A New Look at an old Single Action Revolver
There, nestled away in a Pawn Shop showcase, was a New Model Ruger ‘Single Six’ Convertible. That was in 2010 and I am still drawn to it today as I was then. I was in my ‘Single-action’ phase, and purchased a New Model Blackhawk in .357 magnum with a 7.5-inch barrel at the same time. Both revolvers were used with the New Model Blackhawk a bit more so due to holster wear. Both revolvers were; however, in excellent condition.
Soon after, both revolvers experienced fifty rounds through them, were cleaned, and then relegated to the safe when, at some point, they would be retrieved for further shooting. Fast forward to December of 2018 and the New Model Ruger ‘Single Six’ Convertible was the first to be shot. As my usual habit dictates, newly acquired firearms are shot and evaluated; whereupon they either are ‘keepers’ or ‘traders.’ Not all acquired firearms have made the cut, but the New Model Ruger ‘Single Six’ Convertible did. In fact, it was outfitted with a new set of grip panels from Altamont Grips that accentuated the lines of the revolver before relegated to ‘safe’ duty.
From what I gathered from the salesperson, the owner of both revolvers had to sell them due to hard times. I have been there, done that, and still have the T-shirt from it. With most folks who have to sell firearms when hard times hit, any single-action revolvers are usually the first to go.
The “Convertible’ in the New Model Ruger ‘Single Six’ Convertible’s name simply means that the revolver can be converted to.22 WMRF cartridges with a quick cylinder change. The cylinder chambered for the 22 WMRF cartridge (Winchester Magnum Rimfire) is not fluted. It is marked “.22 WIN. MAGNUM CAL to distinguish it from the .22 LR cylinder.
Running the serial number through Ruger provided a rough estimate on the date of manufacture, which seems to be in the 2001 time frame. Given the condition of the firearm, it has fared well through the years; and especially since I bought it in 2010 since I know how it was stored, used, and cleaned.
Ruger now offers the “Single” in 7, 9, and 10-round versions. The Single 10 comes in .22 LR flavoring, while the Single Nine is available in .22 WMR. The Single 7 is available in .327 Federal Magnum, and the New Model Single 6 is available in .17 HMR, .22LR, and .32 H&R. So, there is something for everyone’s taste in the “Single” revolver playing field.
Stainless Steel and blued version are available and my version is blued. And, a very nice bluing it is.
Sitting atop the 5.5-inch barrel is a ramp-type sight that is screw-mounted for easy exchange of sight heights, if needed. And, atop the rear of the frame is a fully adjustable rear sight of the “Plain Jane” type, which means there is a notch but no outline.
The frame is robust in the usual Ruger manner and the weight is more than one would find with a Uberti replica of a higher caliber, which means that there is no recoil to talk about when shooting either .22 LR or .22 WMR ammunition.
Opening the spring-loaded loading gate frees up the cylinder for loading fresh cartridges and unloading spent cartridges. As with all single-action revolvers these days (and past), expending cartridges are helped in the unloading process by an extraction rod that is well along enough in length to extract even the longer magnum shells.
With this model, there are audible clicks when the cylinder is rotated with the loading gate open and the ratchet passes over the hand. Over the years, some cylinder rubbing with the cylinder release has caused a minor mark to appear on the surface of the cylinder. This is normally caused by the face of the cylinder latch being dragged across the surface of the cylinder after closing the loading gate and lining up a cylinder stop with the latch.
The hammer spur is high, wide, and well within reach of the thumb for cocking. The hammer is serrated for a firm purchase and the hammer spring is substantial, as it needs to be to light off rimfire ammunition.
The New Model Ruger ‘Single Six’ Convertible utilizes the patented Transfer Bar Safety, which means that you can carry six cartridges in the chamber without fear of the firearm discharging should it be dropped on the hammer. I have come into the habit on only loading five cartridges in my single-action firearms and I continue the habit even with the more modern of single-action revolvers – just to stay in the habit. Besides, if six were meant to be loaded, would the ammunition manufactures not make a 6-wide row (or column of cartridges, depending how you look at it), instead of a 5-wide row, in the cartridge box?
The grip frame is wide and excellent. It is the same size and shape grip frame as that found on the “Blackhawk” line of revolvers. How do I know that? The grip panels that I ordered for the “Single Six” were the same as those I ordered for the “Blackhawk; albeit, a different pattern.
Trigger pull is excellent but a little on the heavy side, which is due to the heavy hammer spring. But, when it breaks it breaks clean. The trigger pull is comparable to a good 1911 with absolutely no take-up.
As with most modern Ruger single-action revolvers, removing the cylinder is easy and quick. Ensure that the revolver is unloaded by opening the loading gate and inspecting each chamber. With the loading gate open, push the base pin latch inward and pull the base pin forward until it is free of the cylinder. Then, slide the cylinder out from the right side of the frame. To install the cylinder, reverse the procedure.
Note that there is no ‘half-cock’ hammer positions as there is with Colt and reproduction single-action revolvers; the hammer is either down or cocked. There is also no ‘’four clicks’ that you hear with Colt and Colt reproductions (depending on the manufacturer) when the hammer is drawn rearward. With these old and reproduction single-action revolvers, the hammer must be in the “half-cock” position to rotate the cylinder.
Let’s talk a bit about “Flash Gap.” The old New Ruger “Single Six” Convertible has proved that it has a lot of “Side Flash” due to the “Flash Gap.”
According to my feeler gauge, the “Flash Gap” of this revolver is around 0.0015-inch. While that does not seem like much, there is a significant amount of debris being forced out of this gap; especially so when firing magnum ammunition. Always keep the finger well to the rear of the flash gap on any revolver, even one that fires the lowly .22-caliber cartridge.
The Ruger ‘Single Six’ Convertible would be a nice “woods-Walk” companion in a cross-draw or standard holster – as long as you leave the top up. Allow me to explain.
With CCI Mini-Mag ammunition (.22 LR), the old New Ruger “Single Six” Convertible proved itself to be highly accurate at ten yards. Switching the cylinder out (lowering the top) to the magnum cylinder, and shooting CCI .22 WMR ammunition, illustrated that the Ruger ‘Single Six’ Convertible was not accurate with WMR ammunition. A bench-rested ½” group at 10 yards with CCI Mini-Mags grew to over 3” with CCI .22 WMR ammunition. I do believe that with a longer barrel, accuracy would improve, and this has been proven when shooting .22 WMR in longer barrels. I don’t believe that the short, 5.5-inch barrel has enough surface area to stabilize the hotter magnum bullet. With that said, I also shot some Federal 22 LR Match ammunition, and it did not do as well as the CCi Mini-Mag ammunition, but it did better than the CCi .22 WMR ammunition. This particular revolver seems to favor the CCI Mini-Mag ammunition in .22 LR caliber. Your experience may differ with newer models or with a model that is exclusively .22 WMR chambered (like the Ruger ‘Single Nine’).
The old New Ruger ‘Single Six’ Convertible, and other single-action revolvers of this nature, are perfect tool for teaching sight, breathing, trigger, and recoil control for not only new shooters, but for old shooters that need (or want) to step back to the basics now and then. I find that when I start developing a tendency to “push” a shot when firing large caliber firearms, I can go back to the basics with a light caliber firearm and focus on taking the shot without “pushing” or flinching.
The single-action revolver also has the lighter trigger pull as compared to double-action revolvers shot in, well, double-action mode. The heavy double-action pull takes considerably more effort to master than single-action pull, and the single-action trigger pull is more conducive to mastering the trigger on single-action and striker-fired firearms that are usually in the 4.5 to 6 pound trigger pull range.
The single-action revolver just begs to be shot one-handed in either a defensive or bladed stance. The Ruger Single-Six is just one example of the fine Ruger line-up of single-action revolvers, and while a single-action revolver seems to be “Old School” the Ruger single-action revolvers are anything but. Manufactured in a wide variety of calibers and styles, they can be used for fun plinking, CASS competition, developing fundamental marksmanship skills, hunting, and are worthy of self-defense against slithery poisonous reptiles, furry woodland creatures, or two-legged mammals who wish to do you harm.