Ruger Bearcat

The Ruger Bearcat is a single-action, .22 caliber revolver manufactured by Sturm, Ruger & Co., introduced in 1958. It is based on the classic Remington single action revolvers of the mid-19th century.[3] Because of its compact size and frame, it is advertised as being ideal for hikers or campers in need of a .22 LR revolver, or "kit gun".[4][3]

Ruger Bearcat
Ruger New Bearcat - Blued
TypeSingle-action revolver
Place of originUnited States
Production history
DesignerWilliam B. Ruger
ManufacturerSturm, Ruger & Co.
  • 1958–1971 (1st issue)[1]
  • 1971–1975 (2nd issue)[1]
  • 1993–present (3rd issue)[2]
Variantssee variants
  • Bearcat, 1st issue
  • Super Bearcat, 2nd issue
  • New Bearcat, 3rd issue
  • 17 oz (480 g) (1st issue)[1]
  • 22.5 oz (640 g) (2nd issue)[1]
  • 24 oz (680 g) (3rd issue)[2]
  • 8.875 in (22.54 cm) (1st issue)[1]
  • 8.875 in (22.54 cm) (2nd issue)[1]
  • 9 in (23 cm) (3rd issue)[2]
Barrel length
  • 4 in (10.16 cm) (1st issue)[1]
  • 4 in (10.16 cm) (2nd issue)[1]
  • 4.2 in (11 cm) (3rd issue)[2]

Cartridge.22 LR, .22 Long, .22 Short, .22 WMR
Barrels1:16" RH[2]
Feed system6-round cylinder[1]


In 1974 Ruger patented a transfer bar safety system for their single-action revolvers and discontinued the production of the Bearcat, which was not readily adaptable to the new transfer bar design.[5] In 1993, Ruger brought back the Bearcat as the New Bearcat, now incorporating the transfer bar system, and also introducing a stainless steel variant.[6] Some time in the early '80s, Bill Ruger gave an interview to a writer with the Ruger Collector's Association (RCA) and talked about the Bearcat. He said that the Bearcat was the first revolver for which the Ruger engineers developed the transfer bar and that they could easily have made it that way in 1974. They dropped it, Bill said, because of a mistake by the marketing department. When that department sent out the 1974 catalog and order forms to the distributors, they forgot to include the Bearcat. When the orders came back without orders for the Bearcat, they assumed that there was no demand and the dropped it. Today, only old members of the Ruger Collector's Association are aware of the true story of what really happened to the original Bearcat, since that story was published in the Ruger Collectors Journal and is a part of their history.


Bearcat 1st issue

The original Bearcat featured a fixed Patridge front sight and a square notched rear. It was made with an alloy solid frame and an uncheckered plastic grips that were later replaced with walnut grip. It also features music wire coil springs and a non-fluted engraved cylinder.[1]

Bearcat 2nd issue

The Bearcat 2nd issue was marketed as an improved version of the original Bearcat, and renamed the Super Bearcat; it featured an all-steel frame rather than an alloy frame.[1]

Bearcat 3rd issue

The Bearcat 3rd issue, also known as the New Bearcat, is Ruger's reintroduced model which came out in 1993.[2] It features smooth rosewood grips with a Ruger medallion embedded.[1] The New Bearcat also incorporated Ruger's new transfer bar safety system.[6] It was briefly offered with an additional .22 WMR cylinder, which was recalled by Ruger due to a safety concern.[7] Those which were not returned to Ruger now command higher prices for collectors.

Around 2003, Ruger began offering the Bearcat in stainless steel.

In 2008, a 50th Anniversary edition was released with gold-filled script and special engravings, with 2,539 units produced.[8]

In 2015, Ruger introduced a variant of the Bearcat with adjustable sights, addressing a longstanding criticism of the limitations of the fixed sights.[9]


  1. Peterson, Philip. Gun Digest Book of Modern Gun Values: The Shooter's Guide to Guns 1900 to Present (16th ed.). p. 241.
  2. "The Ruger New Bearcat". Sturm Ruger. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  3. "The Ruger New Bearcat Overview". Sturm Ruger. Archived from the original on 21 June 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  4. Women and Guns. Little River Press. 2006. p. 2.
  5. Quinn, Jeff. "Ruger's New Bearcat". Gun Blast. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  6. "The Ruger New Bearcat Features". Sturm Ruger. Archived from the original on 20 January 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  8. Jerry Lee (16 December 2014). Standard Catalog of Ruger Firearms. "F+W Media, Inc.". pp. 49–. ISBN 978-1-4402-4060-7.
  • Ruger and His Guns by R.L. Wilson, Chartwell Books, 1996. Invaluable reference source for all things Ruger up to 1995.

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