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Ruger’s Stainless Single-Six Convertible

Reestablishing a rimfire relationship
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John’s original .22 Single-Six was purchased more than 60 years ago and still performs exceptionally well. He only wishes he had aged as well as it has!

About 66 years ago, Bill Ruger took a serious look at how popular Western movies and TV shows were. Then he realized the fact there were no single-action sixguns being produced by anyone. So he came up with the perfect answer for those who wanted one. He maintained the grip frame of the Colt Single Action Army (which had not been produced since 1940, then reduced the overall size slightly to be better suited for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. He replaced the traditional flat springs with virtually unbreakable coil ones. Then he brought the Single-Six in at a price most folks could afford.

These four 20-yard groups represent the most accurate .22 Long Rifle loads John culled through.

Game-Changer

My life was changed forever in 1956 when I purchased my first Single-Six for $63.25. My original version had a 5-1/2" barrel and fixed sights (well, except for the fact the rear was drift-adjustable for windage). The one-piece grip frame was aluminum and the loading gate — instead of being beautifully contoured like the Colt’s — was flat. This was quickly changed to a standard contoured loading gate. By 1960 Ruger began offering Convertible Single-Sixes with two cylinders — one chambered in .22 LR, the other in the recently introduced .22 Magnum. The latter used a slightly larger bullet than the former, so Ruger compromised with a barrel diameter of 0.219" to handle both.

In 1964 Ruger introduced one of the best versions of the Single-Six with the Super Single-Six that had adjustable sights. It too was a Convertible Model with both cylinders and was offered in both 5-1/2" and 6-1/2" barrel lengths with an uncataloged 4-5/8" offered rarely. Up to this time all Ruger SAs had a Three-Screw action, which mandated carry with the hammer resting on an empty chamber.

In 1973 the New Model Ruger arrived with a transfer-bar safety that allowed safe, fully-loaded carry for the first time since cartridge-firing single actions arrived in the 1870s. Over the years Ruger has added stainless steel versions as well as a New Model Single-Six Hunter version with a heavy ribbed barrel that accepted Ruger scope rings and even a 10-shot Single-10 .22 LR version.

Some Taffin Tweaks

I literally grew up shooting all matter of Single-Sixes — short-barreled, long-barreled, Old Models, New Models, standard factory versions as well as customized specimens. Currently I am enjoying one of the latest iterations from Ruger — the 5-1/2" Single-Six constructed of stainless steel. Ruger no longer uses the term “Super” with adjustable sighted Single-Sixes, however, this is definitely a “Super.” It also comes with dual .22 LR/.22 Magnum cylinders.

For a rugged, everyday carry rimfire sixgun, it would be hard to beat this Ruger Convertible Model. I made two changes before test-firing. The first was a “Taffin Instant Trigger Job” which cut a few pounds off the pull. I then added a new front sight from my friend Fermin Garza in Texas. The front sight is easily switched as the factory unit is held on with a screw. Fermin provides these replaceable sights giving a very sharp sight picture with whatever height and/or width blade you choose. Finally, I also added beautifully checkered exotic wood stocks by Keith Brown.

Any Convertible Model comes with two cylinders allowing the use of both .22 Long Rifle and .22 Magnum ammo. The custom stocks are by Keith Brown, the front sight from Fermin Garza.

Rounds Downrange!

For test-firing I assembled 16 different types of .22 LR ammunition and overall the Long Rifle cylinder provided excellent accuracy. The most accurate load was Winchester’s bulk pack “525” hollowpoint producing a 5/8" 5-shot group at 20 yards with a muzzle velocity of just over 1,100 fps. This was followed by two loads with 3/4" American Eagle HP at just under 1,100 fps and Winchester Power Point at just over 1,100 fps. This little sixgun showed a marked preference for all seven Winchester loads I tried. It also fared very well with CCI Mini-Mags with a 7/8" group at nearly 1,100 fps.

All was going well until I switched to the .22 Magnum cylinder. Over the years I’ve heard many people complain about Convertible Models as one cylinder or the other would not shoot very well. I had never experienced this in all these years, but this happy state of affairs came to a grinding halt with the first 4" group out of the magnum cylinder!

However, I did not give up. I used a stiff brass brush on the cylinder throats and continued to shoot. The more I shot the better it performed. Now, Winchester .22 Magnum HPs and CCI Maxi-Mags do very well with the former producing 1" groups with a muzzle velocity of 1,400 fps and the latter at 1-1/8", clocking at 1,500 fps. I’m certainly glad I did not give up on the Magnum cylinder! The Ruger New Model Stainless Steel Single-Six Convertible has an MSRP of $699.

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