Today we’re taking our first look at the Heritage Barkeep single action revolver from Heritage Manufacturing. This is a first of its kind revolver from Heritage that’s designed to evoke memories of a common modification done to Colt Single Action revolvers in the 1800s. The gun’s barrel would be cut down from 4+ inches to 3 or less, and the ejector rod would be removed. This made the modified gun much easier to slip in a pocket or under a bar top. That’s where Heritage gets the name “Barkeep” for this handy little 22 Long Rifle revolver with an old west flair.
Heritage and design history
Heritage Manufacturing has been making revolvers in the United States for decades. The guns they build are slightly smaller versions of the classic Colt Single Action Army, but only chambered in rimfire cartridges. Additionally, all Heritage guns feature a unique safety, which keeps the hammer from contacting the firing pin when the gun has six rounds in the chamber. Older single action revolvers like Colts and faithful reproductions leave the firing pin at rest on a primer if the gun is loaded with six rounds, so they were commonly carried with the hammer over an empty chamber for maximum safety. Modern single action guns like the Ruger Vaquero solve that problem by using a transfer bar safety. The Heritage Barkeep, and in fact all Heritage guns solve this problem by using a manual safety to the left of the hammer. This manual safety blocks hammer from hitting the firing pin; however Heritage still recommends you only load the revolver with five rounds.
Old West Appearance
The new Heritage Barkeep certainly ticks the boxes in the appearance category. The little gun has a certain old west flair that’s aided by the simulated color case hardened frame finish and the wood scroll grips. Heritage has stated that the single action Barkeep comes chambered in 22 Long Rifle, however their 22 Magnum cylinders will drop in as well. If you happen to be like me and have a large stash of 22 Magnum on hand, this little revolver will give you an excellent option to turn some of that ammo into smoke and noise. Plus, since it’s 2021, 22 Magnum is officially cheaper than 9mm, so not only is this more affordable to shoot than a different gun, it’s also a lot more fun.
But can you shoot it?
Speaking of shooting, how does the little Barkeep shoot? Well, it’s certainly not going to win any bullseye matches, but that’s not the point of this gun, is it? The point is to look good and be fun, and it accomplishes that. With a fixed front sight post and open gutter sights in the frame, the Barkeep certainly keeps the traditional Colt-style sight set up. Compared to a more faithful clone of the Colt design, the Barkeep’s fixed open sights are more useful, thanks a wider rear notch and a more defined front sight post. According to my Lyman digital trigger pull gauge, the trigger breaks at a very pleasant 2.5 pounds, so getting workable accuracy out of the gun shouldn’t be a problem.
Customize your gun!
The new Heritage Barkeep has a number of options for customization. The multitude of grip options deliver classic western styling when paired with the simulated case hardened frame finish. Plus, the new Heritage Barkeep is faithful to the original “barkeep” modification by deleting the ejector rod. But don’t worry about getting empty casings out of the gun. They thoughtfully provided a punch with a nice wood handle to quickly pop the empties out, much in the same way someone would have in the 1800s.
More to come!
Keep your eyes here for more content about the Heritage Barkeep. Our next article will be a range trip, where we take advantage of that stash of 22 Magnum I’ve got sitting around and put some holes in paper.