Custom Ruger 6" Target Bearcat 22 Sixgun from Tyler Gun Works

by Boge Quinn

photography by Boge Quinn

August 15th, 2020 Video Link


Click pictures for a larger version.









Test target from Tyler Gun Works (top), six-shot group fired offhand at five yards (bottom).





My fondness for Ruger's excellent Bearcat 22 sixgun is well known; I am, in fact, a self-confessed and proud Bearcat nut. To me, the little 22 sixgun is just the perfect Single-Action 22 revolver; accurate, rugged, and perfectly sized to the 22 Long Rifle cartridge. I own many Bearcats in various factory configurations, as well as a few custom Bearcats, including a Bowen Classic Arms lightweight Bearcat with adjustable sights and second 22 Magnum cylinder, a Bowen Classic Arms "Perfected" Bearcat, and a 32 Magnum five-shot Bearcat conversion by Alan Harton of Single Action Service

Introduced in 1958, Ruger's original Bearcat was small enough to easily pack in a pocket, and its aluminum alloy frame made it very light in weight; in short, what my friend and brother Shootist John Taffin calls a "PPP" (Perfect Packing Pistol). The original Bearcats were produced from 1958 to 1970; in 1971, the Bearcat was supplanted by the Super Bearcat, which was basically a steel-framed version of the original. Although slightly heavier than the original Bearcat, the Super Bearcat remained a very packable sixgun; unfortunately, with Ruger's switch to the "New Model" Single Actions and their patented "Transfer Bar" safety system in 1973, production of the Super Bearcat was halted in January 1974. Finally, the void left in the Single-Action revolver world by the Bearcat's passing was filled in 1993 with Ruger's introduction of the New Bearcat, which is basically a Super Bearcat adapted to use Ruger's Transfer Bar safety. The little sixgun has continued to flourish since, in both blued and stainless steel models; and, thanks to our friends at Lipsey's distributors, in several wonderful variations, such as the Bearcat Shopkeeper with shorter barrel and "Bird's-Head" grip;  the Adjustable-Sighted Bearcat with modern ramp front sight and fully-adjustable rear sight; and even a version of the fixed-sighted Bearcat with a 6" barrel. This latter long-barreled version was especially appealing to me, and my pal Jason Cloessner let me have the prototype of this model that he debuted at the 2017 Shootists Holiday. The 6" barrel was a pleasure to shoot, and nipped at the heels of the next logical step: a true Target Bearcat. So, I began waiting for Ruger, no doubt at Lipsey's urging, to take that next logical step...

A few months ago, my friend Bobby Tyler of Tyler Gun Works called me up to tell me about a new project he had in mind. Knowing of my love for Bearcats, Bobby was wondering if I would be interested in sending him an adjustable-sighted Bearcat as a test bed for a Tyler Gun Works "Target Bearcat" package. Bobby laughed a bit as I jumped at the chance, because he knew how much I love Bearcats; in fact, my introduction to Bobby Tyler came at the 2017 SHOT Show, where he showed me his custom Bearcat Shopkeeper. Bobby and I have been fast friends since that time, and he knew that I would move mountains to have another custom Bearcat!

I sent Bobby a blued Lipsey's Exclusive adjustable-sighted Bearcat, and in short order Bobby returned to me a true Target Bearcat, all dressed-up in fine Sunday-Go-To-Meeting fashion. I have been shooting this Tyler Gun Works Target Bearcat for a few weeks now, and I am immeasurably pleased with this sixgun in every way.

Tyler Gun Works Custom 6" Target Bearcat

Base Sixgun: Lipsey's Exclusive Ruger New Bearcat 22 LR - Catalog #SBCA-4
Custom work Performed:
     Install 6" Bearcat Barrel
     Crown Barrel
     Set Barrel / Cylinder Gap to 0.003"
     Install Fermin Garza Front Sight
     Remove Cylinder Roll Mark
     Blue Barrel & Cylinder
     Color Case Receiver, Hammer, and Trigger
     Action Job
     Set Trigger Pull to 2 Pounds, 8 Ounces
     Disassembly / Reassembly
     Mark Barrel
     Metal Prep
     Fit Stag Grips

As befits a custom sixgun, this Tyler Target Bearcat is a thing of beauty. The barrel does not appear overly long, but rather makes the Bearcat look more like a shrunken-down 7-1/2" Ruger Blackhawk or Colt New Frontier. Bobby removed the familiar "Bear and Cat" cylinder roll mark, and the smooth-finished cylinder is very attractive and businesslike in appearance. Bobby has achieved a measure of fame with his finish work, and this sixgun shows why: the bluing of the barrel and cylinder is deep and lustrous, while the beautifully color-cased frame lends a wonderful and subtle contrast. The hammer and trigger on the New Bearcat are stainless steel, but Bobby was able to almost-magically color-case the stainless to match the hues and luster of the frame. "Tyler Gun Works - Friona, TX" is nicely etched into the top of the barrel, and as a finishing touch, Bobby fit and installed a beautiful set of Stag grips with Ruger medallions. This little sixgun is nothing short of gorgeous - as a custom sixgun should be.

None of which means anything if the revolver doesn't shoot well, and the Tyler Gun Works Target Bearcat is a joy to shoot. The balance of the slim-profile barrel is superb, with reliability and accuracy being everything one would expect from a custom Ruger. There were no misfires or failures of any kind with any ammunition I tried. Accuracy was impressive, due in large part to Tyler's "Accuracy Package", which includes tuning and polishing the lock work for a smooth and creep-free trigger, with the trigger pull set to an optimal 2.5 pounds. The 6" barrel was set to a 0.003 (three-thousandths) inch barrel/cylinder gap, and finished off with a very nice crown, which is essential to revolver accuracy.

Ruger's Adjustable-Sighted Bearcat features their tried-and-true fully-adjustable rear sight coupled with a ramp front sight scaled for the Bearcat. While this is a very nice sighting system, the front sight can be significantly enhanced for a very modest price by replacing the factory unit with a custom front sight by Fermin Garza's Customized Shooter's Resources. Fermin Garza is a skilled machinist, and an expert in making revolvers shoot, from fire-lapping and throating barrels to manufacturing a wide variety of sights for many revolver makes and models. Fermin's sights are milled from bar stock to the customer's order, with a great variety of blade heights and widths available, featuring an almost-vertical rear blade face deeply grooved for maximum visibility in nearly any lighting condition. I have tested Fermin's excellent Bearcat front sights before, and they are superb. If you are looking to make your revolver shoot better, there is no modification as effective in enhancing the practical accuracy of a revolver, at a modest price, than the addition of a Fermin Garza front sight, and installing one takes only minutes; or, if you are looking to have a custom revolver built, I highly recommend you have your gun maker contact Fermin for one of his sights to use on your project.

As I always say, fine guns deserve fine leather, and I am proud to number two of the finest holster makers in today's world among my close friends and brother Shootists.

Rob Leahy of Simply Rugged Holsters is famous for his durable, well-designed, and cost-effective holsters made to fit a wide variety of guns and carry modes. Rob offers one of the slickest and most versatile rigs on the market in his Chesty Puller Suspension System. The Chesty Puller rig allows nearly any Pancake-style belt holster to be carried as a chest holster, and is a very effective mode of carry for field use, or for those such as myself who rarely wear pants with a belt. Above and beyond this, Rob offers a Conventional Adapter for the Chesty Puller System that adapts the Chesty Puller to allow virtually any holster with a standard belt loop to be used, making the Chesty Puller the most versatile and cost-effective rig on the market. 

Mike "Doc" Barranti of Barranti Leather is nothing short of a leather artist, in the tradition of the finest leather craftsmen in history. His work is impeccable, and he offers a wide variety of holster styles. A few years ago, I had Mike make me a "Slim-Jim" style holster for the Lipsey's exclusive 6" fixed-sighted Ruger Bearcat; it is an absolutely beautiful holster, in fine stitched leather and hand-carved in a traditional floral design. Back in April, while reviewing Cimarron's 1862 Pocket 380 revolver, I found the little Slim-Jim holster to be a great fit for the Cimarron, and naturally the Barranti Slim-Jim was also a great fit for the Tyler Target Bearcat. The taller, sharp Fermin Garza front sight did gouge out a bit of leather inside the holster at first, but it quickly worked-in and made the Barranti holster just that much more versatile.

The Tyler Gun Works 6" Target Bearcat is everything a custom gun should be: reliable, accurate, beautiful, and reasonably priced. As my brother Jeff would say, it is a "dandy" sixgun; I am proud to own it, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

For a full range of custom gunsmithing and metal finishing, visit Tyler Gun Works online at or call (806) 729-7292 or (806) 929-1943.

View Ruger's extensive product line at

To find a Lipsey's affiliated dealer in your area, click on the DEALER FINDER at

Fermin Garza's Customized Shooter's Resources:

For the finest on gun leather, visit Simply Rugged Holsters: or Barranti Leather:

Buy ammo online at Lucky Gunner:

Boge Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



Base sixgun: Lipsey's Exclusive Adjustable-Sighted Bearcat.



Fermin Garza "2 Dogs" front sight (top & center), Ruger adjustable rear sight (bottom).


Chesty Puller Suspension System and Conventional Adapter by Simply Rugged Holsters.



"Slim-Jim" hand-carved holster by Barranti Leather.