U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- I had been aware of Heritage Revolvers for a number of years but always passed them by as I have a bunch of 22 revolvers. I took a closer look at them a while back when their 16″ Buntline hit the market, and circled back earlier this year when they went in the opposite direction by way of a shorter barrel in a model known as the Barkeep.
I had to try one out. I reached out to Heritage and asked for a sample for review. They were kind enough to send me two to try out.
What’s in a Name
Much like the time we looked at the mythical Colt Buntline, there was a time in Colt’s history that they would manufacture a revolver with a barrel of any length the user desired. There was a $1 per inch upcharge, according to many sources of the era of the First Generation or Pre-War era Colt Single Action Army revolver.
Back in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, Colt did not go in for fancy names. You pretty much ordered a revolver by its model number (which was typically a year), followed by caliber, barrel length, finish and maybe an option for grips.
Enterprising Wholesalers, Jobbers and Retailers would often conjure up an unofficial name that was never really recognized in an official capacity but may still be used today like the Lightning, Thunderer or Rainmaker for the three different calibers of the M1877 double-action revolver. Short barrelled M1873s were known as the storekeeper, shopkeeper, banker special, etc. It really depended upon which reseller was hawking the revolvers and his intended clientele, of course. The Barkeep nicely fits in here as well with this idea.
These revolvers are very well-made and typical of most single-action rimfire revolvers. Unlike my previous outing with a Heritage revolver, I found the grips on these were better fitted to the frames. Coincidentally that is how these guns are identified: Heritage Barkeep Gray Pearl and Heritage Barkeep Custom Scroll Wood.
Gray Pearl has a matte black oxide finish and Custom Scroll Wood has a Simulated Case Hardened finish. You can mix and match grips, swap the frames out for bird’s head frames and even drop in a 22 Magnum cylinder.
These revolvers are equipped with external safeties on the left-hand side of the frame. At first, that thought seems anathema to a revolver. However, after being exposed to a lot of first-time gun owners over the past year, I no longer have anything bad to say about it.
The other oddity here is the lack of an ejector rod due to the very short barrel. Heritage includes a tool: a stylized stick for poking out empties.
These revolvers may not have a basis in a historical firearm, but they do look as if they could have found a home in at least the fictional West.
At the Range
With the ammo situation being the nuttiest I’ve seen in my lifetime, I had to use whatever 22 lr ammo I could scrounge up: CCI Mini-Mag, Winchester Silvertip, Gemtech Subsonic and Ely Match. At 50-feet, the best I could average was about 2-inches. some groups opened up to 3.5-inches but I did not notice any keyholes. That is always a concern here with short-barrelled rimfires combined with high winds off the Sierra Nevadas.
It certainly won’t replace any of my target revolvers, but can easily provide hours of fun for shooters new to the game as well as experienced.
For the money, you can do a lot worse. I find these little revolvers to be accurate, fairly priced and well-finished. They are fun to shoot and would not be out of place for tooling around the farm, ranch or campsite should you need to dispatch vermin at close range. The frames may be a cast alloy, but it’s a 22. And yes, before the rabble of mouth breathers and oxygen thieves shows up to whine about “Duh 22 Magnum will blow it up”, go and actually read the specs on both cartridges while everyone else laughs at you.
- Brand: Heritage
- Model: Barkeep
- Caliber: .22 LR
- Capacity: 6 Rounds
- Action: Single Action
- Barrel: 2.68″
- Overall Length: 7.95″
- Sights: Fixed
- Frame: Alloy
- Finish: Black Oxide or Simulated Case Hardened
- Grip: Grey Pearl or Custom Scroll Wood
- Weight: 26 oz.
- MSRP: $198.33 (Wood); $208.33 (Gray Pearl)
- Website: http://heritagemfg.com
About Mike Searson
Mike Searson’s career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.
Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, Examiner.com and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.
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