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Editor’s note: I have gotten a little behind in the schedule.  Fortunately, Facebook blocked me for posting in violation of community standards i.e. making calm, rational political comment within a thread of like minded people, devoid of personal attacks, foul language, or disrespectful characterizations. Yes, I am a libertarian leaning conservative. Thank you for asking. In any event, I have now freed up ninety percent of my waken hours and my head has stopped exploding over far left commentary. It seems only fair to celebrate by writing about firearms.

Ruger Super Redhawk 480 Ruger
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 12.2 lbs Dbl / 5.3 Lbs. Single
MSRP $1189
CA and MA

The Ruger Super Redhawk double action hunting revolver has been with us since 1986; a follow on to the Ruger Redhawk of 1979 and an amplification of the GP100 modular design of 1985. The 480 Ruger version was introduced on December 1, 2001, although I have to say it took a couple of years before I could find one in a local gun store. The combination of the Ruger Super Redhawk and 480 Ruger cartridge reflects an exercise in restraint. In the words of the company… to be read in the voice of James Earl Jones.

“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).

Experience tells me this is a truthful and insightful statement and I think that is true of many Ruger innovations. Look into the detail of their designs and there is always a rational and well articulated objective rather than marketing hyperbole.

The Ruger Super Redhawk, henceforth known as “The Revolver”…
The Super Redhawk is actually a pretty compact double action revolver within its group of big bore contemporaries, probably because it is big where it needs to be and trim where it won’t sacrifice strength. Pictured clean, above, the Ruger’s large, 6 round 1.800″ wide x 1.75″ long cylinder, 0.350″ thick top strap, 0.970″ wide frame extension, and 0.910″ diameter barrel. The metallic sights are micro adjustable for windage and elevation and the frame top is scalloped to accept Ruger scope rings.
Where a Ruger Super Blackhawk version is a five shot to assure adequate chamber separation and wall thickness, the Redhawk’s 0.070″ larger diameter cylinder and smaller diameter ejector allow cylinder capacity to be a full six rounds with plenty of beef in the chamber walls. The Super Redhawk is a true triple lock revolver.

When I first saw the Super Redhawk, I thought it was a bit of a platypus… almost as though someone made a snub nose revolver and decided they wanted to lengthen the barrel as an afterthought. Process heat treat and Carpenter steel give the cylinder a yellowish cast in comparison to the rest of the platinum colored stainless, but the look grew on me as every feature and appearance supported function and then the design was easy to appreciate.

I am not one of those guys who can take a firearm apart once, and then reassemble it in the dark, wearing a blindfold and standing on my head. In fact, I had to disassembled a 1911 type 137 times between 1961 and 1963 before I could insert a slide stop without scratching a frame and insert the recoil spring plug without denting the ceiling. I don’t mean to bore you, but I find it therapeutic to occasionally unburden myself.

The Ruger Super Redhawk is made for the guy with average mechanical skills to be able to disassemble, clean and maintain. The design is modular, the arrangement of assembly is intuitive. The grip comes off, the mainspring and strut are pulled, the hammer pivot and hammer are removed, the entire trigger guard assembly is unlatched and pulled out and the cylinder is removed by sliding it forward.

With experience shooting the Ruger Super Redhawk in: 10mm Auto, 41 Rem Mag, 44 Rem Mag, 454 Casull, and 480 Ruger in both standard and snub nose Alaskan versions as apply, I can say that some versions are easier to shoot than others. Up through 44 Rem Mag it is a pretty easy shooting revolver. The 454 Casull is a little more… attention getting to the extent that it can be unpleasant when shooting a quantity of heavy loads. Whereas the 480 Ruger feels not much different from the 44 Rem Mag.

The cartridge – In the beginning….

There was the 475 Linebaugh, formally introduced in 1988. Designed by the very creative, gunsmith and experimenter John 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, originally from a modified 5 shot, 5.5″ barrel Ruger Bisley revolver.

The 480 Ruger is essentially the 475 Linebaugh case shortened from 1.400″ to 1.285″, which reduced 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.  Hornady rates this load for both medium (50-300 lbs) and large (300-1500 lbs) game. Ammunition is also produced by Buffalo Bore – 410 Grain, Grizzly – 425 grain and Underwood 300 grain. Velocity rises and falls with bullet weight, kinetic energy follows.

Right – 45 Colt, 454 Casull and 480 Ruger:

Table below – Common big bore calibers on a more equal footing, factory ammo. As there is no SAAMI standard for 45 Colt +P ammunition, the pressure indicated is an approximation of +P pressure in common use.


Cartridge Bullet
45 Colt +P 325 1325 30000*
454 Casull 325 1330 50000
480 Ruger 325 1350 48000

Sight systems to suit

The sights that come standard with the Ruger Super Redhawk are good ones. The micro adjustable rear sights shift approximately 3/4″ per click adjustment of windage or elevation. The ribbed ramp front sight’s orange insert contrasts well with the rear sight’s white outlined aperture, both contrast well against most backdrops light or dark.

Over the years I’ve grown fond of various optical sight. Open red dot sights are the easiest and probably the fastest in hunting circumstances when following a moving target. The only draw back is that the dot is sometimes too large to promote critical aiming. Handgun scopes like the Bushnell shown above, 2x – 7x, initially presented a challenge. Long eye relief, smallish field of view take some getting used to and holding steady at higher magnification make me gave I gave up smoking  twenty years ago. My thought is that if I am going to hunt game at a distance… 100 yards or more, I have a responsibility to outfit myself with equipment that will contribute to a quick, clean kill.

Factory ammo performance

480 Ruger Cartridge Bullet
Federal Premium Barnes HP 275 1350 1488*
Hornday HP/XTP 325 1350 1345
Buffalo Bore Cast 410 1200 1219

*The velocity entered in not in error. Five back to back shots over the chronograph were within 18 FPS.  The Federal ammunition type has been discontinued, however, I wanted a bench mark in anticipation of developing handloads in Part II with this bullet weight.

Across the board, all ammunition gave the 480 Ruger has a big bore bark and a big bore handshake but, unlike the 454 Casull, my ears didn’t take a beating through protective ear buffs. Additionally, no thumped knuckles or muzzle pointing to the sky making follow up shots reasonable.

Hornady 325 grain put up the best three shot, 50 yard groups. Left – this one measured 1 1/4″… off a rest and through a scope. In Part II, when I’ve had a chance to work through a substantial number of rounds at the range and my nervous system has become dead to recoil and muzzle blast, I will post further accuracy detail.

Part I conclusion…

The Ruger Super Redhawk is a solid revolver with all of the features necessary for a quality medium and big game hunting revolver. Tomorrow is range day with factory ammo and hopefully handloads lined up to see how the Super Redhawk will perform.  Part II up next.
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