Ruger Wrangler 2003 22 LR

The Wrangler re-envisions the rimfire single-action revolver in the same way Ruger did with the Single-Six in 1950s, but the fit and finish aren’t up to Ruger standards. However, it did shoot to point of aim, was accurate, fun to shoot, and costs a fraction of what a Single-Six does.




This was also a price prior to the lockdowns. We think old man Ruger would have been delighted with the manufacturing cost savings — which translates to less cost to the user — of the Wrangler because one of his company’s flagship products is the rimfire Single-Six. He may have also cussed up and down over the finish quality on the grip frame. Just to set the level, the Wrangler is an inexpensive brother to the Single-Six — less than half the cost — and like we’ve said earlier, you get what you pay for.

ActionRevolver, single action
Overall Length10.25 in.
Overall Height5.0 in.
Maximum Width1.4 in.
Weight Unloaded30.0 oz.
Weight Loaded33.6 oz.
Cylinder Gap0.007 in.
Barrel Length4.62 in.
Frame Material/FinishAluminum/zinc alloy/silver Cerakote
Cylinder Material/FinishSteel/blued
Frame Front Strap Height2.1 in.
Frame Back Strap Height3.0 in.
Grips Checkered black plastic
Grip Thickness (max)1.3 in.
Grip Circumference (max)6.0 in.
Front sightRamp blade
Rear SightFixed notch
Sight Radius5.25 in.
Trigger Pull Weight 4.8 lbs.
Trigger Span3.0 in.
WarrantyNone written
Telephone(336) 949-5200
Made InUSA
The construction of the Wrangler uses zinc and aluminum alloy to keep the tiny handgun’s weight and price to a minimum. The frame is machined from cast-aluminum alloy. The barrel and cylinder are made from steel. The grip frame is cast from a zinc alloy. This makes the revolver lightweight. In fact, we dropped it in our back pocket and took it for our morning walk in the woods with the dog. It travels well and makes an ideal trail gun. The checkered hammer and smooth-faced trigger are both MIM (metal-injected molding) stainless-steel parts. Ruger finishes the Wrangler with a Cerakote finish that allows the exterior to appear the same no matter what the metal type, unlike the Cimarron. Our model had a silver Cerakote frame, barrel, and grip frame. Other colors are available. The cylinder, cylinder pin, base pin button and ejector head have a blued-black finish. The cylinder is unfluted and has two decorative lines milled at the rear of the cylinder. The two-piece grips are black checkered plastic that slightly overlapped the frame. At the butt, we noticed rough finishing. You can actually see the mold marks were not completely smoothed and the Cerakote was used to fill the gaps. Poor work from Ruger to say the least, but remember — you get what you pay for. The barrel length is 4.625 inches, and the sights consist of a wide front blade and wide notch molded into the frame topstrap. We liked these sights. Unlike the traditional single-action operation, the Wrangler allows the user to open the loading gate and spin the cylinder without having to thumb back the hammer to half cock. The six-shot cylinder is also free wheeling, so it rotates both clockwise and counterclockwise, making loading and unloading faster. There’s no need to rotate fully around to load a missed chamber like with the Uberti and Cimarron. We like this feature a lot because it is easy to rotate past the chamber when loading or unloading. The downside of this type of cylinder is that it may not automatically re-engage the cylinder latch if it’s rotated a little too far either way after the loading gate is closed. We found the hammer felt stuck and the cylinder didn’t rotate because the cylinder latch catch was not engaged with cylinder notch. Solution: Just rotate the cylinder until you hear a click to engage the latch into the notch for proper alignment, and now you are ready to fire. Ruger also incorporates its transfer-bar safety mechanism, plus a loading gate interlock. With the loading gate open, the revolver cannot be cocked or fired. We like these safety features. You can carry the Wrangler full loaded because of the transfer-bar system. The chambers are countersunk, so you need to make sure the cartridges are fully seated in the chamber. We did note that the loading gate was small so there was not a lot of room for fat fingers. The loading gate was also a bit stiff to open but loosened up with use. The frame is smaller than either of the other two guns tested. The grip is the same size as the Single-Six. While this gun weighs less, it does have nice balance in hand. The wide Ruger-style trigger broke at 4.8 pounds on average. We would have liked it a pound lighter. The bullet has about 0.3 inches of chamber length before reaching the forcing cone. The Wrangler’s point of aim was dead on, which really endeared us to this revolver, however, we did note in the range data the accuracy did not match the Uberti nor the Cimarron. The best five-shot group we fired was with inexpensive 40-grain Remington Thunderbolt ammo that measured 0.78 inches. On average and with all ammo types, the Ruger averaged a little over 1-inch groups. This is still very darn acceptable for a dedicated plinker. The shot load gave us a 12-inch pattern. The ejector rod head was tiny, and it did not rotate away from the barrel so your finger could get burned when reloading after extending firing. It field-stripped with fewer steps than a traditional wheelgun. Open the loading gate, push the base pin button, and pull out the cylinder rod. The cylinder then falls out of the loading gate side of the frame. Our Team Said: The Wrangler is inexpensive and offers all the proven safety features of Ruger’s rimfire revolvers. It also shot to point of aim and was lightweight. This would make a good starter gun for a small newbie shooter. If they drop it and scratch, who cares? The craftsmanship on the butt is a big miss in our opinion, but we think for the price, the Wrangler will find its way into many camping, hiking, and fishing kits. Special thanks to Eastern Outfitters ( of Hampstead, NC, for their assistance. Written and photographed by Robert Sadowski, using evaluations from Gun Tests team testers.


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