Ruger Single Six Revolvers

By Chuck Hawks

Ruger Super Single Six
Illustration courtesy of Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.

2003 marked the 50th Anniversary of the introduction of the Ruger Single Six revolver. The Single Six is a traditional looking Western style revolver, but with a modernized mechanism.

The versatile Single Six has been adapted to fire the rimfire .22 Long Rifle and .22 Magnum (WMR) and centerfire .32 H&R Magnum cartridges. Cylinders were added to allow "Convertible" Single Sixes that could shoot .22 Short/Long/Long Rifle in one cylinder and .22 WMR/.22 WRF in another.

The 3-screw (so called because of the three screws in the side of the frame) Ruger Single Six revolvers are based on a very simple design. They use music wire coil springs and their reliability has become legendary. However, Old Model Rugers are traditional single action revolvers. This means that they are loaded with the hammer in the half-cock notch and properly carried with the hammer down on an empty chamber. There is also a quarter-cock "semi-safe" hammer position. The typical 3-screw Single Six was a blued steel .22 Magnum/.22 LR convertible revolver built on a flat top frame roughly 7/8 the size of a Ruger Blackhawk.

Over the years Ruger sold a great many Single Six revolvers. Never-the-less, Bill Ruger redesigned his single action revolvers in 1973 in an attempt to make them "idiot proof." The result was the "New Model" Single Six. These revolvers incorporated a new transfer bar ignition system. Opening the loading gate retracts the cylinder bolt, allowing the cylinder to turn for loading. No longer was it necessity to leave the hammer down on an empty chamber.

The New Model Ruger SA revolvers are probably the safest revolvers ever made, and they can be carried fully loaded with six cartridges. New Model Ruger SA revolvers only have two screws in the side of their frames. Otherwise the Super Single Six is externally similar to the Old Model guns.

Over the years there have been many models of Single Six revolvers. I counted 17 variations in the 2007 Ruger catalog. New Model Single Six calibers are .17 M2, .17 HMR, .22 LR (also .22 Short and .22 Long), .22 WMR (also .22 WRF), and .32 H&R Mag. (also .32 Long).

The New Model that is probably the most common, and the most useful to the small game hunter and outdoorsman, is the Super Single Six Convertible model NR6. This blued steel .22 LR/.22 Magnum revolver comes with a 6 1/2 inch barrel and the same adjustable sights as the Blackhawk and Super Blackhawk. It is 11 13/16 inches in overall length, and weighs 35 ounces.

Ruger Super Single Six revolvers have earned a reputation for good accuracy, and mine have been typical of the breed. They have been used to shoot just about every kind of .22 LR and .22 Magnum ammunition available.

On the whole I cannot think of a better small game hunting revolver than a Ruger Super Single Six Convertible with a 6 1/2 inch barrel.

Note: A full length review of the Ruger Single Six revolver can be found on the Product Reviews page.

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Copyright 2003, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.