Powerful revolvers carry more than just a cylinder full of cartridges, they also carry some mystique. The hero of every old Western film always had a big iron to deal justice. While that may not be our purpose here today it’s nice to keep it in mind. Today we are taking a closer look at the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan.
The Super Redhawk line of pistols from Ruger has a long history of performance, but what does the Alaskan do you might say? I suppose the Alaskan model was purpose built thinking of those who might spend time up north. Folks who prefer not to be without six doses of bear medicine. The Super Redhawk Alaskan is a stainless steel double-action revolver, a hammer forged 2.5 inch barrel. It comes with a Hogue Tamer grip to keep a good hold of the gun. You’ll need a good grip because the Alaskan’s robust cylinder has holes bored for six cartridges in only three calibers; .44 Remington mag, 454 Casull, and .480 Ruger. These powerful choices in chambering are nothing to shake a stick at as my father would say. And certainly enough to make even a brown bear reconsider you as a snack.
Despite the large chamberings for the Redhawk, the pistol isn’t so big as to be cumbersome. The short barrel makes it a reasonable gun to carry in a holster, even if you are engaged in other activities. The Alaskan would be a great choice for fisherman who anticipate potential close encounters with awnry eight hundred pound salmon fishermen. Or just someone who is out in rough country and wants to be safe.
The Alaskan is big enough to stand up to the tasks of bear country, and yet small enough to bring along on a fly fishing trip. And even if you aren’t in the cold white north, it alway gives some solace to have a good strong pistol close. I’ve spent enough time in the incredibly dark and remote forests of northern Montana and Idaho to appreciate the comfort of that heavy steel piece riding on the hip. The extra 2.75 pounds is worth having to me.
Shooting the Super Redhawk Alaskan was going to be expensive in today’s market. Especially since I had both the .44 Magnum model, and the 454 Casull to feed. Both pistols are dual chambered to allow for shooting lighter loads with .44 Special and .45 Colt cartridges. But I didn’t have any of those, so it was full house power loads from Hornady to test these guns.
I have shot plenty of .44 Magnum over the years, so shooting the Redhawk wasn’t significantly new. Noticing immediately the comfortable grip, which allowed me excellent purchase to control the pistol. The 454 Casull pistol had a bit more power behind it, and you could feel it. Recoil and muzzle blast from the two are fairly comparable, with the Casull showing a bit more unsurprisingly. I was shooting 225 grain Horandy FTX ammunition in the .44 Magnum model, and in the .454 I was shooting Hornady’s 300 grain flat point.
Evaluating the Redhawks Power
Considering the purpose I initially mentioned for these pistols they shoot quite well. A dangerous game defensive pistol like this certainly needs to hit what your aiming at. I found both pistols to be easy enough to control despite the significant recoil from the heavy loads. Obviously that would change if an angry sow was charging at me. But I’d like to think I could shoot them well enough to hit a moving target at danger close distances.
The impressive power of the Super Redhawks wasn’t the only thing that stood out when shooting them. Both models felt fantastic in the hand, the soft rubber Hogue grips made them very comfortable to shoot. The quality of the operation also struck me, smooth controls and very clean breaking triggers added to the superior feeling of these pistols.
The adjustable sights of the Alaskan aren’t exactly huge, they come across as pretty simple and no nonsense. That said I found them to be more than adequate for the purposes of relatively close shooting. That is to say anything inside of fifty-yards or so that rivaled the size of a paper plate was bound to be perforated with a big hole.
Pros and Cons
I have always been a fan of Ruger’s revolvers, so it should come as no surprise that I found a great many things I like about the Super Redhawk Alaskan. First of all, it’s just a plain handsome design. It has all the classic and sexy features of the hero’s gun from the old westerns we watched as kids. And yet it has just enough modern flair to make it appealing as a modern firearm as well.
The simplicity of the Alaskan’s design also makes it very quick to put into service. It’s double-action design makes it ideal for a gun that needs to be jerked from the holster and immediately fired at inbound danger. The reliable operating system rolls the next chamber full of wrath right into position to deal one blow after another of heavy hitting power.
A quality finish of the pistol also makes it built to last. The Alaskan is built from stainless steel to protect it from the rough weather you’d be sure to encounter up north. Features like the clean breaking trigger, triple locked cylinder, and modern transfer bar allow the gun to serve its power with finesse, precision and safety.
I had a really hard time coming up with cons for this pistol. It has a fairly specific purpose and it serves that purpose extremely well in my opinion. Perhaps it wouldn’t be ideal for day to day carrying in places where dangerous predators over five-hundred pounds aren’t expected. It might be a bit heavy for a purpose like that. Though I won’t deny having conceal carried one of the Redhawks on multiple occasions.
There is the obvious downside of having to feed these large and expensive cartridges to such a large pistol. But if you truly need a pistol like this I’d wager you are willing to pay quite a randsome to ensure it has plenty of ammo.
I have really enjoyed shooting the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan pistols. Despite the impressive power, they are still very fun pistols to shoot and can serve you well as a defensive firearm. Perhaps the most important aspect of the pistol is that it is pleasant enough to shoot that you won’t be afraid of it if the time ever comes that you need to use it. Having enjoyed shooting the pistol as much as I have, I think it wouldn’t be hard to gain a level of proficiency suitable for shooting it well under pressure.
If you need a defensive sidearm for dangerous animals, or if you just find yourself enchanted by the big bore of the Super Redhawks, this is a great option to buy.