As our regular readers know, I am a big fan of Ruger’s double-action revolvers.
Indeed, I own a Ruger GP-100 in .357 Magnum and a Ruger Redhawk in .44 Magnum, and I consider them to be the very finest revolvers in their respective calibers.
That said, the Redhawk I have owned since 2019 and reviewed last year had significant room for improvement, especially since the unknown previous owner of the gun had seen fit to fix some things that weren’t broken. I’m happy to say that I’ve applied those improvements since my previous writeup, and I am here now to tell the tale.
Redhawk History Quick Review
The Ruger Redhawk made its debut in 1979. It was an appropriate way for Sturm, Ruger & Co. to celebrate its 30th anniversary, as it showed how far the company had come in the ballistic power scale of its firearms since debuting with its enduring classic .22 LR autopistol.
The Redhawk established a super reputation in a very short space of time, not just for its accuracy and reliability, but also for its incredible strength and durability. It was able to keep perking along after firing loads that would literally blow up a Smith or Colt revolver in the same caliber. As I said in my previous review: “[T]he Timex of double-action revolvers; you know, ‘Takes A Licking And Keeps On Ticking’….When you see reloading manuals with sections that state “For Ruger Guns Only,” that oughta tell you something.”
Behold the Pachmayr Grip and HI VIZ sights
As Lyman Products Corp, the company which acquired Pachmayr grips back in 1996, states on its official info page:
“Founded in 1929 by Frank Pachmayr, the Pachmayr name has earned the respect of shooters, law enforcement professionals and gunsmiths alike…Pachmayr rubber handgun grips, introduced to the market in the early 1960’s, revolutionized the handgun market. Innovative, patented designs and materials have been the foundation of the grip line. One of Frank Pachmayr’s proudest accomplishments was the fact that scores of police officers around the country chose to privately purchase Pachmayr grips for their guns in a time when police departments did not provide guns for their personnel.”
I’ve had a longtime relationship with Pachmayr grips, and it’s a good one — so much so that I had them installed on my Smith & Wesson Model 57 .41 Magnum and Model 29 .44 Magnum, replacing the miserable factory wood grips that don’t absorb recoil worth a darn. Actually, when I did my previous Redhawk writeup, I had already installed Pachmayr grips, but they were somewhat undersized for the gun, probably more appropriate for, say, a medium-sized K-frame Smith & Wesson.
So, this time, I went with Pachmayr’s 03140 Presentation Grip, specifically designated for the Redhawk. The ergonomic fit to my hand and the overall balance of the gun are indeed much better now.
As for replacing the godawful bead front sight that the previous owner had installed, I went with the Redhawk LightWave Front Sight from HI VIZ Shooting Systems, installed by the fine gunsmithing folks at Sterling Arsenal in Sterling, Virginia. Much better.
Updated Range Report
Ammo-wise, I went with 50 rounds of Winchester white box 240-grain jacketed soft point. Test-fire was done a bit differently from my usual range evaluation procedure, in order to more fully assess the Pachmayr’s effect on my shooting comfort and practical accuracy. I started off with 20 rounds of head shots at 7 yards and 20 rounds of center-torso shots, all delivered from the classic Weaver stance. For the last 10 rounds, however, I took a slightly different approach, just for the heck of it. I tried one-handed shooting — five rounds each from my strong hand and then my support hand — using the Stressfire forward punch technique taught by Massad F. Ayoob in his classic book, Stressfire: Gunfighting for Police: Advanced Tactics and Techniques. For the one-handed shots, I targeted the groin. (Yes, I’m a real ball-buster.)
Target used was an ICE-QT Paper Target from Qualification Targets Inc..
The trigger was amazingly smooth in double-action and crisp in single-action. Now, to be honest, I don’t know if this trigger is factory stock or if the previous owner had the trigger tuned by a gunsmith. Either way, it was an absolute delight.
I could still definitely feel the recoil from touching off .44 Maggie loads, but the new grips definitely made for a far more enjoyable experience, with even the one-handed shots being easy to manage. And the Hi Viz sights made practical accuracy much more enjoyable as well.
At 7 yards, the center of the paper bad guy’s face was completely obliterated, with only two shots slightly straying away from an otherwise one-hole group. At 25 yards, all shots stayed within the 5-zone, half of them staying delightfully centered in the tiebreaking 5x-zone, and only three rounds straying somewhat high-right. As for those big ouchie one-handed shots to the family jewels, they were nicely centered as well, with a few rounds straying slightly to the right but still getting the job done.
Bottom Line: The Pachmayr grips and HI VIZ sights made a great gun even greater. I approve, I highly approve.
Want Your Own?
True Gun Value states that “A RUGER REDHAWK pistol is currently worth an average price of $1,135.78 new and $871.97 used . The 12 month average price is $1,034.75 new and $909.83 used.” The manufacturer lists a current MSRP of $1,379. Guns International has over 30 Redhawks currently listed for sale, at a price range from $749.99 to $1,795.
Christian D. Orr is a Senior Defense Editor for 19FortyFive. He has 34 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.