Ruger John Wayne Single-Six 32 H&R Magnum Birdshead Revolver


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

July 19th, 2011


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Ruger Limited-Edition John Wayne 32 Magnum Single-Six.





Belt Mountain base pin (top) tightens up the fit of the cylinder and slightly increases ejector stroke compared to the factory unit (bottom).



Checkered ebony wood grips are both beautiful and comfortable.





John Wayne's signature is replicated on the barrel (top), and the famous "Red River D" brand is replicated on the side of the frame (bottom).



Revolvers have a special serial number series.



Ruger's famous "warning" is located on the bottom of the barrel...



...while the bottom of the ejector rod housing shows that the sixgun is licensed by John Wayne Enterprises.


Cylinder (top & second from top) and "shovelhead" area (third from top & bottom) are very tastefully engraved.



Sights are of the familiar single-action revolver type: rounded blade front (top) and notch rear (bottom).







TALO is a large buying cooperative made up of several gun wholesalers. The last time I looked, I think there were fourteen wholesalers in the group. Pooling their buying power together, they are able to have special variations of firearms built just for sale through TALO dealers. Pretty much any legitimate gun dealer can sell TALO firearms, so the chances are very good that you can order any of their limited edition firearms from your favorite gun dealer. We have reviewed several TALO specials here before, and for the last few weeks, we have had here a dandy little Single-Six that is chambered for the 32 H&R Magnum cartridge. Ruger began producing 32 caliber Single-Six revolvers in 1984, but the cartridge was dropped from the Single-Six lineup a few years ago. 

TALO had Ruger and Baron Technology to team up to produce this latest 32 Single-Six, and it is a fine little sixgun. The 32 H&R Magnum is one of my favorite cartridges, and any revolver so chambered can also fire the 32 S&W and 32 S&W Long cartridges. Handloading the 32 H&R Magnum will produce great results, getting more power out of the cartridge when chambered in the Ruger or Freedom Arms revolvers, which are much stronger than the old Harrington & Richardson revolvers for which the cartridge was designed. There is plenty of good handloading data available for the 32 H&R, but when loaded into Ruger and Freedom Arms revolvers, it is pretty hard to beat a case full of H110 powder, loaded up to the base of the bullet, with slight compression. Such a load will most always give both high velocity, and excellent accuracy. 

There are a few good hollowpoint jacketed bullets available for the 32 H&R cartridge, but I prefer to load mine with hard cast bullets for most every use. The hard cast lead bullets penetrate very well, and can also be loaded down a bit for taking small game while ruining very little meat, making a clean thirty-two caliber hole all the way through. One of my latest favorite bullets for the 32 H&R is the same bullet that Buffalo Bore loads into its factory 32 H&R Plus P ammunition. It is a Keith style semi- wadcutter bullet from Rim Rock Bullets, and it is cast with excellent quality of materials and workmanship. The Rim Rock bullet weighs in at 123 grains on my scale, has a good flat base, and plenty of lube. With a hefty charge of H110 (it is above listed maximum, so don't ask), the Rim Rock bullet clocks 1187 feet-per-second (fps) average at ten feet from the muzzle of this Single-Six, and extraction is easy, but primers are slightly flattened. 

Buffalo Bore loads that same bullet with low-flash powder for better use in a defensive situation, and it clocks 1035 fps from the barrel of this Ruger, but about 50 fps faster from the three inch barrel of my SP101. This lower velocity can most likely be attributed to the wider than normal barrel/cylinder gap on this particular Single-Six. The low
-flash powder seems to do well, as flash is not bothersome at all. Buffalo Bore also has a 100 grain jacketed hollowpoint load, and it averages 1157 fps out of this Ruger's three and three-quarters inch barrel. These Buffalo Bore loads are safe to use in any modern 32 H&R Magnum revolver, but should not be used in the discontinued H&R revolvers. These Buffalo Bore loads give the 32 H&R Magnum the power that it should have had from the beginning. Handloaders have been loading to this level for many years in strong revolvers, and now these two factory loads are available to bring this dandy little cartridge up to its potential. 

I am getting ahead of myself here a bit, so let's get back to the sixgun. This Single-Six is, as the titled suggests, a John Wayne tribute. The John Wayne New Vaquero produced a couple of years ago and reviewed here was also a TALO gun, built by Ruger and embellished by Baron Technology, as is this new John Wayne Single-Six. The Single-Six is built primarily of polished stainless steel, and wears a set of partially-checkered ebony grips. The birdshead grip frame feels good in the hand, conceals well, and handles recoil very well. The fit and finish is excellent on this sixgun. 

The Ruger warning label is applied to the bottom of the barrel. On the left side of the barrel, John Wayne's signature is replicated. There is decorative engraving atop the grip frame, just behind the hammer. There is also engraving around the circumference of the cylinder. On the left of the cylinder frame, between the action pins, Thomas Dunson's Red River D brand is replicated. Thomas Dunson was a character played by John Wayne in the classic movie "Red River", and having the brand on this Single-Six is a nice touch, and will be appreciated by any Duke fan. The John Wayne Single-Six wears special serial numbers, starting with DUKE00001, and extending through DUKE01250, the limit of the number of sixguns produced in this series. The bottom of the ejector rod housing reads "John Wayne licensed by JWE", which means that this sixgun is produced with the approval of John Wayne Enterprises. The John Wayne Single-Six weighs in at 32.1 ounces on my scale, and balances and handles very well. 

Shooting the John Wayne Single-Six was a real pleasure, as recoil is light, and the trigger is crisp. The trigger pull registered a bit over three and one-half pounds as delivered, but a quick Poor Boy's Trigger Job produced a pull weight of just two pounds, one ounce. The Single-Six shot a bit high for me with the heavy-bullet loads, hitting about three inches above point of aim at twenty-five yards, but was dead on with the lighter hollowpoint bullets. Accuracy was very good, especially with the Rim Rock bullets, whether fired from the Buffalo Bore factory ammo, or hand loaded. Fired from a hand-held rested position, I could keep five shots under two inches at all times, with some groups cutting that in half. For my eyes, I can't do as well with the bright stainless sights on this revolver as I can with a set of black Patridge sights, but this John Wayne Single-Six still turned in a fine performance. The best group fired was using the Buffalo Bore Rim Rock bullet load, and it put five into less than an inch at twenty-five yards. Very good performance of both revolver and ammunition. The barrel/cylinder gap on this revolver was larger than I like, measuring eight one-thousandths (.008) of an inch, but despite that, the sixgun shot very well, and did not spit burned powder back at the shooter. To tighten up the cylinder play, not that it was excessive at all, and to give a bit longer stroke on the ejector, I installed a Belt Mountain base pin. It was easy to install, and the lip on the head of the pin makes it very easy to remove for cleaning the sixgun properly. Belt Mountain makes very high quality cylinder base pins for single action revolvers, and they tighten up cylinder play, while eliminating the tendency of a base pin to move forward under recoil. 

For packing the John Wayne Single-Six, I grabbed a Simply Rugged crocodile skin holster from my holster box, and the John Wayne sixgun fit nicely. The holster carries the sixgun well, and is a high quality piece of leather, befitting such an embellished sixgun. The Simply Rugged croc holster protects the revolver, and provides quick access. 

The John Wayne Single-Six 32 H&R sixgun is a limited-production revolver, but they are in stock at TALO distributors at the time of this writing. I don't have access online to everyone's inventory, but I do know that both Lipsey's and Davidson's have a few in stock today. 

For the location of a TALO gun dealer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR at

To order the John Wayne Single-Six online, go to

Order Belt Mountain base pins at:

To order a Simply Rugged holster, go to

To order the Buffalo Bore ammunition, go to

To order Rim Rock quality cast bullets in several different calibers, go to

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.






The John Wayne Single-Six comes with special commemorative box and booklet.





Like all Ruger New Model sixguns, the John Wayne 32 features Ruger's transfer bar safety.





Buffalo Bore ammo.



0.875" group fired at 25 yards using Buffalo Bore's factory cast bullet load.



Black Hills standard-pressure 32 H&R ammo also performed well in the John Wayne Single-Six.



Rim Rock quality hard-cast lead bullets.



Simply Rugged crocodile-skin holster.