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Ruger's Super Redhawk in 480 Ruger
...a wandering narrative
©RGI Media, Inc - Published with permission
 

The Ruger Super Redhawk was introduced in 1986. The details of that introduction, and the exposed interior of the Super Redhawk, appear in  earlier coverage. Long story short, I called Ruger in 1946 and suggested that a revolver utilizing a cartridge would make for a good product. I really big revolver, with a really big cartridge would be even better. I never heard from the company directly, however, I think the presence of the Super Redhawk and the 480 Ruger suggests they were listening.
 
No, I am not serious, but I do miss those articles of the 1960's when there really were writers with enough knowledge and credibility to have that type of influence on firearm development.
 
The 480 Ruger version of the Super Redhawk came along on December 1, 2001, billed as:
 
"The Ruger .480 cartridge takes handgun performance to a new level, without the heavy recoil experienced by other big game caliber handguns. This cartridge offers power without excessively heavy recoil using Hornady's .475" diameter, 325 grain XTP Magnum bullet. The .480 Ruger cartridge can produce a muzzle velocity of 1350 fps - nearly 50 percent more muzzle energy than the .44 Magnum cartridge, with substantially less recoil than the .454 Casull. This exciting new cartridge developed by Hornady, can be said to effectively "split the difference" between the powerful .44 Magnum and the super-powerful .454 Casull hunting cartridges" 1).
 
The forward to the 480 Ruger section of recent Hornady reloading manuals indicates the same cartridge application objectives and adds a little more background regarding cartridge origins.
 
In the beginning, around 1988, John Linebaugh produced the 475 Linebaugh. The cartridge was based upon a 45-70 case, shortened to 1.400" and expanded to accept 0.475" bullets. The round was capable of pushing a 370 grain bullet to 1,495 fps/1,837 ft-lbs and a 440 grain bullet to 1,360 fps/ 1,808 ft-lbs from a modified 5 shot, 5.5" barrel Ruger Bisley revolver. In the world of relatively small and light weight handguns, that combination was and remains a beast. So it seemed reasonable to downsize a tad for folks who felt shooting a gun that put both arms in a cast was something to save for special occasions. Enter Hornady and the 480 Ruger.
 
What might these rounds look like, Joe? Glad you...
 

The 480 Ruger is essentially the 475 Linebaugh case shortened from 1.400" to 1.285", which reduces case capacity from 50 grains to 44 grains. Additionally, the pressure specification was reduced from 50,000 PSI to 48,000 PSI. Hornady factory ammunition, 325 grains, is rated at 1,350 FPS and 1,215 ft-lbs when fired from a 7.5" barrel. The 400 grain load is rated at 1,100 FPS and 1,075 ft-lbs. The objective was to produce a hard hitting big bore with recoil that falls between the 44 Remington Mag and the 454 Casull.
 
 
On November 11, 2004, Ruger, acknowledging the recoil/muzzle blast junky crowd, introduced a 2 1/2" barrel Alaskan version of the Ruger Super Redhawk chambered for the for 480 Ruger and offered it as a "...compact big bore revolver that is a practical trail gun for dangerous game country".
 
Like the longer barrel 480 Ruger Super Redhawk revolvers, the Alaskan was introduced as a 6 shot gun2). Beginning sometime in 2008, the 480 Ruger Super Redhawk became a 5 shot revolver. I do not know the facts surrounding this transient change, at least not from a credible and direct source. The rumor is that Ruger was attempting to address a sticking case problem created by handloaders pushing pressure above the cartridge's 48,000 PSI limit. Being a proactive company, they changed to a 5 shot configuration to affect a thicker cylinder wall and to alleviate the problem.
 
What I can state factually is that all current 480 Ruger Super Redhawk models have 6 shot cylinders and brass does not stick.  Some effort is required to eject empties, but this would seem to be more an issue of putting 14 square inches of sooty cartridge brass in motion with a no mechanical advantage ejector than anything else. That said, I don't believe this is a cartridge to push to higher pressures with handloads as that would defeat the purpose of this cartridge and firearm. Big bullet, lots of power, recoil between the 44 Remington Magnum and 454 Casull.
 
Sight seeing
 
As seen in the opening photo, the Ruger Super Redhawk has an excellent set of metallic sights, adjustable for windage and elevation. The rear sight insert has a white frame and the front sight starts life as bright orange. The front sight insert is a quick change type, released by pressing on a spring loaded detent that is accessible from the front of the ramp.
 
The Ruger Store offers a variety of front sight insert in multiple colors as well as in red and green fiber optics types. There is also a front/rear fully adjustable fiber optic set. Brownells offers the Ruger pieces, plus Bowen Classic Arms Ruger Revolver Rough Country rear sights.
 
The 480 Ruger is not lacking in range and the Super Redhawk has integrated scope bases and is supplied with scope rings.
 
 
No, the rear ring did not get tired and laid down. It was tipped back so that its bottom key is visible, as is the cross slot in the top of the frame. The key and cross clamp lock the rings so that they cannot move axially. There is more to the ring story in that the Super Redhawk puts both rings on the frame for greatest stability. Once clamped onto a scope they stay in place, but are easy to remove and reinstall.
 
 
With a Bushnell Elite Handgun Scope Installed, the Ruger Redhawk looks something like this. Still very compact, especially for a 6x variable scope. For the skeptics wondering why a scope would be mounted to a handgun...
 
Hornady Custom 325 Grain 101 Yards Point Blank
Yards 0 50 100 150 200
Velocity - fps 1350 1232 1136 1061 1004
Energy - ft.-lbs. 1315 1095 930 813 727
Momentum - lbs-sec 1.94 1.77 1.63 1.53 1.44
Path - in. -1.5 1.5 -1.3 -10.8 -28.0

The 480 Ruger has plenty of reach. It is point blank out to 100 yards, requires modest hold over for 150 yards and higher, but reasonable, hold over at 200 yards. That big slug has more than enough energy at any point of impact on the table. As a bonus, the scope gives a tight aiming point as opposed to metallic front sights that might provide enough cover at 200 yards to hide a deer... possibly an entire deer family.

 
Seems shooting it would be a good idea...
 
 

Manufacturer

Sturm Ruger & Company
Model Super Redhawk - 5507
Introduced 1986
Caliber 480 Ruger
Action Double / Single
Hardware Stainless Steel
Grips Hogue Monogrip
Capacity 6
Barrel Length 7.50"
Twist 1:18 RH
Sights - Rear Micro Adjustable W & E
Sights - Front Interchangeable Blade
Sight Radius 9.25"
Overall Length 13.00"
Overall Height 6.25"
Weight 53 ounces
Trigger Pull 12 lbs Dbl / 5 Lbs 11 Oz. Single
MSRP $1079
-
The 480 Ruger Super Redhawk is an interesting firearm to shoot. Recoil is somewhere between the 44 Remington Magnum and the 454 Casull... perhaps a bit more toward the 454 Casull end of things. Muzzle blast seems not as sharp as the Casull, nor does the muzzle seem to rise as high under recoil. Shooting a range session number of rounds, there was no problem with sore wrists or arms, no headaches.

Performance wise, the 7.5" barrel velocity recorded over the chronograph was 1,292 fps. The test barrel Hornady rating is 1,350. With scope in place, and shooting from a rest. 50 yard groups average 3". I'd guess someone with greater big bore revolver skills could easily trump that level of performance. The big Super Redhawk didn't make me flinch, but the anticipation of recoil did break my concentration. A lot of fun. Clearly a terrific potential for woodland deer or for hog hunting... it would be like piggy bowling with this round. Typical Ruger solid product.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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