I am a great believer in the idea that most endeavors can become an art form in the hands of a dedicated enthusiast. When it comes to shooting, we see a variety of specialized firearms handled by experts with spectacular results. Finely tuned rifles complete 1,000-yard shots, hand-crafted shotguns win Olympic gold medals and tricked-out handguns break world records for speed and accuracy. But with all of the various types of shooting out there, shooters should never forget the joys of sitting down at the range with a great plinking handgun like Ruger’s new Single-Ten .22 Long Rifle Single-Action Revolver.
The Single-Ten arrives from the factory with the high-quality fit and finish we have come to expect from Ruger, plus a few touches that are real improvements to the original idea. The earlier version of this revolver, the Single-Six, comes with two six-shot cylinders, one chambered in .22 Long Rifle and the other in .22 Mag., and the choice of either a 5.5-inch or 6.5-inch barrel. The Single-Ten is fitted with a single, unfluted .22 Long Rifle cylinder boasting a 10-round capacity, and is currently available with a 5.5-inch barrel. Noting the positive reception of this revolver, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more variations available soon.
The revolver is made of stainless steel with a satin finish. It features Ruger's New Model transfer bar safety, which allows the gun to be carried safely with all 10 chambers loaded. The grip frame is fitted with a beautiful set of hardwood gunfighter grips. The gunfighter panels are a slimmed down version of Ruger's traditional single-action grip, which give the grip a more narrow profile that feels wonderful in the hand. The trigger gauged out at 4-pounds 5-ounces, with a crisp, no-creep feel.
The Williams fiber-optic sights offer a useful blend of features. All too often the now-popular fiber optic is the star of the show, while the iron of the sight is neglected. But that’s not the case here. The angled, serrated rear blade holds a square notch to match the square front sight blade. The green fiber optic in the front sight, which is slightly larger than two optic dots in the rear sight, offers just the right amount of brightness. The result is a sight picture that is complemented, rather than dominated, by the use of the light fibers. As a result, the shooter gets the best of fiber optics for field use and square sights for target work. The rear sight is click-adjustable for windage and elevation.
At the Range Ruger's single-action revolvers are a treat to shoot. There's something about the shape and balance of the single-action design that makes it point naturally. It becomes an extension of the arm, making this class of handgun a pleasure to work with. The Single-Ten's balance is right on the money, and the slim gunfighter grips feel terrific. The 10-shot cylinder is easy to load. With the loading gate open, each click of the cylinder lines a chamber up directly with the ejector rod, so it’s a no-fumble process to kick out spent cartridge cases and to load in fresh rounds.
If some shooters expressed a concern about the previous incarnation of this handgun, the Single-Six, it's been that the rifling of the barrel had to be adjusted to make room for the .22 Mag.’s larger .224-inch diameter bullet, which robbed the .22 Long Rifle’s .222-inch bullet of some performance or accuracy. Others argue that a .002 difference is not exactly the end of the world. Besides, they claim the soft lead of the Long Rifle bullet expands just a bit to fill in the slightly larger rifling of the .22 Mag. barrel. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, this difference of opinion certainly hasn’t slowed the sales of the Single-Six over the years. With the Single-Ten dedicated to shooting .22 Long Rifle only, I expected to see solid accuracy, but I was not expecting the results I got.
Starting at the bench, the Single-Ten's accuracy was tested using five-shot groups fired at 25 yards. The gun's excellent sights, comfortable grips and crisp, light trigger pull made the work of generating tight groups a breeze. CCI Mini Mag 36-grain, copper-plated hollow points produced an average group size of 2.17 inches. CCI Stinger 32-grain, copper-plated hollow points produced an average of 2.25 inches, followed by Winchester Super X 40-grain, copper-plated hollow points, with an average of 2.50 inches. Impressive, especially since the last time I produced this level of accuracy with a handgun, I was shooting a tricked-out, semi-auto loaded with some of the finest custom factory ammo available. A tuned-up, semi-auto pistol’s level of accuracy is replicated by an out-of-the-box revolver. That's nothing to sneeze at.
With the serious work completed, I went to town firing a variety of high-quality, inexpensive bulk ammunition along with some unusual loads through the Single-Ten. This revolver can be lovingly called a "roach" gun, meaning, it will happily digest any ammunition you choose to feed it. The cylinder will accept .22 Short and .22 Long, as well as .22 Long Rifle. It had no problem with unusual rounds, like Aquila’s low-velocity Colibri, CCI .22 shot shells or CCI CB Shorts. High-quality hollow points also ran flawlessly. Affordable bulk ammo worked just fine, except for a single failure to fire. The clear mark left by the firing pin on the cartridge rim explained that a faulty primer was to blame, not the Single-Ten. All of the spent cases ejected as expected. At the end of the shooting session, the gun was quite dirty but still humming along smoothly.
Final Thoughts In this day and age of high-tech semi-autos, why consider buying a single-action .22 revolver? Because in all the rush and hustle of our busy modern lives, and with the increasing focus on firearms as self-defense tools, it's easy to forget that target shooting is meant to be fun. We work hard all day, knuckle down to get the needs of the family met in the evening and we focus on the serious practice of honing our defensive skills on the gun range. This is all well and good, but where's the joy in it all?
The Ruger Single-Ten embodies the idea of slowing down and enjoying an afternoon of relaxing range time. I don't say this to detract from the other roles this revolver is intended to fill. The Single-Ten is ideal for small-game hunting and for use as a field gun. But the features of the Single-Ten, and its exceptional accuracy, all come together to succeed in refining the underappreciated art of perfected plinking.