Although I have been shooting .44 magnum handguns – single action revolvers and Thompson Contenders – for many years, I have never owned a large caliber double action revolver, nor fired a handgun in a caliber more potent than .44 mag, unless a Contender in .30-30 counts for that? To be truthful, I currently load my .44 and .45 ammo to lower velocities – and pressures – than factory ammo, even though the recoil of a full power .44 mag does not bother me that much. When I saw a Ruger Super Redhawk chambered for .480 Ruger for sale at what appeared to be a very reasonable price, however, I began to remember the things I had heard about this round – and re-read everything I could about it before deciding to take the chance and purchase the big boomer! A good supply of ammo came with the gun, in 325gr and 400gr Hornady “Custom” form with Hornady XTP hollow point bullets. When viewed with .44 or .45 loads with heavy hard cast bullets, they are definitely larger in diameter – but really don’t seem THAT much more, probably because the case length is about the same.
Swinging the cylinder out on the .480 SRH displays six very large holes where the powerful rounds will await their launch!
Another thing I like about the Super Redhawk is the non-fluted cylinder. Flutes on cylinders were originally a weight saving trick, but they have become a sort of fashion statement. When maximum strength is needed, as with really powerful cartridges, unfluted cylinders have more metal, and are the first choice. I just like the look of an unfluted cylinder, and would have gone for a 7 1/2″ barrel on my Super Blackhawk single action for that reason alone over the 5 1/2″ version, which has a fluted cylinder. Ruger also chose to use a very special stainless steel developed for use in the space industry for construction of the Redhawks, so the elimination of flutes is not actually needed – but it still fairly shouts massive strength.
The finish on my gun is called “Target Grey” by Ruger, and has been replaced by a satin stainless steel finish in newer models. I like the grey, personally, and it feels more like I expect a Ceracote or other coating finish to feel, rather than bare metal. The scope I mounted for now is the 2X Weaver that was on my Ruger .45 Blackhawk, and I think the camo wrap blends well with the grey SRH. While the 1″ rings come with the Redhawk, some owners prefer to use an Ultra-dot red dot system, which often – depending on model – uses a larger 30mm ring size (1″ is 25 mm) – and Ruger does provide 30mm rings for this use. A mount made by Weigland Combat can be ordered that fits on the frame of the gun without gun smith modifications,much like the ones I use on my Blackhawks, to convert the Redhawk mount system to accept Weaver-style rings for the 30mm – or a rail mount sight like my big C More holo sight. The Weigland mount uses the Ruger base slots plus the rear sight screw hole for what might be a more secure mount than the Ruger rings. The other option would be to use the Ultra Dot 1″ sight, which should work with the Ruger rings and spacing.
Even though the .480 in full power mode is supposed to have less recoil than other big bore handgun cartridges like the .454 Casull or the .475 Linebough there are still steps a prudent shooter might take to control the recoil he does get. The easiest and most economical of these is to replace the “stock” Hogue rubber Mono-grip with the “Tamer” version of the same grip. This one has a soft, blue silicon rubber insert inside the grip to cushion the blow of the gun coming back under recoil. It also has a more straight rear angle, instead of the “hump” found on the original grip – which is very uncomfortable to my hand even without firing the gun. The Tamer grip for the Redhawk (in any caliber) is about $20 from Amazon, and easily worth that.
I will find out soon, I hope, how well the Tamer works, and also the Mag-Na-Porting near the muzzle that a previous owner must have had done. I am normally not a big fan of porting, because of the extra noise it invariably creates, but on a really BIG caliber revolver, I suspect it will prove of value. Because of weather and family commitments, I might not get to shoot the Redhawk until after the coming weekend, by which time my Pro Aim shooting gloves should have arrived.These gloves have a gel padded palm and incorporate a brace – and are said to significantly reduce felt recoil.
As I mentioned earlier, the .480 Ruger is regarded as producing less recoil than the .454, .475, or other big bore revolver cartridges. The reason is that though it shoots a .475″ bullet of usually a heavier weight than the .454, it does so at a lower velocity and pressure. The .480, like the .475, claims the .45/70 rifle cartridge as its parent case, and is actually a “cut down” .475 that can be fired in it’s larger sibling, much as a .44 Special may be fired in a .44 magnum. The Hornady factory loads I obtained with the gun show the 400 gr XTP version rated by Hornady at 1100 fps, the 325 a bit faster at 1350 fps. When looking over load recipes from the Hodgdon manual, I found three of my favorite powders prominently mentioned – H110, Titegroup, and Trail Boss. With H110, reloaders can “push” velocities into or even beyond .454 speeds, as with a 375gr Hard Cast at 1454 fps, or a 410gr at 1328. Those will probably get your attention! Even with Titegroup, which I am using more and more as a substitute for the harder to get Universal that is one of my “go-to” powders for medium level handgun loads, velocities with those same two bullets can be 1137 and 1019. On the other hand, a starting load of Titegroup has published velocities of 1047 for the 375gr and 925 for the 410, which should be fairly manageable.
Trail Boss was developed for Cowboy Action Shooting, and only for use with lead bullets. TB “start” loads push the 373gr to only 597 fps, and the 410gr to 469. Even a max charge of TB only produces 689 fps from the 375 gr and 645 fps with the 410gr. While I would not expect these to be total cream puff loads with the bullet weights involved, they should certainly be more enjoyable to shoot than the loads with a heavy charge of H110. It will, however, take some time on the firing line to determine how effective they might be on live targets. Unique is another powder often recommended for the .480, and as I have some of that in the cabinet, also, I may give it a try.
Now for a reality check: I don’t really NEED a .480 Ruger – but don’t tell my wife! I did, however, really WANT one! Unless hunting on an exotic ranch where there are bison, elk, and large African antelope or imported Nilgi, the .480 at full strength is pretty much overkill – pun intended – for whitetail deer. Feral hogs are a more worthy target, but even then a revolver larger than .44 magnum is not really necessary. As mentioned, I shoot .44 and .45LC with HC bullets in the 300gr range at from 800 – 1000 fps, and they kill hogs very handily. I suspect a 400gr bullet at 1000 fps would probably be every bit as effective, but doubt the same bullet at over 1300 fps will kill a hog any “deader”. Of course, I don’t really HAVE to kill hogs at all, I can do like the environmentalists and get my meat at the grocery store – but what fun is that? Also, living in Texas, there is always the slight chance I might be able to go after some of those larger animals that roam parts of our state one day.
This post will be expanded to include actual shooting data as soon as the pieces fall into place to allow me to do some shooting.