by Max Prasac - Friday, November 20, 2015
I can’t figure out what’s wrong with me. I have an inability to say no when asked to test firearms that I find irresistible, irrespective of the parameters of the test. Ruger engineers told me last year that I was on a short list to test the .454 Casull and .480 Ruger Super Blackhawk single-action revolvers. They said something about being recoil-proof and a glutton for punishment in explaining why I had been chosen for this honor. My wife neatly sums up these “qualities” with one word: numb. “No problem,” I said, “and thanks—I think.” I love a challenge.
In February, a call from my FFL indicated that the first installment had arrived along with a couple hundred rounds of .454 Casull ammunition of various manufacture and bullet weights. I tested that revolver to the tune of nearly 1,000 rounds in a short period of time. Shortly thereafter, a .480 Ruger Super Blackhawk arrived, and this time my FFL told me I should bring my truck to haul all of this ammo out of the entryway of his house. Turns out his wife was not too pleased about the 400 pounds of ammunition stacked like cordwood next to the front door!
Ever since Sturm, Ruger & Company released the .480 Ruger in the love-it-or-hate-it Super Redhawk in 2001, revolver aficionados have been brow-beating Ruger to offer this cartridge in its popular single-action lineup. The combination of Super Blackhawk and .480 Ruger is debated incessantly on gun websites, yet Ruger’s reticence to make this happen has frustrated handgun hunters who have long wanted to see this marriage come to fruition. Basically a shortened .475 Linebaugh, the .480 Ruger is a serious big-game hunting round that even when loaded to spec isn’t too abusive to the one pulling the trigger. Ruger has finally relented by offering not only the .480 Ruger in the Super Blackhawk line, but also the raucous .454 Casull. Handgun hunters everywhere have reason to rejoice as two of their favorite calibers can be had in the revolver they love at an affordable price. Both are available as Lipsey’s distributor exclusives, but I want to focus on the .480 here.
The new revolvers are based on the old revolvers. Ruger used the standard Super Blackhawk frame in 415 stainless steel. The barrel is 6.5 inches long on both models (at least initially) and made from 15-5 stainless steel, with a 1:18-inch twist for the .480 Ruger. It has no taper and features a front sight base that is silver soldered on with a pinned-in sight blade, while the rear sight is the standard Ruger adjustable setup.
The unfluted cylinder is carved from 465 Carpenter steel, the super-strong, hard-to-machine material that first made an appearance in the late 1990s in the .454 Casull Super Redhawk (and later in the .480 Ruger version of the same). A five-shot configuration, the cylinder is counter-bored to encapsulate the case heads. Dimensionally the cylinder is like that of the .44 Magnum Super Blackhawk, save for a tiny bit more length to the rear to compensate for the recessed case heads.
The new revolvers are fitted with an extra-long ejector rod housing that was introduced on the limited run of stretch-frame .357 Maximum revolvers of the early 1980s. A Bisley grip frame is the only one offered and the only one Ruger deemed acceptable for the new Super Blackhawks. A locking base pin guards against the pin walking out under recoil, a nice touch.
Recoil means something different to every shooter. While I am no stranger to recoil, these relatively lightweight power-houses pack a wallop on both ends. It’s not the worst you may encounter, but it’s a considerable step up from the venerable .44 Magnum. The .480 produces what is best described as a heavy push.
The new .480 Super Blackhawk delivered outstanding accuracy, the only limits being my vision with iron sights, so I equipped the revolver with a red dot-type sight from JP Enterprises. The trigger was pretty good, exhibiting a minimum of creep. I own a number of more expensive revolvers that cannot compete with the accuracy of this new Ruger.
I got the opportunity to test the new .480 Ruger on porcine flesh at Hog Heaven Outfitters of Johnston County, N.C. On the first day a 200-plus-pound boar made the mistake of showing up. The shot was high on the shoulder, broadside at about 45 yards, and required only one Buffalo Bore 370-grain bullet to seal the deal. My testing was complete.
Ruger and Lipsey’s have finally given us what we want. What was once a custom-only and cost-prohibitive proposition is now only a phone call, and less than $1,000, away from being yours. Evidently Ruger is listening.
• Type: single-action revolver
• Caliber: .454 Casull, .480 Ruger (tested)
• Capacity: 5 rnds.
• Barrel: 6.5"; stainless steel; 6 grooves, 1:18" RH twist
• Trigger Pull Weight: 4.5 lbs.
• Sights: adjustable rear notch, fixed front blade
• Grips: Bisley; laminated hardwood
• Metal Finish: stainless steel
• Overall Length: 12.4"
• Weight: 49.2 ozs.
• MSRP: $969
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