Like most people reading this website, I love guns. I love shooting, and I love lusting over the latest and greatest firearms. I’m always pumped to try out a new firearm. However, it’s rare that I’m truly excited to get my hands on a particular gun. Don’t get me wrong; all guns are fun. Sometimes something just really appeals to me, and it’s usually something weird.
Recently what’s appealed to me is the Heritage Manufacturing Rancher Carbine.
After seeing one at SHOT, I knew I had to get my hands on one. It took over a year to finally find one. The COVID surge seemed to dry up dang near everything.
One day I walked into my gun store, and there it was in all its glory. Heritage made their name producing the affordable and fun Rough Rider revolver. For the Rancher Carbine Heritage just took a Rough Rider and extended the barrel 16 inches, and added a stock.
It all started when Heritage released that goofy 16-inch barrel variant of the Rough Rider. Someone then thought, heck, let’s stick a stock on it. They did, and we got the Rancher. I love weird guns, and the Heritage Arms Rancher fills that weird slot. Revolving rifles aren’t exactly a dime a dozen and are often expensive.
Into the Rancher
The Heritage Manufacturing Rancher Carbine cost me a mere $250 and is chambered in .22LR. Like the Rough Rider, you can toss a Magnum cylinder in for a little more oomph. The .22LR cylinder can also handle .22 shorts. The stock is a very attractive wood with a checkered grip. Overall I’m in love with how the rifle looks.
It’s just so cool! It may be a little goofy, but I like weirdness. As much as I love your more modern guns, there are only so many ways to skin a cat and only so many ways to build an AR. Stuff like this entertains me and does so affordably.
The buckhorn sights offers a good radius for accuracy. They’re adjustable for elevation to a degree, but not anything crazy. They were dead-on out of the box, so I didn’t fuss with them.
The Rancher Carbine also includes a leather sling that’s okay. It works as a sling, but feels likes it’s made more for a kid than my six-foot-five-inch frame. I give them a thumbs up for including the sling with the gun.
The overall length is 32 inches, and it weighs a very light 4.12 pounds. The Rancher’s length of pull is short and sweet, and my ten-year-old son found it quite comfortable to shoot.
Like the Rough Rider, the Rancher has that silly manual safety. I don’t hate it, and I never use it, but the Rancher would look much cleaner without it. It functions just like any other SAA clone with a loading gate, single action only trigger, and ejection rod.
On The Range
As someone who knows weird guns, I knew there would be a cylinder gap issue. With 99% of revolvers, a gap exists between the cylinder and the barrel. Hot gases, unburnt powder, and lead shavings often fly out of this gap. Most people don’t use a thumbs forward grip on a revolver for this reason. Or if they do, they don’t do it for long.
On a rifle, this becomes an issue when you reach forward with your support arm. The old Colt percussion revolving rifles would burn the hell out of a shooter, and in the event of a chain fire, the user could end up losing their hand. The instructions included with the Rancher advise you to keep both hands south of the cylinder and action.
You’re supposed to use the spur to rest your rear index finger and form a two-handed quasi pistol-like grip with the Rancher. This keeps your forearm from getting stung.
For the sake of science, I established a more traditional grip and used the sling as a bit of a vertical grip. Sure enough, it stung, and after six rounds, I had a healthy amount of black powder on my wrist and some broken skin.
A .22LR doesn’t produce a whole lot of firepower, and the hot gas isn’t necessarily the issue. The real issue is the unburnt powder and lead shavings hitting you in the wrist. That tends to sting, and a long sleeve shirt would work wonders. That being said, the recommended method of shooting works because the Rancher is super lightweight, and .22LR recoil isn’t exactly challenging.
In Your Face
One major downside is the cylinder gap is close to your face, and you get some gas blown at you. It’s not a big deal, but on occasion, some unburnt powder flings rearward and hits the face. You’ll be really thankful for wearing your eye protection when shooting the Rancher.
The big buckhorn sights are nice for both snapshots or more precise shooting. Out to 50 yards, I was ringing a 4-inch gong consistently with the little iron sights. This is not a precision weapon, but for iron sighted .22LR work, the Rancher rings true. There doesn’t seem to be a way to mount any kind of optic either, so it’s nothing but irons.
The single-action trigger needs nothing more than a light touch to activate. The pull is super short, and the trigger surprised me for a $250 rifle. I don’t hate it by any means.
This is a fun gun, and the hammer hits hard. I didn’t run into any kind of light primer strikes. Even with bulk ammo, the gun always went bang. Speaking of, that extra cylinder blast makes this one of the louder .22LR rifles out there.
The Rancher isn’t for everyone. For the price, you can get a Ruger 10/22, which is faster to reload, can accept an optic, has a higher capacity, and ultimately doesn’t blow gas and lead at you.
The Rancher, however, delivers some fun. If you are looking for an efficient .22LR, then the Rancher probably isn’t it. If you’ve ever wanted a revolver rifle but didn’t want to spend the money on a high-end replica, then the Rancher is for you.
Specifications: Heritage Manufacturing Rancher Carbine
Caliber – .22LR (.22 Magnum with proper cylinder)
Overall Length – 32 inches
Barrel Length – 16.125 inches
Weight – 4.12 pounds
Capacity – 6
MSRP: 333.80 (Street Price about $250)
Ratings (out of Five Stars):
Ergonomics: * *
You can only hold it one way to be pain-free, and even then, sometimes, you might get stung in the face. Other than that, the Rancher Carbine is lightweight and everything is easy to reach. However, points off for the pain factor.
Reliability: * * * * *
It’s a .22LR revolver, so it’s tough not to score high in the reliability department. It goes bang without issue.
Accuracy: * * * *
Not bad. I could kill squirrels and rabbits with this thing all day long. It’s not a 1 MOA gun, but performs just as you’d expect from a .22LR rifle.
Customize This: *
Not much you can do here. Maybe a different sling. You can swap cylinders, and Heritage offers some custom wood stocks for the Rancher Carbine, too. That’s it. I think a mini red dot would make it a blast.
Overall: * * * *
Four out of five stars seem high for such an ergonomically challenged design. However, I can’t help but love the Heritage Rancher Carbine. It’s a fun gun to shoot, and I breezed through a brick of Remington Golden Bullet .22LR and couldn’t wait to get another. It satisfies the silly part of my shooting efforts.
Gun Review: Heritage Manufacturing .22LR Rancher Carbine is written by Travis Pike for www.thetruthaboutguns.com