Ruger New Bearcat 22 Long Rifle Single-Action Revolver with Adjustable Sights

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

January 16th, 2015


Click pictures for a larger version.





This latest version of the New Bearcat wears an excellent set of adjustable sights.







Wood grips are very well-fitted to the frame.





Compared to the Ruger's Single-Six (left), the New Bearcat (right) is much more compact.









Ruger has been producing their dandy little Bearcat single-action revolver since 1958, with the exception of a break in production from 1974 until 1993, when they reintroduced the little jewel as the New Bearcat, which incorporated Ruger's transfer bar safety. The transfer bar allows the sixgun to be carried safely completely-loaded with six cartridges. The lockwork of the original style Bearcat necessitated that it be carried with an empty chamber under the hammer for safety. While on that topic, if you own an original Bearcat with the old-style lockwork, Ruger will upgrade it for you to the transfer bar safety at no charge. I reviewed the New Bearcat back in the year 2000, soon after was started. That little sixgun shot really well, but having fixed sights, the Bearcat has always lacked just a bit as a good all-around trail partner or "kit" gun. 

The New Bearcat, in all versions, is really more like the original Super Bearcat. The original Bearcat was built upon an aluminum alloy frame, and weighed several ounces less. The Super Bearcat was introduced in 1971, after the original had ceased production, and continued until the entire Bearcat production was halted in 1974. The New Bearcats have all been built upon steel frames. Also like the Super Bearcat, the current production sixguns have a wide, serrated hammer spur. All Bearcat revolvers, both old and current, load with the hammer in the half-cock position. Also like the originals, the New Bearcat revolvers have a roll-engraved cylinder depicting the images of a bear and a cat.

Shown here is a version of the Bearcat that is long overdue. The addition of a good highly-visible set of adjustable sights really make the little Bearcat into a whole new weapon. The adjustable rear sight allows the user to adapt the revolver to the ammunition, rather than the shooter having to select ammo that shoots to point-of-aim for the revolver. The 22 Long Rifle is arguably our most-useful cartridge, but different loads will certainly shoot to differing points-of-aim. Also, one shooter does not shoot exactly like the next, so the best that can be hoped for of a fixed-sight production gun is that it be an acceptable compromise. Compromise is no longer necessary, now that the little Bearcat wears adjustable sights.

This version of the Bearcat makes for an excellent trail gun. Loaded with snake shot, if venomous snakes are a problem around your area, a load of number 12 shot will shred a snake at any distance of which he might pose a threat to you. Loaded with a forty grain solid bullet, a handy little rimfire trail gun can dispatch meat for the pot without ruining any meat, or loaded with a high-velocity hollowpoint, the 22 LR can be used to protect against vermin and predators, even the human kind, if necessary. The 22 LR revolver is a very versatile tool afield, and the Bearcat handles the job nicely, with a minimum of weight and bulk.

I first had the opportunity to try out a pre-production version of this adjustable-sighted Bearcat a few months ago. Ruger sent one to me for me to give it a workout. Ruger often does this with new firearms. They call these "jury guns", and they want to get opinions and such from shooters before the guns go into production. It was discovered that the guns, at least the one that I had, was shooting too high at twenty-five yards, and that the rear sight could not be lowered enough due to interference of the hammer. The production guns have taller front sights, and plenty of adjustment for elevation to accommodate different loads, and this one shoots right to point of aim for me with most loads, with the rear sight in its intermediate position, allowing for plenty of versatility in the loads used. I really appreciate the way in which the folks at Ruger do the "jury gun" program. It assures that when the guns go into production and hit the store shelves, that they will be right. It would be beneficial if every gun company did the same.

Specifications for the adjustable-sighted New Bearcat are listed in the chart below. Weight is listed in ounces. Trigger pull is listed as pounds of resistance. Linear measurements are listed in inches. The cylinder length does not include the ratchet nor the integral bushing. Height includes the sights, with the rear set at its intermediate position..

Chambering 22 Long Rifle
Overall Length 9 inches
Overall Height 4.41 inches
Weight Unloaded 25.8 ounces
Barrel Length 4.2 inches
Barrel Diameter 0.549 inch to 0.508 inch
Cylinder Length 1.4 inches
Cylinder Diameter 1.217 inches
Barrel / Cylinder Gap 0.008 inch
Trigger Pull As Delivered 3.98 pounds
MSRP as of January 2015 $583 US (Blued), $635 US (Stainless)

To test for velocity, accuracy, and function, I fired the Bearcat with several brands of ammunition. The velocity results with each brand and type of ammunition are listed in the chart below. HP is a lead hollowpoint bullet. Solid is a lead roundnose bullet. Velocity readings were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of 34 degrees Fahrenheit, with humidity in the 77 percent range. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (FPS), and were recorded ten feet from the muzzle of the Ruger. Bullet weights are listed in grains.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Federal Bulk HP 36 889
Winchester DynaPoint HP 40 836
PMC Match Solid 40 800
Wolf Match Solid 40 886
CCI Mini Mag HP 36 1002
CCI Mini Mag Solid 40 898
CCI Velocitor HP 40 955
Remington Bulk HP 36 826
American Eagle HP 36 944
Olin Solid 40 868
Aguila Super Maximum HP 30 1144
Winchester Wildcat Solid 40 962
CCI Blazer Solid 40 966
CCI Quiet Solid 40 535

I do not know how much, if any, the barrel/cylinder gap affected the velocity, but it did not seem to harm the accuracy of the little Bearcat at all. Several loads proved to be exceptionally accurate, grouping consistently under two inches at twenty-five yards, fired hand-held rested atop a Target Shooting, Inc. handgun rest. The barrel/cylinder gap measures eight one-thousandths (.008) of an inch on the blued sample gun featured here, which is larger than I prefer, but the sixgun did not spit excessively from the gap, and again, accuracy was superb.

In addition to the sessions shooting the Bearcat for accuracy and velocity testing at the range, I carried the handy little sixgun on my hip in a pair of Cattleman holsters from Simply Rugged. Though tooled differently, they are basically the same style of holster, which offers very good protection to the weapon, yet allows quick access when needed. As shown, the Cattleman is available with or without a hammer thong, in plain or tooled versions. The Cattleman is an excellent choice for the little Bearcat, and is quality-crafted in Arizona from the best Herman Oak leather.                 

The Ruger Bearcat with adjustable sights is without a doubt the most-versatile version of the Bearcat ever built. The adjustable sights take the Bearcat from a dandy little plinker to a rugged, reliable, handy little trail gun; a working gun, for lack of a better term. This newest Bearcat bridges the gap between the original Bearcat and the Single-Six, having the versatility and capacity of the Single-Six, less the magnum cylinder option, in a smaller, lighter, handier package. The Bearcat can ride comfortably in a hip holster day after day without being a bother, yet it is always at the ready to deliver when needed.  Like all Ruger firearms, the Bearcat is built in the USA.

The adjustable sight Bearcats, both blued steel and stainless, are Lipsey’s exclusives, so if your dealer is not a Lipsey’s dealer, go online to and click on the DEALER FINDER to locate a Lipsey’s dealer near you.

For a closer look at this and other Ruger products, go to

To order the trim little leather holsters shown here, go to

To order quality rimfire ammunition, go to and

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



New Bearcat with adjustable sights is also available in stainless steel.



Bearcat comes with hard case, instruction manual, and padlock.



New adjustable-sighted Bearcat compared to Jeff's 1960-vintage Bearcat.



The New Bearcat has a transfer bar safety, so that it can be carried fully-loaded with six cartridges. Old-style Bearcat (shown on right) should be carried with an empty chamber under the hammer.



The New Bearcat keeps the tradition of the original Bearcat's "Bear and Cat" cylinder markings.



Dandy little belt holster from Simply Rugged is offered with or without hammer thong and tooling.