Alaska is a place that many of us dream of visiting. 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, very substantial revolver. Everything on this gun is big and heavy, from the unfluted cylinder to the frame and the sights. This is a gun that’s meant for the most rugged duty imaginable in the woods and the 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 revolver needs to be carried in some sort of chest rig or harness. I tote it in a great Hill People Gear Heavy Recon Kit Bag that I’ve previously reviewed here that I’d heartily recommend.
Because of the wet, cold, and gritty environments that it’s meant for, the Super Redhawk Alaskan is constructed almost entirely of stainless steel. That allows the gun to be easily cleaned and maintained even in harshest 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 the Super Redhawk Alaskan 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 most of 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-style 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 double-tap 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 Revolver
Caliber: .454 Casull/.45 Colt (also available in .480 Ruger and .44 Magnum)
Capacity: 6 rounds
Weight: 44 oz. empty
Barrel Length: 2.5 inches
Overall Length: 7.62 inches
MSRP: $1,509 (about $1249 retail)
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. It shoots when you need it to. Every time.
Accuracy * * * * *
Despite my poor marksmanship, this gun shoots very well. With light loads, the accuracy is excellent. With heavy, 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 ammo 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). That’s the Super Redhawk Alaskan doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.
Carry * * *
This revolver is huge on the handgun scale. It’s physically smaller than many others, but far more massive. Because of the shape and size, a special means of carry (a chest rig) is necessary and will take some planning.
Overall * * * * ½
This gun is what it is. It doesn’t pretend to be a daily carry gun or a dedicated hunting tool. It’s a reliable, accurate, and powerful firearm for use in the woods to protect you from some of nature’s biggest beasts. And it will do the job quite well.
Can the gun be used to club the bear to death if the bullets fail?
Yes it can. And the ammo is so expensive, the recoil so heavy and the damage to your hearing so bad you are better off not taking ammo with the gun. Just use the empty gun to pistol whip the bear. Or T rex. Or Sperm Whale.
It’s a Ruger. That;s what it was built for.
Put it in a sock first. Exponentially increases its bludgeoning potential.
Uh, a friend told me that…
The problem with weighty metal objects in socks used as blunt instruments is that after a couple of good whacks the metal tears the sock and you risk loosing the metal object.
Or maybe I just used an old sock.
You also risk losing a perfectly good sock.
I don’t know if this can compete with my Rohm 88, 357mag. I might be close, maybe. It’s really hard to beat a Rohm 88. Really hard.
Ruger stainless steel revolvers are the shiznit. I have a gp100-7 and .357 is the biggest I want to go in a handgun. Been to Alaska. Had family there. In those days the .44 mag was the go to gun.
Talk about the real world size of animals I always have trouble believing a moose is a deer. Forking things are hugely and foul tempered.
Bison are another critter that just looks massive in real life as compared to photos. Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake has a resident herd. Last time I was there about a week later a later managed to get herself stomped by one. Some folks are just too Disney’d to be safe out of the city.
Lady. Forking fat fingers and small key boards.
I love everything about this gun. Big fan of ridiculous hand cannons.
I fully expected to find a robust used market for these but alas used pricing is nearly as high as retail so I ended up with a 2.25″ Taurus Raging Bull for $625. Three boxes of .454 and I don’t how many .45 Colt and it hasn’t blown up in my face yet.
Used prices are always too high IMHO. Shop around for a deal and spend the extra 10% for new.
I remember (a few years ago) watching a super slo-mo video of a closeup of a shooter’s wrist and forearm while shooting a .500 S&W revolver. Intended to show the viewer the shockwave of recoil power coming back into the shooter’s joints and bones. It was rather enlightening to watch how the skin rippled and the wrist crumpled under the force. A good lesson regarding the importance of proper grip.
I Haz a Question,
About seven years ago I shot a Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk revolver with a 7-inch barrel chambered in .44 Magnuml–loaded with BuffaloBore .44 Magnum +P+ 340 grain bullets.
I felt odd modest pains off-and-on for the next few minutes in my dominant side forearm–and the pain was radiating from the bones in my forearm if I am not mistaken. To this day I wondered if that recoil caused a bunch of tiny micro-fractures, although I did not seem to notice any pain hours or days later.
I don’t recall the specifics (wish I did), but some years ago I read a review of some monster revolver (500 Magnum?), and one of the buddies the reviewer had invited to the range fired it once and refused to shoot it any more, claiming something was wrong with his arm… a microfracture was subsequently confirmed via x-ray.
You need to know what you’re doing when you shoot the big ‘uns.
In my opinion, a standard Super Redhawk with a 5″ or 7.5″ barrel would be a better choice than the Alaskan. According to the Ruger website, weights are 47 ounces with the 5″ barrel and 52 ounces with 7.5″ versus 44 ounces for the Alaskan. Velocities should be higher with the longer barrels and recoil and muzzle blast lower.
Agree, the only reason to for the Alaskan is to carry in a belt holster. If you’re going to pack it in a chest rig anyway, go a little bigger.
The TTaG commenter formerly known as JWM (and now using the moniker “jethro the janitor” I believe) made a very compelling argument for shorter barrels on bear defense revolvers. There is a non-trivial probability that you may have to shoot an attacking bear which is literally on top of you. If that is the case, you will not be able to direct shots on target if your revolver has a long barrel. Rather, the shorter the barrel, the higher the probability that you will be able direct bullets into your attacking bear’s vital organs.
Yes. That’s me. The point was made by Jeff Cooper in one of the gun rags years ago. He was a fan of the 1911 for most uses. But he opined that a short barreled mag revolver might save you if you were under a predator.
Gun guys spend far too much time and energy fantasizing about warding off grizzly attacks. Most of us will never be attacked by a grizzly. Many gun guys have never even seen a grizzly, but still have a “hand cannon” just in case. 😉
Remember Art, it’s better to have a hand cannon and not need it than to need a hand cannon and not have one. 😂
Problem is that bears like to ambush prey, and when it’s point-blank on top of you, you want a short barrel.
Plus, when a bear is attacking and literally on top of you, you do NOT want a semi-auto pistol which could easily jam with bear fur and fail to fire more than once–or not fire at all if you press your pistol into the bear’s body and unintentionally push the slide ever-so-slightly out of battery. In that scenario, a revolver is much more likely to enable you to shoot until you have fired all of the cartridges in the cylinder.
This was my thought also. It doesn’t require much pressure on the muzzle to take an autoloader out of battery.
We used to practice falling out of tree stands (close to the ground, of course) so we would know what to expect if it ever happened, among other drills. For a bear encounter drill, lay on the ground with your unloaded and cleared handgun, have a buddy drop a 100 lb sack of corn wrapped in a couple blankets onto you and then slap you repeatedly with a garden rake, as you try to dry fire into the sack. I don’t live in bear country, so this is purely academic for me, but I wouldn’t want to have to think about maintaining clearance for the slide.
Yeah, no. I’m good.
How many reports of semi-autos jammed with bear fur do we have?
“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.”
It is for that very reason if I was ever in bear country, I’d want a Glock 20 on me.
15 rounds of a full-house 10mm load beats 6 rounds of brutal recoil any day.
And an additional magazine of 15 gives you 30 rounds total on tap if you ever need it…
You’d be better off (in grizzly country) with 6 rounds of .357 mag loaded with 180 or 200 grain slugs. A 200 grain 10mm slug has about the same sectional density as a 158 grain .357. If those bullets can’t reach the vitals you’re only going to piss the bear off even more than he already is.
True, and a .44 Mag would be great to have while out on a mountain hike, but then, Geoff’s point of 15 successive rounds of 10mm (plus a quick reload of 15 more if necessary) will likely have the requisite cumulative stopping power. Plus it’s easier to place quick follow-up shots with a Glock than a revolver.
Buffalo Bore 10mm +P stacked deep in two extended mags, FTW.
Neither .357 nor 10mm is an optimal round for brown bears. Hell even .454 Casull is barely adequate. A buttstock should be considered necessary equipment in bear country. I could make an argument for 10 over .357 for 2 legged varmints due to it’s lower SDs and larger bore, but those characteristics make it a much weaker contender for large dangerous animals that require deep penetration. And you’re definitely not pulling off any mag swaps before the bear eats you.
In black bear country (where a typical big bear tips the scales upwards of 350 pounds), I carry my .44 Magnum revolver (6-inch barrel) loaded with 240 grain softpoints which have a muzzle velocity around 1,300 feet-per-second.
If I am really concerned about huge bears (upwards of 650 pounds), then I carry 300 grain “bear loads” with a muzzle velocity around 1300 feet-per-second.
Recoil is not a problem in either case since my revolver weighs 54 ounces unloaded and its barrel is ported.
‘If I am really concerned about huge bears…’
…I carry something with a buttstock.
When there is a probability of huge bears, I keep a long-gun handy although I cannot carry it around while camping with family: my .44 Magnum revolver is on my person in case I cannot get to my long-gun in time.
I’m in black bear only country too, and when not hunting (daddy carries a .450 Bushmaster, which is fine for deer or bears) I either have a Smith 629 with 300 grain semi-jacketed soft points or my Super Blackhawk Bisley in .480 Ruger with 325 grain semi-jacketed soft points. If I was ever in brown bear territory, we’re going 45-70 carbine and .500 Magnum. I specialize in big bore revolvers, so God forbid I ever found myself in a bad situation, I’m at least comfortable with the heavy recoil. I carry them all in a chest rig though, so that could be a problem. I’ll have to ponder that.
Really huge? How about 1500 lbs, 10 feet tall standing on two legs, and five feet tall on all fours.
Welcome to Kodiak, Alaska.
I saw one like that (stuffed) in the two-story lobby of a business I called on years ago. (Must have been in the late nineteen sixties or early nineteen seventies.) To put it mildly, I was impressed. And I hope to never see one of those that’s still alive.
“You’d be better off (in grizzly country) with 6 rounds of .357 mag loaded with 180 or 200 grain slugs.”
OK, walk me through this – I just pumped 6 rounds of 200 grain .357 magnum Buffalo Bore goodness into an irrational ursine critter and he/she/ze is now even more pissed off at me.
Do I ask the bear if it could kindly stop mauling me for a moment so I can dig out a reload to finish dispatching it?
Or would a wiser course of action be to keep squeezing the trigger until 15 rounds of Buffalo Bore are in the pelt and skull of Miss/Master/Mr/Mrs/Ms Bear? 🙂
If you don’t have adequate penetration you might as well be shooting the bear with a .22LR. And .357 is hardly a good choice but you at least have chance of getting those bullets into the vital organs. Either way you’re probably going to be bear poop in 24 hours.
Really trying to deadname the bear to was/were?
I can’t wait for someone to pull that ‘deadname’ bullshit on me… 🙂
Honestly only ever see that or pronouns in resumes for marginally qualified at best applicants. I don’t even have to discriminate as maybe 1/20 actually meet minimum let alone desired skills and qualifications and the ones who do often bomb the interview re anxiety. If they weren’t so vicious given a small taste of power it would be sad but thank goodness for civil service exams and minimum standards for filters.
“If you don’t have adequate penetration you might as well be shooting the bear with a .22LR.”
Reminds me of the story about Cree grandmother in Canada, who in 1950 did exactly that with an old Cooey Ace single shot rifle. She hit him in the head behind an ear, and he went down. Then, she coolly emptied a pocketful of additional rounds into the same place to make sure of him.
If I’m ever in big bear country, I’ve always planned to hump one of my battle rifles. 20 rounds of .308 semi auto trumps all the handguns.
But I’m also not in my 20s anymore… so realistically I’m not sure about that.
Man, I started to read that first sentence and I was thinking that you were going to say that you would hump…the bear. Imagine my disappointment.
Starting to sound…… Canadian there.
Saw this bad boy at the NRA Convention in Houston ladt year, really wished I had a trip that would justify it.
BTW, Gunbroker has a beautifully engraved one on auction now.
STUNNING Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan 454 Casull *FULLY CUSTOM ENGRAVED* NIB – Revolvers at GunBroker.com : 976582682
Either that one shot hurt like hell, or it was owner suicide…
It could have been his wife after finding out how much he spent on it and the ammo.
Beware the angered woman.
“…could have been his wife…”
Fortunately for me, a skillet fits my wife’s hand better, but even that is bad enough…
hawk, a naked women with a skillet warrants deadly force. At least in some states.
You got me on that one. I may think it, but never out loud!
Man I like this except for the short barrel. Got the revolver bug after ILLannoy decided I couldn’t have decent capacity in my gats. 454 sounds about right. Been working out🙄🙂
Man, .454 Casull is an interesting cartridge. I’m an Elmer Keith disciple, and like heavy, hard cast bullets at moderate velocities for maximum penetration. Outside of flexing at the range or hog hunting (single shots only) I do not agree with pumped up .454 rounds. The pressure is ridiculous, and the recoil is worse (read “more brisk”) than with some heavier calibers. It’s an interesting debate for sure. Here’s hoping we never have to wrestle a bear!
I looked at the Alaskan and ended up choosing a 4″ Redhawk .44 mag. I carry 340 grain +p+ solids at 1400 fps for bears. Even that seems a little small for the bears on Kodiak island. Diamond D makes a great chest rig for big revolvers.
Those were some lame assed .45 Colt loads. The “Cowboy” loads are intended to SASS shooting, and are very mild to permit fast shooting, as is seen in those hideously slow fps. Get some REAL .45 Colt rounds, like Buffalo Bore, and try again. When you get up around (or over) 1000 fps then you will realize the potential of the round. Or just handload a few with a 250 gr RNFP over 40 grains of FFP. Will they be as powerful as .454 Casull? No, but they ain’t white bread either. (The other benefit of Black Powder is that it gives you a smoke screen to cover your immediate retreat.)
I believe .45 Colt in modern beast revolvers (e.g. Rugers and Tauruses) is a hidden gem for the very reason that you stated. You can easily load a 255 grain hardcast lead bullet with a muzzle velocity of 1,300 feet-per-second out of a short-ish barrel. While that isn’t quite the same as full-power .454 Casull loads, it will put serious hurt on any large creature.
And I have to think that there are something like 300 grain hardcast bullets that you could similarly load to .45 Colt +P levels and achieve similar muzzle velocities around 1,300 feet-per-second. A 300 grain lead pill at those velocities is pretty serious medicine for all but the largest of mammals.
The bullets are the same size (.452), so you can use them interchangeably. The biggest difference is in pressure. The SAAMI spec for the .45 Colt is 14,000 psi, while the .454 is 65,000 in a case that is nominally only .1″ longer. The issue you run into with the heavier bullets is OAL. Then again, you get high velocity, and excellent penetration, and large wound channels with the lighter copper solids (Lehigh) that hunters are required to use in some states.
As an aside, some writers suggest that with the Ruger Blackhawk or a modern lever action, pressures can be pushed to about 25,000 psi, pressures that will blow an antique Colt or Winchester to pieces. I doubt that the Italian 1873s will take that kind of abuse.
Shot placement period.
Didn’t read all those, but I guess a bear would have to be pretty determined to keep after you after getting shot.
There is an ongoing debate about the effectiveness of guns vs. bear spray. While there are indeed many examples of effective defense against bears using guns, empirical evidence strongly indicates bear spray results in significantly more favorable outcomes.
There is also one other advantage to bear spray. If a bear manages to grab one of your companions, you can still let the bear have it with a cloud of bear spray. If you let the bear have it with a hail of bullets, your companion might catch one.
But to each their own. If you feel safer carrying a gun, fine. I’m not here to convert you. But I’ll put my trust in bear spray. And yes, I’ve already heard the joke about bear scat and bells many times.
I’ve seen, on the internet, where bear spray has worked to run off one bear only to have the smell attract another with fatal results for the sprayer.
‘Scary Bear Attacks’ is what it was called on youtube. Have you actually used bear spray against a bear?
It’s like seat belts and motorcycle helmets. Statistical data proves that they save lives, but if you’ve never benefited from using them, you might question their efficacy. And plenty of folks survived crashes without them.
But I don’t want to penalize people who refuse to use seat belts and motorcycle helmets. Like I said, to each their own. I’ll always use them, but I don’t begrudge folks who don’t. They are not endangering anyone except themselves, and I believe everyone has a natural right to endanger themselves (but only themselves). I just choose to endanger myself in different ways, like whitewater kayaking or camping in winter.
And no, I’ve never used bear spray against a bear. But I’m guessing you haven’t either, nor have you shot at one in self-defense. So few people have done either that we must use the data accumulated by other (sometimes unfortunate) encounters rather than rely on anecdotal evidence.
You can always find individual cases where things went wrong for any sort of threat encounter. You can also find individual cases where things went right, including folks who just stood there and crapped themselves in fear. But when you look at the statistics instead of individual encounters, they favor bear spray.
I have to see the statistics that you are claiming before I will buy into your claim. I have seen data which argues otherwise, thus my comment below on bear spray versus firearms.
Bear spray is extremely effective at repelling CURIOUS bears.
Bear spray is virtually guaranteed to fail at repelling ATTACKING bears.
Firearms have a proven track record of stopping ATTACKING bears, especially when the human defender had an appropriate firearm/caliber.
Of course aim is important, whether you are using bear spray or a firearm. And bear spray versus firearms is NOT an “either or” proposition–you can carry both in most instances.
Perhaps Idaho Boy can use the bear repellent in the same way as personal insect repellent.
I have to give the author credit for his ability to soak up recoil.
I’m a decent magnum shot and can shoot my 6″ Model 29 all day with no ill effects. But a couple of years ago I bought a Ruger Super Black Hawk in .454 Cassul.
My range trips typically go like this.
1st shot – bulls eye
2nd shot – 3″ low
3rd shot – 12″ low.
Recoil is so fierce that I develop a wicked push just within a couple of shots. if I wait a couple of days I can start again with a bull.
It’s just a matter of getting used to it, I realize, but the recoil is fierce.
Having shot a .44 mag Alaskan I honestly don’t think it’s really a very useful bear gun simply because there is very little chance that most people will actually be able to hit the bear with any follow up shots. Keep in mind, the sight radius is very short, recoil is nasty, and you will be working a double action revolver’s 12 lb trigger.
IMHO, most people would be better served with something like a 10mm Glock and a mag full of Buffalo Bore penetrator ammo.
Beauty vs Function.
Most people would be better off carrying a short baton…. just large enough to kneecap your buddy before you take off at a very high velocity through the woods
Now where have I heard that one before?
Don from CT,
You make an excellent argument for, “Don’t carry too much gun.”
As countless people have said, “A hit with a .22 LR is better than a miss with a .500 S&W Magnum.”
I personally believe that a full-size .44 Magnum revolver, with careful ammunition selection and a 4-inch barrel, is the optimum trade-off of size-versus-recoil for stopping all but the most beastly of bear attacks (e.g. 1000+ pound brown bear and polar bear attacks).
In my humble opinion, proper ammunition choices would be:
240 grain softpoints for bears under 350 pounds
240 grain hardcast semi-wadcutters for bears up to 500 pounds
300 grain hardcast for bears up to 1000 pounds
180 grain hollowpoints for bears over 1000 pounds (for euthanizing yourself)
I have had a .44 Alaskan for 10 years or so, no reason other than I wanted one. I find recoil manageable. I can stay in the center ring as long as I care to do it, which is about a box of Buffalo Bore. Too expensive to shoot more, but I enjoy the Alaskan for form AND function. Just a big fan of Ruger/Smith/Colt wheelguns and keep buying ’em.
Plus 1 on the revolvers. I like them. A lot. My favorite .44 mag was the old school Ruger Super Blackhawk from the 70’s. That thing was a sweetheart with specials and not to bad with mags. Factory ammo was pretty much 240 grainers. Didn’t hear about Buffalo Bore until years later.
“1st shot – bulls eye
2nd shot – 3″ low
3rd shot – 12″ low.”
As soon as he was legal, my younger brother bought a Deagle in 44 Mag. He walked his shots down also, so badly that the last shot was in the dirt half way back to his feet. If I had sutffed a dummy round somewhere in the mag, it would have looked like he was throwing the poor thing. He traded it in for a Dan Wesson 445 SM, thinking that the heavier gun would help him a bit. No such luck, even with the powder puff 44 Special loads I made for him. I think he was too embarrassed to trade again for something that would be less prone to induce flinching, so he kept it (in the box, in the closet). I finally bought it from him. I’ll keep it in case his son ever wants it. I have two barrels for it, 8″ and 4″ and it’s a handful with either one and full power loads, comparable to the Alaskan above.
I hope those rounds pictured in the first pic have a VERY heavy crimp applied, they look almost flush with the cylinder face already. A tied up gun then just becomes a hammer sooner.
I hunt for Bear every year. I was lucky to get a nice cinnamon color black Bear last fall. I have hunted Bears for many years and see about 3 to 5 each year. What is amazing is how a seemingly large lumbering animal can move so quietly through the woods. The bear I shot last fall, I used a .338 federal. Two solid chest shots and the Bear continued running downhill towards me for about 75 yards before collapsing. Very unnerving. I also carry a back up Ruger .45 colt Vaquero with 3.5 barrel. In my state, it is Legal to carry a back up handgun. . .
Bears can reach speeds of about 35 m.p.h. (which is 51 feet-per-second) for short distances–especially going downhill. If that bear is alive for another 5 seconds after taking a fatal heart/lung shot, that bear can still cover about 250 feet (83 yards) before losing consciousness.
That is why, in a perfect world, human defenders would put fatal shots on (soon-to-be) attacking bears while they are still more than 100 yards away. Of course we do not live in a perfect world so plan accordingly–and make sure that your affairs are in order.
Would be nice if Ruger made a 4″ version with the full underlug as the 2.5″ and port the barrel.
Finally. A real gun.
Having visited Alaska and seen a bunch of ground up there, and having seen the size and speed of coastal brownies, here’s the brutal truth people should know:
In the event you’re ever dealing with an actual griz or brown bear, any (and I mean ANY) handgun you use will be a noisemaker which will simply alert your hunting buddies that you’re about to become tomorrow’s bear poop.
If you actually want to protect yourself against bears, you carry a riot gun with an eight round magazine, loaded with Brenneke slugs.
One of my customers has a brownie he took in Alaska. It covered 80 yards of ground after getting hit three times by a major magnum rifle, center-of-mass. The slugs penetrated through four to eight feet of bear – there was no failure of the bullet or the shooter. The fourth and final round dropped the bear a good deal closer than the hunter and his guide would have wanted.
Dyspeptic Gunsmith — I have a this exact gun, a snub-nosed Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan Revolver and your advice to take a ‘riot-gun’ is spot on. if I’m anywhere near bears I’ll have Both my riot-gun And the Super Redhawk.
All things considered, if I’m going to carry a revolver comparable in size and weight to a hobbyist’s anvil, I’d rather it have a long enough barrel to throw that slug with as much speed as possible. Snubbies are great for concealing, but you’re not gonna hide this chunky thing anywhere unless you have a wooden leg.
Iron Cat Beast,
“… if I’m going to carry a revolver comparable in size and weight to a hobbyist’s anvil …”
That gave me a chuckle this morning. Thank you for a nice start to my day.
I jumped into big bore revolvers with both feet back in 2020 after JWT’s review of the Ruger Bisley (literally the week before the plandemic started). I bought the exact gun reviewed by him but in 454 Casull (his was a 480Ruger). I’ve always admired the 454 and actually got to meet Dick Casull when I was up in Wyoming for an elk hunt the fall before he died.
I primarily shot 45LC out of it until I was brave enough to start handloading. I started low with some HS6 and 240gr Hornady XTP working up to a fun load that chrono’d a little hotter than full house 44Mag loads, and then worked up a fun plinking load with a 360gr cast performance over Trail Boss. With my hands/wrists still intact I snapped up a few boxes of HSM Bear loads which, much to my surprise were shockingly easy to shoot, at which point I went all in and loaded that 360grn flat nose over W296 and learned what this cartridge is really all about. Completely in love I bought a second Bisley and then promtly sent the less of the two guns off to John Linebaugh to be converted to a 475 Linebaugh (story for a different day).
Which brings me to the real point (and back on topic to the gun being reviewed here), over the course of this journey, I traded my way into a Ruger Alaskan in 454, which much to my surprise was actually even more fun to shoot than the Bisley. It has quickly become my defacto ranch carry with 2 rounds of 45LC snake shot in the first two places in the cylinder, followed by 4rds of my HS6/240gr JHP loads. When I head into the mountains the snake shot gets dropped in favor of a full cylinder of my max loads of W296 under the 360gr hard cast bullets. It’s a bit of a bear to lug around with a rifle and loaded pack, but I manage it just fine in a chest holster that slots in right behind my bino harness.
I am truly in love with this little gun (not really little I guess, its actually bigger than my G19 carry gun if you lay the two on top of each other).