Ruger Redhawk 45 Colt vs 44 Mag


October 2, 2010, 10:56 AM
Hello everyone --

I'm thinking about buying a Ruger Redhawk with a 4 inch barrel, partly as a trail pistol, partly for target shooting, and maybe a bit of home defense thrown in. I'm torn between 45 Colt and 44 Mag for caliber, and wanted to see what people think.

45 Colt appeals because of lower recoil, but there doesn't seem to be much variety of ammo available. 44 Mag/Spl appeals because of the variety of ammo available, but recoil is a concern with 44 mag, though I could lower the recoil for home defense purposes with 44 Spl.

I'm not particularly recoil sensitive -- I shoot 1911's and a 357 mag regularly -- but I want to keep things reasonable. Of course, I want enough punch to work effectively as a trail gun when we're hiking.

Would appreciate whatever insights folks have to offer.


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October 2, 2010, 11:03 AM
If you do not handload the .44Mag is the only sane choice.

If you do handload then either cartridge can be loaded for anything from mice to moose and the only real difference is diameter.

Vern Humphrey
October 2, 2010, 12:16 PM
You will find, regardless of the cartridge you choose, that you will fire very few full power rounds. I have a Ruger Blackhawk in .45 Colt, and can use the "Ruger Only" loads -- but most of my handloads are at standard .45 Colt levels.

Frankly, if you want to shoot either cartridge very much, you have to handload -- or own a gold mine. I just got done cleaning up 100 lbs of wheel weights, which will produce about 2,700 255-grain bullets for my .45. I got the wheel weights free, which really cuts down the cost of shooting the old Blackhawk.

October 2, 2010, 12:34 PM
I agree with both posts above. The .44mag gives you more versatility if you don't reload. I like my 5-1/2" .45 Colt Redhawk, but I do roll my own. 99% or more of my shooting is with standard loads. My son likes the "Ruger Only" stuff and I like watching him shoot them.

Lucky Derby
October 2, 2010, 01:16 PM
From an article I read awhile back. I don't recall the original source.

"Ruger was smart in making the new 4" Redhawk in both .44 Magnum and .45 Colt. This way knowledgable shooters can take their pick of these two cartridges. Everyone else can choose the .44."

All kidding aside, if you don't reload .44 is probably the better choice. Just use .44 specials when you don't need/want the recoil of the magnum.
If you do reload, .45 can do everything a .44 can, at lower pressures.

October 2, 2010, 03:04 PM
Hi Lucky Derby ---

Interesting point about 45 Colt doing what 44 Mag will, but at lower pressures. I do handload for paper punching, but tend towards factory if I'm staking my life on the ammo. I presume a 45 Colt Redhawk will withstand ammo from Buffalo Bore and its kin. Am I correct here? (I would hope so if one will take 44 Mag pressures, but I make a point of not assuming.)


October 2, 2010, 03:07 PM
Hi Vern --

How'd you get the free wheel weights? I've never been able to find a place that doesn't sell them to some scrapper. I already cast my own Minie balls for my muzzleloading, so it would be an easy step to cast my own for modern weapons -- the hard part is raw material.


October 2, 2010, 03:14 PM
A case of beer at the back door of the tire shop used to work for me!

I suppose today a baggy of loco weed might work better then free beer though?


Vern Humphrey
October 2, 2010, 03:15 PM
How'd you get the free wheel weights?
I make friends with my local tire dealer and always bring my truck to him to get the tires rotated and balanced.

A couple of other tricks -- I used to belong to a gun club in Virginia that had an indoor range and also often hosted North-South Skirmish Assocation shoots. I would volunteer to clean out the back stop at the indoor range (and keep the lead) and show up early, before the range opened after a rain and walk the target and backstop area with a bucket picking up spent minnie balls.

IV Troop
October 2, 2010, 04:22 PM
I have a 4" RedHawk in .44, as most of my big bore guns are in .44. I also use and reload for the .45 Colt, though just not nearly as much as I do with .44s. I have been running 44s for most of my adult life, so it just makes sense to stick with what has worked so well for so many years.

That being said, you could reverse the two calibers in the above paragraph and it would work fine too.

Get what trips your trigger. They both will work fine.

October 2, 2010, 10:04 PM
Buffalo Bore has now introduced a +P+ .44 magnum load. 340 grains at 1400+FPS. They only will fit in Certain cylinders like the Redhawk. Enormous power there.

Arkansas Paul
October 2, 2010, 11:07 PM
If you do not handload the .44Mag is the only sane choice.

As big a fan of the .45 Colt as I am, I have to agree with this. Buying .45 Colt stuff off the shelf is insanely expensive. It's watered down too.

As far as the .45 Colt having less recoil, load a 250 grain XTP on top of 26 grains of H110 and then tell me that. That load is WAY above SAMMI specs by the way and should NEVER be used in anything but a Ruger, T/C, or Freedom Arms gun. I shot a few of them and I don't think I'm gonna load any more up. They are absolute wrist breakers.

October 3, 2010, 12:30 AM
As I mentioned before, I have the .45 Colt and like it.

The .44 does have one advantage that hasn't been mentioned yet. It has a wider rim. Actually it has the same diameter rim as the .45 Colt but has a smaller diameter case. This gives the extractor more to push against for a bit more reliable ejection. If you always point the barrel straight up it doesn't matter as much. But sometimes the .45 cases will get under the ejector if you're not holding the barrel up.

October 3, 2010, 01:07 AM
I thought about .44 mag and .45 LC for a few weeks.

After I thought about it, and read some reviews,
and heard somebody talk about shooting .44 mag,
I decided to stay in the .30's. No regrets so far.

October 3, 2010, 02:17 AM
I wish I would have got the 45 colt the same time I got the 44mag. I want the 45 colt but knowing what I paid for the 44 mag 3 years ago and seeing a 200 dollar difference in the 45 colt today I am afraid I will not get one unless I come across a good used deal.

Lucky Derby
October 3, 2010, 10:02 AM
MarkVII-Buffalo Bore has two "levels" (for lack of a better term) in .45 Colt loads. They make a couple of loads they call "Heavy Standard Pressure" that they say are safe in any post war .45 Colt chambered gun. This includes Colt SAA and clones. They also make +P loads that they say are only for Rugers, T/C' Freedom Arms and the like. I have heard some people say that the Ruger Only loads should not be used in Redhawks. Only in Blackhawks and Super Redhawks. I am no expert, but I would be comfortable using a limited amount of them in a Redhawk. I am not comfortable doing so in my S&W M25s.

October 3, 2010, 08:39 PM
Thanks to everyone for your thoughts.

I think I'm going to go with 44 mag. Sport45's comment about rim diameter got me looking into cartridge specs. I found out that 45 Colt and 44 Mag cases are the same length. Because we do shoot some 44 mag in the family, I can see it would be all too easy to accidentally put a 44 Mag round in the cylinder of a 45 Colt. I don't want to think about what that could lead to.

Thanks again to everyone. It's been an enlightening experience. As they say, "you're never too old to learn."


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