The Ruger ‘Single-Six’ – Still a Favorite

Ruger Single-Six (Engraving by

Ruger Single-Six (Engraving by

The Single-Six first came to the public in 1953. Manufactured by Sturm, Ruger the Single-Six quickly became a favorite handgun among many and even developed a following of sort. The single-action revolver, seemingly, was a dying breed, as Colt discontinued its Single Action in 1950. Ruger manufactured the Single-Six and a new breed of single-action revolvers took the stage. Although the Single-Six retained some of the attributes of the Colt Single Action, it also retained the negatives, such as chambering five rounds and could fire (if dropped) if the trigger was not pulled

The Ruger Single-six has gone through quite a few changes since its release in 1953. Originally chambered for the .22 LR (Long Rifle) cartridges, the Single-Six is now offered in several ammunition offerings, such as .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire), .17 HMR, and .32 H&R Magnum.

My Personal "New Single-Six' in a cross-draw holster

My Personal “New Single-Six’ in a cross-draw holster

In 1973, Ruger introduced the ‘New Model’ Single-six, which provided a transfer bar safety that provided the means to carry six rounds of ammunition safely and allowed the firearm to fire only when pulling the trigger with the hammer in its full-cocked position. The improvement of adding the transfer bar safety made one rest a little easier when carrying a full compliment of ammunition. Adjustable rear sights, added with the ‘Super Single-Six’, provided the capability to adjust for windage and elevation and would soon be accepted among even those who preferred the ‘old’ look of the original single-action revolver with, of course, the exception of purist among the single-action shooting set.

The "old" 'New Single-Six Convertible' with bi-cartridge offering.

My “old” ‘New Single-Six Convertible’ with bi-cartridge offering.

Chambering for .22 WMR would soon follow, as would chamberings in major calibers such as the .38 special, .357 magnum, .44 special, .44 magnum, 9mm that would be later offered by a series of Ruger single-action revolvers that became know as the ‘Blackhawk’ and ‘Vaquero’ versions. The ‘Single-Six’ revolver; however, provided affordable plinking, target shooting, and hunting for many a hand gunner and shooting enthusiast. One could practice with easily obtainable and affordable ammunition.

Custom Grips Add Functionality and Looks.

Custom Grips Add Functionality and Looks.

The ‘Convertible’ model of the ‘Single-Six’ allows the hand gunner to select between ammunition such as the .22 LR and the .22 WMR with a simple cylinder change. A .22 LR cylinder would allow the firing of .22 short, .22 Long, and .22 LR cartridges while a separate cylinder allowed the use of .22 WMR cartridges only. Note that the cylinders provided for the ‘convertible’ models had the last three digits of the firearm’s serial number engraved in the face of the cylinder, thus assuring that the cylinders were properly timed to the firearm. The .22 WMR cylinder for my particular model is fluted and stamped with “.22 WIN. MAGNUM CAL.” The major difference between my “New Single-Six” and the “convertible’ model of today is that my version has adjustable sights; whereas, the present version is fixed sight and more reminiscent of the Colt “Peacemaker.”

Barrel lengths range from 4 3/8, 5 ½ (my particular model), 6 ½, 7 ½, and 9 ½ inches and the ‘Hunter’ model sports provisions for mounting optics.

The New Model Single Six Series - Compliments of Sturm, Ruger.

The New Model Single Six Series – Compliments of Sturm, Ruger.

Initially offered in only 6-round cylinders, the Ruger ‘Single-Six’ has evolved into the ‘Single-Ten’ (, chambered for .22 Long Rifle and the ‘Single-Nine’ ( that is chambered in .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire). Production of the ‘New Model Single-Six’ halted in 2013, as this model was replaced by the aforementioned models.

Much has been written about the Ruger ‘Single…’ series of single-action revolvers and I cannot expound much more than what has already been written. Recently, my Grandson desired some range time and I thought that I would bring the old ‘Single-Six’ out of storage for him to shoot. It would be his first experience with a hand gun. Although I have revolvers and semi-automatics of varying calibers, and rather than filling his head with the tedium of learning the manual-of arms of these handguns, I wanted to keep it simple. A single-action revolver is about as simple as it gets to teach someone who is new to firing a handgun, the basic principles of sight picture and trigger control. The Grandson did have a brief encounter with the 20-gauge shotgun and he did well. It is not the same; however, as holding a handgun one-handed on target, cocking the hammer, obtaining and maintaining a sight picture all the while exercising trigger control to get that tiny little bullet to impact on the target where you want it.

We had a short training session prior to the range where I went over the rudiments of handling a single-action revolver safely. He was actually quite receptive although he did admit that it was slow to load and unload (using dummy rounds, of course). I had him imagine what it was like in the days of yore in war where fast reloads meant the difference of him getting an arrow in the chest or being bested by a better gunfighter. Then, we watched one of my favorite movies, ‘True Grit’. After all, who could be a better teacher of the single-action revolver than John Wayne? In one action scene, the Grandson commented, “Wow, just think what he could have done with an AR15 and a sniper scope!” I did not comment, although when he mentioned that…

The range session went well, although slower than my normal range session. He quickly picked up the rudiments of handling a single-action revolver and after unloading and loading through the loading gate brought an appreciation of magazines – even low capacity magazines. Placing the target at 15-yards was a distance I felt that he would be comfortable with. While all his shots were not in the black, they were on target. By the time he was into about 200 rounds, his shots were getting better. On the way home, he wondered aloud how the reloaded in battle with people screaming and shooting and cannons firing. I simply told him that they reloaded as fast as they could and many carried multiple firearms for simply that reason – but you still had to reload them at sometime.

I was fortunate today in that I was able to introduce my Grandson to hand gunning. I hope that he now has a better understanding of the handgun and can appreciate, when introduced to double-action revolvers and semi-automatic pistols, the advances in firearm’s technology that led to the weapons that we have today and those that will be developed in the future. Moreover, I hope that he is able in the future to partake in the handling of firearms for peaceful purposes and self-defense, as more and more of our rights and the 2nd Amendment is being attacked.

It was a good day!

I have several Ruger single-action revolvers, including the Blackhawk in .38 special/.357 magnum and a Super Blackhawk in .44 special/.44 magnum. There are plans to add a Bisley model, in .45 Colt, at some point. However, for shear shooting pleasure, the Ruger Single-Six still takes top spot with me.


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About Taurian

Taurian is a U.S. Army veteran and former LEO and Defensive Tactics Instructor. Taurian also has over fifty years of experience as a Technical Writer and Training Program Developer. After leaving home at the age of ten without any shoes, Taurian continues on with many years devoted to the keeping and bearing of arms.

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