The 'carry Colt': Ruger's brief flirtation with the 4 inch Redhawk .45LC

  1. Editor
    A decade ago, Sturm, Ruger put its .45 Long Colt chambering of their vaunted Redhawk double action revolver on hiatus and only this year brought it back-- well that is true, except for a brief run of standard service sized wheel guns.


    Redhawk background

    Introduced in 1979, the Redhawk built on Bill Ruger's proven Security Six and Single Six, popular military and police style revolvers with standard 4-inch barrels chambered in .38/.357, but supersized them to come in .41 and above. These new guns were huge, using 5.5 and 7.5-inch barrel length options and tipping the scales at 50-55 ounces depending on options.

    As a one up on the competition, the frame is a one-piece investment casting to which the trigger group, swing out cylinder, and hammer was affixed to. Not only did this simplify production, but also it gave a more solid feel to the gun. A unique single spring mechanism that used a music wire coil spring for both hammer and trigger allowed for a smooth, light trigger pull. The cylinder double locked to the frame at the rear, and bottom at set up to help keep the timing regular shot after shot. A transfer bar safety system kept the gun from going off when the hammer was carried down on a loaded chamber, which is always nice to have. On top of this, a crane latch held the cylinder rock-steady to the frame, giving it a triple-locking cylinder.

    They were meant for heavy trail use in dangerous areas where bear and large predators are a problem, as well as hunting and long-range target shooting. Sure, in a pinch, you could use one for home defense, but truth be told, the huge size-- especially in the 7.5 inch/55 ounce options-- was just awkward.

    Originally just offered in .44 Spl/Magnum, within a few years it was also offered in .41 (1984-91) and .45 Long Colt (98-2005) while the Super Redhawk, introduced later came in bear-busting .454 Casul and .480 Ruger.

    Then in 2007, the company restarted the .45 LC offering-- but in a more compact size.

    The 4-inch Redhawks

    As noted above, these guns were a hoss and uncomfortable for any sort of carry option. In 2005, Ruger came out with the Alaskan, which was a Redhawk that had been equipped with abbreviated 2.5-inch barrels, which made for a 41-ounce snub nose (!) to give those who wanted a pack gun in .44/.454/.480 with plenty of beef to it.

    However, this gave a missing link in the Redhawk chain where you had to choose either a 2.5-inch Alaskan, or a 5.5-inch full sized 'Hawk with nothing in between.

    This led to a 4-inch standard model, in .44 and .45LC, that was debuted in 2007. This was a "just right" option for those who wanted a massively powerful carry piece that, with good leather and a stiff belt, could be an open carry handgun while doubling for home defense without sacrificing the extra fps and foot/pounds sacrificed by choosing the Alaskan option. It can be argued that a big guy using a pancake holster and a light jacket or over shirt can even carry a 4 inch Redhawk concealed.

    Sure, they weigh 46 ounces, but hey, we are talking a 4-inch .44 or .45 all-stainless double action with great sights. Moreover, they came standard with recoil-taming Hogue molded grips (with Ruger eagles).

    Although they look great with aftermarket grips


    Alas, Ruger let go of the 4-inch models in 2009, replacing them with a slightly longer 4.2-inch gun to accommodate Canadian sales, eh.

    That makes these true 4-inch 45s pretty rare Hawks indeed.

    Price, used, ranges from $500-$850 depending on condition as drawn from The Blue Book of Gun Values, Pedersen's Gun Guide, and indexes of online gun classifieds sales for the past 90 days.

    You can likely expect that to gain over time for minty models kept that way.

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