Ruger’s Single-Action Bearcat
A .327 Federal Up-Grade!
Colt had pronounced the single action dead in 1940. Enter Bill Ruger. His desire was to produce a single action which anyone could afford to own and shoot, while still maintaining the look and feel of the original. The result was the .22 Single-Six. Ruger wisely maintained the original grip frame of the Colt Single Action, downsized the mainframe to reduce weight when using the little rimfire cartridge, and he totally improved the standard single action by replacing flat springs with virtually unbreakable coil springs. That was 1953, and the Single-Six has been an excellent seller ever since. It was my first handgun after I graduated high school in 1956.
A few lightweight Single-Sixes with alloy cylinders and frames had been offered, however now Ruger decided to come forth with a true pocket pistol. In the 1840s, both Colt and Remington had offered .31 percussion pistols, such as the Wells Fargo, Baby Dragoon and the New Model Police. These were all very easy to conceal pocket pistols. Today we have a large proliferation of pocket pistols, however this was certainly not the case in 1958, and especially not in .22 caliber. Once again Ruger sensed the market and brought forth his little Bearcat revolver.
The original Bearcat had a non-fluted 6-shot cylinder with a role engraving of both a bear and a mountain lion, a black anodized aluminum mainframe with integral grip frame, and an alloy trigger guard anodized to appear to be brass. The first serial numbers were from 1-999 and then a letter prefix was added such as A001-A999, B001-B999, and so on for 25 letters of the alphabet excluding the “O” which could be mistaken for a zero.
By 1960 the “alphabet” Bearcats gave way to a normal numbering system and a prefix number was added in 1969. The original Bearcats weighed just over 16 ounces and were discontinued in 1970, to be replaced one year later by the steel-frame Super Bearcat. Today’s Bearcat is all stainless steel with a transfer bar safety, while still maintaining the half cock position for loading and unloading.
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