Daniel has years of experience with firearms and does his best to give honest reviews.
The Ruger Single Six
What's not to like about the Ruger Single Six?
Introduced in June of 1953, the Single Six was Ruger's first single-action revolver. The original 3-screw "flat gate" Single Six came with a 5.5" barrel, fixed rear site with drift adjustment, and could be had for under $60. In 1973 the Ruger Single Six was changed to the "New Model" Single Six, and the transfer bar safety was added.
Over the years the Ruger Single Six has been Chambered for 22 LR, 22 WMR, 17 HMR, 17 Mach 2, and the 32 H&R mag. In more recent years, Ruger introduced a Single Ten, based on the same frame, but with a 10 shot 22 LR cylinder, and the Single Seven, which is a 7 shot revolver chambered for the 327 Federal. Barrel length has ranged from 4.6" to 9.5".
In past years, I have had a few Single Sixes. My first one was an old model that had been converted to transfer bar safety. I was about 14 at the time, and I got it off of my dad. It only came with the 22 LR cylinder. I carried that gun everywhere. Where I grew up in Alaska, it was legal for me to carry a handgun at that age, as long as I had written permission from my parents. Armed with as much 22 ammo as I could stuff into the cargo pockets of my pants, that gun and I spent many days out in the woods shooting snowshoe hares, squirrels, rocks, and whatever else I felt needed to be killed. The second one, I owned a couple of years later was one that my dad had picked up somewhere, that had gotten rusty at one point and was missing most of the bluing, with a few spots that had some light pitting. This one was a convertible. I remember being so excited to get out and have the extra power of the 22 mag. This excitement lasted until I shot up a couple of boxes of shells my dad had given me with the gun, and I realized that 22 mag ammo was not nearly as affordable as 22 LR ammo.
When Obama got voted into office, and it became nearly impossible to find 22 ammo, I got rid of all my 22s, and only kept guns that I could reload for. The second Single Six went back to my dad, and he had it converted to centerfire as well, and fitted it with a 32 mag barrel that he got off of gunbroker.com. This gun became a match for his other old model Single Six which had been converted to centerfire and chambered for the 22 CCM.
It was several years before I got another single six. I started to get the itch to have back a nice, light-framed single-action revolver. I finally found another one and took it home for the price of $300. This one was factory chambered for the 32 H&R mag. Produced in 1986, and equipped with a 4.6" barrel, this revolver quickly won a spot in my heart.
Ruger introduced the 32 H&R mag into the single six in 1984 and it was in production until 2006. ballistically, the 32 mag has way more smack than the 22 LR or even the 22 mag. With the 22 having advertised muzzle energy of 140 ft. lbs. out of a 6" barrel and 40gn bullet high-velocity load, and the 22 mag with an advertised 174 ft. lbs muzzle energy out of a 6.5" barrel also with a 40gn bullet, the 32 mag takes the lead by a mile with an advertised 301 ft. lbs. muzzle energy with a 90gn bullet out of a 5" barrel. That's over double the muzzle energy of the high velocity 22 LR.
22 LR High Velocity 40gn
140 ft. lbs
22 WMR 40gn
174 ft. lbs
32 H&R Magnum 90gn
301 ft. lbs
I will admit that this gun frustrated me to no end when I first got it. I simply could not get it to shoot with a hoot. I am not one to buy factory ammo, but I did try factory ammo in this gun, as well as hand-loaded jacketed and cast bullets ranging from 75-125gn. I just could not get it to shoot well. I'm not a good shot with a handgun. Quite frankly, I suck. But this gun was way below my expectations. I am ashamed to admit that I did not notice the problem sooner because as someone who grew up around guns and with a gunsmith for a dad, I should have checked it long before I did. After several hundred rounds, and untold amounts of frustration, I finally found the problem. I was leaning up against an oak tree in my backyard, shooting, and I noticed the bark getting peeled off of the tree on the left side of the gun. switched to the left side of the tree, and no bark getting peeled. So I fired the gun with a piece of cardboard on each side of the revolver. Yep, you guessed it. It was out of time.
I will say this about Ruger. They have the best customer service of any gun manufacturer. They sent me a label, and 9 days later I had the gun back, re-timed and running smoothly as ever. And with zero cost to me. Now that's good customer service.
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Once I got the gun back, I went back to shooting it, and that is when this gun took place in my heart as a favorite. I don't go anywhere without it. Where I live, open carry is legal so if I carry it, it's carried in a leather holster I made for one of my other single sixes when I was a kid. If it's not on my hip, it's in my truck.
I was once a believer in the fact that bullets had to be pushed to the maximum velocity that a gun could possibly push them. And, being the young man I am, I still get urges to push bullets to the max, but not as much anymore. For a while, my go-to load was 4.8gn of Bluedot under a 125gn Cast HP bullet. I never had a chance to chronograph the load, but I do know it was the max that I could shoot without the base pin popping out every few shots. I never had any problem with pressure signs with that load, or with case extraction. Now that the gun has an upgraded Belt Mountain pin, I could probably shoot it a bit hotter, but see no reason to do so whatsoever. The load shot quite well, and I still have a box in my gun room that is loaded with that load, but I must say that the gun is much more fun to shoot with a lighter load. Recoil is not much of a problem for me, even with the heavy 125gn bullets. But there is just something about an 80gn bullet over 1.5gn of Reddot out of this gun that just makes it more fun to shoot. I think it has something to do with the fact that recoil is reduced to practically zero, and the report is about like that of a 22 LR. And at 1.5gn, that gives you over 4,600 rounds per pound of powder. What's not to love about that?
Since this has become my every day go to gun, I have shot quite a bit of stuff with it, ranging from squirrels to a white tail buck. I wouldn't really recommend a 32 mag for a deer gun, but I will say that a 125gn bullet right behind the shoulder did trick. For rabbits, that 80gn bullet at about 800 fps leaves nothing to be desired, although it is a bit on the light side for coyotes. I've also loaded shot loads for it using 327 Federal cases and necking down the front section so the full length case will chamber in the 32 H&R mag chamber. With the case formed this way, I was able to fit 65gn of 7.5 size shot into the case with 2.5gn of Reddot under. While not extremely powerful, it did work on a couple of copperhead snakes at a relatively close range. Past about 7' it spreads out enough that it becomes virtually useless. I'm not sure how well it would work on a large rattle snake and hopefully I never have to find out.
The gun shoots about as well as I can hold it, and it shoots every thing I feed it quite well. I have not shot any factory ammo out of it since I got it back from Ruger, so really have nothing to say in that area.
I will say this. I had had a great experiance with the Ruger Single Six 32 mag, and would love to have one of the Single Sevens in 327 Federal. I hope to see the 327 Federal become what the 32 H&R mag should have. It is a fine small game round, and when loaded with light loads is a good round to teach young people how to handle a single action revolver. Many people have learned to shoot on the good ol' Single Six 22, so why not the 32's?
So, to answer my own question, I would say that there is not a whole lot of bad to say about the Single six, of any variety, and there certainly is a lot of good.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
ONTIME on June 20, 2018:
Great looking and carry weapon....very reliable.......
Daniel Congiolosi (author) from Delta Junction Alaska on July 03, 2017:
I had a chance to play with a Ruger blackhawk for awhile in 327. I liked the cartridge, but thought the gun was a bit to heavy. This was before they sarted offering the single seven. I have plans to pick up a Single seven at some point, but haven't done it yet.
Ed Palumbo from Tualatin, OR on June 22, 2017:
I worked with the .32 H&R Mag for some time and consider it an excellent small game cartridge for a sidearm. I preferred the Ruger Single Six to the S&W Model 16 because the cartridges often slipped under the extraction star on the Model 16 but extracted cleanly in sequence on the Ruger. I haven't worked with the .327 Federal, but the .32 H&R was fun to reload. I'm glad you had a very good experience with the cartridge. By the way, that's an interesting knife you've made!