Sturm, Ruger & Co. is no stranger to revolvers. A few of the company’s best known guns include variants of the Single Six, Security Six, GP100, SP101, Blackhawk, Vaquero, and Redhawk lines, most of which have been around for decades and are veritable classics in the handgun world. And, despite the near-fever-pitch interest in small, skinny, concealable semiautomatic pistols — where Ruger also is a top industry player — one of the guns the company just released is the revolver you see here. Let me introduce you to the Ruger Redhawk Model 5033 — an eight-shot .357 Magnum revolver. Despite the fact it is big, heavy, and relatively expensive, this good-looking Redhawk is a modern-day classic and a worthy addition to any collection.
Revolvers fall into two categories: single-action or double-action. Readers of Western Horse & Gun may be more familiar with single-action revolvers and their place in mounted shooting events. Single-action, as you know, means pulling the hammer back and firing each shot individually. Double-action means you can pull the trigger and the gun will fire with each trigger squeeze — no manual pull-back needed. With double-action, however, you can operate in single-action mode if you want to.
This new Ruger Redhawk is a double-action revolver. So it can be fired quickly, if needs be. And eight rounds of .357 Magnum cartridges on board is a force to be reckoned with. The nice thing about revolvers chambered in .357 Magnum is you can also fire the slightly-shorter, slightly less-powerful .38 Special cartridge through them. Which cartridge you load in this gun depends on how you intend to use it. If you’re going to carry it into the backcountry to defend against all types of four-legged or two-legged attackers, it’s hard to beat the punch of the .357 Magnum. But .38 Special is no slouch when it comes to self-defense; you just have to realize it’s not as powerful as it’s .357 older brother.
Moreover, with regard to ammunition capacity, revolvers typically carry only six cartridges (at least in .357/.38). In recent years, some manufacturers produced the occasional seven-shot revolver. Even more rare was an eight-shot revolver. So Ruger’s eight-round Redhawk makes a clear statement about ammunition capacity: more is better.
Cartridges load into the Redhawk’s cylinder using steel rings called moon clips. Three moon clips come with the Redhawk, allowing you to quickly reload eight cartridges at once. On the off chance that eight rounds is not enough to do what you need to do, getting another eight rounds loaded takes only a few seconds in a typical reload scenario.
No doubt you’ve noticed this gun’s good-looking grips. That’s a polished hardwood and their size and curve is easy to hang on to, even when firing quickly. If this gun looks a bit short, it’s because the barrel is only 2.75” in length. By most measures, that means this gun is a snub-nose, making it more suitable for concealed carry. But the mission of this gun is less about concealed carry and more about ease of draw and short-range effectiveness. This is the gun you carry into the backcountry or on the back forty when you want a means to put down a predatory animal that’s gotten too close and is threatening you. Of course, it is possible to carry this gun concealed but a few things are going to make doing so more difficult. The first is the weight of the gun: 44 oz. Most concealed carry guns are less than half that weight for the simple reason of physics. Lighter guns generally carry easier. The other thing working against really effective concealed carry of this gun is its width. A cylinder manufactured to hold eight rounds is simply a thicker cylinder. Sure, you can holster this gun inside or outside your waistband — you’ll just have to accommodate its physical size. Moreover, the gun’s overall length is 8.25”. Translation: It’s big.
The frame of the Ruger Redhawk is stainless steel with a satin stainless finish. Heft it and you’ll be impressed at how robust and strong it feels. And you’ll really appreciate it when you fire it as the gun will help absorb some of the recoil of the .357 Magnum rounds. Your hand and arm will absorb the rest, but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it and frankly, it’s pretty fun.
Other features include a ramp front sight and an adjustable ramp rear sight, which are more than adequate for fast, short-range shooting. Squeezing through trigger and firing rounds from this gun also reveals very smooth trigger pull — a hallmark of many revolvers but especially so of Rugers.
Ruger’s Redhawk Model 5033 retails for $1,079, which compared to other similar guns, is on the high side. Then again, there really aren’t many other similar guns to compare it to. With this Redhawk you get a tough-as-a-bank-vault durability, a smooth action, and eight rounds of .357 Magnum on board — all the makings of a modern-day classic.