May 08, 2023
If you’re a strict purist, you’ll probably dislike the Heritage Rough Rider TC .22 LR. Even the name—TC for Tactical Cowboy—might irk you. However, if you’re a bit more open-minded to the idea of wrangling the single-action revolver into the 21st century, I suggest you give this gun a closer look.
The Rough Rider TC has styling cues that call to mind the iconic Colt 1873 Single Action Army. Mechanically, it’s similar to other single-action wheelguns in Heritage’s lineup, but it has a modern flair to this gun thanks to its carbon-fiber grips, Picatinny top rail and threaded barrel.
If that sounds as incongruous to you as mounting a set of Pirelli P Zero tires on a ’59 Edsel Corsair, keep in mind that a brand like Heritage—whose catalog contains only single-action revolvers and carbines—must constantly create innovative new products using the same basic recipe. The Tactical Cowboy is just such a gun.
With a 6.5-inch barrel, the Heritage Rough Rider TC weighs in at just over 32 ounces and measures 11.9 inches long and 5.2 inches tall. The six-shot cylinder rotates clockwise, and there’s a traditional pin assembly that holds the cylinder in position in the frame. A gate located on the right side of the frame allows for loading and unloading of the revolver.
The gun features the four clicks that are a symphony to single-action fans, with the second of the four positions releasing the cylinder and allowing the gun to be loaded and unloaded. The Heritage Rough Rider TC does not have a hammer-mounted firing pin. What it does have is a manual hammer block safety located on the left rear portion of the frame.
Operation of the safety is basic and straightforward. When the safety is engaged (the up position), it rotates a hammer block into position. In the Fire, or down, position, the block rotates out of the way and a red dot is visible. The gun is ready to shoot.
The black finish on the alloy frame and the black oxide steel cylinder and barrel look good with the imitation carbon fiber. The Picatinny rail has a notch in the bottom that corresponds with a fiber-optic bar front sight, so even though the Heritage sports a top rail you need not have an optic in place in order to shoot the gun.
The threaded barrel comes with a thread protector that’s the same diameter as the barrel—and therefore not an eyesore when you’re running this revolver sans suppressor. Its 1/2x28 pattern is common for .22 cans.
Range testing is a time not just to evaluate accuracy and reliability but also to become familiar with a gun’s personality, and the Rough Rider TC has a lot of personality. Much of that comes from its cowboy gun design, but this gun’s added touches really do make it more enjoyable to shoot.
A red dot improves accuracy and makes it easier to shoot a single action well for those whose vision isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be. I placed a Holosun AEMS sight on the rail, which is admittedly a bit much for a .22 revolver, but it shot well, and the setup allowed me to use the iron sights, albeit with a limited field of view.
Adding to the Rough Rider TC’s fun factor is the threaded muzzle. My Banish 22 suppressor mounted directly to the threads and doing so turned the TC into a whisper-quiet plinking gun that, with subsonic loads, produces so little muzzle blast that the metallic clack of the hammer striking the firing pin is clearly audible. If you need a quiet pest control weapon, the Heritage makes an effective—and stylish—option.
Accuracy was quite good, with the best loads going just a bit under two inches at 25 yards with the optic in place. SK Match ammunition was the most accurate, and not surprisingly, group size increased with the optic removed.
Nevertheless, with iron sights and cheap bulk ammunition, you can pop soda cans on a fencepost or keep a spinning target twirling. There’s no recoil to speak of, so this is a suitable gun for beginners.
Standardized accuracy tests are the objective element of any gun review. The subjective part of testing, though, boils down to whether the gun was fun to shoot. In the case of the Heritage Rough Rider TC, the answer is a resounding yes.
Don’t waste time getting hung up on the gun’s modern take on the Single Action Army. Instead, appreciate how much fun this gun is to shoot. It blends cowboy cool with 21st-century tech, it eats relatively inexpensive ammunition without any issues, and at a suggested retail price just over $200, I think it’s money well spent.
Heritage Rough Rider TC Specifications
- Type: Single-action rimfire revolver
- Caliber: .22 LR
- Capacity: 6
- Barrel: 6.5 inches
- OAL/Height/Width: 11.9/5.2/1.8 in.
- Weight: 32.1 oz.
- Finish: Black oxide
- Grips: Carbon-fiber print
- Trigger: 3.3 lb. pull (measured)
- Sights: Picatinny rear with integral notch, fixed red fiber-optic front
- Price: $213
- Manufacturer: Heritage Firearms Manufacturing, heritagemfg.com