Ruger Redhawk .44 Magnum DA Revolver
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. is located in Newport, New Hampshire, USA. The Redhawk is their large frame, double action (DA) revolver designed specifically for the .44 Remington Magnum cartridge. It is bigger, simpler, stronger and more durable than the large "N" frame S&W Model 29/629 .44 Magnum (the first DA revolver adapted for the .44 Mag. cartridge) or any clone based on the S&W design. The S&W "N" frame revolver was not originally designed for the .44 Magnum cartridge, or anything near its power, but the Redhawk was.
There have, of course, been revolvers conceived since the Redhawk, both single action (SA) and DA, that are even larger. Ruger's own Super Redhawk would be one example. However, these are mostly designed for cartridges even more powerful than the .44 Magnum, such as the .454 Casull, .480 Ruger or .500 S&W, and therefore revolvers designed to handle these rounds are larger and heavier than necessary for the .44 Magnum cartridge. (However, they are often offered in .44 Magnum, as well as other cartridges.) The point is that the Redhawk is an optimum .44 Magnum DA revolver, as big and strong as it should be without the extra bulk required by even larger and more powerful cartridges.
The Redhawk was designed under the auspices of the late William B. Ruger, one of our most talented gun designers. His pechant for simple, elegant design is evident in the Redhawk revolver. Advanced features include a triple-lock cylinder, "single spring" mechanism for enhanced DA trigger pull, replaceable front sight and Ruger's transfer bar mechanism for maximum protection against accidental discharges.
Deserving of special mention is the "single spring" mechanism. It really does result in a superior DA trigger pull. On the other hand, the SA trigger pull of our test Redhawk was clean, but measured a very heavy 7.0 pounds. Wolff replacement main and trigger springs, installed by our Gunsmithing Editor Rocky Hays, resulted in a SA trigger pull that measured a more manageable 4.5 pounds.
The "no side plate" design of the Redhawk (the trigger group drops out of the bottom of the frame) makes it an exceptionally easy DA revolver to disassemble and instructions for doing this are included in the Owner's Manual. A little pin to help accomplish disassembly is stored beneath the grip panels and no other tools are necessary. (You can use a small finishing nail if you lose the supplied pin.) Bill Ruger was a very clever gun designer and simplicity is one of the hallmarks of his designs. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Redhawk.
There is a full length rib along the top of the barrel to add weight and stiffness. The front sight ramp at the muzzle is integral with the rib and there is a dovetail to hold the interchangeable front sight blade. The front sight blade supplied with our test gun came with a red plastic insert. The rear sight is Ruger's fully adjustable Patridge style with a white outline around the square notch. These are easy sights to use and the sight radius measured a useful 9-3/16".
The hammer spur's thumb pad is checkered for a non-slip grip. Its squared edges and pointed checkering are too aggressive for comfort. (We have never quite understood why gun makers dote on sharp edges.) We did a little fine filing to very slightly bevel the edges of the thumb pad and slightly flat-point the checkering for increased comfort.
The metal finish of the all stainless steel Redhawk is Ruger's usual satin polish. The finish on Ruger stainless revolvers is among the most attractive on the market, not too dull and not too bright.
The smooth, nicely finished, laminated wood grips supplied on the Redhawk appear ordinary in photographs. However, they are well shaped, hand filling and very broad across the back to spread the effect of recoil in your hand. You can tell when you first pick it up that the Redhawk will be comfortable to shoot, and it was. Our only complaint is that the wood to metal fit is poor, particularly at the lower backstrap and bottom of the grip. There is really no excuse for this oversight on an otherwise nice revolver.
Guns and Shooting Online staff members Chuck Hawks, Gordon Landers, Rocky Hays and Jim Fleck participated in shooting the Redhawk. We did our shooting at the Izaak Walton outdoor range south of Eugene, Oregon. All groups for record were five shots from a bench rest over a Pistol Perch at 25 yards. The weather was partly cloudy with a high temperature of about 75-degrees F.
Our factory loaded .44 Magnum test ammunition included 100 rounds each of the Remington/UMC 180 grain JSP (MV 1610 fps), Hornady Custom 240 grain and 300 grain XTP (MV's 1350 fps and 1150 fps respectively), Federal Premium Vital-Shok 280 grain A-Frame and 300 grain CastCore (MV's 1170 fps and 1160 fps respectively). We want to thank the American ammo companies for their participation in this review. They are the behind the scene heroes, although seldom mentioned, of most shooting tests, not only by Guns and Shooting Online, but also the print magazines. Without ammunition there would be no gun reviews and no private firearms ownership in the U.S.
We also tested two .44 Mag mid-range reloads in the Redhawk. The first reload used 10.5 grains of HS6 powder and a 200 grain Speer JHP bullet for a chronographed velocity of 1009 fps, while the second used 11.0 grains of HS6 and a 180 grain Sierra JHC bullet at 1050 fps. Here are our shooting results:
As you can see, the Redhawk is a good performer. Its natural purpose is hunting big game and it is a good choice for the job. This time out Jim shot the smallest group during our testing.
The Redhawk is a relatively easy .44 Magnum revolver to shoot. Its substantial weight and wide grips do a good job of reducing the subjective effect of recoil. It is especially controllable compared to the exceptionally hard kicking S&W 629. We agreed that it also kicks somewhat less than a 7.5" Ruger Super Blackhawk. Gordon suggested that grips with a filler behind the trigger guard would be useful, as the recoil from the heavy bullet factory loads rapped the knuckle of the middle finger of his shooting hand against the trigger guard.
However, any .44 Magnum kicks hard with full power factory loads. In this day and age of .454 Casull, .480 Ruger, .475 Linebaugh, .460 S&W and .500 S&W revolvers it is easy to forget that full power .44 Magnum loads are beyond the skill level of most shooters, especially inexperienced handgunners. The heavy 280 and 300 grain factory loads are particularly punishing to shoot. These full power hunting loads are a good choice for protection in the field, but only if you can control them. Chuck, for example, admits that 240 grain factory loads are his personal limit for use in the field in both the Redhawk and Super Blackhawk revolvers.
The cylinder rotates counter-clockwise (out of the frame), unlike most Ruger revolvers and all Remington and Colt revolvers. This is the only drawback we found in the Redhawk design and it is not a big deal, particularly with a triple lock cylinder. The cylinder locks-up tight when the action is cocked. The big revolver functioned perfectly and we found its "push-in" cylinder latch easy to use.
A good selection of belt and shoulder holsters are available for the Ruger Redhawk. Our field holster is Uncle Mike's size 4 nylon belt holster. Other common after market accessories include rubber grips, scope mounts and optical sights.
We know of no better .44 Magnum DA revolver than the made in USA Ruger Redhawk. If you are thinking about a .44 Magnum revolver for hunting medium and big game, the 7.5" Redhawk certainly deserves your consideration.
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