The Heritage Rough Rider, $130 Astonishment

I have owned a Heritage Rough Rider 22lr revolver for years.  It is the cheapest gun I’ve bought, and one of my favorites. I have shot over 3,000 rounds through it and it has had very few disappointing moments

The Heritage Rough Rider is a very accurate pistol.  Experienced single-action revolver marksman can generally shoot 4-inch clay pigeons at 50 yards with a high degree of success.  Heritage puts a high degree of craftsmanship into their pistols

I contacted other rough rider owners, as well as Heritage Manufacturing, to get more hands in information about the accuracy in shooting, and the precision of the manufacturing. Check out everything I found out.

What Kind of Accuracy Can I Expect with a Rough Rider?

I’ve never been a crack shot with a pistol. I’m a pistol marksman by no means, but I’m working on it.  I will say that the most accurate pistol I’ve ever fired is my Heritage Rough Rider in 22 LR.

   My best day at the range with it was shooting clay pigeons at 50 yards.  I busted four with six shots. Normally, I can hit a 9-inch paper plate off-hand with most shots at 25 yards. That’s not super, but it’s not too bad either. 

   The best way to test out the accuracy of a gun is to give it to the best shooter and watch the results. So, how good do the experts shoot with the heritage Rough Rider? I’ve watched numerous experts shoot the rough rider as good as any colt. Check out the videos on YouTube sometime.

It’s darn near the same as a colt too. Basically, it’s a 7/8 size colt with a cheaper finish and a side safety to make it more kid-friendly. The internals are pretty much straight-up copied from the old colt revolvers. It’s a good design, and the slightly smaller size is fitting for a 22.

   I have yet to find someone who wasn’t satisfied with the accuracy of their Rough Rider.  It seems to me that despite it being the lowest priced pistol on the gun store shelves; it’s a fine shooting and fun pistol.

How Heritage Makes Accurate Barrels

  It’s no surprise that a big component of fine accuracy is quality in the construction of the barrel. Heritage Manufacturing manufactures their own barrels out of solid steel rods. They are cut down, drilled, and threaded on the breech end. After that, they are rifled, crowned, and blued.

   The rifling is cut using a button broach for a classic button rifling.  The twist rate is 1:14, which is perfect for stabilizing a 40-grain bullet in a pistol barrel. It is a 6-groove rifling. The grooves seem to be a bit shallow compared to the other 22 rifles that I own. It doesn’t seem to be a problem and may cause the bullets to fit tighter and properly gas-seal with a wider variety of bullets.

   The steel barrels are torqued into the aluminum frames and are pretty concentric with the cylinder and frame. The rounded crown is cut deeply along the muzzle and is finished nicely. 

   The rough rider pistols are factory tested for function, but not for accuracy. It’d be nice to see what they would do when strapped to a vise and fired with no discernable movement.  But if the real-world shooting results mean anything, poor accuracy is not an issue with this one. 

What Are the Quality Standards on the Rough Rider?

    The keys point to an accurate pistol are the barrel and the trigger.  The classic design of a single-action revolver lends itself to a good trigger, and they didn’t disappoint.   Heritage makes a very nice, clean, and crisp trigger. It’s easy to manipulate the trigger without moving the pistol during the trigger pull.    

   The Rough Rider hammer and trigger are made of MIM steel (Mold Injected Metal). That’s a big part of how they keep the price down. They are mas produced at little cost.  Although a cheaper manufacturing process, they have maintained an acceptable degree of precision in their hammers and triggers. 

   When you have a revolver, the cylinder also plays a role in the accuracy of a revolver. The dimensions of the chamber dictate how far the brass can expand. More expansion means less pressure, while a tighter hole in the cylinder means it will give higher pressure. 

    Uneven diameters of holes on the cylinder mean uneven pressures. Uneven pressures mean the velocity will have a variance. Uneven velocities will cause your bullets to react differently and strike different spots on your target

   I went and measured the cartridge holes in the cylinder for both my 22 LR and the 22 Magnum Rough Rider.  I am actually surprised at the consistency.  The diameter of the cartridge holes is all well within a thousandth of an inch of each other.  That’s pretty darn good.  

  I contacted Heritage Manufacturing and asked them “what level of quality control should someone expect from a pistol at this price point?”. I got a response two days later from their director of Engineering about their quality standards.

    He said a potential customer should have very high expectations for the level of quality control. Of course, he’d say that, but I think agree.  I have found very few disgruntled owners of the Rough Rider. I’m sure once in a while something gets past them, but it doesn’t seem to happen much.  

   I was told that they rarely get products returned back. This I also believe.  The two guys who handle defective product returns don’t usually get any returns.  In fact, their primary job is assembling all of the big bore pistols that heritage arms make.

Tips for Shooting the Rough Rider Accurately

(Sights and Sight Adjustment)

   Heritage manufacturing makes 2 different sights. One is a modern adjustable sight, and the other is a classic front blade sight with a slight rear notch to line it up with.  Once you’ve found ammunition that shoots consistently in the same spot out of your pistol, you can adjust the sights if needed.

   The adjustable sights are a cinch to move.  The cowboy-style blade sight, not so much.  To adjust the front blade sight, you have to either bed it to one side or file it down. Filing is fairly permanent, so be sure that you actually need it done and be careful not to file off too much.

   Before you file anything, determine how much you need to take off. To do that, you need a ruler rule, a good caliper, and a 30-foot (10 yards) shooting range.  I picked 30 feet because it’s an easy number to work with. You’re also going to need to do some math.  You might want a calculator.

   You need 3 numbers to do it right.                       

The sight radius, distance from the rearmost of the notch to the rearmost of the blade

The distance of shooting in inches, 10 yards, 30 feet, 360 inches

The amount of needed correction, this is the unknown, the X in the equation.

Don’t worry it’s simple.  Measure the sight radius in inches as accurately as you can. Mine is 7 5/8, which is 6.26, inches with a 6.5-inch barrel. Next, we will write it out as a fraction.  1/360 = X/ 6.26.  That says one inch at 10 yards (360 inches) is equal to how much at 6.26 (7 5/8inches). 

   To figure it out, solve the fractions. My conversion factor is 57.507. At 7 5/8 inches (6.26) .0174 inches of adjustment on my blade will equal 1-inch of change at ten yards.  That’s rounded up to the nearest 1,000th of an inch, good enough.

Most Accurate Ammunition for the Rough Rider

   Enough of that, now on to what everyone wants to know.  What ammo is best?  Well sorry to say, I can’t tell you.  I even asked the manufacturer if they had any recommendations.  I was told that any ammo will work, but better ammo tends to work better.  Makes sense doesn’t it?

   With higher quality ammo, you have less variance in the thickness of the cartridge, and the amount of powder in it.  you also get a powder that burns at a more consistent rate.  Bullets will be more uniform in shape, diameter, and weight.  Accuracy is all about consistency.

For the record, even cheap ammo will shoot alright.  If you want to try ammo with a good reputation, try CCI mini mags, and ELIEY pistol ammo.  Any match-grade ammo will shoot better than cheap ammo, but these ones have a good, long-standing reputation.

Maintaining Your Rough Rider for the Best Accuracy

   Regular and proper maintenance will help ensure that your pistol is as accurate as it’s gonna get.  There is little to do other than clean and oil it really. Heritage recommends you clean your pistol every 200 shots.  It’s more about the build-up of powder residue in the cylinder than anything else. 

   As powder residue collects, it will tighten the fit of the cartridges causing higher pressures than when you started. It’s also harder to eject spent shells from a dirty cylinder. Use any powder solvent. You can use a rag or a 22 caliber bore brush.  If it’s really bad, use the brush with a powder solvent. 

   Just a few times in and out will do it. wipe it clean with a rag, bore mop, or Q-tip.  Q-tips are amazing!  Put a light coat of oil in there too. remember these words, “wipe on, wipe off, leave just a little”.  Clean the barrel the same way. Run a solvent patch or brush down and then a clean patch. Oil lightly.

   That’s about it. keep it clean and it will operate consistently.

Jordan Buck

Jordan Buck is an outdoor writer, a man of faith, and a family man. He grew up hunting, fishing, and trapping. Jordan has taught marksmanship, woodsmanship, and self-defense classes. He has earned black belts in four martial arts and is a certified Krav Maga instructor. He also runs his own Gun Blog and YouTube Channel. Jordan enjoys giving his time and resources to help others and has spent 15 years volunteering in a boy's mentoring program He is and will always be an American Patriot. MOLON LABE

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