Sturm, Ruger & Co. joined the budget-priced rimfire revolver market in 2019 with the launch of the Wrangler series. Based on the company's venerable single-action Single-Six revolvers, the first models out the door featured fixed Vaquero-style sights, 6-shot .22 LR cylinders, 4.62" barrels, traditional “plowshare” grip frames and Cerakote finishes available in black, silver and burnt bronze. Changes in the materials used and manufacturing processes brought these revolvers' price tags down significantly. While the original all-steel Single-Sixes sport suggested retail prices of $799 to $889, the standard Wranglers are listed at $269.
The .22 LR Ruger Wranglers have been selling well since the series was launched in 2019.
Since its release, the Wrangler series has continued to grow in popularity and model options. In 2022, the company expanded the line up by shrinking the platform with the release of the 3.75" barrel birdshead grip model. At the 2023 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Wrangler grew with the addition of .22 LRs with 6.5" and 7.5" barrels. Distributor exclusives are available in a variety of non-traditional Cerakote colors including Black Cherry, Crushed Orchid, Plum Brown, OD Green and Stone Gray.
Despite being handy and useful revolvers, the Wranglers left behind two of the Single-Six’s desirable features, including the adjustable sight system and caliber-conversion cylinders for the .22 WMR cartridge (more commonly known as .22 Magnum or just .22 Mag.). Now Ruger has caught up to customer requests with the release of the Super Wrangler. Here are five reasons to give this new model a closer look.
The Super Wrangler sports a steel frame designed for .22 WMR ammunition.
Flexible Dual-Caliber Configuration
The .22 LR cartridge was developed in 1887 by J. Stevens Arms & Tool Company as a more potent option than its parent cartridges, the .22 Long and .22 Short. In use for more than 130 years, the .22 LR has proved to be a flexible, affordable and an enjoyable low-recoil round that can be fired from a broad selection of rifles, pistols and revolvers. It can fill a variety of shooting roles from casual plinking to harvesting small game. So why the interest in adding a second cylinder for .22 WMR?
The adjustable rear sight comes in handy for shooting at longer distances.
The .22 WMR, which is short for Winchester Magnum Rimfire, was developed by Winchester in 1959 to provide yet another power boost to .22 rimfire platforms. A typical .22 LR cartridge can launch a 40-gr. bullet at around 1,200 f.p.s. from a rifle-length barrel. But the .22 WMR can launch a 40-gr. bullet at a nominal velocity of 1,875 f.p.s. This upward shift in bullet velocity also increases the bullet's potential impact energy from around 128 ft.-lbs. to 312 ft.-lbs. This gives the .22 WMR an edge when hunting larger game or shooting at longer distances.
A transfer bar safety prevents the revolver from firing if the hammer is bumped or the gun is dropped.
This notable shift in .22 WMR performance requires the Super Wrangler to be built around this cartridge instead of the .22 LR. The Super's cylinder frame is made of steel instead of the die cast A380 aluminum alloy frame used in the standard .22 LR-only models. This adds a bit more weight to the Super but it guarantees the revolver can safely handle as much .22 WMR as the owner cares to shoot. This gun is fitted with a 5.5" barrel which provides a good balance of bore length for the cartridge while keeping the gun a handy size.
The Super Wrangler (right) has the same footprint as the Single-Six series revolvers, like the Single-Ten .22 LR shown here (left).
But why does this revolver need two cylinders? Why not shoot .22 WMR and .22 LR out of the same cylinder like a revolver chambered in .357 Mag./.38 Spl.? Although these two rimfire cartridges look similar, the .22 WMR cartridge is longer and the case's rim is also wider and thicker than that of the .22 LR. This means that a .22 LR cartridge will not operate reliably in the .22 WMR cylinder. To verify this, I loaded up the .22 WMR cylinder with .22 LR cartridges. Only one of the six .22 LR cartridges fired. When the five unfired .22 LR rounds were moved to the .22 LR cylinder, along one more fresh round, they all ignited properly. So save yourself some time and aggravation at the range by shooting these two types of ammunition from their intended cylinders.
If the goal of using .22 WMR in a rimfire is to stretch the gun's range, then the addition of a more sophisticated sighting system is a logical choice. The Super Wrangler features a removable serrated ramp front sight. It can be traded out for other options including high visibility fiber optic sights. The square-notch rear sight is adjustable for height and windage. It too can be swapped for other Single-Six compatible sight options.
Cylinders are swapped by removing the cylinder pin, no tools required.
Best-Of Budget Features
In adjusting this revolver to shoot .22 WMR, Ruger was careful not to throw the Wrangler's price point out with the bath water. The Super Wrangler still has a cold-hammer forged barrel fitted with an aluminum ejector housing. The grip frame and integral trigger guard are diecast from zinc alloy while the hammer and trigger are MIM stainless steel components. The revolver is topped off with a textured polymer grip with the same standard Cerkote finish options as other Wranglers, including the matte black version shown here. The Super Wrangler has the same external footprint and grip frame dimensions as the 5.5" barrel Single-Six. This means it will accept the same grip panels and fit into the same holsters that are already on the market.
The Super Wrangler is a pleasure to shoot on or off a bench rest.
The steel cylinder frame, adjustable sights, slightly longer barrel and a second cylinder increase the price of the Super Wrangler, but not by much. These upgrades take the suggested retail price from $269 to $329. Real world pricing will probably be around $20 to $30 less, which keeps this dual-caliber revolver in the same price range as several budget friendly semi-automatic .22 LR pistols.
Rugged & Reliable
At the shooting range, the Super Wrangler performed admirably without any mechanical or ammunition related issues throughout the course of formal and informal shooting. Like its predecessors, this Wrangler is well-made, ruggedly built and reliable. I like how the matte Cerakote finish gives the revolver a uniform appearance that belies the gun's reduced price.
The bench-rested, five 5-shot group accuracy testing was conducted at 25 yards using the .22 WMR cylinder. Hunting-grade ammunition was provided by CCI, Remington, and Winchester. It's reasonable to wonder just how much more performance one can expect when firing .22 WMR from a handgun compared to .22 LR. And so, while I had the Labradar chronograph set up, I fired 10 rounds of Federal Champion 36-gr. copper-plated hollow points through the .22 LR cylinder. The average velocity was 985 f.p.s. for 78-ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy. As you can see in the following range results table, the .22 WMR cartridge is still the more peppy performer even when fired from a revolver-length barrels:
A Great Gun to Take to the Range
I can understand why some semi-automatic pistol fans scratch their heads at gun reviews that sing the praises of old-fashioned, single-action revolvers like this one. I felt much the same way 30 years ago when I read the magazine articles in circulation at the time discussing the stainless steel Single-Six. But the story changed once I picked one up and shot it at the range.
There's something almost magical about how Single Action Army-style revolvers become an extension of the arm when pointed down range. With an unloaded weight of 37.7 oz., the Super Wrangler should feel a little heavy. But instead, the 5.5"-barrel, steel cylinder frame and plowshare grip come together to balance oh-so-nicely in either a one-handed or two-handed shooting grip. It just feels right. The single-action trigger breaks cleanly with just 3-lbs. 15-oz. of trigger pull. Now add in the adjustable sights, the low cost and low recoil of .22 LR ammunition and you have yourself a very pleasant gun to shoot at a perfectly palatable price.
Just as the Ruger Single-Six series helped to keep single-action revolvers from slipping into obscurity in the 1950s, the Wranglers are introducing this century's shooting sports enthusiasts to this enjoyable type of rimfire revolver. For more information, visit ruger.com.