A good rimfire revolver can be an excellent and cost-effective way to practice the fundamentals. If you’re unfortunate enough to reside somewhere where silencers aren’t allowed, they can be a great option for lightweight and compact small game harvesting tools as well. Revolver cartridges certainly aren’t immune to the market forces that affect almost all ammunition prices, and time spent on the range with a .22LR wheelgun can be just as instructive in some ways as an afternoon launching .357 downrange. Today on Wheelgun Wednesday, we will be taking a look at a few of the best rimfire revolvers currently on the market, at least in this author’s opinion.
Rimfire Revolver Articles @ TFB:
1. A single action sensation: The Ruger Single Six
The Ruger Single Six (or seven, nine or ten) is probably the best current option in the single-action rimfire revolver market. Available with up to a ten-round cylinder in .22LR and .22WMR and six rounds in .17HMR, these well-made Ruger wheelguns make for excellent and robust small game revolvers. They’re robust, very accurate, and well-priced at both new and used prices. Generally speaking, they’re my #1 recommendation to someone looking for a rimfire single-action revolver, unless someone tells me that cost is their number one concern (which would steer them more towards the Ruger Wrangler).
2. A double action classic: Smith And Wesson Model 17 “Masterpiece”
Sporting a vastly superior trigger feel to their Model 317, and having more classic lines and longer sight radius than their model 63, the Smith & Wesson Model 17 is a great platform to plink and engage in low-cost wheelgun training with, especially if you carry an S&W centerfire with a similar trigger feel. There’s a reason one iteration or another of this classic platform has been made since the 1930s, and a big part of it is that S&W got the formula right on an excellent, accurate and ergonomic double-action rimfire revolver almost a century ago.
3. The Smallest Footprint: NAA Sidewinder or Ranger II
If you’re looking for a tiny rimfire revolver that’s still usable, North American Arms makes some of the most diminutive yet still well-made options out there. For the easiest-to-reload options in their line-up, give both their Sidewinder and the Ranger II a look. The Sidewinder has a swing-out cylinder and plunger, just like many full-size revolvers, and the Ranger II, while not as sleek as the original Ranger, is one of the coolest little top-break revolvers, complete with a spring-loaded ejector.
I always like to bring a rimfire along when I’m hunting for larger game, as usually I can harvest certain game birds as an extra side dish, or take out snakes and vermin if need be, without blowing the game out of the whole area. Both of these NAA revolvers would be a great option for that, should you be precluded from using a suppressed firearm. As an added bonus, a few models of the Sidewinder and Ranger II are available with both .22LR and .22WMR cylinders, or purely as a .22WMR should you prefer.
It’s true that NAA miniguns can be tough to be accurate with, as the short sight radius, tiny grip, and tiny trigger are all pretty unforgiving if your fundamentals aren’t sound. That being said, these same facets can be demanding and rewarding training tools for perfecting your grip, trigger press, and sight focus. Though the small grip can be hard to grab at the start of a draw, most people that I know who carry these often attach a good paracord lanyard to the grip to facilitate a much easier draw from the pocket or pack.
By no means the final word
Though there have been a massive number of rimfire revolvers throughout history ever since metallic cartridges came on the scene, these are a few good reasonably priced and currently produced suggestions to mull over if you don’t already have a rimfire wheelgun in your collection.
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