 6 1/2" and 9 1/2' barrels. Stainless guns will either have 5 1/2" or 6 1/2" barrels except for a few very small runs of special order. Nearly all new guns were supplied with dual cylinders, one in .22 long rifle and the other in .22 magnum. It is common on used guns for one to be missing. Ruger can replace them but, the cost should be factored in. Barrel lengths are a matter of personal choice, I prefer the 6 1/2 " barrel on mine but each to his own of course. I've not performed a scientific study on this but 5 1/2 " barreled guns seem to be the most prevalent with the 6 1/2", 9 1/2" and then the 4 5/8" being seen in descending order.
My tired looking but mechanically perfect 6 1/2" .22 cost me but $150, nine years ago. Rougher looking specimens can be great buys as hardly anything goes wrong with them. This is a major plus for this type. Reliability with all the examples I've ever use has been right at 100%. I have no idea how many rounds previous went through it but I've since shot well over 11,000 rounds! The only failures I've seen have all been ammo related. Some cheap-o "X-Mart" promotional ammo has failed to fire due to missing priming. Some Russian sub-sonic from about 5 years ago was also a problem. Steel cased, it wouldn't extract with out the use of a small hammer. Smokey & ultra dirty due to lube applied with a brick trowel, my gun loved it accuracy wise. It did all go off, by the way, first strike.
A plus to this type of gun is flexibility of ammunition. The .22lr cylinder will accept anything from .22BB caps to the 42gr. silhouette ammo. Some people are going to find out what the revolver likes for accuracy and buy that, while others just get the cheapest available and blast away. Still, there are uses for specialty ammo. CCI loads the CB ammo of bare minimum power, useful for short range, quiet pest control. It averages 612fps out of my gun, with erratic velocities above and below. It's reduced penetration and report make it a good around the estancia load. I can shoot small quantities without hearing protection if I need to. I DO NOT recommend that but, I'll admit that I do it and get away with it. It's a shame this stuff isn't cheaper.
As I wrote before, these guns are a package deal with a spare .22 magnum cylinder. If you're lucky the used one you're looking at will still have one. Some people love this round because of it's hot, ballistics. High velocity of 1525fps means a flat trajectory and the standard 40gr bullet does penetrate. Accuracy in my gun averages 3" at 25 yards and, unfortunately the sight settings are quite different from .22lr. I have an acquaintance with an Old Model Ruger that will do an inch better. Most of the specimens out there will shoot with good accuracy. As it is, I got 600 rounds of .22 mag ammo when I bought the gun 9 years ago. I still have over 500 left!
When you buy a Single Six, be aware that it's like almost every other .22 on this planet. It will probably have distinct likes in it's ammo tastes. Buy a box or two of as many different brands of ammo as you can & see which one your gun likes for accuracy. Then go back & buy as much as you can of the good stuff! This is also good for excusing the time you spend shooting the gun & learning the good and bad points of it. My own well worn gun, made in 1982, will deliver sub 2", 25 yard, 5shot groups with CCI mini-mags and about the same with a mid '80s lot of Winchester Super-X. This isn't impressive to some people but, is entirely adequate for killing tomato patch pests.
The 99 production stainless version belongs to our gracious webmaster. John fitted it with maroon Micarta grips and did an action & trigger job. The trigger job, I suspect shows up in the group size. It is shown with a 1 1/2", 25 yard, 5 shot group with the CCI mini-mag load. I intend to have Mssr. Barner work on my Ruger as soon as time permits. A crispy trigger is a fun trigger.
The final ingredient for the enjoyment of a revolver is a good, secure, stiff leather holster. Design is a matter of personal taste but, I am entirely pleased with a forward cant open top design mixing some Elmer Keith and Tom Threepersons elements. Mine was made by RD Makers of El Paso. It's usually OK to scrimp some on a used gun, but don't with the leathergear. It will catch up with you.
I can't imagine life without my Single Six. You might enjoy one too. And, remember to keep letting your politicians know they shouldn't take your guns away from you. I'm sure a few English gunowners sighed when theirs went into the furnace. It could happen here.
R D MAKERS
P.O. Box 3565
El Paso, TX 79923
NOTE: Author Church regrets that he is unqualified to do appraisal, and cannot establish a value on your gun.
I was just reading your article and I was amazed at your knowledge. I am a handgun owner and I shoot on a regular basis. I learned to love target shooting from my father. your article was well written but it lacked a little tact when you said defective people shooting themselves. My father owned a similar gun and it had a so called safety. He bought it for security because he was a Frito Lay salesman in 1975. He worked in a lot of places and carried a great deal of money. On March 12,1975 He lost his life by an accidental shooting. His gun dropped on the floor and fired a round into his leg which traveled up to his abdomen severing the main artery and he bled to death in a matter of minutes. I was nine years old at the time. Sir he could take apart a handgun blind folded and put it back together. He taught us gun safety from the time I can remember as a matter of fact I remember being four years old learning gun safety. I believe in the right to bare arms. However, We took the gun company to court and I would do it again in a heart beat. At the time it would have taken .05 cents to make the safety work properly but, the gun company skipped that part because they wanted to cut corners. He was forty-two years old and his children were 17,14,9 and a wife and in his final moments he said I have three children and tell my wife I love her. This in my mind is not the words of a defective man but, that of a dedicated father and husband.