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Heritage Roscoe Review

Heritage Roscoe Review


Heritage Manufacturing has been producing economical .22 single action (SA) revolvers for many years; now they are breaking into the concealed carry revolver market with a short-barrel double action (DA) revolver in .38 Special. Doing a visual, it looks very much like a throwback to a small-frame snub-nose that was introduced in 1950. As such, it has been given the moniker “Roscoe.” This retro name harkens back to the early 1900’s, when Roscoe was a slang term for a handgun.

Appearance

The Roscoe is very similar in appearance to the S&W Chiefs Special, but there are several notable differences. Both have two points of lock-up for the cylinder; the Chief locks at the rear of the cylinder and at the front of the ejector rod. The Roscoe locks at the rear of the cylinder and on the yoke or crane. A small lug below the barrel, near the muzzle, offers some protection to the ejector rod. The Roscoe’s well-designed 1/8” serrated front sight mates well with the square-notch, fixed rear sight. The shape of the thumb piece/cylinder release latch is nicely rounded which won’t nick the thumb during recoil. The smooth-faced trigger is 1/4” wide and the short hammer spur is deeply checkered. It appears the wood stocks are a laminate, nicely checkered, with an attractive grain and color. Like the Chief, the Roscoe is all-steel, and the polished blue finish, and metal-to-metal fit is outstanding. The Roscoe is rated for .38 Special +P cartridges.

The “Service-type” grips aren’t compatible with my hand, so I installed a grip adapter on my Roscoe. To pack the Roscoe, I ordered a Revolver OWB holster from Versacarry. It’s made for the J-frame and constructed of Water Buffalo leather with a distressed brown color, and a black patch. It’s a high-ride, pancake design with 2-inch belt notches, and has an adjustable tension screw in the trigger guard area. I paired it with a Barranti Leather Co. SS Spare Pouch. This OWB pouch holds a speed strip with up to six cartridges in .38 Special. Mine is black leather and fits a 1-3/4” belt. For this T&E I used a Swift Strip from DeSantis Gun Hide. It’s made of black neoprene, holds six .38 rounds, and has a serrated tab.

Ammunition

I selected five .38 Special loads for this T&E. A 148 gr. wadcutter from Black Hills Ammunition and a 158 gr. round-nose lead bullet from Remington-UMC were “Period-Correct.” Representing contemporary self-defense ammunition, was Cor-Bon DPX, with a 110 gr. solid copper HP bullet at +P pressures. Next, the Hornady Critical Defense Lite load with a 90 gr. FTX-HP bullet, with a polymer plug in the hollow nose. Last, was the SIG-Sauer Elite Performance +P ammunition with a 125 gr. V-Crown JHP bullet.

Performance and Accuracy

At the range, my first task was velocity testing with my Oehler Model 35P chronograph, the data can be seen in the accompanying performance table. Shooting was from the bench, using a sandbag rest, in SA mode, at 10 yards. After some sighting shots, I found the Roscoe was well regulated windage-wise. Elevation-wise, I had to vary my point of aim based on the bullet weight. Overall, point-of-aim/point of impact was good.

Accurate shooting was benefited by the Roscoe’s crisp 4-pound SA pull weight. Three 5-shot groups were made with each brand of cartridges. The tightest 5-shot group was made using the Black Hills wadcutter load and measured 1.70,” with a 3-group average of 2.35.” Runner-up was Cor-Bon’s DPX load with a 1.90” group. The accuracy data is in the performance table below.

For a practical shooting exercise, I modified a 30-round qualification course. Sliding the Versacarry holster and Barranti SS Spare pouch on my belt; I loaded the Roscoe with a mix of the test ammunition; 5 rounds in the gun and put 5 rounds in the DeSantis Swift Strip. A realistic “bad guy” target was sent down-range. The six shooting stages were at 3, 7 and 10 yards. At close range, instinctive shooting was done one-handed; at 7 yards, sights were used and there was double-tap and failure drills, plus 5 rapid-fire shots. At 10 yards, a barricade position was used. 

I scored 132/150 points on the course. The target was marked with light-colored scoring zones. Four shots hit the 3-Zone and ten rounds impacted the 4-Zone (chest area). The other hits were in the 5-Zones (heart/head). The “bad guy’s” dark clothing made the fixed sights hard to see. I wore my regular glasses, as I would on the street, and believe a light-colored insert on the rear of the front sight would be an enormous help.

Conclusion

My single complaint with the Roscoe was the left-side wood stocks. The upper portion 1/4” thick, and when ejecting spent cartridge cases, one of two would hang up between the rear of the cylinder and the top-edge of the grip panel. The stock/grip design doesn’t lend itself well to speed-loader use. I tried a J-frame HKS speedloader and getting the two rounds into the cylinder closest to the grips was difficult.

On the plus side, the double-action trigger pull was smooth, with a pull weight of about 13-pounds, which helped with rapid-fire accuracy. The well-designed thumbpiece didn’t give me a case of “J-frame Thumb.” The checkering on the stocks combined with the grip adapter provided good control while shooting quickly, and recoil and muzzle flip wasn’t excessive in the 20.8 oz. 5-shooter. The Roscoe ran just fine; the exception being the issue with the grips. I would certainly give the Roscoe all due consideration if I was looking for a small-frame snubby.

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 10 yards.

Heritage Roscoe Specifications

  • MECHANISM: SA/DA revolver
  • CALIBER: .38 Special +P
  • CAPACITY: 5 cartridges
  • BARREL: 2.0”
  • OA LENGTH: 6.55”
  • EMPTY WEIGHT: 20.8 oz.
  • SIGHTS: Fixed rear, serrated ramp front
  • FINISH: Polished blue steel
  • STOCKS: Laminated checkered wood
  • MSRP: $363.99
By William Bell

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