Ruger Redhawk Review

Appreciating the 4-inch .45 Colt Ruger Redhawk, ‘among the highest achievements in revolver design.’


The 4-inch-barrel Ruger Redhawk revolver in .45 Colt is among the highest achievements in revolver design and manufacture. This is an immensely strong gun, as testified by the fact that it is also made in .454 Casul. The strongest and most corrosion-resistant alloys are employed in its making. The cylinder wall thickness is .110 inch and it is made from Carpenter Steel’s Custom 465 stainless steel. The barrels are made from Carpenter Steel’s Project 7000 15Cr-5Ni stainless steel.
Because they are intended to take maximum loads, the chambers are machined to close tolerances, so hand loads should be full length resized. The gun is made without a sideplate for extra frame strength. The parts are massive with large bearing surfaces to spread out the wear over a larger area, thus prolonging the parts’ life. Its designers, Harry Sefried and Roy Melcher, made it without screws, as screws are always backing out on revolvers as they fire. Always. If you are going to shoot a revolver much, you normally have to have the proper screwdrivers fitted to the gun and it is a very good idea to tighten them after every box of cartridges with many guns.

Colt and Smith & Wesson traditionally had cylinder latches that slid back and forth. Some men had the latch on the S&W Triple Lock cut into them, and having a latch that pushes forward to unlock like the S&W means some people will move it when the gun recoils against their thumb. The Redhawk’s cylinder latch is pushed in to pivot and unlock the cylinder, thus eliminating these problems. The cylinder is securely bolted fore and aft with parts big enough to ensure long life in hard service. The mainspring operates two linkages, one to push the hammer forward and one to return the trigger. Pulling the trigger compresses the hammer spring. All this results in positive ignition with a lighter trigger pull than the older designs necessitate. For safety’s sake, trigger pulls were kept in the normal range but they are a marked improvement over previous designs’ trigger pulls.
They also made it a modular design that can be taken apart by the owner, as opposed to traditional double-action revolvers that are best left to a gunsmith to take apart and put back together.
THIS IS A massive gun, weighing 46 ounces and having an overall length of 9½ inches. The 4-inch barrel is perfect for this gun, as anything longer is going to make it harder to wear, especially when sitting. It is fitted with soft Hogue Monogrips. Trigger pull on the test gun is 11 pounds for double-action and 5½ pounds for single-action, as measured with a Lyman trigger pull gauge from Brownell’s Gunsmithing Supplies. The trigger pull is smooth and perfect. There is just no other way to describe it. Recoil is just not there.
It has been described as like shooting a .22 pistol with more smoke. Despite its size, my 5-foot-2 wife Betty had no trouble firing it with one hand or hitting with it. Shooting it is a dream come true.
You can shoot 2- to 3-inch groups offhand at 25 yards all day long with one hand or two, firing either single-action or double-action. It just doesn’t seem to matter much with this particular gun. I love a gun that is easy to hit with and have little use for one that is difficult to hit with.
I had 1,570 rounds to fire through it, consisting of the following:
  • 500 rounds of Black Hills 250-grain RNFP cowboy action loads at 725 feet per second
  • 60 rounds of Federal 225-grain lead semi-wadcutter hollow point at 830 fps
  • 150 rounds of Federal Blazer 200-grain JHP with non-reloadable aluminum cases
  • 150 rounds of Aguila 200-grain lead cowboy action loads at 600 fps
  • 100 rounds of Hornady Leverevolution 226-grain FTX at 950 fps
  • 100 rounds of Hornady 185-grain FTX at 920 fps
  • 100 rounds of Fiocchi 250-grain LRNFP cowboy action loads at 750 fps
  • 250 rounds of Armscor 255-grain lead cowboy action loads at 800 fps
  • 50 rounds of Georgia Arms 200-grain Deer Stopper at 1,100 fps
  • 50 rounds of Georgia Arms 250-grain LRNFP cowboy action loads at 725 fps
  • And 60 rounds of CorBon Hunter 300-grain +P JSP at 1,300 fps (This load is only for the Redhawk and other guns also capable of handling the .454 Casul. It will blow up a SAA.)
ALMOST EVERY ROUND was fired double action, for that is what this pistol was designed for and it can be fired accurately this way so easily. This ammo can be quickly loaded by the use of the HKS Speedloaders.
HKS also can furnish waterproof faux leather carrying cases that accommodate two of their speedloaders. This is a very great improvement over carrying spare ammo in belt loops and enables the revolver to be reloaded almost as fast as an automatic pistol. That is important when facing an attacking man or beast, as dogs often run in packs, whether they are the two legged or four-legged variety.
For holsters, you can’t do better than a pancake holster. I have used these since they first came out in the early 1970s. They hold the gun tight against your body for concealment, yet they can be drawn in an instant.
A thumb break snap offers fast fumble free release of the pistol. El Paso Saddlery makes a fine one for this gun that they call their “Tortilla” holster. This firm dates back to the Wild West days when they made holsters for John Wesley Hardin, the deadliest gunfighter with the longest list of men killed in gunfights. Most importantly, this is not a tight molded holster boasting weapon retention if someone else tries to snatch your gun out of the holster. Such holsters can get you killed in a gunfight, as they can seize the gun quickly if the draw is the least bit sloppy. I avoid such holsters like the plague. The Tortilla holster holds the pistol quite securely when the safety snap is unsnapped, as when entering a dangerous situation.
Ruger also sells an open carry holster with a conventional safety strap that is very fast but not readily concealable. The safety strap is a necessity with this holster, as the gun can come out easily if you move fast with it unsnapped.
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POWER-WISE, THE ORIGINAL .45 Colt loading of a 250-grain bullet over 40 grains of black powder at 900 fps proved a fine cartridge for everything in North America. It was designed to bring down an enemy’s horse with one shot at 100 yards, which it did very well. When it was first issued, the cavalry was dedicated to wiping out the Indians’ larder, and troopers used to ride alongside a buffalo and kill it with their new M1873 Colt SAA revolvers. It was the standard caliber for bear protection until “Magnum-itis” swept the country and it was not found lacking.
If you want magnum velocities, CorBon loads a 300-grain .45 Colt at 1,300 fps for this gun, as well as a 335-grain load at 1,050 fps, which does not have the sonic boom crack added to the report that loads over 1,100 fps have. These loads will blow up a SAA and are only intended for guns that have been built extra strong for calibers like .454 Casul. The Ruger Redhawk takes them in stride nicely.
This is a gun that will take care of all your hunting and self-defense revolver needs. There are some things that a double-action revolver is simply the best choice for. For any type of police work where a prisoner may have to be covered by a pistol, anything other than a double-action revolver is too likely to accidentally go off in that high-stress situation.
For the homeowner wanting a loaded gun by the bedside, the same thing applies. Since the average man buying a pistol for this purpose rarely masters it and any member of the family may have to use it in an emergency, it is vital to keep it simple. With a double-action revolver, all you have to do is point and pull the trigger. At the across-the-room ranges typical of these encounters, there will be no problem hitting. This gun may be massive and heavy but no member of the family old enough to shoot will have a problem with it. Since guns kept for this purpose are left loaded with little maintenance in many cases, the stainless steel construction is a definite asset.
In all scenarios, the one-shot stopping power of the .45 Colt cartridge is the key to the shooter’s survival. It does not need or depend on expanding bullets to get the job done. It is already big enough. I have seen enough cases of expanding bullets failing to expand that I never want to have to depend on expansion. I know that at odd times I can’t depend on it. If you want an example of one of the finest double-action revolvers ever made, I recommend that you get a 4-inch-barrel Ruger Redhawk .45 Colt revolver.



STORY AND PHOTOS BY JIM DICKSON
February 19th, 2019 by