January 17, 2024
Time flies. It’s now been four years since Ruger introduced the Wrangler, a single-action .22 revolver that’s a descendant of the Single-Six—one of the company’s most significant early firearms. By all measures the Wrangler has proved popular, at least if the number of variations the firm has introduced is any indication.
But one thing was missing. When I interviewed the product manager responsible for the Wrangler, I asked him when we might see a version with a .22 Magnum cylinder. At the time he wasn’t ready to say, but the answer would be “Now,” with the debut of the Super Wrangler.
Aside from the additional cylinder, the Super Wrangler also brings a few important changes from the original. One, the cylinder frame is alloy steel and not aluminum. This boosts the weight of the 5.5-inch-barreled gun to 37.7 ounces, which is almost eight ounces heavier than the 4.6-inch Wrangler and more than five ounces heavier than the 6.5-inch Wrangler.
The other major change involves the sights. The original Wrangler has a gutter topstrap rear sight and a simple blade front. The Super Wrangler sports a fully adjustable rear sight and a serrated ramp front that can be replaced by turning out the screw that attaches the sight to the barrel.
If I had one big reservation about the original Wrangler it was the gun’s simplistic sights. Sure, they are fine for perforating soda cans at close range, but I like to be able to adjust sights for finer accuracy, and the Super Wrangler setup—which is essentially identical to the Single-Six’s sights—delivers.
Not that Ruger really had a choice when it came to the Super Wrangler. For one, switching from .22 Long Rifle to .22 Magnum demands an adjustable sight. Further, while .22 LR loads can certainly shoot to different points of impact, that’s definitely the case with the .22 Magnum—with loads ranging from personal defense to small game hunting.
Overall, I think the .22 Magnum cylinder is going to be the big thing that attracts buyers. It’s a far more capable cartridge than the .22 LR, and it significantly expands what you can use the Super Wrangler for.
Changing out cylinders is a snap. For those who may have never messed around with a single-action revolver, there’s a cylinder base pin that runs through the front of the frame and passes through the cylinder. It fits into the rear of the frame below the firing pin, and its spring-loaded tip presses against the transfer-bar safety.
To change cylinders, open the loading gate, ensure the gun is unloaded, and press on the base pin latch to free the pin. Withdraw the pin forward and push the cylinder out the loading-gate side.
Thanks to Ruger’s loading-gate interlock, which is found on all its modern single actions, there’s no need to draw back the hammer to any intermediate notch to allow the cylinder to be removed—and in fact there are no intermediate hammer notches on the Wrangler. The hammer is either down or it’s cocked.
The Super Wrangler’s interlock also allows you to spin the cylinder in either direction when the gate is open, greatly simplifying loading. It’s also safer. If the hammer is cocked, the gate won’t open. If the hammer is down and the gate is open, you can’t cock the hammer.
When I reviewed the original Wrangler I took issue with the amount of force required to open the loading gate. It wasn’t a problem with this Super Wrangler.
I have a Single-Six that’s so old it doesn’t have a transfer-bar safety, which the Super Wrangler does. The transfer bar rises behind the firing pin when the trigger is pulled and allows the hammer to strike the pin. If the trigger is not pressed—say, if the gun were dropped or your thumb slipped when cocking the hammer—the hammer cannot contact the pin, and the gun won’t fire.
The presence of the gate interlock and the transfer bar makes this the safest single-action design on the market.
One last safety tip. Yes, a .22 LR cartridge will fit in a .22 Magnum cylinder. No, you should not fire a .22 LR in a .22 Magnum cylinder.
Unlike the .38 Special/.357 Magnum, .44 Special/.44 Magnum and a couple others that allow a lesser cartridge to be fired safely in a more powerful cartridge’s cylinder, the .22 Magnum is not simply a lengthened .22 LR. The magnum has a thicker case body and a thicker, wider rim. A .22 LR will fit loosely into a .22 Magnum chamber, and upon firing the case could rupture because there’s too much room for expansion.
The .22 Magnum cylinder that comes with the Super Wrangler is marked “22 Win Mag.” The .22 LR cylinder is not marked with the caliber. It’s not hard to see the lettering on the magnum cylinder, and before firing you should always check that you have the cylinder you intended in the gun.
One last note on cylinders. Super Wrangler cylinders and Wrangler cylinders are not interchangeable. If you also own a Wrangler and want to make sure you don’t screw up and grab the wrong cylinder, there’s an easy way to tell them apart. The .22 LR cylinder for the Super Wrangler has three grooves—two at the rear, one at the front—while the Wrangler .22 LR cylinder has just two grooves at the rear.
Super Wrangler barrels are cold hammer forged. This process creates a stronger, higher-quality barrel than other methods. As I mentioned, the barrel is 5.5 inches long, giving you a sighting radius of about seven inches.
The barrel, cylinder frame and zinc alloy grip frame—a separate part attached to the cylinder frame via two Torx screws—are finished in Cerakote. This sample is the silver version; the other choices are black and bronze.
Finish on the chrome-moly steel cylinder is black, and a black finish is also applied to the sights, cylinder base pin, ejector rod housing screw and lever, and the checkered synthetic grips. It’s a handsome if non-traditional look.
The serial number is on the frame below the cylinder on the right side, and “Ruger 22 Cal Super Wrangler” is at the same spot on the left. “Ruger Prescott AZ USA” and, thankfully, the legal “read instructions” warning are stamped on the underside of the barrel to the left of the ejector rod housing where they don’t mar the gun’s aesthetics.
The trigger’s finger lever is a MIM (metal injection molded) part. At least it is on the standard Wrangler, but I was unable to confirm with Ruger that this is also the case with the Super Wrangler.
It’s about a quarter-inch wide and has a slight curve. Trigger pull was three pounds, two ounces—on the heavy side but quite consistent. By contrast, my Single-Six trigger trips at half that weight, but it’s at least 50 years old and well used, and I would expect the Super Wrangler’s trigger to lighten in time.
I’m pretty sure the hammer is also a MIM part, and it has stippling on the spur for sure operation. In reviewing the original Wrangler I felt the hammer was harder to cock than it should be. Well, either I got stronger in the last four years or this Super Wrangler is just better because I can’t complain about this aspect.
Alas, you won’t get the four-click hammer symphony that nostalgia buffs treasure on traditional Colt Single Action Armys and clones like the old-model Single-Six I have. There are just two clicks on the Super Wrangler, but if that bothers you you’re probably not reading this anyway because your interests lie along another path.
Shooting the Super Wrangler was a blast. While I did like the original Wrangler, its minimalist sights meant I wasn’t able to do the accuracy test at our 25-yard standard for barrels four inches and longer. However, I was able to do so with the Super Wrangler, and it did not disappoint, as you can see in the accompanying accuracy table.
Reliability was 100 percent with the .22 LR cylinder, and I had only one light primer strike with the .22 Magnum. That cylinder also had two tight chambers. No big deal. I just had to push a little harder to load those two so they wouldn’t interfere with cylinder rotation.
Working with the gun offhand at 15 to 25 yards, both one-handed and two-handed, really let the Super Wrangler strut its stuff. The weight and balance are excellent, and if you can’t hit a reasonable-size target it’s not the gun’s fault.
It settles nicely in the hand, and it’s easy to break good shots. With the .22 Magnum, which does have some recoil—or at least more than the .22 LR—the Super Wrangler has just the right weight and barrel length for easy, accurate shooting.
If you peruse the Ruger website, you’ll see the Super Wrangler is not unique among the company’s lineup. The Single-Six still exists, and it is offered in a convertible version with .22 LR and .22 Magnum cylinders. Why then would you choose the Super Wrangler over the Single-Six? Price, pure and simple. The Super Wrangler’s suggested retail price is just a bit over $300, while the Single-Six Convertibles run $800 to nearly $900.
The cost difference can be traced to three main factors. One, it’s a ton cheaper to finish a gun with Cerakote than it is to polish a blue or stainless gun. Polishing is time-intensive and a demanding process to get right, as opposed to simply applying a finish. Two, the stocks on the Wrangler are synthetic, and they’re less expensive than the wood found on the Single-Six—although, again, aftermarket stocks are readily available for the Super Wrangler, so that’s an easy upgrade.
Last, if I’m right about the MIM hammer and trigger finger lever, MIM parts are less expensive to manufacture than cast or forged parts that then have to be machined to final specs. We tend to look down on MIM parts, but the process actually produces components with tight tolerances that usually don’t require additional machining.
None of these cost-cutting aspects lessens the practical value of the Super Wrangler. The addition of the .22 Magnum cylinder and the adjustable sights makes it a capable, accurate and fun gun to shoot.
In the review of the original, I wrote that I didn’t think it was suitable for a beginner—mostly because of the minimal sights. This one is, but it’s also certainly a worthy addition for any handgunner’s collection that’s missing a workhorse rimfire revolver.
Whether you are looking for a plinker, small game hunting revolver, pest problem-solver or just a cool trail gun, the Super Wrangler is versatile enough to handle all those tasks. And it does so at a price that leaves you plenty of cash left over to buy more ammo.
RUGER SUPER WRANGLER SPECIFICATIONS
- TYPE: Single-action rimfire revolver
- CALIBER: .22 LR and .22 Mag. cylinders
- CAPACITY: 6
- BARREL: 5.5 in. cold hammer forged
- OAL: 11 in.
- WEIGHT: 37.7 oz.
- CONSTRUCTION: Steel alloy cylinder frame, zinc alloy grip frame, chrome-moly steel cylinder; silver Cerakote finish on frames (as tested)
- GRIPS: Checkered synthetic
- SIGHTS: Adjustable rear, ramp front
- SAFETIES: Gate interlock, transfer bar
- PRICE: $329
- MANUFACTURER: Ruger, Ruger.com