The Ruger Wrangler: The Best Way to Spend $200 Ever

There’s absolutely nothing pretentious about the Ruger Wrangler. I can’t say that about all revolvers. Ruger owns rimfire. From the dominance of the 10/22 to the Mark series pistols, Ruger makes high-quality guns that won’t break the bank. And now the Wrangler is set to become a staple in the market for anyone looking for a wheel gun for plinking.

This isn’t a new class of revolver, for sure. The Wrangler is an homage to the old Colt 1873, and to many Ruger revolvers before it. Devotees will know the Ruger revolver line-up has both single and double action categories, and that the rimfire guns have well represented in single action form by the Bear Cat, and Single Six.

The Wrangler and Super Wrangler are filling in a gap between those. The Super Wrangler has sights that are more similar to the Single Six and can shoot magnum rimfire rounds like .22 WMR.

The Ruger Wrangler will eat just about anything you feed it. I took my random bucket of leftovers which is the only way to plink.
The Ruger Wrangler will eat just about anything you feed it. I took my random bucket of leftovers which is the only way to plink.

The Wrangler has classic lines and a nostalgic feel, but it is uniquely modern in its material construction and finishes—which is part of what makes it so different. And it is hard to believe that the gun is coming in at a sub-$300 MSRP, much less a $200 price point in gun stores.

Wrangler Specs

The Ruger Wrangler comes in various barrel lengths. The shortest of which is 3.75”. The longest barrels are 7.5”. While most stick to pretty common measurements, the most popular length seems to be the 4.62” versions. The longer barrels here will generate more muzzle velocity—slightly more.

Grips, too, vary. Some are based on the more common flared grip shape. The one I have in for this review is a bird’s head grip. This presses the grip deeper into the palm of the shooting hand rather than letting the hand wrap around grip—and it is just a matter of preference as to which feels better.

The Wrangler guns come in some odd colors—at least they’re odd for single-action revolvers. “Black Cherry” and “Crushed Orchid” and “Dark Earth” and “Midnight Bronze” are hardly common names for gun colors. The Cerakote finishes are applied to the aluminum frames.

The cylinder holds six shots. It is steel, and not fluted. The black finish contrasts with the Cerakote on the frame, giving the Wrangler a distinctive look.
The cylinder holds six shots. It is steel, and not fluted. The black finish contrasts with the Cerakote on the frame, giving the Wrangler a distinctive look.

Wrangler cylinders and barrels are made of steel. The barrels are cold hammer forged and provide the performance you expect from a Ruger rimfire. While these guns aren’t billed as target guns (we’ll talk more about the sight set-up shortly), they’re reliably accurate.

Grips on these are usually synthetic, though some are wood. Even though the guns use aluminum, they weigh in above a pound and a half. This gives them a substantial heft that allows for a stable shooting platform—not to heavy to hold (even for kids learning to shoot), but not light enough to be shaky.

And that may make them a really good training platform for the Vaquero, too. These are very close in size, and even work with the same holsters.

How does the Wrangler shoot?

If you are accustomed to a solid Mark IV, and expect there to be pinpoint accuracy of adjustable target sights, this is going to be a step back. The Wrangler has a blade front sight and a milled rear sight channel. This is a very familiar sight system, for most of us, but it isn’t as fast as some might prefer.

The hammer spur will be integral to operation of the single-action, and this one—again—is best described as familiar. Ruger hasn’t gone with any crazy gimmicks here—just solid components. I tend to shoot single-actions with two hands, with my dominant right hand running the trigger and my left thumb driving the hammer.

As this is a rimfire, though, recoil is negligible. That makes this a solid option for one-handed shooting. With hot .22 LR, there’s a modest bit of muzzle rise, but the weight of the gun helps to hold it down. But the beauty of a revolver is that it will shoot any .22 LR.

The rear sights on the Wrangler are milled into the aluminum frame.
The rear sights on the Wrangler are milled into the aluminum frame.

I put some rounds on paper—but my group sizes at 25 yards were what you’d expect. This isn’t a paper-puncher, at least for me, so I spent more time with a small torso target that has a hostage plate. After learning the nuances of the Wrangler, I had no trouble hitting that flipper.

Guns like the Wrangler keep your brain working. As the sights on this one are not adjustable, you’ll spend some time doing mental gymnastics putting together windage and drop, but when you connect it somehow feels more rewarding. I’m not sure if that makes much sense, but does to me; using scopes and red dots sometimes feels too easy.

How is the Wrangler’s trigger?

The trigger is solid and crisp with no take-up or creep. Most single-action revolver triggers are. Guns in this price range, though, usually have garbage triggers—but this isn’t the case.

I alluded to this earlier when I was talking about the trigger. The Ruger Wrangler, selling at that $250 price point, seems almost impossible. I’ve talked to many people who expected this to be an entry-level gun that cut corners to get down to a reasonable price. It didn’t.

shooting revolver
The Ruger Wrangler is heavy enough to take the bite out of recoil, making it a great way to introduce revolvers to new shooters.

So what’s the Wrangler good for?

Plinking. That’s first on my list. I’ve got more accurate Ruger rimfires. This isn’t really a hunting gun. But there’s no denying that this is fun.

It is a solid training tool for anyone learning the ropes. Because it is good for plinking, it will make teaching basic firearm safety fun and productive. And it is a great way to show how heavier single-action revolvers work. And there’s nothing scary looking (or scary at all, really) about the Wrangler.

With the right holster, this would be a great gun for wandering in the woods. Even the muted Cerakote colors lend themselves to camouflage.

revolver in holster
The Rurger Wrangler should fit most of the holsters for the 1873, like this one from Bianchi.

What are you waiting for?

The performance is fantastic. The finish makes these exceptionally durable—the best kind of gun to not only teach the basics with, but also to teach gun care. This is an extra that you’d expect to pay more for.

And there’s another extra here worth mentioning. These guns don’t have external safeties, but they do have transfer bar safeties to prevent any issues if the gun is dropped. They also have a unique gate mechanism that allows the cylinder to turn freely when the gate is open—a feature that will make loading and ejection so much easier as you don’t have to roll the cylinder through those tight windows in one direction only.

I’d go so far as to say that the Wrangler is one of those odd guns that comes along every once in a blue moon that everyone should have. .22 LR is still the most economical way to shoot. We all like to plink. And I’ll end, where I began—this is a badass gun, in no way pretentious, and maybe the best overall value around.

David Higginbotham is a writer and editor who specializes in everyday carry. David is a former backcountry guide in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Boundary Waters Canoe Area who was a college professor for 20 years. He ultimately left behind the academy for a more practical profession in the firearms industry and was (among other editorial positions) the Managing Editor for a nascent Mag Life blog. In that Higginbotham helped establish The Maglife's tone and secure its early success. Though he went on to an even more practical firearms industry profession still, he continues to contribute articles and op-eds as time and life allow.

Sign Up for Newsletter

Let us know what topics you would be interested:
© 2024 GunMag Warehouse. All Rights Reserved.
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap