Ruger's New Stainless Bearcat
by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

June 25, 2002




Iíve always had a soft spot in my heart for a sweet-shooting .22 revolver, especially one that is sized right for the cartridge. A small, reasonably light sixgun chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge is one of the handiest firearms in existence.

A few months ago, I reviewed Rugerís re-introduction of the excellent little Bearcat revolver (see Jeff's article at Ruger's New Bearcat). The Bearcat is one of the neatest little revolvers ever made for a trail gun. About the only improvement needed for the Bearcat to make it into a perfect .22 trail gun was a durable, rust-resistant finish, and Ruger has now corrected that by adding the Bearcat to its line of stainless steel revolvers. In many areas, humidity is not a problem, but for those who enjoy the great pleasures of high humidity year round, the benefits of stainless steel are readily apparent. There are times when you can almost hear a gun rust as it rides in a warm, damp holster. A stainless gun is much more forgiving of not being cleaned and oiled while carried in damp conditions. This Bearcat is constructed almost entirely of stainless steel, with the exception of the aluminum ejector rod housing and the wooden grip panels.

Since the review of the new Bearcat is still available for reading in our archives section, I wonít rehash the entire article here. I will point out, however, that the little stainless Bearcat received here for testing has a much better trigger pull than the blued one reviewed earlier. Accuracy of the stainless Bearcat was also slightly better than the blued test gun, grouping very well with several brands and types of ammunition, placing most under two inches at 25 yards, if I did my part. As this gun has a satin finish, sight reflection was not a problem. There were no failures to fire with any ammo tested. Besides shooting the little gun at paper targets, I have fired this gun mostly at rocks, cans, and other targets of opportunity, as this is definitely a plinking machine par excellence. Loading and unloading of the Bearcat is much easier for me than with the Single Six series of revolvers, due to the half-cock notch in the Bearcatís hammer. The chambers of the cylinder align perfectly with the ejector rod as the cylinder is indexed on the Bearcat.

As I received this little sixgun just before leaving for the Shootist Holiday in Raton, New Mexico, I loaded it and a couple of thousand rounds of .22 LR ammo into the truck to show to those gathered for the event. If there was ever a group of shooters who appreciate a fine little sixgun, it is those who attend the Shootist Holiday. These men are serious about their sixguns! All who handled or shot the stainless Bearcat seemed favorably impressed, and a few threatened to relieve me of the little sixgun. There was a young shooter in attendance by the name of Tyler who was trying his best to wear out a .22 rifle by shooting at the steel targets downrange at the NRA's Whittington Center. I left with him the little Bearcat and 550 rounds of Remington hollow points, and he did me the favor of shooting the sixgun for the better part of the day while I was working out with some other firearms. The hard part was explaining to Tyler that no, he couldnít keep the Bearcat. I do think that his Grandpa is going to have to come up with one for him, but thatís his problem, not mine. I managed to leave Raton with both the Bearcat and my hide intact, and made a new little friend in the process.  And by the way, Tyler can shoot. Just about ever shot resulted in a solid hit.

In making their Bearcat in stainless steel, Ruger has produced what may be the best little trail gun available for knocking around in the woods or just plinking at the range. The little sixgun is a delight to carry and shoot. It packs easily in a pocket or holster, and is just plain handy to have around.

Check out Rugerís entire line of firearms online at:

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Ruger's slick little Bearcat .22 sixgun in stainless steel is just what the doctor ordered for a plinking and trail gun.



The Bearcat is just the right size for packing and shooting.



Shown flanked by Ruger's Single-Six .22 (top) and Jeff's prized S&W Model 63 "Kit Gun" .22 (bottom), the handy size of the Stainless Bearcat is apparent.



For those given to more cosmopolitan attire, such as the author, the little Bearcat rides perfectly in the side tool pocket of a pair of bib overalls.



The Bearcat is also very well suited for a youth revolver, as the author found out during his recent trip to the Shootist Holiday at the NRA's Whittington Center in Raton, NM. Shown is Jeff's new pal Tyler, who did Jeff the favor of burning up 550 rounds of .22 ammo, putting the little Ruger through its paces while his friend Kyle spotted for him. Both shooter and gun performed admirably.



The Stainless Bearcat comes factory equipped with Ruger's gray plastic case, instruction manual, and cable lock.



Stainless steel cylinder is unfluted and roll-engraved in attractive fashion.



One of Jeff's favorite features of the Bearcat is the retention of a half-cock loading system. When unloading, the ejector rod aligns perfectly for unloading and loading when the chambers click into place. On other New Model Ruger single-actions, if you rotate the cylinder until it clicks you've gone too far!



Old-style slim trigger used on the Bearcat is perfect for plinking or target shooting.



The tiny barrel of the Bearcat still has room for plenty of writing on it!



As with all Ruger single-actions, the Stainless Bearcat is easily stripped for cleaning without tools. Author was very favorably impressed with the little .22, as were all who handled her. Looks like Ruger's got another winner on their hands!