Sixgun No More
Ruger Super Sizes The Super Single-Six
Into A 9-Shot .22 WMR And 10-Shot .22 LR.
Ever since the Ruger Convertibles appeared there have been those whining and complaining about lack of accuracy with either the .22 Long Rifle cylinder or that chambered for the .22 Magnum. I don’t know how many Convertibles I have experienced over the last half-century or so, however I have never had one that didn’t shoot well with both cylinders. When the .22 Single-Six first arrived the barrel had a groove diameter of 0.216 inch and the .22 Magnum which followed was cut at 0.224 inch. To arrive at a Convertible Model the barrel is a compromise 0.219 inch and it works just fine.
For nearly 60 years all .22 Ruger single actions were true Single-Sixes; that is, the cylinders held six rounds. Of course, until the arrival of the New Model Single-Six it was actually a 5-shooter. I have to admit I was one of those not overjoyed with the arrival of the New Model versions of the Single-Six as well as the Blackhawk. I also have to admit I have changed my mind over the years and I now appreciate both the safety and convenience the New Model action offers.
Ruger the company has offered some very interesting new firearms over the past few years including centerfire semi-automatics as well as double-action sixguns. Now Ruger has upgraded the Single-Six significantly, in fact the Super Single-Six has been Super Sized. This has been accomplished with two versions, the Single-Ten, which is a 10-shot .22 Long Rifle, and the Single-Nine, which holds nine rounds of .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire ammunition. There are no Convertible Models offered in the Super Sized Super Single-Six.
The Single-Ten arrived first and I immediately ordered a test gun from Ruger. It is easily to spot this Stainless Steel Single-Ten by all the bolt slots in the cylinder. To provide for 10 shots in the same size cylinder requires a major change in geometry as far as the hand and the ratchet at the back of the cylinder. When cocking the Single-Ten the cylinder completes its rotation to the next chamber long before the hammer completes its travel all the way to the rear. It is a totally different feel than that found on the standard Single-Six.
The first Single-Ten is all stainless steel with a 5-1/2-inch barrel and fitted with thoroughly modern sights. Instead of the adjustable standard black sights normally found on the Single-Six the Single-Ten has Williams Fiber Optic Sights consisting of a green dot on the front post and two green dots on the adjustable rear sight. The green is very brilliant and should be perfect for varmint hunting, especially for tree squirrels.
Sights are totally subjective and as I test-fired the Single-Ten I wondered if I could do better with black sights so I ordered standard sights from Ruger. With a reasonable price of $20 total for both front and rear and also the ease of changing sights with the front sight held on by a single screw and the rear sight having a single screw plus a cross pin which removes very easily with the proper punch, experimentation of sights is very practical and quite easy.
I not only experimented with the sights I also swapped out the grip panels replacing the factory hardwood Gunfighter grips with a set of older black eagle walnut Ruger grips. I found my groups on paper improved by 30 to 40 percent by switching to the black sights, however for varmint hunting use I would go back to the green fiber optic sights. It takes less than two minutes to change sights. I’ve also gone back to the factory grips which I find are much more comfortable in my hand. The Gunfighter name comes from the fact these grips have a slight swell at the top and are thinner at the bottom, or just the opposite of standard factory grips. I like the feel very much.
The Ruger Single-Ten functioned flawlessly with all ammunition tried. Seventeen different loads were tried and the results are in the accompanying table. When I switched to the black sights I had run out of a few varieties of ammunition.
Note groups of 1 inch or less for nine shots at 20 yards are not all that unusual. The Single-Six has been a favorite .22 sixgun for thousands upon thousands upon thousands of young shooters and I can see it easily being replaced by this newer version.
The Stainless Steel 5-1/2-inch Single-Ten is available from Ruger, however a second version, 4-5/8-inch all blue, is being offered from Ruger through Lipsey’s. I acquired one of these from Lipsey’s, immediately swapped out the fiber optic sights for black sights and found I had a superbly shooting .22 LR single action. Short-barrels are not always easy for me to shoot however this one proved to be very accurate. I have yet to try it with the green fiber optic sights. I believe I do like the shorter barrel even more than the 5-1/2-inch length. Packing is slightly easier and there seems to be no loss in accuracy.
Some have complained on the Internet about the “fragility” of the ratchet on the back of the cylinder of the Single-Ten. I talked to Ruger about this and they said there should be no problem. This is not a sixgun for fast draw which produces a lot of stress on both the hand and the ratchet, but when treated as it should be, the ratchet and hand should last forever just as on the standard Single-Six.
These are definitely the best of times for shooters as we have so many choices. This is pointed up once again by the fact Ruger did not stop at the Single-Ten but just announced the .22 WMR version which is the Single-Nine. There are times when the standard .22 is somewhat lacking for the task at hand, and that’s where the .22 Magnum comes in. Several companies are offering .22 Magnum rounds with jacketed hollowpoint bullets such as the Sierra 30 grain and the Winchester 28 grain, and Speer has a self-defense round with a large hollowpoint. Muzzle velocities of the .22 Magnum are significantly higher, 300 to 400 fps or more, than the .22 Long Rifle version. In fact the .22 Magnum sixgun also outdoes the .22 Long Rifle in a long gun and is certainly much easier to pack.
The Single-Nine is the same basic sixgun as the Single-Ten except for the fact it is a 9-shooter instead of a 10-shooter and is chambered for the .22 WMR instead of the .22 Long Rifle. It has the same green fiber optic sights and the same very comfortable hardwood Gunfighter grips. The only major difference in appearance is the fact it has a 6-1/2-inch barrel instead of a 5-1/2-inch length.
Now by the time I got to the Magnum version I had already figured out I could do better with black sights instead of the green fiber optic sights—or so I thought. In testing the Single-Nine I went with three sight options: the standard green fiber optic factory sights, the green fiber optic front sight combined with a black adjustable rear sight, and finally all-black adjustable sights. Everything I had just proven turned out to be backwards. This is one of those things, which keeps shooting so interesting. With the 6-1/2-inch barrel of the Magnum Single-Nine I got my best groups with the factory green fiber optic sights. Six different .22 WMR rounds were tried and, in general, groups were slightly better with the .22 WMR with half the groups coming in under 1 inch for 8 shots at 20 yards.
Since I was experimenting with sights I decided the put the green fiber optic sights on my 9-1/2-inch Single-Six replacing the standard black sights. By this time I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find the 9-1/2-inch Single-Six performing exceptionally well with groups well under 1 inch being common including some in the 3/4-inch and 5/8-inch range. These sights are definitely going to stay on this long-barreled Single-Six.
The obvious question remaining is whether or not the Single-Nine will be offered with an extra cylinder in .22 Long Rifle. I asked Ruger and their reply was they are so busy and selling so many guns it is not in the planning at this time. I hope this changes in the future. I always remember one of the Ruger fellows now retired who correctly said no matter what we make someone wants something different. I will prove him correct once again and say I hope Ruger brings out the Stainless Steel Single-Ten .22 and the Stainless Steel Single-Nine .22 Magnum in other barrel lengths. I especially would like to see 7-1/2- and 9-1/2-inch versions.
By John Taffin
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