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The Trials of a Redhawk

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by WrongHanded, Jun 29, 2019.

  1. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    My .44 mag Ruger Redhawk with 5-1/2" barrel has been a project. And by that I mean, it's been a journey - that journey may not yet be over, but fingers crossed - to learn to shoot well, and get set up the way I can shoot it best. It was my first .44 Magnum, and possibly for that reason alone, I've been reluctant to part with it despite how much of a pain in the butt it's been.

    I've been through some good times with it, where we've perform fairly well. And we've been through some rough patches, where nothing is working and I feel like cutting it into little pieces with an Oxyacetylene torch.

    However, I'm hoping that I finally have it right now.

    A Bowen Rough Country rear sight and extra tall front sight were installed along the way. The rear was for the target blade more than anything, but the front was for the 300gr+ loads that were hitting far too high above POA with the regular front sight. Because the barrel isn't clocked quite right, and the extra tall front sight just exacerbates that issue, rear sight is now cranked all the way left, and finally hitting POA with these heavier bullets, despite some odd and inexplicable horizontal shift in impact going from 240gr to 300gr bullets.

    IMG_20190629_171947210.jpg

    IMG_20190629_172016230.jpg

    Then there the grips. I've tried the stock wood panels, the Hogue monogrip, and a Nils Griffe. All have pros and cons, and all leave the backstrap exposed, which is extremely unpleasant with heavy recoil. I also tried the Pachmayr Presentation grip, which does wonders for recoil mitigation, but is so big and thick I don't seem to be able to grasp it consistently, which caused POI shifts. But I've found the Pachmayr Gripper seems to cover all the bases, except that it's ugly. At this point I simply don't care. It gives a consistent hold, allows for good control for follow up shots, and even the heaviest recoiling loads I've put through the gun don't hurt.

    IMG_20190629_172043086.jpg

    I've done a "kitchen table" trigger job, and added a shim or two. But it still wasn't a light enough trigger for my liking, so I tried a Wolff spring kit with the 13# spring, and now the 12# spring which is functioning correctly in DA, and gives a very nice crisp and fairly light SA pull.

    And I've just finished accuracy "testing" of the newest .44 mag load I've worked up. Montana Bulletworks 300gr LBT WFN-GC (actual weight approx 310gr) and 22.0gr of Power Pro 300 MP. Chrono testing has yet to come. But I'm pleased with the results.

    IMG_20190629_165927725_HDR.jpg

    Both groups were fired at 25 yards from the benches, arms supported on a rest, gun in hands and otherwise unsupported.

    The group on the left was before I cranked the rear sight over the last 1/4 turn or so (which I confirmed with other ammo). All shots were fired SA, without a break in between. The group is 1-15/16". I believe that's a personal best for me with iron sights on a handgun and using this setup.

    The group on the right is also 6 shots, measures 2-9/16", and was fired at the same distances from the same position. This is after I finalized the sight adjustment. However, this group was fired one shot at a time. After each shot I put the gun down and relaxed my arms and hands a bit. I'm not entirely sure why the two shots on the left are out there so far, but I can only assume it's because that's where I was pointing the gun. Fuzzy targets can fool me like that sometimes (perhaps I should consider a visit to the optometrist). But in seriousness, those two showed up somewhere in the middle of the group, so I doubt there's anything to blame but the guy holding the gun.

    So, in conclusion, whilst I'm no bullseye shooter, I've got a gun that's working the best it's ever worked for me. And I've got a new load with a lot of potential. Now I just have to check how fast the load is, and see if I can hit some gongs out at farther distances with this combination. No other gun I've owned has caused me as much strife as this Redhawk. Hopefully those days are in the past.
     
  2. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Have you contacted Ruger about your canted barrel? They’ve remedied every instance I have had come into my shop which was canted, I’d be interested to learn if they refused yours.
     
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  3. The Evangelist Cowboy

    The Evangelist Cowboy Member

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    I second Varminterror's post. I've used their customer service a few times and they lived up to their reputation of one of if not the best customer service attitudes out there. Theyll make it right for you.
     
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  4. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    I haven't contacted Ruger, but I have no doubt that they'd treat me well.

    I don't like sending guns back to the manufacturer. Part of the reason for this is that my experience so far (Sig and Henry) has been that I need to be at my home to sign for the returning gun. This seemed to be on week days when I'd prefer to be earning money at work. So I ask myself, is the cost of shipping the gun (If any) and the cost of missing work, really worth the issue I have. The canted barrel just isn't a big deal for me on this gun, provided it shoots to POA, which it now does. But I appreciate the thought, and it's good to hear Ruger will remedy that issue should I encounter it in future.
     
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  5. The Evangelist Cowboy

    The Evangelist Cowboy Member

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    That's the nature of the game. I for one love the anticipation of getting my gun back. My work has flexible vacation as long as I give 3 days notice I can take a day off or at least get off early relatively easy. Though I realize everyone's situations different. Worst case is you can have an FFL send it for you.
     
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  6. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    I suppose return shipping to an FFL would be better (I never knew it was an option when dealing with the manufacturers). My main issue with taking time off from work is that I'd rather use that time for road trips to national parks, so my PTO is precious to me.
     
  7. The Evangelist Cowboy

    The Evangelist Cowboy Member

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    I understand. I take PTO sporadically rarely taking more than 2 days. Most trip are instate for me
     
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  8. Mullo98

    Mullo98 Member

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    Sweet magnum you got there. How’s the recoil on it?
     
  9. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    Pretty managable now with that Pachmayr Gripper on it. That's in comparison to grips that expose the backstrap of course. It still kicks a whole lot more than a .357, or a .41 mag.
     
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  10. The Evangelist Cowboy

    The Evangelist Cowboy Member

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    The Redhawk will take the absolute hottest loads in .44 caliber, Beartooth used to make a 405 grain bullet that only the Redhawk can chamber due to lengthened cylinder.
     
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  11. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    I bought a back issue of Handloader magazine to get the Brian Pearce article on .44 mag +P Redhawk-only loads. I haven't tried any of them yet though. Just confirmed that some other loads I have are well inside the safety margin for the Redhawk. I'll start trying that data out eventually. I'm sure it'll be fun as well as educational, but I have these 300gr Swift A-frames to figure out first, which is what a lot of the tinkering with this particular gun was in preperation for.
     
  12. MaxP

    MaxP Member

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    I tested those 405 grain Beartooth bullets years ago and they eat so much case capacity that the velocity suffers greatly. Also, they wouldn’t track straight through the media we shot them into nor did they fly straight, keyholing with every shot. Just thought I’d throw that out there. :)
     
  13. The Evangelist Cowboy

    The Evangelist Cowboy Member

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    Funny you say that, I've seen the same thing in a couple of vids and they can barely get them to 1000 fps.
     
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  14. The Evangelist Cowboy

    The Evangelist Cowboy Member

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    Tell me MaxP, you and CraigC probably know more about handgun hunting than anyone on this forum. Do yall feel comfortable (with the appropriate) loads to use the .44 magnum against the large brown bruins and moose here stateside?
     
  15. MaxP

    MaxP Member

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    I went round and round with a guy on Beartooth’s forum (shootersforum) years ago who insisted that was the ultimate bear stopping load. I asked him if any of his esteemed colleagues actually shot anything with it to confirm his claim and of course the response was a negative and yet he stood by his claim. This is what prompted me to test this “theory” for publication. To say that load was a turd is an understatement of epic proportions.
     
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  16. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    I personally would not be satisfied with this gun.

    Have you checked to see if you are cross-eyed dominate? Since you are shooting to the left try using your left eye to sight with.

    Have you tried 240 - 250 gr. bullets and, if so, what are the results?

    Why 300 gr.+ bullets?

    You say you are resting your arms. Have you tried resting your wrists on a bag? Your wrists are weaker so they need support.
     
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  17. The Evangelist Cowboy

    The Evangelist Cowboy Member

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    How about something along the lines of a 340 grain like what Buffalo Bore advertises?
     
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  18. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    Okay. Why? It's now shooting as well as I can shoot anything else. If you're not happy with the performance demonstrated on the targets, you can blame me.

    Not only do I use my left eye to sight with, I use my left hand to hold the gun and pull the trigger. And other than those two shots in the second target, this gun has been shooting to the right. So, I'm not entirely sure what you're talking about, but if you'd care to explain, I'm open to hearing it.

    I have tried 240gr bullets. It's what I started loading and shooting through this gun. The results have consistently been no tighter than 2 to 2-1/2" groups at the same distance, shooting from the same braced position.

    Why not? The practical reason I had for buying this gun originally was for woods defense in the Tetons (and other places). It's frequently said that hardcast heavy for caliber bullets, with wide flat meplats are superior for defense against large dangerous animals. Sure I could just buy a box of factory ammo and shoot some (which I did at first), but for me that's prohibitively expensive. Loading my own allows me to shoot more for the same cost, and so become more familiar with the load. That's no bad thing from my perspective.

    What I'm doing is resting my dominant forearm in a grooved rubber rest, and my support arm's elbow is on the bench. The gun is then supported only by my hands, but the sway of my upper body and arms is removed from the equation. Have I tried other methods? Yes. But short of bagging the barrel and the butt of the gun (which these benches don't really provide enough room for), the method I'm using has given me the most consistent results. And quite importantly, this method shoots to the same POI as when I shoot offhand.

    It's certainly true that the groups would be tighter if I could sandbag the gun, but I can tell the difference in accuracy from load to load using this method. And I can do so well enough to make decisions about charge weights and powder choices.
     
  19. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    You seem to be going down the same road as I am with my Redhawk. I also settled on the ugly Grippers.

    I placed an order for the Bowen sights on Friday.

    I really think the sights are going to help. I shoot my two S&Ws, which have target sights, very well. I like that they are high profile as well.
     
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  20. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    I really like the Bowen rear sights. After having the Rough Country with both a white outline (on a GP100) and the target blade (this gun), and also their regular and more easily adjustable Target style sight (on my SBH), I prefer the more conventional Target style. I'm still waiting on a second one for my .41 BH. For me, they're a big improvement. I hope yours come quickly.
     
  21. Thunderchicken

    Thunderchicken Member

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    I have nothing relevant to offer about the guns, but both UPS and Fedex will let you set up a free account online. When they notify you by email that you're scheduled to receive a package, you can direct it to be held for pickup. With Fedex, at any of their local facilities (used to be Kinko's--I forget what they're called now). I've used this several times to handle return shipments of firearms from the factory. As long as you can make it before they close (I think with Fedex that's like 2100, UPS is earlier) you won't have to miss work.
     
  22. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    Update and Range Trip:

    It was too good to be true.

    Light strikes with the 12# mainspring in double action, and shifting POI. I had to re-evaluate yet again.

    The 13# mainspring went back in, and although I gave each a good try, both the Pachmayr grips continued to cause wanderings in my groups. A problem for sure. So I decided to suck it up and take the recoil from the exposed backstrap. I put the Nils Griffe grip back on, which has previously given me the best consistent results.

    I threw together 50 rounds of 300gr WFN hardcast gas checked bullets, over 22.0gr of 300-MP. I previously chrono'd these at 1200fps. And I finally, brought the bags (which I forgot I had) with me.

    IMG_20190727_135512959.jpg IMG_20190727_135343721.jpg

    IMG_20190727_162731624.jpg IMG_20190727_162853488.jpg

    I had some windage adjusting to do. The first group shown was part way through the adjustment. 6 shots @ 25yds from the bags, call it 1-9/16". But not centered for windage.

    The second group was the last 12 shots of 50 (and after another 50 of 240gr LSWC over 11.5gr of Unique, from various positions). So there are some fliers in there, which I can put down to me, me, and me. Sick, flinchy, and tired eyes. But the main cluster is a little more centered, and close enough for now.

    One thing I tried to maintain during this session is a support hand grip that I've seen in Mr Prasac's books and videos. He appears to use the index finger and thumb of his support hand to pinch the front of trigger guard, and web/thumb of his shooting hand together. I've found this compression give a much steadier hold on the gun, and somehow reduces the felt recoil impulse from the exposed backstrap (so it doesn't hurt :)). And seems to be effective no matter what position, or even in DA.
     
  23. silvermane_1

    silvermane_1 Member

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    WrongHanded,
    I am sorry for your troubles with your 44mag Redhawk, just remember to return your Redhawk to "factory condition" before you send it back to Ruger for barrel repair, because Ruger will "undo" all of the customization you did to your 44 mag Redhawk.;)
     
  24. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Have your gun shop send it. It'll get sent back to them. You pick it up there at your convenience. My 7.5" shot tighter groups at 4 times the distance with 300 gr. XTP's ; I had the v-notch and gold bead sight set that Ruger offered for the Redhawk.
     
  25. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    I hear you. But the barrel not being clocked exactly right isn't the problem with my accuracy. And I don't really care that it's that way, so long as I can get the gun to shoot to point of aim.

    The groups are also tighter now I'm checking load accuracy off of sandbags. The last group I shot today was 10 rounds at 25yds, for 1.75". And off the bags, it's become clear that my eye sight is a limiting factor. I worked it out, and (if I did my math right) that group is less than the middle 50% of my front blade width when in a shooting position. To get much better results I'd need optics, but there's a plan for that on another revolver, down the road.
     
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