Ruger’s Single Six is a venerable gun dating back to Bill Ruger’s early days, when the wild west cowboy mystique was alive and well and the market for single action guns was strong. Demand has ebbed and flowed over the years, but Ruger continues to produce them (albeit in a “new” variety with a transfer bar safety bar that makes it safe to carry “locked and cocked”). The Single Nine and Single Ten are chambered in .22 Magnum and .22 Long Rifle respectively. This makes the Single Seven something of an oddity in its .327 Federal Magnum chambering.
.327 what? No typo here … .327 Federal Magnum is the longer version of the .32 H&R Magnum round, which was a longer version of the .32 Smith & Wesson Long, which was a longer version of the .32 Smith & Wesson (short) round — none of which is related to the .32 Long Colt. Confused yet?
The little .32 S&W round was introduced in 1878, and was originally sold in black powder form (and later in smokeless powder). S&W sold a lot of their early single-action top-break revolvers, and they still pop up pretty regularly at gun shows and in peoples’ attics. This evolved into the more powerful .32 S&W Long, which was one of the de facto police rounds of the early 20th century. .32 caliber rounds declined in popularity when the ubiquitous .38 Special came into popularity, and it’s a shame. .38 Special is a fine caliber, but the .32 S&W has a bit less kick, especially in smaller S&W I and J frame revolvers.
.32 never disappeared entirely, though, and a few boxes may still be found on the ammo shelves of a well-stocked gun store.
There’s another interesting trend that may become relevant to this discussion about the Ruger Super Seven: the increase in women purchasing and using firearms. Women are hardly new to the gun industry (I contend that part of the surge in gun sales during the Civil War was to women that found themselves with fewer gun-toting men around, and during reconstruction when everyone feared everyone), but there has been a marked uptick in interest among the fairer gender. At least, that’s what every gun store owner and firearms trainer tells me when I ask. The rise of groups like The Well Armed Woman and the Pink Pistols suggests a new buying demographic is bringing influence to the world of gun sales, which would explain the rise in interest in guns like the Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ.
(It’s worth saying here that smaller isn’t always better, especially with petite shooters. IMHO, the best handgun to introduce a new shooter to the sport with is a full-frame revolver, which has a longer sight radius to make aiming easier and more heft to absorb recoil. A longer discussion for another day.)
I digress. Ruger’s investment in the .32 Federal Magnum caliber may fill a gap for shooters that want a smaller caliber that can still shoot a decent defensive round (with velocities approaching that of the venerable .357 Magnum). But the real magic here is that a gun chambered in .327 Federal Magnum can also shoot .32 HM, .32 S&W Long and .32 S&W Short, so Ruger’s new single action Pistolero is sort-of four guns in one.
So, what’s it like? Range time with this not-so-little gun was worthwhile and enjoyable, and it’s obvious that this won’t be a one-and-done.
Ruger revolvers have a long and well-deserved reputation for being tough guns, and the Single Seven is no exception. Everything about the gun exudes over-engineering, and I have no doubt that a reloader interested in exploring the limits of the .327 Federal Magnum would delight in the Single Seven’s heft. The ye olde fashioned loading gate takes a bit of getting used to, as does the barrel mounted ejection rod (a nod to 19th century single action Colts that fetch stupid money these days). A speedy load this gun is not, but that’s not what this gun is about.
“Single action” means you’re going to cock the hammer with your thumb for every shot. The Single Seven’s hammer is substantial, and it moves to half-cock and full-cock with two audible clicks. In the fine tradition of single action revolvers, the trigger is crisp and clean with a very consistent 4 pound break.
Shooting .32 S&W out of this gun (especially with its hefty 7.5″ barrel) feels a lot like .22 LR, with negligible recoil. The .32 S&W Long wadcutters were the star of the show, though, with only marginally more recoil and a crisp and immensely satisfying hole in the target.
And the .327 Federal Magnum? While the recoil doesn’t begin to approach .357 Magnum levels, the little mag’s punch is substantial, as is the sharp cracking noise of the longer charge. I didn’t have my chronograph with me, but I suspect that if I did, I would discover that the little mag would pack ample energy for a proper defensive round.
It’s also worth noting that when the spent cartridges are being ejected, the cylinder should be turned backwards against the cylinder stop before pushing each round out. While the loading gate area looks large, it’s actually a fairly snug fit for the cartridge heads.
The Single Seven’s black target sights were a delight to use (and adjustable, although the factory 6 o’clock hold was right on the money).
My biggest beef with the Single Seven is the fit of the grips. The bottom corners of the grips are rounded a bit too much for my liking, leaving visible gaps that remind me of how aged and shrunken ivory grips don’t usually fit properly. These are new laminated wood grips, though, and I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t fit perfectly out of the box. The medallions in the grips are also made of plastic, and a shade cheap looking (especially on a gun that is otherwise devoid of plastic). If this gun becomes enough of a regular, I may check out Eagle Grips’ checkered rosewood sticks, which would look absolutely fantastic.
The grey plastic Ruger hard case seems to hold the gun well, and a little clip that holds the manual in the lid of the box is a nice touch.