In a recent article I took a look at the massive and powerful Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan .454 Casull, but I got some response that the big wheel gun wasn’t for everyone. For this article I decided to review another heavy-hitter from Ruger, this time the Redhawk chambered in the more popular and widely available .357 Mag.
This is a gun that’s only slightly smaller than the big .454 Alaskan, but it varies in a number of important ways. The main response I received about the .454 was that it wasn’t something people even consider owning down here in the lower 48, though I always seem to see them sell at every gun store I frequent.
The Ruger Redhawk is a well-established double-action stainless steel design that boasts a thick frame and rugged durability. The model I received features a 2.75” barrel, a triple-locking un-fluted cylinder, and an eight-shot capacity with moonclip capability. And if you thought the Redhawk would be an easier carry than the Super Redhawk, I hate do disappoint you, but this revolver weights in at the same beefy 44 oz. as the big Alaskan.
Unlike the Super Redhawk’s ultra-powerful .454 chambering, .357 Magnum is a widely available mainstay and enjoys a large and devoted following. It can be loaded to reach incredible performance levels while offering (reasonably) low recoil. I tested several great .357 loads in this revolver for both accuracy and velocity.
Testing was done at 85 degrees Fahrenheit over my Oehler 35P chronograph, which had been placed five feet from the muzzle. Accuracy is the average of three, five-shot groups at 25 yards from the bench.
HSM Cowboy 158gr Semi Wadcutter ——————————————————-1123fps, 3.5”
HSM Pro Hunter 158gr JHP——————————————————————1073fps, 2.75”
Hornady 158gr XTP—————————————————————————-1215fps, 2.5”
Hornady 135gr Critical Duty——————————————————————–1233fps, 2”
Black Hills 125gr JHP—————————————————————————1344fps, 2”
By now people know what to expect from .357 ammunition, but I was surprised at how little felt recoil there was with any of the loads I tested. Maybe I shouldn’t have been given the Redhawk’s 44 oz. solid steel frame. My favorite was the HSM Cowboy load, as it delivers a big 158gr lead bullet with recoil low enough to easily train with.
The Redhawk’s curved rosewood grips are very attractive. But that means there’s no rubber — as on the Alaskan — to absorb recoil. Still, I found shooting the big wheel gun wasn’t unpleasant. I was able to make quick follow-up shots, transition between targets, and point-shoot with relative ease. The nicest part was that I was able to very quickly reload…but there are some pointers to be aware of with that.
The moon clip capability (the Redhawk ships with three) is probably the most advantageous part of this revolver. But clips have their own set of problems that can be exacerbated by the length and close fit of the eight.357 cartridges. If a full clip has a slight bend or isn’t aligned just right, it can be hard to get the rounds inserted tightly enough to close the cylinder.
Ejection of empties isn’t as smooth with clips, either. Of course, you can always use a speed loader or reload with loose rounds. While some find moon clips difficult to work with, I feel that they have a great deal of utility. The best carry method I have found for this gun involves eight loose rounds in the gun and a reload with moon clips.
Like the Super Redhawk, this is a big beefy gun that works best carried in a pack or chest rig. I carried the Redhawk in the same Hill People Gear Heavy Recon Kit Bag that I used in my previous .454 review. This is a great piece of gear and it really takes the sweat out of carrying a gun as compact and heavy as this one. I like it for anything over 40oz, including some full size 1911 pistols.
My overall impressions of this revolver are very positive. It has the same capacity as most carry pistols and 1911s, but is chambered for the powerful .357 Mag. Recoil with .38 Special is negligible and still very manageable with full-house. 357 loads. The trigger is excellent, the sights are great, and it handles nicely.
The Redhawk probably won’t your everyday carry gun. It’s bigger and heavier than most people will be willing to deal with on a daily basis. This will most likely be a special use gun for most people, a powerful, reliable backwoods gun that can handle just about any threat you’re likely to find yourself facing.
Specifications: Ruger Redhawk
Capacity: 8 Rounds
Overall Length: 8.25 inches
Weight: 44 oz.
Sights: Adjustable rear, ramp front with red insert
Barrel Length: 2.75 inches
Ratings (out of five stars)
Aesthetics * * * * *
Stainless steel and rosewood grips? This big, classic revolver has it where it counts.
Reliability * * * * *
The thing likes to shoot with and without moon clips. Novices and experts alike can benefit from them, but they can be problematic. But that’s your choice to make. This is an exceptionally reliable gun that will go bank when you really need it to.
Accuracy * * * *
While not as accurate as some target guns I’ve used, this is a plenty accurate, powerful revolver for its size and intended use.
Handling * * * *
This gun handles well and feels good in the hand. The rosewood grips are a bit smooth for wet and dirty environments, but that depends on how dirty you plan on getting.
Carry * * *
While not quite as large as the .454, this is still a massive revolver that will require some special accommodations for most people to carry. Stowed in your gear, it will do just fine. Wearing this big 44 oz beast on your belt will be harder, but it can be done.
Overall * * * * 1/2
For those looking for a large, (relatively) high capacity revolver that has rugged features and is capable of protecting you anywhere in the lower 48, this is a great do-it-all option. There aren’t many situations that eight rounds of .357 won’t handle.
Ammunition for this article can be found at www.hsmammunition.com, www.hornady.com, www.blackhills.com while gear and the knife can be located at www.hillpeoplegear.com and www.eseeknives.com.