Heritage Bass Reeves Tribute Sixgun

A Special .22 Rough Rider Commemorating the Noted Lawman

As a student of Old West history; especially that of lawmen and outlaws, I had my trepidations about watching the new series LAWMEN: BASS REEVES on Paramount +. I’ve been disappointed so many times in the past with a lack of period correctness and too much “Hollywood.” It had been out for weeks, but I kept putting off watching it. Finally, one evening, I decided to give it a go. Knowing much of the Bass Reeves story and the kind of guns and gear of the era, I held my breath. Surprise, surprise, it was pretty darn good. Sort of historical fiction and biography all in one, I binge-watched it to the end. My wife watched it with me and was shocked when I didn’t pick it apart like I do most westerns and cop shows.

The Real Bass Reeves

            Born into slavery in 1830’s Texas, Bass was the property of a Colonel Reeves, who taught him to ride, shoot, and hunt, but kept him illiterate. Bass grew up to be a physically impressive and determined man and at age 20 he escaped, to become free. To outwit the slave hunters pursuing him he went to the Indian Territory. He was accepted by Creek warriors into the tribe, where he learned to speak Creek, Cherokee and Seminole. It’s believed he fought during the Civil War with a Union Indiana Brigade. Afterwards, he became a farmer and started a family.

            The Indian Territory (IT) was a magnet for criminals and ner-do-wells. While the Indian tribes had their “Light Horse” police, they could not arrest non-Indians. The Territory came under Federal jurisdiction and in 1875 President Grant appointed Congressman Issac Parker as Federal Judge in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, to bring law and order to the IT. He instructed the U.S. Marshal James Fagan, to hire 200 deputy marshals to help control the violence and chaos.

            At the time, Bass Reeves was 37 years old, he stood 6’-2”, weighed 180 pounds, was strong as a bull, and was a marksman with the rifle and revolver. He was one of the first deputy marshals hired. Even though he couldn’t read, he would memorize the warrants and writs he was to serve and never made a wrong arrest. He mastered the art of detective work, used disguises, and in his 32-year career, locked up some 3000 outlaws and killed 14 men in the line of duty. During numerous shoot-outs he was never wounded, but had a hat brim holed, a button shot off his coat, his belt shot in two, and the reins shot off his horse. Other deputy marshals weren’t so lucky. The IT, which later included the Oklahoma Territory, was a dangerous place for Federal lawmen, with more than 120 killed before Oklahoma became a state in 1907.

            Bass Reeves served under seven marshals, all of whom were more than satisfied with his performance. In 1893 he transferred to the Eastern District of Texas, but in 1897 he was transferred back to the IT to work for the newly founded Muskogee Federal Court. He has the distinction of being the first black Deputy U.S. Marshal appointed west of the Mississippi River. In 1907 Reevs retired at age 68, but then went to work for the Muskogee Police Department for two years, until failing health forced him to resign. He died on January 13, 1910. His outstanding career, grit, and fortitude certainly deserve to be recognized in an Old West style commemorative revolver.

The Bass Reeves Rough Rider comes in a commemorative box and has a portrait of Reeves laser-etched on the wood grip panels.

The Heritage Wild West Bass Reeves Revolver

            Long a mainstay of Heritage Manufacturing, the Rough Rider .22 RF revolver has seen many iterations. It has been the base for many commemoratives and tributes with special grips, boxes, finishes, and configurations. This latest version honors Bass Reeves. The sixgun itself is chambered for .22 LR cartridges, the Zinc frame has a simulated color case-hardened finish, while the Zinc grip frame and carbon steel cylinder and 4.75” barrel are finished in black oxide. The checkered spur hammer is left “in the white” and the walnut, two-piece grips have a laser-etched portrait of Bass Reeves on both panels. The gun comes in a special Bass Reeves cardboard box and includes a safety padlock, owner’s manual, and instructions on ordering an optional .22 Magnum cylinder and other items.

            The little six-shooter looks like a down-sized Colt SAA, but of course, has the fit and finish of a more budget-friendly handgun. Unlike most single actions, the Heritage has a manual safety. Built into the left-side recoil shield, the latch in the resting position blocks the hammer from contacting the frame-mounted firing pin. In this mode you can safely load all six chambers. Pulling back on the latch lowers the hammer, exposing a red dot on the recoil shield, and makes the gun ready to shoot. The hammer has the distinctive “4-clicks” as you bring it to full-cock, like a real Peacemaker. The trigger pull is surprisingly crisp, with a light pull weight. To unload, put the hammer in the half-cock position, swing out the gate built into the right-side recoil shield, then as you manually turn the cylinder, punch out the empties with the ejector rod. Sights on the Heritage consist of a notch in the top-strap of the frame and a blade front sight on the barrel.

To load or eject empty cartridge cases, the hammer is put in the half-cock position, the loading gate opened, and cartridges inserted one at a time.

Home on the Range

            I was trying to get some gun testing done before the 2024 SHOT Show, but inclement weather kept me away from my usual outdoor range, so I had to do a shorter T&E at an indoor facility. I decided to use CCI .22 LR ammunition exclusively and selected 3 different kinds. The first was their Green Tag Competition standard velocity (1070 FPS) cartridge. It has a 40-gr. lead round nose bullet, dark charcoal colored with a wax coating. Next was their Clean-22; a high velocity (1235 FPS) load with a 40-gr. round nose bullet that has a red polymer coating. Lastly was the Clean-22 Hyper Velocity (1550 FPS) cartridge that has a 31-gr. round nose bullet with a purple poly-coat. The listed velocities are factory figures and differ from the actual velocities measured using the Rough Riders 4.75” barrel, as can be seen in the performance chart. I decided to shoot at 30 feet, and shot three 5-shot groups with each .22 LR load. The best 5-shot group measured 1.58” and was made using the Clean-22 Hyper Velocity load. The best 3-group average was 1.73” made with the CCI Green Tag ammo. The CCI Clean-22 with the red poly-coated bullet produced the largest 3-shot group average at 2.04.”. There was one misfire with this load and one bullet key-holed with the Clean-22 Hyper Velocity round. This load tended to shoot low with its 31-gr. bullet; the other two loads shot very close to point-of-aim.

  In the center of the photo frame is the safety latch; it is in the off-safe position, exposing the red dot, making the six-shooter ready to fire.     

Shown is the best 5-shot group shot with the Heritage sixgun at 30 feet using CCI Clean-22 Hyper Velocity cartridges with purple poly-coated bullets.    

            For some off-hand fun shooting, I sent an “outlaw” reduced-size silhouette target down to the 7-yard line. From an isosceles stance, using a two-handed hold, I shot 10 rounds of each CCI .22 LR load at the target, using a center hold. The Truglo target makes a nice lime green halo around the bullet holes that are easy to see. The shooting was done as fast as I could cock the hammer, line up the sights, and press the trigger. All 30 shots stayed within the scoring rings. The light-bullet hyper velocity load shot low, but then I over-compensated and shot some of them high. Twenty of the thirty shots were in the 9, 10 and X-rings. As recoil was practically non-existent, rapid fire was easy-peasy. There were no malfunctions.       

I’m blazing away at the “outlaw” target pretending to be Bass Reeves in one of his many shoot-outs; glad the paper can’t shoot back!

            This little Heritage Rough Rider Bass Reeves .22 sixgun is not only fun to shoot, it’s affordable, as is the ammunition, and it pays homage to one of America’s little-known, but one of the great Old West peace officers, bar-none. For more information or to purchase click HERE!


Heritage Bass Reeves Revolver Specifications 

MECHANISM:          Single action only   

CALIBER:                  .22 LR

CAPACITY:               6 cartridges  

BARREL:                   4.75 in., 1:14 RH twist, 6 grooves            

OA LENGTH:            10.03 in.

EMPTY WEIGHT:    30.10 oz.

SIGHTS:                    Fixed notch rear, blade front

FINISH:                      Simulated color case-hardening, black oxide

STOCKS:                   Walnut with Bass Reeves laser-etched image

MSRP:                       $169.99



Heritage Bass Reeves Rough Rider .22 LR Performance


Ave. Velocity

Best Group

Average Group

CCI Green Tag 40 gr. Lead Round Nose Std. Velocity

831 FPS



CCI Clean-22 40 gr. Round Nose Red Poly-Coat High Velocity 

978 FPS



CCI Clean-22 31 gr. Round Nose Purple Poly-Coat Hyper Velocity

1075 FPS



NOTE:  Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second 10 ft. from the muzzle by an Oehler Model 35P chronograph, and accuracy in inches for three 5-shot groups at 30 feet.