For “home defense” purposes I stoked the GP100 with Aguila’s super-quiet Colibri (primer only) ammo and slung it on my belt in a Triple K Carrylite holster for vermin eradication on my farm. At night with a 600-lumen flashlight in the left hand and the GP100 in the right the front sight jumps to life, much to the fatal chagrin of big Avocado-munching Norway rats. It’s easy to make 10-yard kill shots at center mass, assuming the little buggers hold still long enough to put a bead on ‘em. And come sunup, SoCal’s population of sinewy ground squirrel disease carriers was reduced by a dozen or more members at ranges up to 15 yards thanks to the Colibri’s surprising effectiveness.

The .44 Magnum Redhawk

Ever seen the movie Three Amigos? “You wanna die with a man’s gun. Not a leeetle sissy gun.” The Ruger Redhawk in .44 Magnum ($1,079) is definitely NOT a leeetle sissy gun. And when stoked with the appropriate ammo and strapped to your waist inside a Triple K holster, there are few dangerous game animals in North America that will imperil. But the big Redhawk is a honkin’ hunk of hardware and when handling one for the first time, that movie line is the second thing that springs to mind—right after realizing how pretty it is.

Ruger has really stepped up their game lately with their high-quality, online-available holster offerings for all their pistols and revolvers, and a perfect example are these top-shelf, Ruger-branded Triple K thumb-break, belt-mounted leather holsters.

Pretty. Yes—the Ruger Redhawk definitely is pretty. The satin stainless steel construction, hardwood grips adorning the cowboyesque butt shape, and the graceful curve of the underlug as it meets the hefty rounded barrel all contribute to making it a drop-dead-gorgeous revolver with classic lines that will never go out of style. Our test pistol was the Model 5004, with 5.5-inch barrel chambered in .44 Magnum. Of course, other Redhawk models are available in a dizzying variety of models including 2.75-inch, classic 4.20-inch, and big ‘ol 7.50-inch barrel lengths and calibers from .41 Mag, .45 ACP, .45 Long Colt, and .357 Magnum. And we won’t even get into the Super Redhawk variants. But in terms of a balance between muzzle velocity, sight radius, carryability, and maneuverability it’s hard to beat the 5.5-inch Redhawk chambered in .44 Mag. It can hunt, it can hike, and it can hit hard.

For the range, the Model 5004 was fed a huge meal of .44 Magnum ammo, including Black Hills 240- and 300-grain JHP, SIG 240-grain V-crown JHP, and Hornady 200- and 240-grain XTP. In all, over 160 rounds went down the pipe in a 1-hour range session and by the next day my right hand felt like I had caught a game of major league baseball without a mitt. The hardwood grips, which look oh-so-right, do nothing to lessen the sharp bite of hard-hitting .44 Mag. I found my palm wanting to ride slightly up or down on the backstrap, pulling my trigger finger slightly out of position. The quick solution would be to swap out the factory grips for some rubber or wooden versions with finger grooves but man, those Ruger hardwood grips look soooo right.

While there were no .44 Magnum sized varmints to dispatch with while writing this, the author put the GP100 to work on rimfire-appropriate rodents with great success using Aquila’s powderless (fired by the primer only) and ultra-quite 20-grain-lead Colibri load. The Colibri travels at 420 FPS and was designed expressly for bolt-action rifles and revolvers, as it will not cycle the slide on s semiauto.

That said, on the range the Black Hills and SIG 240-grain JHP were the most pleasant to shoot, with the Hornady 240-grain, Hornady 200-grain, and Black Hills 300-grain ratcheting up the recoil and wow-factor, in that order. All shot with comparable consistency, but the best 5-shot groups of the day measuring about 2.5 inches were printed with Black Hills 240-grain JHP ammunition. Admittedly, while toying with different grips and holds it took several tries to get good groups on paper (more than I’m comfortable copping to) and once I settled in all of my shots seemed to fly left of point of aim. The Redhawk features the same white U-block adjustable rear sights, so that can be dialed out by sliding the rear sight to the right.

Despite its brawn the Redhawk has a very manageable unloaded weight (for a big-bore revolver) of 49 ounces, so well-aimed, one-handed shots are possible in double-action. That’s important if you’re planning on carrying a revolver like this for bear protection. I didn’t try to quick draw from the holster because of range rules, but I was able to place rounds on an 8-inch target at 15 yards with quick sight acquisition. The follow-up shot usually flew high or left, which could be dialed out sight adjustment. Your paw will get a whompin’ doing it all afternoon with full-house Magnum ammo, but remember you can always run .44 Special for plinking. Besides, if there’s a charging grizzly bearing down on you you’ll probably have enough adrenaline running to lift a car over your head, so quickly wielding a double-action Magnum single-handedly would be an afterthought.

Bottom Line

The GP100 10-shot .22 Long Rifle revolver checks off so many boxes for the recreational shooter, target plinker, and small-game hunter it’s not funny. It’s accurate, balanced, comfortable, handsome, and built like a tank. And when you’re just out for a lazy afternoon of plinking, it’s so nice not to have to turn your fingertips raw and sore loading magazines over and over and over. Just flip open the cylinder, flick the extractor rod to dump your empty brass, and slide in ten more rounds. With full-size GP platform beef, it’s a low-recoil, super-stable shooting rig . . . that can double as a hammer if you ever get stranded in the wilderness and need to build a shelter.

Though both shot left out of the box (easily corrected by adjusting the rear sight), both Ruger’s held their own on 25-yard targets from the bench.

As for the Redhawk, many still hunt with or carry a pistol like this chambered in 44 Magnum for bear protection. It’s a very realistic, manageable rig that is well suited for pig or deer hunting as well as backwoods protection. I plan on stoking it with some recommended-for-Ruger-only, deep-penetrating, hard-cast lead loads and strapping it in its Triple K holster when I’m in Montana brown bear country to replace my ridiculously large and heavy Smith X-frame. I like the relatively small size and the fact that it’s a Ruger . . . so any and all ammo with power just this side of a small nuclear blast is safe to run in with massive construction. And I know in 100 years when my grandkids are toggling the hammer, the cylinder will rotate just as crisply as it does now.

See them at your gun shop, or for more information contact Sturm, Ruger & Co., Dept. OT; Tel.: (336) 949-5200; Web: http://www.ruger.com