Ruger Birdís Head .32 Single Six
by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

 

 

 

Last year, Ruger introduced a new variation of their popular Vaquero single action revolver with a Birdís Head style grip frame. I wrote a review of this gun which was chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge (see Jeff's article at Ruger Bird's Head Vaquero). The Birdís Head Vaquero has met with great acceptance among shooters, particularly those who enjoy a compact but powerful single action.

Now, Ruger has begun fitting the Birdís Head grip frame to their Single Six chambered for the .32 Magnum cartridge. The .32 Magnum, while gaining fast acceptance with Cowboy Action Shooters, is one of our most neglected and underrated  cartridges. Properly loaded, it will send a 112 grain lead bullet out the muzzle at over 1300 feet per second. While these ballistics will not impress a Kodiak brown bear, the little cartridge fills an empty void between the rimfire .22s and the larger center fires. It is a great cartridge for small game and larger varmints. The .32 Magnum is both flat shooting and mild recoiling. For plinking and casual target shooting, a 100 grain bullet loaded to around 1000 feet per second is a real pleasure to shoot.

I bought one of the first .32 Magnum Single Sixes with the "Baby Vaquero" style frame a couple of years ago.  This little sixgun has become one of my favorites (see Jeff's article at Ruger's Baby Vaquero). The new Birdís Head Single Six is basically the same, with the substitution of the Birdís Head grip frame for the plow handle XR3-RED style on my earlier .32.

When reviewing the .45 Birdís Head last year, I couldnít help thinking how handy that grip would be on Rugerís smaller Single Six frame. After handling and shooting the Birdís Head Single Six, I like the feel and balance even better than the same grip frame on the .45 Vaquero. The Birdís Head grip seems just right on the smaller .32, resulting in a unique handling quality quite unlike any other Ruger. The match of the new grip frame with the 4 5/8 inch barrel results in a feel that is perfect in my hand. The little Birdís Head points naturally for me; just like an extra finger. The hammer falls right under my thumb for easy cocking of the action.  The trigger pull is nice and crisp, releasing at about four pounds, which is slightly heavier than I prefer, but easily lightened by a competent  gunsmith. The trigger, while never rough or gritty, became even smoother with use.

Shooting the new Birdís Head Single Six was a real pleasure; a welcome break from shooting the heavier magnums on an almost daily basis. I fired several different loads using both the 100 grain Magnus lead semi-wadcutter and the excellent Cast Performance 118 grain flat point bullets.  The powders used in this gun were Accurateís #5, Alliant Unique, Winchester 231, and Hodgdon  LilíGun. The gun displayed decent plinking accuracy with all loads tested, but the groups hovered around the three inch range with no loads besting the others by much. With the sun glistening off of the rounded front sight, three inches at 25 yards was the best I could do with this little sixgun. Perhaps blackening that front sight would have helped somewhat. The loads did, however, shoot to point-of-aim at the 25 yard distance. The popularity of the Vaquero-style sights notwithstanding, I shoot much better with the ramp front sights as found on the Blackhawk revolvers. For Cowboy Action Shooting, and general plinking, the gun will do just fine with the sights as supplied.

The .32 Birdís Head Single Six is produced in the bright stainless finish as shown here, and also with Rugerís case-colored and blue finish. Both guns are supplied with Black Micarta grip panels and with a 4-5/8 inch barrel. The frame, grip frame, and ejector rod housing are all steel on these guns, and results in a well-balanced heft of 33 ounces, unloaded. The list price is the same as the .45 Colt Birdís Head revolvers at $576. You can see Rugerís complete catalog online at:   www.ruger-firearms.com

You can view the complete line of Cast Performance bullets at: www.castperformance.com

I have personally never been a big fan of Birdís Head style grips on revolversÖÖ.until now. I think that Ruger really did their homework in designing their version of the Birdís Head, and got it just right. The .32 Magnum Single Six with Rugerís  Birdís Head grip frame is one sweet handling little sixgun.

I like it.

 Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Author was very taken with Ruger's little .32 Bird's Head. While the Vaquero sights do not lend themselves to match-grade accuracy, this little gun packs decent power and superb handling qualities in a reasonably-accurate package.

 

 

Available in bright polished stainless steel or blue / case-colored finish, the .32 Bird's Head Single Six is one of the handiest-packin' centerfire revolvers you're likely to find. Jeff thinks 4-5/8" barrel balances perfectly with the small frame size.

 

 

Ruger's version of the Bird's Head grip frame is a significant improvement over previous designs, and lends itself particularly well to the smaller frame size of the Single Six. Black Micarta grip panels contrast beautifully with the polished stainless steel.

 

 

Recoil of the .32 Magnum is inconsequential, even with the heaviest loads. The Bird's Head grip shape rolls perfectly in the hand, placing the hammer under the thumb for follow-up shots. Author considers the .32 Bird's Head Single Six to be a perfect choice for small game & larger varmints, or just for casual plinking, target shooting and packing around the farm. Ruger's got another winner here!