In 2020 Heritage Firearms introduced their Barkeep .22-caliber revolver. Heritage produces all those bargain-basement utilitarian Western-style rimfire wheelguns you see everywhere firearms are sold. The most expensive of the lot, a fascinating revolving rifle version of their basic Peacemaker design titled the Rough Rider Rancher, still sports an MSRP of only $333. The Barkeep was, until recently, the opposite lower end of the spectrum.
All Heritage revolvers sport a common action that apes the timeless Colt Peacemaker. Cast frames keep costs down and there are enough options concerning finishes, grip styles and barrel lengths to entertain the most discriminating narcissistic gun diva. The Barkeep sports either a 2″ or 3″ barrel. For those who feel 2″ might seem excessive, Heritage now offers the Heritage Barkeep Boot.
The Barkeep Boot uses the same 6-round alloy steel cylinder as the larger Heritage revolvers along with the generous Colt-style spur hammer. There is a classic bird’s head frame along with a bewildering array of grip options. The barrel is a paltry 1″ long.
The Barkeep Boot looks like a gun that had an unfortunate encounter with a meat slicer. It’s not that this barrel is simply short, it’s almost nonexistent. This whole gun will hide in the palm of your hand.
The barrel is way too short to accommodate an ejector rod, so there simply isn’t one. The gun comes with a nifty little wooden-handled tool you can use to push the empties out from the front. If you ever lose it, any handy nail would accomplish the same mission.
Takedown is the same as any comparable Colt revolver. Press the cylinder pin catch, remove the pin and drop the cylinder out to the side. The right-sided loading gate works just as you might expect. The Barkeep Boot will accept the Heritage .22 Magnum cylinder (a bargain at $30) but the stubby little tube is too short to stabilize most .22 Magnum rounds. The gun will run safely with these loads but the promotional literature warns keyholing might occur. I rather suspect the noise it would make thusly charged would be detectable by the Mars Rover as well.
There’s no room for a front sight. The top strap has the expected sighting groove but this is about it. Fret not, you’ll not be ringing steel a kilometer distant with this thing anyway.
The left side of the gun includes an additional manual safety lever ruining the trim little gun’s aesthetics. This rotating lever does indeed make the pistol safer to carry, but it looks about as natural as John Wayne in a tutu. I suspect some lawyer is responsible for it — the manual safety, not the tutu. To my knowledge John Wayne never practiced ballet.
To be unrepentantly tasteless, the manual of arms is so simple even Alec Baldwin could manage it. Open the loading gate, put the hammer on half cock and fill the cylinder. Close the loading gate, point the gun at something you dislike, cock the hammer and squeeze. Repeat as necessary.
Accuracy is about what you would expect for a pistol with a 1″ barrel and no sights. Out to seven meters or so it shoots fairly straight. At 20 or more it becomes an area weapon system. However, there are lots of well-respected short-barreled pistols in the world. Your typical North American Arms mini-revolver or a Derringer of most any sort is in the same ballpark. Cut the Boot some slack.
The Barkeep Boot is indeed fun to shoot and just stupid loud. It also produces the most delightfully brisk muzzle flash when fired at dusk. With an MSRP of around 200 bucks and the cheap availability of rimfire ammo, the Boot represents an exceptionally cost-effective way to kill time on the range.
So, What’s It Good For?
Honestly, this is a good question. It really would ride in your boot if you were willing to leave the chamber under the hammer empty and didn’t wiggle around unduly. Likewise, the Boot would fit in the pocket of a decent jacket if you just didn’t want to wander about unarmed.
The real practical application I see for the Boot is as a snake gun. If you don’t live in the Deep South, just feel free to skip over to Mas Ayoob’s column now. Down here, however, we are blessed with poisonous snakes aplenty. The Boot is cheap enough to keep in your tackle box. Stoke the rascal with rat shot and it would be just the ticket for sending water moccasins to snake heaven while out drowning crickets for bream.
The Heritage Firearms Barkeep Boot is just weird enough to be cool. It’s not the gun you’d grab if you suddenly saw zombies staggering up your peaceful little cul-de-sac, but it has a legitimate place in a decent working gun collection. Cheap, quirky, cute and neat, the Barkeep Boot is indeed one nifty piece of iron.