Review: Ruger Super Redhawk .22 Hornet

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posted on June 19, 2024
Review Ruger Super Redhawk 22 Hornet Lead

The .22 Hornet is one of those old cartridges that refuses to die. Its design is antiquated by today’s cartridge design standards but, if anything, its popularity has grown in recent years. All you need to do is shoot one to see why. This is a fun cartridge with a mild report and very low recoil, but as the name implies it carries a “sting.”

The .22 Hornet was based on the older, blackpowder .22 WCF, which dates back to 1885. With a 45-grain bullet, the .22 WCF boasted a muzzle velocity of 1540 fps. The .22 Hornet uses basically the same case but is loaded with smokeless powder. In fact, Alliant 2400 powder was developed just for the Hornet. With the same 45-grain bullet, the Hornet has a muzzle velocity of 2655 fps.

The .22 Hornet was developed in the 1920s by a group of experimenters at the Springfield Armory that included such notable gun guys as Col. Townsend Whelen and Captain G. L. Wotkyns. In 1930 Winchester added it to their line of factory cartridges and their Model 70 rifle. It was the first smokeless powder .22 centerfire marketed for “long range” varmint hunting and is the oldest .22 centerfire still being made.

It’s always been a rifle cartridge for the most part. Thompson/Center chambered it in their single-shot Contender handgun, and Taurus had their big Raging Hornet revolver. Those firearms are both out of production today.

Ruger Super Redhawk .22 Hornet facing right.

In the 40-odd years I have been doing this gun writing thing, I have seen ebbs and flows in the industry. Right now, Ruger is leading the pack with innovation and new, often unexpected introductions. So, it was not a huge shock when they introduced their Super Redhawk revolver in .22 Hornet. When I asked a Ruger executive why, he replied, “Why not?” That attitude has led to some of our greatest introductions in the firearm world.

Is this one of them? Time will tell, but it might well be. Handgun hunting is seeing a bit of resurgence, so the time is right.

This is a bit of a specialty handgun, best for hunting smaller predators and anything in the Marmotini tribe. It’s also a great option for sniping long range targets with handguns. It’s fun to shoot, has low recoil and is just different enough to be cool.

Some years back, the Ruger Redhawk revolver was having some issues with barrels cracking at the frame. Ruger found the problem and corrected it, but in the interim they introduced the Super Redhawk with a much longer frame to support the threaded portion of the barrel. It started life as a .44 Magnum and has been chambered in some hellatious handgun cartridges like the .454 Casull and the .480 Ruger. It’s a huge double-action handgun that is built like a tank. So, the question is, why the Super Redhawk in diminutive .22 Hornet rather than one of their smaller guns? One big answer is that it’s much easier to mount a scope on the longer frame of the Super Redhawk, and this is a gun that begs for optical sights—if you can find them. Like just about everything else in the Biden years, the world seems to be out of handgun scopes. I finally pilfered one off another handgun and mounted it on my sample gun with the included Ruger scope rings. These rings clamp to the rib on top of the frame and have a recoil lug that fits into a slot below. They hold up to those beast rounds and are way overbuilt for the Hornet, which is good.

Ruger Super Redhawk .22 Hornet revolver cylinder.

This gun has a massive, unfluted cylinder that measures 1.8 inches in diameter and is chambered to hold eight cartridges. With a 9.5-inch bull barrel, the gun has a 15-inch overall length and weighs 4.125 pounds empty and scopeless. As all Super Redhawks are, it’s all stainless steel. It has a Hogue rubber grip. There is an adjustable white outline rear sight and a green fiber-optic front sight. The cylinder locks into the frame in the front and the back as well as the cylinder stop on the bottom. Both the conventional rear lock and this front lock are released by pushing on the release button on the rear-left of the frame.

The gun uses a transfer bar system so that all chambers can be safely loaded. The single-action trigger pull has a bit of creep, but is smooth and breaks at 4 pounds. The double-action is a bit silly to use unless you have a charging woodchuck, but it has a nice, smooth pull with no noticeable stacking. Double-action pull weight pegs my digital meter that goes to 12 pounds, so it’s somewhere past that.

The barrel's recessed target style crown appears to be 11 degrees. The rifling is cold hammer-forged with a 1:9 twist rate. This is much faster than the SAAMI specified 1:16 twist. So, if you simply must use heavier bullets, you can.

Ammo in .22 Hornet is a bit of a problem right now. The introduction of this handgun drove up demand during a time of shortages and everything is backordered.

Ruger Super Redhawk .22 Hornet revolver HiViz sights.

At the range the gun shot very well with no issues. Handgun shooting, even from a benchrest, is an erodible skill. I found that the longer I shot the gun the better the gun was to shoot. The last two groups I shot were the best. I suspect that if I had enough ammo to reshoot this test a few more times, the groups, which are good now, would be even a bit smaller.

I did experience some spitting, so protective glasses are important. That’s not uncommon with any revolver, and the blowback caused no harm other than it turned the entire cylinder to a nice gray patina.

I was able to run our 100 yard "Know Your Limits" target array pretty easily, even the smallest 2-inch target. A prairie dog at 150 yards would be a slam dunk.

Ruger Super Redhawk .22 Hornet accuracy results chart with three factory ammunition loads.

Technical Specifications
Type: double-action revolver
Caliber: .22 Hornet
Cylinder Capacity: 8 rnds.
Barrel: 9.5"; 1:9" RH twist
Trigger Pull Weight: 4 lbs. (SA), 12 lbs. plus (DA)
Sights: adjustable rear, HiViz fiber-optic front
Grip/Stocks: Hogue Tamer Monogrip
Metal Finish: brushed stainless steel
Overall Length: 15"
Weight: 66 ozs.
Accessories: scope rings, lock
MSRP: $1,499; ruger.com

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