Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ruger Bearcat Shopkeeper .22LR

Looking for a sweet little .22 revolver?  Lipsey's has contracted with Ruger to produce the 3 inch barreled Bearcat Shopkeeper in stainless steel and it is a real honey.

Let's get through the mandatory specifications before we get to the fun.  The shopkeeper holds 6 rounds of .22LR and weighs in at 22 ounces with an overall length of 7.5 inches.  It has fixed sights and an easy handling bird's head grip with red laminate wood panels.  

It also has the traditional Bearcat roll marks around the non-fluted cylinder.  

Ruger had to make some design changes because of the 3 inch barrel.  First of all they had to incorporate a small button-head cylinder pin and they had to

put a crescent shaped head on the shortened ejector rod.
This feature incorporates the only two negative experiences I had with the Shopkeeper.  First of all the crescent head is kind of sharp so you fight want to take a fine file and smooth the edges a bit.  Or, if you're like me and making fine adjustments is a skill which eludes you, you may want to have someone more qualified conduct the procedure.  The second issue with this little revolver is the extraction of spent shell casings.  The shortened ejector rod just isn't long enough to push the fired casings all the way out and for the first two cylinders full of ammo this didn't seem to be a problem.  But on the third cylinder the brass casings began to stick and the problem got worse the dirtier the chambers became.  Nickel-plated casings tended to perform better.  However, in this draught of .22 LR ammunition you probably won't be picky about what you can buy so a short cleaning rod will save the day and help you push the pesky cartridges out.

This is a small revolver.  To give it some perspective I photographed it next to my 3 inch barreled Ruger SP101.

But I don't think this photo does justice to the size difference.  The two revolvers are similar in length but the Shopkeeper is slimmer and weighs six ounces less.    This is an unbelievably easy revolver to carry and it fits well in this Remora inside-the-waistband holster.

The Shopkeeper also sits very snugly in this Bianchi 3 inch barreled small revolver holster which normally carries the SP101 shown two photos up from this one.

So, let's see how she shoots!  Most of the ammo used during my evaluation was Winchester M22 40 grain black copper plated round nose. 

Now bear in mind that this is not a target pistol, it shoots to minute of tin can.

Here's 30 rounds fired at a Birchwood Casey "Shoot 'n See" target at 21 feet:

And here are 24 rounds fired at 35 feet:

So what's the bottom line on this revolver?  Yeah, I have a couple of picky issues with it but they are not show-stoppers.  This is a well made handgun with an excellent fit and finish.  It sits well in the hand and is a natural pointer.  I think I used enough gun writer cliches there.  This revolver is fun!  This is what got us all into shooting when we were young.  In our formative years it wash't about self-defense or big game hunting it was just about shooting and having fun.  Many of us cut our teeth on the Ruger Single-Six which was a ton of fun and this gun is even cooler and more fun than the Single-Six.  I would love for Ruger to produce this with a .22 Magnum cylinder and a set of black rubber grips with silver and red medallions and...on I'll just stop there before I get to a Tritium front night sight.

I'll leave you with this image again since it is my favorite!


Anonymous said...

Well I held it and had to get it.

TJ said...

Would you please identify the grips on your SP101?

They are gorgeous! I must find a set for my SP

Average Joe's Handgun Reviews said...


I bought them on Ebay. Do a search for "Ruger SP101 grips". The grips come from Thailand.

Anonymous said...

I have trouble loading mine, it seems some bulk pack rounds just won't fit! Does yours do this?

Average Joe's Handgun Reviews said...

Anonymous, I did have issues with brass casing. My prefers nickel-plated cartridges which fortunately was the bulk of what I had on hand.

Anonymous said...

Thanks joe! Love hearing you pm gun nation!!!!

Anonymous said...

Do what I did. Have Clements convert the cylinder to a 22 mag. Works great!

Anonymous said...

.22 mag.!! Yeah!! Now you're talking!!