Review: Heritage Settler Lever-Action .22 LR Rifle

by
posted on March 4, 2024
001 HS20 Cover 01

Fans of the ubiquitous .22 LR rimfire cartridge are likely to have come across the affordably priced, single-action Rough Rider revolvers from Heritage Manufacturing Co. These scaled down six guns are durable, reliable and among the least expensive handguns available. The company also offers revolving carbines and a variety of in-house Rough Rider custom components.

But as of 2023, Heritage began to expand its lineup of long guns in a new direction. Working in partnership with sister company Rossi USA (both manufacturers are owned by Taurus Holdings, Inc.), it launched the Settler series of .22 LR lever-actions. With model options including rifle, carbine and Mare's Leg pistol configurations, this review takes a closer look at the 20-inch barrel rifle.

Heritage Settler Lever Gun

The first question folks will probably ask about the Settler will be in regards to the overall level of quality it offers. This company's rimfire revolvers are manufactured to be as affordably priced as possible. No matter how you slice it, a $170 Rough Rider simply will not exhibit the same level of refinement as more expensive single-actions like the $900 Ruger Single-Ten.

But it was clear to see as Settler came out of its box that this gun is intended to compete with the popular Henry H001 series, while providing a few features not available in the Rossi rimfire catalog. The hardwood furniture to metal fitment was tight and clean throughout. The metal finishes are all evenly and properly applied and the action felt nice and smooth right out of the box. The Settler's suggested retail price of $507.99 is translating into real-world price tags hovering close to the $400 mark, which is in the same range as Henry and Rossi branded lever-action rimfires. As first impressions go, the Settler makes a good one.   

Heritage Settler Stock

This .22 LR lever-action rifle is clearly based on the classically styled Rossi Rio Bravo, which in turn is a variation of the Rossi R92. The left-side barrel stamp reads, "Made in Brazil by CBC Cal. 22 LR." CBC is an abbreviation for Companhia Brasileira de Cartuchos in Ribeirão Pires, São Paulo. Because the barrel is stamped .22 LR, and not .22 LR/.22 L/.22 S like some other brands, I only used .22 LR ammunition for informal and formal testing. I've seen some evaluations of the R92 which included .22 Short cartridges, but until otherwise informed, I'm going to stick with the barrel marking.

Heritage Settler receiver

The 20-inch long round-profile barrel is made of matte-blued carbon steel. The iron sights consist of a dovetailed brass-bead blade sight up front, with an adjustable Buckhorn sight at the rear. The 18-inch fixed tubular magazine holds up to 15 rounds of ammunition and is stabilized by an aluminum barrel clamp. The magazine’s twist-out brass liner is topped off with a knurled polymer end cap along with a rubber O-ring to eliminate rattle. This liner can be removed completely or pulled out most of the way to allow for rounds to be loaded though the magazine's cartridge-shaped loading port.

The Settler's receiver is lightweight aluminum alloy, sporting a 3/8-inch grooved rail along the top which serves as a scope mount. The receiver's cover plate, along with the fore-end cap, have been treated with a proprietary finish which is described as simulated case hardening. The result looks like a polished copper or brass with a swirling tarnish. I like how the finish is simultaneously intriguing, yet blends in nicely with this rifle's other features.

Heritage Settler front sight

The hardwood furniture is smooth with a dark matte finish which shows off the grain nicely. The styling of this series' circled 'H' logo is reminiscent of 19th-century cattle brands. It looks right at home engraved on either side of the shoulder stock, near the base of the blued steel butt plate, which provides a 13.25-inch length of pull (LOP). The remaining components are blued steel, including the various standard screws, sling swivel studs, the smooth-faced trigger, oversize lever loop and the exposed hammer with its grooved spur. The expanded belly of the lever loop is more comfortable to work with and suitable for use with gloves.

Heritage Settler with ammo and tube removed

The trigger is of the two-stage variety. First, the hammer must be fully cocked either manually or by cycling the lever. Once cocked, the trigger of this particular rifle exhibited a light takeup before a firm stop. It then broke cleanly with 4-pounds 4-ounces of trigger pull and some travel after the break. It proved to be an enjoyable trigger to use with along with the clean feel of the lever's swing. This model has two external safeties. The hammer can be partially cocked, which acts both as a drop safety and disengages the trigger to prevent the rifle from firing. This gun also has a push-button type cross bolt safety located behind the trigger guard. The hammer must be partially cocked in order for the cross bolt safety to be pressed into the SAFE position.

Heritage with optic mounted

At the shooting range, the Settler was put through its paces using a variety of commonly available practice and premium-grade, high-velocity .22 LR ammunition with bullet weights between 36 to 40-grains. Although some .22 LR semi-automatics can be ammunition sensitive, lever-actions like this one tend to be roach guns, meaning they will reliably feed, fire and eject just about every load available. This rifle cheerfully worked its way through all of the loads tested. I had a couple of failures to fire with some bulk-box ammunition, but these were ammunition-related malfunctions caused by faulty primers, not the rifle. The only mechanical issue that cropped up in the course of testing was the loss of the front sight’s brass bead somewhere along the way. The iron sights are still usable without the bead but I do miss it since it’s easier to see.

Heritage Settler in rest

Formal bench-rested accuracy testing was conducted at 50-yards with an Athlon Optics Neos 3-9x40mm BDC 22 Rimfire Reticle (#216003) scope mounted to the rifle using Warne Maxima 1-inch High 7.3/22 Quick Detach rings. I was supposed to fire three, 3-shot groups per load to check the accuracy. But I settled into a long-time routine of firing five, 5-shot groups. I have no regrets about this because it resulted in additional trigger time with a likable, soft-shooting lever action. Bullet velocities were measured for 10 consecutive shots fired next to a LabRadar chronograph with a 12-inch offset from the muzzle.

Heritage Settler rimfire ammo lineup

Winchester's Wildcat Super Speed 40-grain copper plated Dynapoint hollow point left the muzzle traveling an average of 1314-fps, with a best 5-shot group of 1.26 inches and a five group average of 1.41-inches. Federal's AutoMatch 40-grain lead round nose took flight at 1187 fps with a best group of 0.83-inches and an average of 1.07 inches. The tightest single group of 0.55 inches was produced using CCI's 36-grain copper plated hollow point Mini Mag load. It traveled at 1266 fps (six feet faster than the listed velocity) with a group average of 0.77 inches.

CCI ammunition on target

The addition of the Settler series of .22 LR lever guns to the Heritage Manufacturing Co. lineup is an interesting choice. On the one hand, the diversification of this company's catalog is a good thing and the rifles themselves are top notch. They handle well, look great and they are different from other lever .22s currently on the market. On the other hand, sometimes customers who are used to rock bottom prices may need some time to adjust to new options positioned at a different price point. But the Settlers have been shipping for about a year now and Heritage is expanding again with the addition of a new-for-2024 double-barrel coach gun dubbed The Badlander. Based on what I've seen so far, I hope this Heritage long gun trend continues.

Heritage Settler stock stamp closup

Technical Specifications

  • Type: lever-action rimfire rifle
  • Caliber: .22 LR
  • Magazine: fixed tube; 15-round capacity
  • Barrel: 20 inches, blued steel, 1:16-inch RH twist
  • Trigger: two stage; pull weight Two-Stage; 4-pounds 4-ounces (as tested)
  • Sights: brass bead blade front, adjustable Buckhorn rear
  • Safety: cross bolt button, partial cock hammer
  • Stocks: smooth hardwood; blued-steel butt plate; LOP 13.25 inches
  • Metal Finish: proprietary finished aluminum; matte blued steel
  • Overall Length: 37.90 inches
  • Weight: 5 pounds 9.2 ounces unloaded
  • Accessories: lock, owner's manual
  • MSRP: $507.99 (Model 22L1264A); heritagemfg.com

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