The Heritage Barkeep proved fun on the range.

The first question you’ll get answers to in this Heritage Barkeep review is whether or not the Barkeep is fun. Yes, it absolutely is. The next thing you’ll find out is whether or not it’s worth the money. Yes, it absolutely is.

Heritage Barkeep Review: Who is Heritage Manufacturing?

Heritage Manufacturing was founded in Miami. They relocated to Bainbridge, Georgia where they have continued to make slightly scaled down reproductions of the famous Single Action Army revolver. Their guns have two twists on the original. First, Heritage’s guns are all rimfires. Second, they all feature a manually operated safety. A safety on a single action revolver may seem a little bit like wearing a belt and suspenders to keep your pants up, but in this case it makes sense. Unlike a Ruger revolver, the Heritage guns don’t have a transfer bar. When the hammer is at rest, the firing pin is fully forward and making contact with a cartridge. The safety, when engaged, blocks the hammer from falling all the way forward. This makes the gun safe to carry with six rounds loaded.

What is the Barkeep?

It’s a revolver. In all seriousness, it’s a fun little single-action revolver chambered in .22 Long Rifle. The idea behind the design is to emulate the “barkeeper” guns of the old west. A “barkeeper” or “barkeep” gun usually started its life as a gun with a full-length barrel, which was then cut down to 2 or 3 inches. Then the ejector rod would be removed to give the barrel a slim, easy-to-conceal profile. This made the old guns easier to conceal, and according to Western legend, were popular with gamblers and saloon owners as compact carry guns. The Heritage Barkeep keeps to these traditions with its 2-inch barrel, full-size grip, and lack of an ejector rod. Fortunately, the Barkeep comes with a very nice metal rod that you can use to poke the empty casings out of the gun.

Heritage Barkeep loading gate

I​s the Heritage Barkeep a Good Gun?

T​hat depends. Do you like single-action rimfire revolvers? If the answer to that question is yes, then yes it’s a good gun. During the Heritage Barkeep review, the test sample was shot for groups at 10 yards, but mostly was just shot for fun. Let’s be honest, this isn’t a “serious” gun, it’s a fun gun and that’s important. Not every gun has to be for self-defense or home protection; some guns can just be fun, and in that the Barkeep excels. The single-action trigger breaks cleanly right around 4 pounds, the plow-handle grips give you ample purchase, and the sights are… well the sights are there. They’re pretty traditional gutter sights, so nothing to write home about, but more than adequate for plinking and casual shooting.

Can the Heritage Barkeep Shoot .22 Magnum?

Yes! You can order a .22 Magnum cylinder for the Barkeep and swap it out with the included .22 LR cylinder to shoot the much more powerful magnum rounds. During the Heritage Barkeep review, this was where it got really awesome. The .22 Magnum moves the gun from “fun plinker” into something you could realistically use as kit gun. Plus, .22 Magnum is a lot of fun to shoot, especially out of small revolvers. The Barkeep was tested with three brands of .22 Magnum ammo: Hornady Critical Defense, CCI 40-grain FMJ, and Fiocchi 40-grain JSP. At 10 yards, an appropriate distance for a 2-inch revolver, all the ammo shot point of aim/point of impact. Critical Defense produced the best groups, shooting just under an inch at 10 yards. 

Barkeep barrel profile

Heritage Barkeep Review: Final Thoughts

The Barkeep is one of those guns that doesn’t really fit into any niche. You can’t use it for Cowboy Action Shooting because it’s rimfire. You wouldn’t really want to carry it for self-defense because it’s a single-action revolver AND it’s a rimfire. The sights aren’t great for small-game hunting. But despite all that, it’s a wonderful little gun. It puts a smile on your face every time you shoot it. The Barkeep seems to find its way into your range bag with a box of ammo no matter what you’re going to do, because it’s a blast. It would make a pretty great kit gun, especially with the .22 Magnum cylinder. But where the Heritage Barkeep really excels is simple: it’s just fun. And that is a good enough reason to buy one.

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