Introduced earlier this year, the American-made Barkeep from Georgia-based Heritage Manufacturing is an inexpensive and convertible single-action rimfire revolver that is a lot of fun to shoot. 

An homage to the chopped down Sheriff's Model and Storekeeper variants of the Colt Single Action Army, the Barkeep runs a 2.68-inch barrel while keeping a near full-sized grip. The short length deletes the traditional onboard ejection rod but gives the gun a kind of old-school snub-nosed look to it. 

The Barkeep compared to a vintage Colt Detective's Special in .38 for a frame of reference. Note the difference in grip sizes. For the record, the Barkeep is 7.9 inches overall and stands 4.8 inches high. (All photos: Chris Eger/
The Barkeep comes with either a standard black oxide or simulated case-hardened frame finish. Our T&E example is in the latter. 
Weight is 26 ounces on our test gun, proving the revolver to be hefty in the hand for what it is.
It ships with a plain cardboard box, literature, lock, and ejection tool. Note the cutout for a spare cylinder. We will get to that. 
The gun uses an alloy frame and a 1215 steel barrel with a nice crown to the muzzle. 
Our test gun has scrolled wood grips that are solid and feel good. The black oxide model uses faux gray pearl grips. Heritage stocks dozens of grips for these guns for about $25 each.
The six-shot .22 LR is a traditional cowboy-style wheel gun, with a long-spurred hammer that is easy to actuate. Note the hammer block safety lever to the left of the cylinder, a standard Heritage feature. 
While purists would be quick to clutch pearls over such a feature, we found that it works as advertised in testing. Nonetheless, in an abundance of caution, Heritage's manual says to only carry the revolver with the hammer down on an empty chamber. 
Due to the short length of the barrel, the revolver does not have an on-board ejection rod. Instead, the guns ship with a simple wood-handled ejector pin tool for use in manually removing spent cases through the loading gate. 
True to its style, the Barkeep uses a curved fixed front sight and rear notch. 
The revolver has a tight lockup and a smooth feeling action. 
The cylinder is easily removed without tools by pressing in the spring-loaded base pin lock and removing the base pin. 
A big appeal to the gun is that it accepts an (optional) .22 WMR cylinder. While they aren't included with the Barkeep from the factory, the magnum cylinders currently only cost $29.99 from Heritage and ship for free. They are easily recognizable for their lack of cylinder flutes when compared to the standard .22 LR model. 

Related: The 16-Inch Heritage Rough Rider, a Budget Buntline.


To the range!

We put about 1,000 rounds through the little Barkeep, stretching across Blazer and CCI bulk pack, Mexican-produced Eley Sport, some ancient plastic boxes of Winchester Super X and CCI Mini Mags, some Aquila specialty rounds, and, once swapping out the cylinder, CCI VNT magnums. 

We tried to run a bit of everything. 
And, being a single-action revolver with a loading gate and no ejector rod on the gun, we spent a lot of time in the loading process. 

We spent a lot of time loading and unloading the Barkeep on the range, but whenever we weren't moving brass around, the gun was a lot of fun to fire. 


As far as reliability goes, we found the typical ammo-related issues you see with rimfires. At the end of the day, we probably had about 15 rounds that didn't fire when hit the first time. Of note, those we attempted to re-shoot went off every time when struck on a different part of the rim. 
As shown in this target from 10 yards, our review revolver shoots a little low and to the left but doesn't group horribly for what it is. This can either be fixed by contouring the sight or using a bit of Kentucky windage to mitigate. If you plan on can-popping with this one, keep that in mind. We should also point out that the groups settled in a bit more after the first 200 rounds. 
While not ideal for self-defense, we stepped back to 15 yards with the .22 WMR cylinder and ran 10 shots in two cylinders and were able to keep all 10 in the center mass, showing it to be "minute of man" as they say. On our chrono, we were hitting 1200~ fps with the VNTs. CCI bills the load, with its 30 grain, as having "an extremely thin jacket and polymer tip that team up to offer flat trajectories, superb long-range accuracy and explosive terminal performance on impact."
The trigger wasn't the stuff of legend, but we found that it breaks at about 3-pounds and, since it is a single-action trigger, is very short in the take-up. The Barkeep is a classic "four click" gun with the first being the old Colt safety notch, the second being the loading notch, the third a warmup, and the fourth being fully cocked. 

In the end, the Barkeep – which has an MSRP of about $180 – feels good and works well. The closest comparison we can think of in terms of price is Ruger's new Wrangler series, which is just a few bucks more. However, the Wrangler is bigger – currently just offered with a longer 4.62-inch barrel and a more utilitarian Cerakote finish – and unlike the Barkeep does not have the option of converting to .22 WMR. 

It isn't an EDC or a competition gun, but the Heritage Barkeep has kind of a neat style to it and is mucho fun to shoot. 

A subsidiary of Taurus for the past several years, Heritage manufactured an impressive 187,104 revolvers in 2018, mostly .22s, as detailed by federal regulators. The company recently opened a 200,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Bainbridge, Georgia, where Taurus is increasingly moving production to the U.S.

To see how Heritage builds their guns, check out the below video that American Rifleman TV just released. 


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