February 06, 2019
By Joel J. Hutchcroft
A few months ago I used the .17 HMR single-action Ruger Single-Six revolver to test-fire the new Browning BPR ammunition and reported my results in the September issue. Shooting Times received enough questions from readers about the revolver to warrant this focused article on it. It’s not a new-for-2018 gun, but obviously, not many readers were aware of it. Oh, everybody knows about the Single-Six platform, but not a lot knew it was offered in .17 HMR.
To answer the most-asked questions from readers, this revolver’s cylinder holds six rounds, and the MSRP is $629. Some of you asked what the trigger pull was, and it averaged exactly 3 pounds, according to five measurements with my RCBS trigger pull gauge.
The revolver has an all-black, adjustable rear sight and a ramped front sight. The front sight is attached to the barrel with a single screw. The barrel is 6.5 inches long, and the sight radius is 8.0 inches. The twist rate is one turn in 7 inches. The gun weighs 35 ounces.
The grips are checkered black plastic with silver and black Ruger Eagle logos on both panels. The trigger guard is alloy, and the ejector rod housing is steel.
Speaking of the ejector rod, some readers asked how hard it was to eject fired cases. My answer to that question is: not difficult at all.
This gun is a New Model Single-Six, so it has the transfer-bar firing mechanism. Also, the hammer does not have to be cocked to open the loading gate. Opening the loading gate allows the cylinder to rotate, and it rotates clockwise.
This revolver performed well with the five brands and two bullet weights of .17 HMR ammunition I fired. Overall average accuracy for five, five-shot groups fired at 25 yards was 2.20 inches. The best-performing loading was the Browning 17-grain BPR ammo. It averaged 1.56 inches. The single best five-shot group measured exactly 1.00 inch, and it came with the CCI 20-grain FMJ ammunition.
Based on chronographing the ammunition 12 feet from the gun’s muzzle, the loads produced from 124 ft-lbs of energy to 137 ft-lbs of energy. That’s definitely enough punch for hunting small game.
As for how loud the .17 HMR’s report is from the 6.5-inch barrel, which some of you asked about, I measured it with a simple sound meter to be 79 dBs. That puts it 55 dBs less than the unsuppressed standard .22 LR, for which 134 dBs is the accepted standard. I admit that my test was very unscientific.
This revolver is not set up for optics, so about the only thing I might alter on it is to install one of Jack Weigand’s cool topstrap rails that would allow me to mount an optic. The rails require the removal of the revolver’s rear sight, but I prefer handgun hunting with an optic so much that I’m willing to make that sacrifice.
All in all, the .17 HMR Single-Six is a high-quality handgun, typical of Ruger. The trigger was smooth and consistent, and accuracy was very good.
I doubt it will ever outsell the .22 LR Single-Six, but the cartridge offers more velocity, more energy, and flatter trajectory, so it is worthy of consideration. I like it so much, I plan on buying this one.