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American Handgunner March/April 2012 Digital Edition - Page 26

THESIXGUNNER Ruger’s Single-Action Bearcat John taffin olt had pronounced the single action dead in 1940. Enter Bill Ruger. His desire was to produce a single action which anyone could afford to own and shoot, while still maintaining the look and feel of the original. The result was the .22 Single-Six. Ruger wisely maintained the original grip frame of the Colt Single Action, downsized the mainframe to reduce weight when using the little rimfire cartridge, and he totally improved the standard single action by replacing flat springs with virtually unbreakable coil springs. That was 1953, and the Single-Six has been an excellent seller ever since. It was my first handgun after I graduated high school in 1956. A few lightweight Single-Sixes with alloy cylinders and frames had been offered, however now Ruger decided to come forth with a true pocket pistol. In the 1840s, both Colt and Remington had offered .31 percussion pistols, such as the Wells Fargo, Baby Dragoon and the New Model Police. These C A .327 FedeRAl Up-GRAde! the Harton .327 federal and original .22 bearcat cylinders compared. were all very easy to conceal pocket pistols. Today we have a large proliferation of pocket pistols, however this was certainly not the case in 1958, and especially not in .22 caliber. Once again Ruger sensed the market and brought forth his little Bearcat revolver. The original Bearcat had a non-fluted 6-shot cylinder with a role engraving of both a bear and a mountain lion, a black anodized aluminum mainframe with integral grip frame, and an alloy trigger guard anodized to appear to be brass. The first serial numbers were from 1-999 and then a letter prefix was added such as A001-A999, B001-B999, and so on for 25 letters of the alphabet excluding the “O” which could be mistaken for a zero. By 1960 the “alphabet” Bearcats gave way to a normal numbering system and a prefix number was added in 1969. The original Bearcats weighed just over 16 ounces and were discontinued in 1970, to be replaced one year later by the steel-frame Super Bearcat. Today’s Bearcat is all stainless steel with a transfer bar safety, while still maintaining the half cock position for loading and unloading. left: (l-r) the .22 lr is the original chambering for ruger’s bearcat, next is the .32 H&r magnum. Harton’s custom model is chambered for the .327 federal, and it works great, offering amazing power in a tiny gun. A current production stainless steel bearcat may not quite deliver target-grade accuracy, but they are great trail and plinking sixguns. A Real Sixgun T ruger factory bearcats compared to the custom .327 federal Magnum bearcat by single Action service (r). here are some sixgunners who can going is rough and every ounce counts, shoot everything equally well (and a Bearcat and a box of .22 ammunition some equally bad!), however I’m is definitely priceless. not one of them. The easiest sixgun I ignored the Bearcat when it first for me to shoot is an adjustable-sighted appeared, and in fact did not buy one 71/2" single action, such as the Colt New Frontier or original Ruger the custom Alan Flat-Top Blackhawk. The most Harton .327 bearcat difficult sixgun, single action or rides nicely in this double action, for me, is the little crossdraw holster Ruger Bearcat. Everything about by Mike barranti. it is small and lightweight, with a very tiny grip frame. However, I keep reminding myself this is not a target pistol but a pocket pistol or kit gun, which easily stows in a backpack or tackle box. When the 26 until my son’s 10th birthday. He saved up half the money and I paid the other half and he was on his way to becoming a single-action sixgunner. He told me in recent years how envious all his friends were of him as he had a real pistol, while they all had cap pistols. “I remember how excited I was, nearly trembling, when we went to the gun shop run by the short man with black horn-rimmed glasses and a noticeable limp to pick out my first handgun,” he told me. “I was 10 years old, and as I invested my life savings, which was equally matched by you, probably pulled from the Continued on page 100 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MARCH/APRIL2012

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