Handguns > Revolver

Ruger New Bearcat Shopkeeper

The new Ruger Bearcat Shopkeeper is reminiscent of former Bearcat models, with some added improvements.

All too often, experienced shooters get caught up in the intricacies of their sport and forget what got them started in the first place. They forget that what originally attracted them to shooting is that it is fun. Lost in their memories are the pleasant hours spent busting tin cans and learning the very basics of marksmanship. Fortunately, from time to time, a gun comes along as a reminder of those happy, by-gone days. The Ruger New Bearcat Shopkeeper is one such gun.

Ruger originally introduced the Bearcat revolver in 1958, and it quickly became a popular handgun for campers, fishermen and plinkers. Because of its diminutive size, it also became a popular “first” gun for youngsters who were just getting started shooting. In the mid-1970s, Ruger transitioned all of its single-action revolvers to a transfer-bar safety and, at the same time, the Bearcat was discontinued. However, the popularity of this little six-gun just wouldn’t let it die and, in 1993, Ruger reintroduced the Bearcat, this time with a transfer-bar safety. The latest iteration of the Ruger New Bearcat is the Shopkeeper as commissioned by Lipsey’s, a major Ruger distributor.

The New Bearcat Shopkeeper is similar to all other Bearcats in that it is a .22 Long Rifle caliber, six-shot, single-action revolver with wood stocks and fixed sights. However, that is about where the similarity begins to fade. Instead of the traditional 4-inch barrel, the Shopkeeper sports a 3-inch version with 1:16-inch rifling. The most readily apparent difference in the two guns is the Shopkeeper’s birdshead grip frame. Manufactured entirely of stainless steel, the Shopkeeper even sports a stainless steel ejector-rod housing that matches the appearance of the rest of the gun.

Not as readily apparent, but just as important, are some changes to the revolver’s ejection system. In order to accommodate the shortened barrel and ejector rod, a button-head cylinder pin is installed on the Shopkeeper along with a crescent-shaped thumb piece on the ejector rod. They allow the ejector rod to make a longer stroke that will more reliably punch the empty cases out of the cylinder.

The test sample Ruger Bearcat Shopkeeper weighed in at 23 ounces, with an overall length of 7.5 inches. The trigger broke cleanly at a pull weight of 3 pounds, 9 ounces. Stocks were a reddish brown laminated wood with silver Ruger medallions.

Even with the transfer-bar safety, the Bearcat Shopkeeper is loaded and disassembled in the manner of old model single-actions. To allow the cylinder to rotate, the hammer is placed on half-cock. When that is done, the cylinder is lined up with the loading gate so that cartridges may be loaded into each chamber or spent cartridges ejected. At that point, the cylinder may also be removed by depressing the cylinder-release pin, in the front of the frame, and pulling the cylinder pin forward out of the frame.

In testing the Shopkeeper, three different .22 Long Rifle loads were used. They were the 40-grain CCI Mini-Mag hollow-point, the Remington 40-grain High-Velocity hollow-point, and the Winchester 40-grain Power-Point. Accuracy testing was conducted at 7 yards using sandbags for a rest. Five consecutive, five-shot groups were shot with each load, and the Ruger Bearcat Shopkeeper posted acceptable groups for this type of handgun. All three loads also shot to point-of-aim. The Winchester Power-Point edged the other two out by averaging 3.03-inch groups.

Subjectively, the New Bearcat Shopkeeper was found to be a very comfortable revolver to shoot. The birdshead grip fit quite nicely into the shooting hand. And, probably due to the fact that the ejector-rod housing was stainless steel instead of an alloy, the revolver had a slight muzzle-heaviness that made it point very quickly and naturally. The stainless steel sights, which do not give the best sight picture, especially in bright sunlight, were balanced by the clean-breaking trigger.

The New Bearcat Shopkeeper lends itself to informal plinking and target practice. In addition, it is nearly perfect for slipping into a pants pocket during a leisurely jaunt in the woods, or while enjoying a day at the fishing hole, for use against poisonous snakes. With that in mind, however, one can’t help but wish for the Shopkeeper in a .22 WMR chambering.

Regardless, it is one of those guns that, once a fellow picks it up, it is hard to put down. It just feels right.

As mentioned earlier, the Ruger New Bearcat Shopkeeper was commissioned by Lipsey’s and, therefore, is only available through a retail store that deals with that company. If a local gun shop doesn’t order from Lipsey’s, visit the Lipsey’s website at lipseys.com to find the closest retailer that does.

New Bearcat Shopkeeper
Manufacturer: Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc., 411 Sunapee St., Newport, NH 03773; (603) 865-2442
Distributor: Lipsey’s, Inc., 6823 Exchequer Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70809; (225) 755-1333
Caliber: .22 Long Rifle (also .22 Short, .22 Long)
Action Type: single-action rimfire revolver
Frame: stainless steel
Barrel: 3"
Rifling: six-groove, 1:16" RH twist
Cylinder: six-round capacity
Sights: blade front sight, square-notch rear
Trigger: single action; 3-lb., 9-oz. pull
Grip: laminated wood
Overall Length: 7.5"
Height: 4.17"
Width: 1.5"
Weight: 23 ozs.
Accessories: lock, plastic case, owner’s manual
Suggested Retail Price: $649

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21 Responses to Ruger New Bearcat Shopkeeper

jim wrote:
August 01, 2014

it is exactly what it claims to be....a fun little 22 fixed sights short barrel. not intended top be a target gun. i got 1. exactly what i expected. for accuracy i have other 22's available. this is meant to just be fun....like when we were kids....blow up some balloons and shoot at them.

Buck Elliottt wrote:
February 23, 2014

That kind of 'accuracy' just doesn't get it..! i can shoot 2' groups from my stainless Uberti SA, @ 25 yards, all day, and it's a .45 Colt... Off-hand !! My 20' 12-gauge will put 10 000 Buck into a 4' diameter cluster, @ 10 yeards... I reckon somebody better learn how to shoot...!!

Steve wrote:
February 02, 2014

I just bought one last month. I could not be happier. I set up a paper target at a local indoor range at 10 yards. Using Remington 36 grain HP's and bench resting the pistol I was able to get a 1' grouping at exactly the point of aim. No need for adjustable sights on this one. The very first gun I ever shot was my brothers Super BearCat around 1971...lots of fond memories came back in a flood. This little guy is going to be on my hip for all my future trips in the woods. FYI El Paso Saddlery makes a nice little holster for it called the Slim Jim.

Jim Macklin wrote:
January 29, 2014

I bought a Bearcat when they first came out at $39.50. I really like that gun. I bought a Super Bearcat which was the same except all steel. I like the looks of te Shopkeeper but would rather have a SS 4 inch Bearcat with the frame welded and milled for a S&W J frame rear sight and a good front sight, maybe a big orange or green plastic in a ramp with a dovetail.

dan vardling wrote:
December 25, 2013

I want one for christmas!

Clayton T Jolley Sr wrote:
December 13, 2013

The problem is the sighting system. The stainless rounded front sight does not give a consistent sight picture just as my fixed sight Single Six would not because the front sight is rounded and highly polished unlike the original models. You must file the facing radius flat and then file horizontal grooves in the flattened radius up to the apogee of the sight. You will see an amazing difference and the groups will tighten significantly.

mike may wrote:
December 12, 2013

I also remember the days of shooting for the fun of it. Trouble is, if u cannot hit what you are aiming at it does not teach a young shooter anything. They may be doing everything right, trigger pull, sight adjustment, breathing, etc, and then they miss because of an inaccurate gun. Too much $ for inaccuracy and limited supply of 22s.

kent smith wrote:
December 12, 2013

WHO said anything about this beingh a target pistol? Really!It probably hits better than MOST of you can shoot anyway.

Joe wrote:
December 12, 2013

I assumed the groups were at 25 yds. Yikes....!! I shot..and I am no champion handgunner...75 inch groups off hand with a Nazi marked MAB Modele D at 7 yds...32 ACP.With a nine lb trigger!

Lee wrote:
December 12, 2013

All nice except a fine trigger does not offset totally unacceptable accuracy! That kind of group is okay if it is done from the hip, but not from sandbags.

Alan Yates wrote:
December 12, 2013

The writer says nothing sbout 3 FEET groups. The groups are said to be 3 INCHES.

Jim Gray wrote:
December 12, 2013

In response to Greg Onley; you need to read the article a bit more carefully. The accuracy is in the 3 inch range at 7 yards NOT 3 feet. I also have .22s which shoot more accurately, but they all have better sights and longer barrels also. I do not consider the Bearcat Shopkeeper in the same class of revolver as the S&W Kit. To NRA Staff; I'm not sure I would spend this much money on a .22, but I enjoyed the review.

Mark wrote:
December 12, 2013

The grouping is listed in inches not feet. So the best was just over 1 1/4' and the worst was at a little over 4 1/2'. It's the price tag of $650 for a single action 22 that shocks me.

Luger wrote:
December 12, 2013

Gregg, dude, the accuracy is dependent on the sights and these are old Single action fixed sights!

Morris Lattimore wrote:
December 12, 2013

I agree; 3+ inch grouping ... at only 15 feet, yet.

Michael Hartman wrote:
December 12, 2013

I was going to order some of these until I read about the 3' groups at 7 yds off sandbags. That is horrible and unacceptable. I can throw rocks better than that.

johnny b wrote:
December 11, 2013

Thats hilarious !! No gun shoots that bad !!!

johnny b wrote:
December 11, 2013

Gregg, you took the words right out of my mouth ! 3 and 4 inch groups at 7 yards ? are you kidding me ? I can throw rocks better than that !! I noticed they didn't put the the name of author....I would be embarrassed too !!! I wish he would have included the standard 25 yd test...I would be rolling on the floor !!!

Gregg Onley wrote:
December 11, 2013

I was very excited by this neat little revolver, until the author mentioned a 3' group with the best ammunition at 7 yards OFF OF SANDBAGS. And then called the groups acceptable for 'this type of gun.' So a single action revolver with a nice trigger in 22lr can only be expected to be a 43moa gun? That's ridiculous. I've shot a s&w kit gun at 100 yards and gotten less than a 12 inch group. Offhand. I hope this review is not indicative of the accuracy potential of this revolver, but if it is, not interested...

William Pardue wrote:
December 11, 2013

Greg, read the article again. The groups were 3.03 INCHES.

Joe wrote:
December 11, 2013

The sights need to be black,it is almost impossible to shoot bright stainless sights in sunlight conditions, accurately .