Heritage Arms Rancher Carbine Review

by Travis Pike

February 11, 2022

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Revolving rifles come and go. They have a fascinating layout prone to problems and issues. Is the Heritage Rancher Carbine a different take on the revolving rifle? Well, today, we aim to figure that out and review Heritage’s only rifle. 

Heritage Arms Rancher Carbine Specs

  • Barrel Length 16.125 inches 
  • Overall Length 32 inches 
  • Weight 4.12 pounds
  • Capacity 6
  • Caliber 22LR or 22 Magnum
  • MSRP $333.80 (Priced around $250)

Historic Plinking 

In a world where the Ruger 10/22, the Marlin Model 60, and the Mossberg Plinkster exist, it might be tough to see the need for a revolving rifle in 22LR. Any of the aforementioned autoloaders offer a higher capacity, a faster rate of fire, and a much more conventional layout. They can all also do what the Heritage Manufacturing Rancher Carbine does and maybe even do it better. 

So what’s the point? For me, it’s fun. Look at it! How many chances do you have to own a revolving rifle for less than 300 dollars? Revolving rifles first came to be during the days of muzzleloading rifles and long arms. They offered five or six rounds of repeatability in a time where rifles fired a single shot. They weren’t perfect but were very interesting in design. Since then, numerous companies have produced a variety of revolving rifles, but they tend to be quite expensive. 

The Heritage Rancher offers the plinking experience with a revolving rifle. Heritage is famous for making the uber affordable and fun Rough Rider series of guns. The Rancher just takes the Rough Rider and expands it into a rifle. Like any 22LR rifle, it can be used for plinking, taking small game, and pest removal. 

Heritage Arms Rancher Features

Heritage Arms Rancher Carbine Features
1 Manual Safety 
2 Buckhorn Sights
3 Sling Swivels pre-installed
4 Interchangeable Trigger

Plinking About with the Rancher 

This might be the lightest weight repeating 22LR on the market, and at only 4.12 pounds, the Rancher rules as a lightweight rifle. It’s not only light but fairly short at a total length of 32 inches. The little Rancher excels in being both short and easy to shoot. This remains true even for smaller shooters, and my son had zero issues handling the little Rancher at the range. 

Heritage Arms Rancher

The gap between the cylinder and barrel emits some blast, and that blast can be quite painful. I don’t recommend using a traditional rifle grip with your non-dominant hand forward of the cylinder. Heritage also advises you to keep both hands to the rear of the gun. They installed a spur under the trigger guard to make the unusual grip work a little better. If the Rancher weighed anything more, it might feel awkward, but the lightweight design makes it fairly easy to shoot this way. 

The Heritage Rancher’s stock provides a very short length of pull, roughly 12 inches, making it quite comfortable and easy to tuck into the shoulder pocket. The Rancher still uses the same famed single-action trigger design the Rough Rider always has. We get the same odd little safety to the left of the hammer. I’m not a fan, but it can be easily ignored. The trigger is extremely light and breaks very cleanly. 

A single-action revolver trigger always performs admirably, and the Rancher is no different. The buckhorn sights take some getting used to. For close-range speed shooting, they are rather large and allow for a ‘snapshot.’ For longer, more precise shots, shooters can achieve a lower, more precise sight picture. In terms of accuracy, well, it’s decidedly average. 

You won’t win any contests, and within 50 yards or so, you’ll ring steel on the regular. In trying to produce small groups, I found the gun to be at best 4 MOA with quality CCI ammunition. The awkward layout of the gun makes it tough to find a good way to support it for slow, accurate shooting. Good luck in the prone or using a sandbag to really drive accuracy out of the gun. 

I can shoot a lot straighter with a Ruger 10/22! The Rancher does go bang every time I’ve pulled the trigger. It eats both cheap and expensive ammo without much challenge. If I want to, I can drop a 22 Magnum cylinder in the gun to oomph up its power. 

I did notice a ton of backblast from the cylinder when shooting. Lots of gas hitting me in the face, and on occasion, I’d take a smack from a piece of unburned powder to the face. It’d sting, and I was thankful for eye protection. It’s also the loudest 22 LR rifle I’ve ever shot. It’s not always comfortable to shoot, and after a few hundred rounds, it’s easy to see why revolving rifles never took off. 

Since it uses the Rough Rider classic single-action design, you’ll have to load the gun one round at a time and unload the casings one at a time as well. It’s slow going, especially when I can slam a fresh mag in a Ruger 10/22 and let it go! 

Heritage Arms Safety

Attaching optics isn’t possible at the moment. Maybe someone will come up with an aftermarket solution, but for now, it’s a non-starter. Accessorizing and upgrading, in general, isn’t really possible. Other than swapping cylinders, you can’t really customize the gun. 

If you’ve read this so far, you’re likely walking away with the impression I don’t like this gun. But, that’s not true at all! I actually really like this gun! It’s a blast to shoot, but I can objectively say it’s not for everyone. In fact, it might not be for most. I enjoy the gun because it’s odd and offers a rarely visited historic platform without breaking the bank. 

I can like a gun without it having to be a great gun, but I still have to be objective during my review. 

Rancher Carbine Pros and Cons

  • Lightweight
  • Fun to Shoot
  • Affordable
  • Requires an awkward grip
  • Not superbly accurate 
  • Lots of gas and powder blowback
  • Almost impossible to accessorize

Report Card

Shootability

When using a firearm as instructed, it should be a pain-free affair. Yet the Rancher delivers quite a bit of sting at least once per cylinder via underburnt powder being sent into your face. That’s a big downside as far as I’m concerned. Other than that, the recoil and muzzle are predictably low. 

D
Reliability

It’s a single-action revolver utilizing a rimfire round. It’s tough not to be reliable. You’ll have more ammo malfunctions than gun malfunctions. I found that the Rancher always went bang when the hammer struck the rim. 

A
Ergonomics

The Rancher delivers excellent balance and is very lightweight. The length of pull is also short and sweet. The downside is the weird rearward grip and that you can very easily hurt yourself when using a standard rifle shooting grip. 

C
Accuracy

It’s just average at best. I found my 10/22 to be quite a bit more accurate. Plus, it’s tough to use this gun in a supported position to stretch its legs. You’ll hit the target, but don’t expect nice tight groups.

C
Value

With a street price of 250 bucks, it’s not expensive in the grand scheme of guns. The downside is that other, more efficient, accurate, and modern rimfire rifles cost about that same price.

C
Heritage Arms Rough Rider Final Grade

Our Grade

C+

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

C-

Based on 4 Reviews

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Heritage Arms Rancher Deals

Heritage Arms Rancher Carbine Ammo

CCI Stinger

CCI Stinger 22lr

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Optics Planet $0.18
Natchez Shooters Supplies $0.19
Winchester 22 Win Mag

Winchester 22 Win Mag

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Primary Arms $0.31
Sportsmans Guide $0.28

Heritage Arms Rancher Starter Pack

If you’ve decided to pick up a new rifle or pistol there are some bare essentials you’re going to need in order to maximize its potential and your safety.

Rancher Upgrading and Accessories

There isn’t much you can do with the Rancher Carbine. However, it is set up for a sling. The little included leather sling is cute, but it’s super small and kinda lame. I’m going to replace mine with a Magpul RLS rifleman sling. This simple two-point that costs less than 20 bucks total. It’s a solid little two-point that’s adult-sized! 

Magpul RLS Sling
Magpul RLS Sling 

As a single action revolver design, you won’t be carrying spare mags, but you can carry spare ammo on the cheap. The Spike rifle stock ammo holder provides 14 loops to carry extra ammunition. It’s a simple nylon attachment that clings to your stock and gives an onboard reload when you need it. 

Spika Stock Shell Holder
Spika Stock Shell Holder

Heritage Arms Rancher Carbine Documents

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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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