Gun Review: Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan Double-Action Revolver

Alaska is a place that many of us dream of going. I’ve wanted to see the state ever since I can remember. The mountains and the wilderness call to me, but alas I’m not in a place in life to make such a journey. Instead, I decided to live vicariously and review the simply awesome Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan double action revolver chambered in .454 Casull/.45 Colt to get me through until I can make it up there.

I will start by saying that this is an enormous, thick revolver. Everything on this gun is heavy and large, from the unfluted cylinder to the frame to the sights. This is a gun that’s meant for the most rugged duty imaginable in the woods and wilds.

I quickly found that this isn’t a gun you’ll want to carry on your belt. Although it weighs about 50oz loaded, it feels much heavier. This gun needs to be carried in some sort of chest harness. I toted it in a great Hill People Gear Heavy Recon Kit Bag that I’ve previously reviewed here on TTAG that I’d heartily recommend.

Because of the wet, cold, and gritty environment that this gun is meant for, it’s constructed almost entirely of stainless steel. This allows the gun to be easily cleaned and maintained in harsh conditions. I’m not always a fan of stainless guns, but the corrosion resistance is there and that scores it points in my book.

When it comes to operation, the Alaskan is like a bank vault that launches bullets (and weighs almost as much). The cylinder features a triple-locking design that ensures positive function with the powerful cartridges the gun is chambered in. This also helps with accuracy, which is in no way lacking. All in all, this gun proved 100% reliable with all the ammo I tested it with.The trigger pull was smooth and the break was clean and easy.

I tested this gun with two calibers of ammunition: .454 Casull and .45 Colt. The difference between these two is basically the same as the difference between .44 Mag and .44 Special or .357 Mag and .38 Special.

The .454 Casull was designed as a wildcat round in the late 1950’s and didn’t see widespread acceptance until the late 1990’s. It’s an insanely powerful cartridge that can be loaded far beyond most other handgun cartridges. It displays what I could call savage recoil and blast. Firing it from a short 2.5 inch barrel like the Alaskan’s is a hell of an experience.

I fired three types of .454 Casull and two types of .45 Colt in this gun totaling about 300 rounds. The .45 Colt loads were very pleasant and enjoyable, while the only ‘easy’ to shoot .454 generated just about three times the recoil of the former. I noted that, despite its massive recoil, the gun was still very accurate on paper.

Testing was done on a 90 degree Fahrenheit day over an Oehler 35P chronograph, which was located five feet from the muzzle. Groups are the average result of three, five-shot five shot groups at 25 yards.

HSM 325gr Lead WFN Gas Check Bear Load———————————–947fps, 3.7”
Hornady 240gr XTP Mag———————————————————-1495fps, 3.4”
Hornady 300gr XTP Mag———————————————————–1358fps, 4”
HSM .45 Colt Cowboy 250gr RNFP———————————————–693fps, 3.5”
SIG SAUER .45 Colt 230gr V CROWN———————————————702fps, 2.5”

The variance in the power generated between the .454 Casull and .45 Colt should give you an idea of just how versatile this gun and its cartridges are. The nice thing about it is that shooting .45 Colt feels like shooting a much, much smaller cartridge. The beefy gun — especially with its Hoque rubber grips — soaks up nearly all the .45’s recoil and it’s downright enjoyable.

I was able to produce the best groups of the day with the SIG SAUER ammo, but I believe that gun was capable of better accuracy than I got with the other loads. It’s still a very accurate piece, but the brutal recoil of the .454 makes it hard to focus on marksmanship.

In keeping with that, I have a high opinion of the gun as a whole. It’s rugged, large, powerful, and is designed to be used in difficult places. The only real downside is the amount of recoil you have to put up with to send a 300gr bullet from a 2.5 inch barrel at nearly 1400fps. This isn’t so much a conversation about the gun as it is the ammo.

The gun, loaded with light-recoiling .45 Colt ammo, is fast, accurate, and easy to put on target. The double-action pull is heavy but clean, as it should be, and follow-up shots are fast. The single action pull is, as you’d expect, crisp and light.

The pinned ramp-stule front sight and adjustable rear sight with its white outlined notch are excellent and provide a quick, sight picture.

The problems for me come when coupled with the max-power loads. People say that’s what you need for bears and, having never seen a grizzly except at the zoo, I don’t have a leg to stand on for argument’s sake.

What I did find out is that the 300gr XTP Mag load was downright painful to shoot in a gun this small and it was difficult for me to shoot accurately under various drills. Follow-up shots were difficult to master and my palm was aching after a couple doubletap drills. This is an incredibly powerful cartridge, but it’s not one for everyone.

Overall I liked the HSM Bear Load the best. It’s a heavy, non-expanding bullet that isn’t exactly screaming at just under 1000fps, but is far more powerful than .45 Colt and doesn’t snap like the XTP loads. I like the Hornady offerings, but I’d much prefer them in a longer-barreled revolver or a rifle. The rubber Hogue grip helps a lot, but it can only do so much with loads as powerful as the XTP Mag.

The Super Redhawk Alaskan is an attractive, rugged gun. My time with it gave me a glimpse into what these authoritative and compact revolvers offer the modern adventurer and I have to say that I’m impressed. Ruger managed to harness a truly powerful cartridge in this gun and it was a literal blast to shoot it as much as I did. I suggest you pay www.ruger.com a visit while I go ice my palm for a while.

Specifications: Ruger Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan Double Action Revolver

Caliber: .454 Casull/.45 Colt (also available in .480 Ruger and .44 Magnum)
Capacity: 6 rounds
Weight: 44 oz.
Barrel Length: 2.5 inches
Overall Length: 7.62 inches
MSRP: $1,189 ($925 at Brownells)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Aesthetics * * * * *
Some people like ‘em thick, and Ruger dressed this baby up to kill. The gun has attractive roll marks on the cylinder, tasteful engraving, and no out-of-place gimmicks.

Reliability * * * * *
It’s a Ruger. It’s a revolver. What else is there to say?

Accuracy * * * * *
Despite my poor marksmanship, this gun shot very well. With light loads, the accuracy is excellent. Heavy and powerful rounds? You had best work up to them. This is a very accurate gun and does exactly what it’s supposed to regardless of your flinch. Bears beware.

Handling * * * *
A beast with full-house loads. I want to give it five stars, but the recoil is so great shooting .454 that most people will only fire half a box of XTP Mag before they quit. That’s no fault of the gun or the ammo, it is just how they function together.

Carry * * *
This revolver is huge on the handgun scale. It’s physically smaller than many others, but far denser. Because of the shape and size, a special means of carry (a chest rig) is probably necessary and will take some planning.

Overall * * * * 1/2
This gun is what it is. It’s not pretending to be a daily carry gun or a dedicated hunting tool. It’s a reliable, accurate, and powerful weapon for the woods that is meant for protecting you from some of nature’s biggest jerks.

 

Ammunition for this article can be found at www.hsmammunition.com, www.hornady.com, and www.sigsauer.com while gear and the knife can be located at www.hillpeoplegear.com and www.eseeknives.com.

comments

  1. avatar DD says:

    Awesome review!

    1. avatar Copper River says:

      Good basic intro to the gun. But…

      Bears are not jerks. Right there the author’s misunderstandings go from ignorant to dangerous.

      Second, range recoil is far different than self defense recoil. Paper is not trying to kill you and in the exact situation where this gun is designed to preform you may not get a follow up shot.

      And third. Do go to Alaska. Reviewing this gun with no bear experience is like a non-driving teenager reviewing a sports car. In fact go deep in Alaska, not just to the cities and nearby recreation areas.

      By the way, in Alaska it’s more likely a moose will get you than a bear. And more likely a drunk driver than a moose. And more likely you will fall to your death than get hit by a truck. And more likely you will drown than fall. But certainly its better to check out in Alaska linger than a hospital bed in a stinky city regretting you never breathed Alaskan air.

  2. Excellent review. I have family in Alaska, and I will surely visit sometime in the future. So, this might become a “need to have”!

    1. avatar Just Sayin says:

      “need to have”. + $$$ = FUN

      😉

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Darren,

      See my comments below about the .44 Magnum revolver platform for effective defense against grizzly bears.

      Opting for .44 Magnum over .454 Casull could save you a lot of money without giving up anything significant.

      1. avatar RidgeRunner says:

        I have the Alaskan in .44 mag and it feels like plenty. this was one of those “because I can” purchases and I shoot it more than I thought I would.
        I. Love. This. Gun.

  3. avatar Jon in CO says:

    Alaska isn’t what everyone thinks it is. If you like -40°—60° and mosquitos the size of hummingbirds, go for it. It might have changed in the 20 years since I was there, but it wasn’t this beautiful wide open outdoor paradise that it’s made out to be.

    Winter is fun though, if you can deal with the cold.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      -40 to -60 AND mosquitoes the size of hummingbirds? I’d think the mosquitoes would die off with that kind of cold.

      1. avatar Jon in CO says:

        It’ll get to 75-80 in summer. The humidity is pretty thick. I lived about 100 miles north of Anchorage. It’s a nice place and all, but the extremes on both sides make it unbearable at times.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          I lived in MN for a while. Similar situation, just to a somewhat lesser extreme. Big skeeters in the summer and -40 in the winter. Back in IA now where it absolutely never gets below -30 and the flies are worse than the mosquitoes.

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      I’ve been to AK in the late summer.

      The mosquito population is nothing to laugh at. They’re not only large, they come in huge clouds, and they look at anything that wasn’t born with a heavy coat of fur as “lunch.”

      Sure, you can get slathered up in 100% DEET, and it does work, but you’ll melt your fingerprints into almost every piece of plastic that you touch.

      1. avatar GL says:

        Can you elaborate on what DEET does to plastic? I am kind of confused given that I never had the need to use DEET. Thank you.

        1. avatar Mark_PAV says:

          Bug spray contains a plastisizer. Not sure if it’s the Deet or some other additive. If you read the label it has a warning about keeping it and the overspray away from plastic. I ruined a $150 canopy from a radio control airplane canopy a few years ago so learn from my mistakes. 🙁

        2. avatar Wood says:

          It basically dissolves some plastics or makes others cloudy. While it keep some of the bugs away, it’s pretty damn nasty stuff to put on your skin. I’m a fan of the thermacell, JT that can’t be good to breathe. People talk about sulphur pills, I winder how that works.

        3. avatar Hoth says:

          DEET itself is a plasticizer that will melt most plastics. I’ve got a nice pair of binoculars with my finger prints melted into it because of that. See if you can find a repellent that contains Picaridin instead of DEET. Picaridin works just as well as DEET on mosquitoes and even better on black flies but doesn’t melt plastic or stink.

    3. avatar Kendahl says:

      During one of our trips to Alaska, I was told that mosquitoes will drain a quart of blood a day out of caribou.

  4. avatar rosignol says:

    “Carry * * *”

    I’d have gone with no stars (if you’re comparing it to conventional EDC guns) or more stars (if you’re comparing it to guns with a reasonable likelihood of stopping a grizzly bear).

    Personally, my favorite thing about ’em is that you can frequently find them barely-used for a hell of a lot less than they cost new.

  5. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    I’ve seriously thought about picking one of these up, but last year I picked up something that’s a great alternative, at least to the .44 mag version – a Vaquero birdshead .44 mag. It weighs 39 ounces, has a 3-3/4″ barrel, polished stainless finish, carries (and conceals) well in an IWB holster and is surprisingly comfortable to shoot. And street price runs a touch over $600. But it’s not quite going to keep up with the .454 version. And the bear’s going to have to give you a little more time to reload after 6 shots.

    Good review.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Governor,

      I cannot imagine any grizzly bear being operational after absorbing four .43 caliber, 305 grain hardcast lead bullets — assuming that you put them into the bear’s head, heart, and/or lungs at 10 yards or less and muzzle velocity is at least 1,200 fps.

      I think a .44 Magnum revolver with a 4+ inch barrel and full-power loads is just fine for stopping a grizzly bear at bad-breath distances.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        This is the nice thing about the Vaquero, it’s light enough to carry but heavy enough to shoot. Sure S&W and Taurus have DA .44s weighing in at 25 or 26 ounces, but that has simply GOT to hurt. BAD. Probably break your knuckles with 300+ grain pills. Or, you pick up a 3 pound + revolver you need to carry in a chest rig, which completely defeats the point of the 2-1/2″ barrel. And there’s a pretty big difference between the ballistic performance of a 2-1/2″ barrel and a 3-3/4″ barrel.

        Sure, you have to thumb back the hammer for every shot, but that kind of just happens naturally when you get a SAA in your hand. And, under stress, it probably takes about 90 seconds to reload – if you can keep your wits about you. But the Alaskan is 50% more $$$ and the Vaquero’s better for carry.

        Still, if i knew I were going to face off a brown bear, I’d prefer something with at least 18″ of barrel.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          Governor,

          A few men in outstanding physical condition with fantastic genetics can handle full-power .44 Magnum loads out of a 25 ounce revolver. Everyone else CANNOT. That is why I only recommend full-size .44 Magnum revolvers that weigh at least 48 ounces. (That is three pounds.) That weight reduces recoil to a level that the overwhelming majority of people can easily handle.

          And if you get a ported barrel, that recoil becomes a total non-issue. I personally watched a 115 pound woman of average fitness shoot between 12 and 18 rounds of .44 Magnum out of a 54 ounce revolver with a ported barrel. She finished with a big smile on her face and was looking forward to shooting it again. Sure, it kicks fairly hard — although not so bad that you would not want to shoot it again.

          Note: even with heavy revolvers, you do need excellent grip and shooting technique to shoot .44 Magnum and want to shoot it again.

        2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          For the record, I have not shot any heavy loads in the Vaquero, but with 180-240gr slugs that little two finger birdshead grip is surprisingly comfortable and controllable.

      2. avatar Jim Wilkins says:

        I will give you one thing. A cylinder full of well-placed heavy cast bullets will kill a grizzzly bear. Having lived in Alaska for 28 years when I was younger I can say I have seen a couple of big bears shot. After all, when I was young and dumb I thought I wanted to become a big-game guide. It took me four years of being a licensed Assistant Guide to come to my senses. During those four years I spent two spring bear seasons on Kodiak island. I will tell you about a hunter who we put within 30 yards of a nine footer on a mountain top where there were no trees or brush – just snow. I watched that hunter empty his .300 Weatherby rifle into the bear, reload, and do it again. By that time the packer and I were helping out, he with his .300 Winchester and I with my .338. It took 13 shots to kill that bear.

        Shooting at 30 yards with a scoped rifle is definitely more accurate than shooting at five yards with any handgun. Also, the difference in power between a belted magnum rifle cartridge and any handgun cartridge is a lot. The guides I worked for there both carried Model 70’s in .375 H&H… for a reason.

        Handguns are a last-ditch tool for protection from big bears. Your odds are long – against you. You need to plan for a possible encounter. You need to decide how close you’ll let the animal get, whether he’s calm or angry. They should be different. Bears are powerful, resilient animals. They don’t die easily. Shoot one and wound it and the danger level goes through the roof. If you shoot one try to break the shoulders first.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          Jim,

          My understanding is that heavy hardcast lead bullets with large flat meplats are considerably more devastating than expanding bullet designs. The only reason that people reject hardcast bullets is because they lose velocity FAST with those large, flat meplats which greatly limits range even in a rifle.

          Also, I have heard that many expanding bullet designs actually perform poorly when animals are too close because the bullets are going too fast and tend to “grenade” rather than expand and stay in one piece. I wonder if all of those bullets that you guys pumped into that huge brown bear were fragmenting which required many more shots than normal???

          Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that promptly stopping a grizzly bear with a .44 Magnum revolver with 5+ inch barrel and 300+ grain hardcast bullets will be a walk in the park. All I am saying is that it gives a hiker/camper a decent chance to survive with a firearm platform that is reasonably portable and controllable for most people.

        2. avatar William Graves says:

          Let the customer carry whatever he likes. After all, he’s always right. If you’re the backup, then carry a .460 Weatherby Magnum or equivalent, 26″ barrel, and you’ll actually live through whatever is about to happen. It’s partly about hydrostatic shock. Plan for a nice big purple crescent on your shoulder, and for bystanders to check their phones for nearby earthquakes.

        3. avatar Alaskanblacklab says:

          Personally I’d go hunting with a .50BMG..or the .458 SOCOM with 500 grain HCFN rounds.

          If not that,my dad’s 1895 Marlin in .45-70 with hard cast rounds.

          I’ve seen more moose up here in AK than bears,and had a share of a few close calls with moose. Sometimes they’re stubborn and other times they walk away.

    2. avatar Randy Sorick says:

      You won’t have to worry about reloading if you don’t drop it with the first 6.

  6. avatar Justin says:

    This is not a troll comment, but saying the gun is a “Ruger Revolver” therefore reliability is to be expected is to not have much experience with regard to Ruger QC in the past 6-8 years. I have personally sent SIX Ruger revolvers back for barrel issues, timing issues and incorrectly installed sights. I love Ruger Revolvers but I am jaded and won’t buy them anymore unless they’re older than about 2005 or so….which is too bad because I’d love an SRH 10.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      I’ve purchased three revolvers, a pistol, and a Hawkeye rifle from S,R&Co in that time frame with zero complaints, although I also bought a Mini-14 that had problems with failures to eject. Sent it back and they replaced the barrel, slide and bolt. There and back in less than 2 weeks. Any time a company attempts to double production they’re going to run into some QC trouble, but you can’t complain about the customer service.

      1. avatar old5.0 says:

        Bought my 4″ stainless GP100 brand new 2 years ago. It’s been reliable as an anvil. The stainless 4″ Security Six I edc’d before that was the same, though that particular gun falls outside the timeline mentioned.

    2. avatar BeoBear says:

      All post 2005, we’ve bought two Ruger New Vaquero Bisleys, a Blackhawk convertible, a Blackhawk Bisley Convertible, a Single Six convertible, a 3″ GP100, a 3″ Wiley Clapp GP100, a 10/22 Tactical and a 10/22 Takedown (won it from Ruger). Not a single issue with any of them. My point being your experience isn’t the same as everyone else. I’d be irritated too and maybe swear off them as well but they are still producing excellent guns.

  7. avatar Michael in AK says:

    I sling a 12 gauge with slugs for bears….when you see the bears up close, a handgun seems like a toy for the job….YMMV

    Rosignol is right, they are much cheaper used, plentiful and usually have very few rounds fired thru them..

    1. avatar A. Laskan says:

      I looked online at the leading used gun websites, and I’m not seeing the good prices some of you guys described. They’re all $879 on up, and I can buy a new one for $59 less online. Can any of you guys tell me where you”ve seen these barely-used ones for such a big discount?

      1. I never saw barely used or any kinda used for less than $800, which is what I paid for mine in .44, “barely used.”
        Also, with those Hogue grips—and it’s a big beefy heavy gun—recoil is negligible, but it is LOUD. Shoots a big flame ball, too, with those Buffalo Bore 300 cast +P+.

  8. avatar TexTed says:

    nice review. The .454 is pretty much my favorite handgun cartridge: it hits a hell of a lot harder than an AR15, with a gigantic bullet. What’s not to love?

    I do think you exaggerated the recoil though. If you want to experience the level of recoil you describe, try a .460 S&W. I was really surprised at the difference between.460 and .454 when fired from the same gun. In my case I thought the .454 was perfection, and the .460 was just too much.

    1. avatar Ming the Merciless Siamese Cat says:

      That’s a hell of a comparison. My girlfriend hits harder than an AR 15.

      I hunt and fish regularly in brown bear country in Montana. I carry a high caliber side arm in case I’m confronted by an angry Ursine and can’t access my rifle, and bear spray isn’t effective. The Ruger Alaskan seems to me to be close to useless. Way too much recoil for it’s purpose. Unless I’m very, very lucky, I’m going to need to place multiple reasonably accurate rounds, in a very short time frame, to stop a pissed off bear. I’m a pretty fit guy, but I have no confidence that I can do that with this wrist breaker. Plus, practice is key to effectiveness, and who the hell wants to shoot this monster for an hour at the range?

      As for the AR 15, it’s advantage is that I’d probably be able to place multiple accurate shots, right before the irritated bear kills and eats me. Or, I could throw rocks at him and save myself the cost of the gun and ammo.

  9. avatar Alex Waits says:

    Needs a 4 inch version.

    1. avatar troutbum5 says:

      The Alaskan is just the designation for the 2.5” barrel model of the Super Redhawk, which is available in other barrel lengths.

      1. avatar Wood says:

        True, but those longer barrels have a round tube sticking out of the frame extension. They also have scope mounts cut into the top strap. They’re butt-ugly. Part of what makes these Alaskans so great is they don’t have those things to spoil the aesthetics. I agree, a 4” barrel that looks like its part of the gun instead of photoshopped on would be awesome.

  10. avatar jwm says:

    I see nothing wrong with a .44 mag as a carry gun in the bush. If you have a rifle or shotgun near, all the better. But if the only gun you have is a .44 mag you are still well armed.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Thank you JWM. I came here to post the same comment.

      And if you carry a .44 Magnum revolver with a 5-inch barrel and full power loads, you will easily launch a 305 grain bullet at 1,300 fps. Even with a 4-inch barrel, you should be able to launch a 305 grain bullet at a minimum of 1,200 fps.

      Basically, you can get pretty much the same performance with .44 Magnum as .454 Casull (shooting typical factory loads which are somewhat under-powered) if the .44 Magnum’s barrel is 2 or 2.5 inches longer and you use full-power .44 Magnum loads from DoubleTap or BuffaloBore ammunition.

      The only down side a .44 Magnum revolver with a slightly longer barrel: a revolver with a 5-inch barrel is definitely NOT as maneuverable as a revolver with a 2.5-inch barrel, which could be important if a grizzly bear is literally on top of you.

  11. avatar Swarf says:

    I was looking are Buffalo Bore to get some ammo for an upcoming trip, and they have a testimonial from a guide who took down a Grizzly with their 9mm Outdoorsman.

    F’ing 9mm.

    I give up to trying to make a rational decision on what is the right ammo to carry in the woods. So fuck it, I’m gonna carry bear spray, an air horn and a Ruger SR9c for protection against 2 legged predators, but loaded with the hard-cast stuff from B.B. as a hedge.

    The spray has a fantastic track record for success, and it all really seems to come down to whether the gods are feeling merciful or vengeful that day, anyways.

    1. avatar CarlosT says:

      A headwind would seem to be an indication that God hates you.

      1. avatar Swarf says:

        Oh, it’s worse than that; I hammock camp, so if a bear come sniffing around at night, I just become a spicier burrito.

    2. avatar New Continental Army says:

      Just because someone stopped a bear once with a 9mm doesn’t make it a great bear round. That person may just be that good, or simply lucky and put one through the eye, like the guy who killed a grizzly with with a 10mm through its eye, but the previous 6 rounds did nothing to it. Same with the old lady who shot and killed a grizzly with a .22 once. Just because she did it once doesn’t mean everyone can all the sudden now pack .22s for best defense.

      1. avatar Mike richter says:

        My friend lived in Alaska around twenty years ,hunted browns with a bow NUTS is what I say but he’d tell you when a big brownie is pissed off but good you ain’t really safe with any gun rifle shotgun or pistol no matter the Calibre but he also said the 378 Weatherby would in his words leave em pretty flat most times!!

      2. avatar SouthAl says:

        I’m waiting for someone to argue that with advances in bullet technology, the 9mm is as effective as the .44 mag, making the .44 mag a dying caliber.

    3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Swarf,

      I camp, hike, and hunt in territory where black bears weigh as much as 600 pounds and white-tail bucks weigh as much as 300 pounds. Those animals can kill you in short order if they put their mind to it. That is why I have researched “woods carry” extensively.

      First and foremost, you need to carry a FIREARM for self-defense. Second and equally important, you need to carry cartridges with heavy-for-caliber hardcast lead bullets. Hardcast lead bullets are critical because they cause a LOT more damage to animals than hollowpoint or metal jacketed bullets. (Their shape penetrates a LOT deeper and causes considerably more damage than other bullet designs.)

      Second, you need to carry an appropriate handgun platform. If you are inclined to carry a semi-auto pistol, it better be full-size (4.5 inch or longer barrel) chambered in 10mm with full power loads. If you are inclined to carry a revolver, a full-size/weight double-action revolver with 4-inch barrel chambered in .357 Magnum is a solid choice for most four-legged attackers. If you are facing 600+ pound four-legged attackers, then I would strongly suggest you move up to a full-size/weight revolver in .44 Magnum.

      Here are the choices with numbers:
      semi-auto (4.5 inch barrel) 10mm — 200 grain hardcast bullets 1,300 fps
      revolver (4 inch barrel) .357 Magnum — 180 grain hardcast bullets 1,375 fps
      revolver (4 inch barrel) .44 Magnum — 305 grain hardcast bullets 1,225 fps

      All of those combinations are controllable in full-size handguns and should stop an attacking four-legged animal (assuming three or more hits to head, heart, and/or lungs at close range) fast enough to save your life pretty much every time. While those combinations may not be fun to shoot (in terms of target practice), they are most certainly not painful to shoot. And since we are talking about putting shots on target at ranges of about 15 feet or less, target practice isn’t really necessary anyhow.

      1. avatar DaveDetroit says:

        +1

  12. avatar Gregory Walker says:

    That’s good about the. 454 I have the 44mag. Alaskan how does it measure up.

  13. avatar Al Bondigas says:

    It looks like a dead flounder.

    1. avatar Geoff "Mess with the Bull, get the Horns" PR says:

      “Flounder, don’t cry! You fvcked up! You trusted us! Try and make the best of it, we’re your friends!”

  14. avatar Greg says:

    Good review, yeah chest rig would be the way to go.

  15. avatar Anner says:

    Kenai Chest Holster. I have one for a G20 and have yet to find a better setup for hiking.

  16. avatar Matt says:

    I’ve done a fair amount of hiking and fishing in grizzly country in Wyoming and Montana. One thing I learned packing one of these hand cannons is a pain in the ass. They also tough to shoot accurately in double action and the super hot loads have crimp malfunction issues.

    I switched to a G20. Sure I lose power but get a light handy package with a lot of firepower.

    That being said, if your hiking, camping or fishing in an area where you know you have a good chance of running into a bear forget the pistol and sling a shotgun with slugs or a 45-70 guide gun to shoulder.

  17. avatar Just Sayin says:

    “while I go ice my palm for a while”
    Ahhh, the high school years…

    Excuse me sir, this is a family website.

  18. avatar troutbum5 says:

    I’ve shot the Alaskan in .44, and the recoil isn’t much worse than a 6” S&W 29, which isn’t bad at all. .454 is a different league altogether though. It’s a great piece of hardware in either caliber.

  19. avatar Charles says:

    If I were headed into real bear country I would want this gun but with the 4 inch barrel. Would be easier to shoot and more accurate.

  20. avatar Steve says:

    I have the 454 Alaskan and it is a great gun, except when you go for the big grain ammo, it crimp jumps, with the 400 grain double tap ammo cast, enough to where it’s not trustworthy, now the 250 grain Underwood Ammo extreme penetrators are great, but I love the gun and would never get rid of it.

  21. avatar Southern Cross says:

    I think when a bear is charging at you the recoil of the full power loads will be the least of your concerns.

    And if six rounds of .454 Casull doesn’t do the job the gun can then be used as a club.

  22. avatar Hannibal says:

    If I’m gonna buy a gun so big and hefty it can’t fit on a belt I figure I might as well get one that has a longer barrel.

    1. avatar Micah says:

      My thoughts exactly

  23. avatar Kenneth brooks says:

    I love the ruger super Redhawks, I have it in Ruger 480 with excellent performance with the 7 1/2 barrel which worked out to be a great choice for me.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      I preferred the Ruger with 7.5 barrel over the S&W 29 with 6 inch barrel. Both are good revolvers. I just shot better with the Ruger.

      Either would do as an ‘only’ gun in the boonies.

      1. avatar A. Laskan says:

        I looked online at the leading used gun websites, and I’m not seeing the good prices some of you guys described. They’re all $879 on up, and I can buy a new one for $59 less online. Can any of you guys tell me where you”ve seen these barely-used ones for such a big discount?

  24. avatar A. Laskan says:

    I looked online at the leading used gun websites, and I’m not seeing the good prices some of you guys described. They’re all $879 on up, and I can buy a new one for $59 less online. Can any of you guys tell me where you”ve seen these barely-used ones for such a big discount?

  25. avatar sth says:

    i have or have seen brown bears shot with 500 sw , 480 rug , and 460 sw “454 magnum”. All three carried (by different people) in the same environment at the same time. The 500 and 460 were in SW x frames and the 480 in a super red hawk with the 7.5 barrel. The super red hawk was the only pistol of the 3 to not show any rust on the frame or components in four years of SE Alaskan weather. These pistols were used and abused in the salt air and went under water in the bay several times with the bare minimum of cleaning. the SRH was also the only one of the three to not have a malfunction. You also can never have to much gun, these pistols are not for hunting but for stopping. The preferred stopper is always a rifle or a shotgun with slugs (brennke 700 grn black magic) but rifles get leaned against trees or left in the boat or handed to someone else. a pistol in a hip holster you always have with you and it is always easy to get to (not under rain gear or coats). I preferred cross draw for getting in and out of vehicles and not interfering with a rifle in my right hand but opinions vary. Comfort in shooting always comes second to stopping power, the pie plate size target of a bears forehead will get bigger as it gets closer making it easier to hit. Wounded bear shooting distances in the jungles of SE Alaska was never vary far unless on the beach or in the muskeg and remember these are defensive tools of last resort. If Ruger made a pistol in 500 i would cary that but the 480 is the biggest diameter, heaviest round that comes in a ruger srh so thats what i carried and i did not regret it. Also i personally don’t believe in single action pistols for bear protection, trying to cock the hammer one handed under a bear is not my idea of a good time.

  26. avatar Dz says:

    I’ve been to Alaska the last two summers to fish and visit family. It’s is beautiful and awesome vacation but living there seems like it could get rough. I bought a glock 20 in 10mm for my carry gun while I am there. I feel a lot better being anywhere there with 15 rounds of buffalo bore 10mm in an inside pants rig. Alaska is right to carry even concealed. A big plus. The Ruger Alaskan was my alternate vacation purchase but I the end I went with hi cap 10mm. Still want t he Alaskan though. Maybe for next year.

  27. avatar Swamp Fox says:

    The pistol deploys quicker than a shotgun, unless you are Patrolling with the shotgun at the ready. This is why the SRH is carried by guides in a chest mounter holster. The 2.5 inch barrel shows evidence that it does work stopping charging bears. https://www.fieldandstream.com/photos/gallery/survival/animal-attacks/2009/08/charging-grizzly-killed-alaska#page-6 If you are going to carry a shotgun than I would recommend the D-Dupleks slugs for bear. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kiwq95oT0zQ

    1. avatar Clay says:

      .454 casull probably hurts.

  28. avatar buckshot says:

    Have you considered the Toklat version, or any of the velocity loss due to a short barrel with a large capacity case? A slightly longer barrel seems like a great option, considering the added weight is negligble, but the velocity gain may be significant in most 45 Colt or 454 Casull loads.

  29. avatar Matt says:

    Your comment on the brutality of the recoil is why I’d never carry one as a bear gun. Yes, you absolutely want the most powerful gun you can in bear country if a grizz decides to make you a side dish. However, you need the most powerful gun you can shoot quickly with some accuracy. Odds are good you are going to miss with some of your shots and it might be the first one or two as you are desperately try to draw a bead on it. A few articles and studies have shown just about any handgun can work most of the time. Some of those encounters were warding off “Bears in the home” or officer involve bear “control”. But even aggressive encounters things like .357 and .45acp seemed to work fine against black bears and even in some grizzly encounters. Those might be “walking my property guns” I’d carry, not hiking in grizzly country, but they seem to be effective a lot of the time.

    Me personally my limit is a .44mag. I’ve shot a .454 6” once and it was too much. The extra size and weight I am sure a lot more comfortable than a 2” barrel, but even with a 6” I’d worry about deafening myself or blinding myself (later, low light). Can’t imagine 2” Barrel. If I could probably manage a double tap and get the second shot in to a bear sized target at white or the eyes distances with some luck, but I doubt I could get a 3rd off quickly.

    I can squeeze off 5 or 6 from most 4” 44mags in less seconds than that and still put them all on a 16” target at 7yds.

    I mean, my ideal if I didn’t mind the size and weight would be a 16” AR-10 in .338 Federal with some 185 grain Barnes triple shoks or a 18.5” semi auto shotgun loaded with a mix of 3.5” 000 buckshot and copper plated slugs.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Matt,

      I think the ideal grizzly-stopper firearm is a rifle chambered in .45-70 Government shooting 400+ grain hardcast lead bullets with a muzzle velocity up around 1,900 fps or so.

  30. avatar Stephen Burkhalter says:

    I use to carry .44 in 4″ (S & W 29) for AK and MT bear and they are agreat choice no doubt probably as effective as the Cassul considering the longer bbl makes a BIG difference in Velocity. I’ve been rethinking this of late and decided to switch to 10mm, at the range I realized a I could put 6 hardcase bear rounds on target in the amount of time I could put 2 .44 hardcase bear rounds on target and the more I shot the .44 (rounds 4-6) my groups really opened up. The big 10 is snappy but it’s not a .44 4″ revolver. Perhaps it’s the semi-auto action in my Glock soaking up recoil but I suspect there’s a reason AK State Troopers carry a 10. While I do agree a handgun is a better last option than Bear spray most of the AK Bear I’ve encountered while fly fishing (Katmai) are fairly use to humans and don’t seem to view them as a food. OTOH the Bears out west (MT-WY) scare me because they’re scrounging for a different meal every day.

    1. avatar Finch says:

      Alaska Trooper carry a Glock 22.

    2. avatar ropingdown says:

      Agree that a G20 with hardcast gas-checked hunting loads is more likely to do the job in many hands, including mine. The Danish north-Greenland patrols carry them against polar bears, in case their 30-06 is not at hand, or breaks. Even with the heavy hardcast loads the G20 is not unpleasant to shoot 15 times in a row, fast,

  31. avatar Mark N. says:

    Those were some pretty lame .45 Colt loads. These days, they are typically downloaded to “cowboy shooting” velocities, though I don’t know why. I seem to recall that Buffalo Bore makes some that clock 1000’/sec or more, and you can overload them somewhat when shooting out of a Casull. The round was originally designed for 40 grans of black powder, but the military typically ordered them with 30 or maybe 35 grains, but no more.

  32. avatar Accur81 says:

    Great review and thank for the chronograph results!

  33. avatar Clay says:

    I would trust a Glock or Sig in 9mm, if it’s good enough for special forces it’s good enough for a hiker, hunter, fisherman in Alaska. Also can you operate with this Ruger, can I mount a free floating rail? However this Ruger would be a good choice for first time shooters. Granny, the kids, uncle Joe with arthritis…

  34. avatar Paul says:

    While I always feel better with a good pistol on my side in the sticks, be it self shucker or wheelgun, I find such light weight long guns as the Rossi 92 16 inch carbine in .44 magnum far far easier to hit with (5.5 lbs .vs almost 3 lb.) Yes a bit heavier but hits count.

  35. avatar Archaeopteryx says:

    I’d prefer it in .41 Magnum.

  36. avatar JoshuaS says:

    I live in Alaska. As for mosquitos, depends where you are. Worse some areas than others. Right now it is very sunny, and nice. Have only gotten a few bites this summer

    Temps depend too. Generally 60-70 around Anchorage in summer warmer in the interior. Anchorage is warmer in the winter generally.

    I carry a .357 Vaquero. I may upgrade to a .44 magnum. Why not the Ruger Redhawk Alaskan in .454? Too hard to control. I can shoot some hot .45 lc of course, but not worth the expense.

    A rifle is a better choice if you are in the bush anyways, but really a smaller caliber that you can shoot is far preferable to a big gun that you cannot. In anycase, just make a lot of noise, go in groups (pairs) and chances are you will never need to defend.

    Oh, and bear mace does actually work is most cases too.

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