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Ruger Single-Nine Review

by Payton Miller   |  December 12th, 2012 13

Ruger-Single-Nine_001

What put Ruger firearms on my personal radar was not the company’s original Standard .22 pistol (I’m too young for that). Nor was it the Ruger 10/22 rifle (I’m too old for that). It was the company’s Single-Six Convertible.

I bought one used, in 1965, for 40 bucks. It was blued, had fixed sights, a 6½-inch barrel and no transfer bar. Considering the amount of use I’ve gotten out of it since, it was easily the best gun deal I ever made. It’ll still keep a cylinderful of most 40-grain .22 Mag loads inside of a 50 cent piece at 25 yards.

There have been a lot of variants on the design since—adjustable-sighted models, New Models (with transfer bar) and stainless models. The latest is the Single-Nine. Obviously featuring a nine-shot cylinder instead of the classic six-shot, the Single-Nine is not a convertible model. There’s no extra .22 Long Rifle cylinder in the cool little red felt pouch I remember from my youth. From its tall fiber optic front sight to its hardwood “Gunfighter” grips, this 6½-inch-barreled stainless single action is .22 Magnum all the way.

This simplified the chore of rounding up ammo for a trip to the range—my final assortment included loads ranging in weight from 30-grain Federal Premium JHPs on up to 45-grain Hornady Critical Defense FTPs.

I did all my grouping at 25 yards. All groups were nine-shot; I didn’t want to cherry pick my way around a suspect charge hole, and shooting them all—five, six, nine, whatever—is pretty much the best way to figure out a revolver’s real-world potential. I do know some accuracy-obsessive types who shoot five-shot groups from each charge hole, figure out which handles a specific load best, and then scribe the most accurate ones for future reference. I like to shoot tight groups as much as the next guy, but that seems a bit excessive.

The results were in keeping with my past experiences with .22 Magnums (handgun and rifle)—namely, that the 40-grain bullets usually perform best. In this case, the top performer was the old reliable CCI Maxi Mag 40-grain HP, which averaged a hair over an inch. Velocity-wise, the real barnburner was, naturally, the lightweight of the bunch—Federal’s 30-grain JHP, which averaged 1,504 fps from the Single-Nine’s 6½-inch barrel.

The Single-Nine, as you might expect, performed without a hitch. The trigger broke at a manageable four pounds, but was just rough enough that, were the gun mine, I’d have things smoothed out a bit.

I have mixed feelings about the Williams Adjustable Fiber Optic sights. Those luminescent green dots are very quick to acquire and easy to line up on a bullseye target. But most folks I know employ a single-action rimfire revolver first and foremost as a field—or trail—gun. As such, you’re probably going to pack it in a holster, and I’m not sure how that tall front sight anchoring that little fiber optic noodle is going to stand up under repeated holsterings and unholsterings in and out of a snug-fitting belt rig.

As effective as they are—and they are very nice to shoot with—I’d probably see what I could do to replace them with a standard blade and adjustable rear.

The difference between the .22 Magnum and high-velocity .22 Long Rifle loads (assuming a 36- or 40-grain bullet) is, to be honest, more dramatic in a rifle than a handgun. Still, a 6½-inch .22 Mag revolver generates more velocity than Winchester’s justly revered .22 Long Rifle Power Point from a rifle. Hyper-velocity, light-bullet .22 LR loads in the past several decades have managed to alter the velocity equation to a certain extent, but I’d rather have 40-grain bullets than any of the lightweights in a small game gun, particularly when the range stretches out. And with this new Ruger, you’ve got nine of them instead of six.

But as neat as the concept of a nine-shot revolver is, however, speaking for myself, I would still opt for the convertible-cylinder concept, even if it meant sticking with a six-shot platform. It’s a question of options as well as economics. For plinking and close-range small-game shooting (with the emphasis on small), .22 Magnum ammo isn’t really necessary, nor—from a noise standpoint—is it always desirable. Then, of course, there’s cost. When I was a kid, a 50-round box of .22 Mag ammo cost around four bucks and was considered quite “spendy” for a nonreloadable item. Now, in this less-than-happy economy, premium .22 Magnum ammo runs roughly from eight to 14 bucks a box.

The perfect answer would, of course, be a “Convertible Nine.” If and when Ruger decides to tackle that one, I’ll be first in line, money in hand.

Ruger-Single-Nine_002

Those are nine charge holes instead of six, but everything else is as it always was.


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  • JOHN REUTER

    I'll be the secound in line for a 9 combo !

  • HGB

    Would this gun be a good home defense weapon? At this rate of speed the size would certainly open up in diameter.
    I'm not familiar with 22's and their capability. Do 22 Magnums even open up? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • David

      There are "reasonable" hunting and defensive rounds for the .22 mag but it's about as low on the power scale as one can get. If you happen to be face-to-face with a baddie who is wearing nothing heavier than a cotton t-shirt and stands still long enough for you to cycle a single-action multiple times, you will probably survive. But why take the risk? Use a proven performer. My first choice is a short-barreled 12ga with a good light on it backed up by a .357 mag. That being said, more people are killed by .22s than anything else (it's a volume thing).

  • Dlyn454

    The .22 magnum now has at least two companies making rounds specifically for defense in handguns. I have found much comfort in dangerous places in my old High Standard Double-nine for many years. (a 9 shot .22 Mag and Long Rifle convertible). I also carry .22 Mag Mini revolvers. Many other serious defensive shooters do the same. I have killed a wild hog with one shot from a regular .22 rifle. .22s are under rated. I love Single Actions. They are my gun of choice. I want one of these. I say all that to let you know I am a fan of Single Actions and .22 Mags. And Rugers. BUT. Learning to fire multiple shots from a single action quickly is a skill you have to work at. Reloading them is slow compared to Double Action Revolvers and those new fangled Semi-autos. And while the .22 Mag is capable , most other calibers would be better. Its like how you can bird hunt with a 410 shotgun—but there are better choices for most people.

  • don e lundholm, dvm

    I sent my old 3 screw ruger single six .22 to the factory, and they did the conversin for .22 magnum and basically returned a new gun with new springs,etc. If one pays attention to the potentials of the .22 magnum they will see what an effective round it is. The comment that as a home defense weapon it is effective if the perp is wearing a tee shirt is possible true. However, the reason that it is in .22 cal. is that you can make head shots. If you can't do that, then get a shotgun.. Performance tests are awsome. Check a few on the internet.

  • Doug

    Ruger is my #1 for guns. High quality for little money! I already have the single 6 convertible, but if I did'nt, I would definitely get this!

    Thankyou Bill Riger R.I.P. and thankyou to his son who continues the Ruger legacy!!! American made AND owned!

    Keltec is my #2 and has some of the best German engineered products on the market!

    • Doug

      Sorry Bill. I ment RUger. Also Keltec is American made and owned also!

  • jimb.

    Peyton Miller, what the heck is a "charge hole"? The chambers in revolver cylinders were always known as simply & accurately that – chambers. Why are you calling them "charge holes"? Next thing you know, we'll be calling barrels "projection tubes", or triggers will be termed "activation levers".

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