When it comes to dedicated hunting handguns, there may be nothing better than a single action .44 Magnum revolver. In this review we will be taking a look at one of the premier luxury hunting handguns available today: the Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk Hunter.
In my last article on a Ruger revolver, the Redhawk in .44 Magnum, I was somewhat critical of it as a choice for self-defense in the woods due to the weight and the power level of some upper-end .44 ammo. This review, despite looking at the same cartridges, is very different. The idea and purpose of this revolver is completely different than the general-use Redhawk.
What we have here in the New Model Super Blackhawk Hunter is just that: a dedicated primary hunting gun. Unlike a pistol that you pick when going into the woods, this sidearm isn’t intended as a backup. The size of this revolver prevents it from being particularly useful as a close-range self-defense weapon in the event of an animal attack.
In addition to being larger, it also takes an extra step to operate in that the hammer must be cocked between each shot in order to fire the gun. A single action revolver isn’t a terrible choice in this role, but there are better options.
This New Model Super Blackhawk is a hard-use hunting tool that caters to the gentleman shooter who enjoys medium to large game challenges inside 100 yards. Everything about it is geared for this and it truly excels in every aspect when compared to other, non-specialized options.
The most distinctive feature of this revolver is its long 7.5-inch barrel. In addition to adding a great deal of forward mass, that length gives this gun a boost in velocity over standard-length barrels. While not a huge boost, it does offer an edge when using heavy-for-caliber bullets suitable for hunting.
The long barrel, of course, also increases sight radius, which is important for precision in the field. If you choose to use a magnified optic (or even a red-dot sight), the revolver comes with a set of scope rings that allow your chosen optic to be mounted to the barrel. I didn’t use a scope for this review, as I do most of my shooting with iron sights. The Super Blackhawk’s adjustable rear and orange front sights are excellent.
I tested the exact same ammo I used in my review of the Redhawk under the same circumstances, although I field tested several types of ammo at ranges out to 100 yards later. Accuracy is the average of three, five-shot groups at 25 yards. Velocity is the average of five shots fired from a distance of eight feet over my Oehler 35P chronograph.
Buffalo Bore 340gr +P+ Hardcast ————————1491 fps, 2.5”
Buffalo Bore 270gr JFN————————————1497 fps, 2”
Buffalo Bore 225gr Barnes XPB ————————–1559 fps, 2”
SIG SAUER 240gr V-Crown——————————–1340 fps, 1.75”
SIG SAUER 200gr V-Crown (.44 Special)—————–924 fps, 2”
Black Hills 240gr JHP————————————–1397 fps, 1.5”
Black Hills 300gr JHP————————————–1126 fps, 1”
Black Hills 160gr HoneyBadger—————————1748 fps, .75”
Black Hills 210 FPL (.44 Special)————————–825 fps, 2.25”
Black Hills 125gr HoneyBadger (.44 Special)————1366 fps, 1.5”
Hornady 240gr XTP—————————————–1504 fps, 1.8”
Hornady 300gr XTP—————————————–1149 fps, 1.25”
Hornady 225gr FTX—————————————–1453 fps, 1”
Hornady 180gr XTP (.44 Special)————————–851 fps, 2.6”
Hornady 165gr Critical Defense (.44 Special)————1010 fps, 2.33”
Overall, the accuracy was spectacular given the Super Blackhawk’s light, single-action trigger pull. I experienced no problems at all as far as reliability is concerned with any type of ammo. Extraction was a bit difficult on some of the higher pressure offerings, but it wasn’t a great challenge thanks to the long ejector rod.
Firing .44 Special in this gun was like shooting rimfire. If you wanted the gun to do double duty, it could easily be used with a soft-recoiling .44 Special load on smaller game at close range.
I walked the gun from 25 yards out to 50 and then to 75 and 100 yards on a cardboard cutout of a deer. I had no problem putting rounds on the vitals at any of these distances. A stable rest and a firm grip allows the gun with its black laminate grips to simply roll in the hand with minimal strain on the palm.
The high recoil of the .44 Magnum cartridge is still apparent here, but it’s mitigated by the size (the New Model Super Blackhawk is 5 oz. heavier than the Redhawk) and intended use of the gun. I don’t think that there will be many hunters who fire this revolver without some sort of rest.
For the right person, this is an extraordinary gun. Ruger really thought it out and made it a perfect tool for the handgun hunter. Handgun hunting takes place at the same ranges you’d use a bow, and it’s very challenging. With the New Model Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter, you have everything you need in one package that comes field-ready right out of the box.
Specs: Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk
Caliber: .44 Magnum, .44 Special
Capacity: 6 Rounds
Barrel Length: 7.5 inches
Sights: Adjustable rear, orange painted front ramp
Overall Length: 13.7 inches
Weight: 52 oz
Ratings (out of five stars)
Accuracy * * * * *
While the .44 Mag is powerful and hard to tame, it can be done in this gun. Mastering recoil takes time and some patience, but once you learn to let the gun ride in your hand, making accurate hits is very easy.
Reliability * * * * *
I had no issues with the revolver at all.
Ergonomics * * * * *
Have no illusions about this gun. It’s not an EDC piece, it’s a true hunting implement. It benefits from classic single-action curves and it shoots easy. Carry will likely be accomplished in a chest rig or in the hand while in the field.
Customize This * * * *
The owner can choose a number of options as far as optics, sights, and grips. But this gun comes ready to hunt right out of the box.
Aesthetics * * * * *
The long 7.5-inch barrel, laminate wood grips, and smooth lines make this a classic gun you won’t mind staring at during those dreary hours in the stand.
Overall * * * * *
For what its intended purpose, you will be hard-pressed to find a revolver better suited. The Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk is a wonderful field hunting tool that just wants to be out there and in action. It will serve the dedicated handgun hunter well for many, many years.