In the late 1970s, Ruger hired Harry Sefried (formerly of High Standard Manufacturing) to design the company’s first big bore double-action revolver. Taking many of its cues from the successful Security-Six, the Redhawk debuted in 1979 and has been in production ever since. Built to withstand the pressures generated by full power .44 Mag. loads, the Redhawk has been a favorite with handloaders who like to shoot extra hot ammunition. Various configurations include blued and stainless-steel models with barrel lengths ranging from 4.20” to 7.50″. This year Ruger released a new dual-caliber model chambered to fire .45 Colt and .45 ACP.
This latest version of the Redhawk features an all stainless steel construction with a satin finish. The 4.20″ barrel is topped with a solid serrated rib along the top for added rigidity while the barrel outline tapers towards the muzzle with a shortened under lug to keep the revolver from feeling muzzle heavy. The front sight is a removable blackened ramp with an orange insert that can be quickly swapped out for a fiber optic or night sight. The rear sight is fully adjustable for height and windage with a white outlined square notch.
Several revolvers, including the Colt and Smith & Wesson models, are built with a removable sideplate for installing and maintaining the firing mechanism. The Redhawk, like other modern Ruger double-actions, has a single piece frame with the firing mechanism attached to a removable rounded trigger guard which provides access to it through the bottom of the frame. This monolithic design provides consistent support on both sides of the barrel and cylinder for added strength and durability.
The 1.77″ wide fluted 6-shot cylinder features cylinder bolt notches that are offset from the chambers (the thinnest part of the cylinder) for added chamber strength. The cylinder release is located on the left side of the frame. Like other Ruger revolvers, the button-like release is pressed into the frame instead of sliding forward (Smith & Wesson) or pulling to the rear of the frame (Colt). The cylinder yoke contains a spring-loaded wedge that locks in place to provide added support to the cylinder. The yoke showed no signs of binding or roughness allowing the cylinder to swing out easily to the left side of the frame when released. The cylinder spun freely in the open position and the ejector operated properly.
Most of the grips to grace the Redhawk series over the years have been smooth hardwood with an outline reminiscent of some single-action revolvers. The advantage of this configuration is that it allows the revolver to roll back in the shooting hand to help manage recoil. Some of the 4″ barrel models have shipped with finger grooved rubber grips manufactured by Hogue. Last year Ruger teamed up with the TALO group of distributors to release a special edition Redhawk with a round-butt grip frame fitted with compact laser checkered wood panels. Ruger opted to bring back the round-butt grip frame for the .45 ACP/.45 Colt version, which is an excellent choice. The wooden panels are checkered along the sides for improved purchase but smooth along the rear to allow the grip to roll back in the hand like the models fitted with the larger grip. The reduced grip profile is comfortable to shoot with while making the revolver easier to pack around.
Removing the wooden grip panels reveals a single coil spring that supports the trigger, hammer and transfer bar safety, which prevents the revolver from firing if dropped. The use of a single spring limits the options for adjusting the trigger pull but the mechanism is much sturdier than the older leaf spring configurations. Luckily, Redhawks have good triggers right out of the box. The round-faced trigger cycled smoothly and cleanly in double and single action mode. With the hammer cocked the trigger broke crisply with 6 lbs. 14 oz. of trigger pull. To cycle the trigger in double action mode called for 11 lbs. 10 oz. but it felt a little lighter than that thanks to proper tuning at the factory.
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