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"
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.
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.
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
Velocity - fps
Energy - ft.-lbs.
Momentum - lbs-sec
Path - in.
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
Seems shooting it would be a good idea...
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.
Sturm Ruger & Company
||Super Redhawk -
||Double / Single
|Sights - Rear
W & E
|Sights - Front
||12 lbs Dbl / 5
Lbs 11 Oz. Single
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.