The big news of the year in the firearms world, in case you haven’t heard, is that this week RUGER announced a “factory offering” of Super Blackhawk SINGLE-ACTION revolvers chambered for .454 Casull and .480 Ruger calibers! This is something single action enthusiasts have been begging for and Ruger has been denying they would ever do since the .480 Ruger cartridge was first introduced in the Super Redhawk double action revolver back in 2009. Although customer revolver smiths like Hamilton Bowen and Andy Horvarth have been producing custom five-shot single actions in .480 almost since its introduction, Ruger has maintained that they could not maintain their normal margins of safety in such a gun, and reserved the .454 and .480 to the heavier-built Super Redhawk.
The new gun is an all stainless steel Bisley model with a 6 1/2″ barrel. The frame is 416 stainless, while the cylinder is machined from Carpenter stainless developed for the space program – just as the Super Redhawk is constructed. The Bisley grip frame is to help with the recoil expected from this revolver, which is lighter than the SRH. Other options usually found on custom revolvers are a locking base pin and recessed chamber “heads” allowing the cartridge rim to be enclosed, which helps keep the cartridges from extending too far the wrong way and impeding the operation of the gun. Keeping this a 5 shot gun allows for more thickness of metal between chambers, and also keeps the cocking notches between cylinders – both proven steps for greater strength. The original Super Redhawk .480’s were also 5 shooters.
Max Prasac – a noted gun writer who specializes in big bore handguns – was allowed to participate in the secret testing of the new guns (and I know he didn’t let the secret slip when emailing me about .480 loads and techniques in the past month or so!), and says he fired approximately 5000 rounds through the .480, 1000 through the .454 – leaving him with a pair of very sore hands! Others who were “in the loop” while these guns were in the development and testing stage – and while I wasn’t – are Bogue Quinn of the GUN BLASTS website and Jack Weigland – who makes no drill scope mounts for various revolvers. I have seen pictures of the mount Jack came up with for the .454/.480, and it appears massive and well designed. He answered the question of why Ruger did not bring these calibers out in their “Hunter” model with integral scope mounting system by saying he thought the .454, at least, would destroy the Ruger rings in short order. My Super Redhawk .480 has the same mounting system, though, and it seems to handle the recoil of that cartridge perfectly. Of course, the .454 is a more savage animal than the .480.
Personally, I have not felt the need for a .454 anything, but admit to a feeling of yearning for a certain black finished .480 single action Jack Huntington built for Max Prasac! I suspect Ruger will be taking a lot of business from the custom guys with these two new revolvers. At the present, these big boomers are a Lipsey’s dealer exclusive only, but hopes are they will go into regular production as did the .44 Special Flat-Top recently. The MSRP is being stated as $969 – as compared to a custom single action that will run upwards of $2,000, with a long wait time – but I have already seen one dealer offering the .454 for $789.
Although I am very much in favor of this step by Ruger, and think it will be very successful for them, after overcoming my initial excitement I think my own .480 Super Redhawk will take care of my .480 needs – at least for now.