Ruger Super Blackhawk in .454 Casull Review
December 16, 2015
- Having a serious caliber pistol nearby is a great idea when hiking in bear country. The .454 Casull Ruger Super Blackhawk fits the bill.
I’m a dyed-in-the-wool pragmatist. For me, the allure of big-bore magnums like the Ruger Super Blackhawk was a total mystery. Until recently, the largest caliber pistol I owned was .357 Magnum. Honestly, certain loads for that were even too much to pleasantly shoot. Anything more powerful than that, I regulated to shoulder-fired weapons.
- The Ruger Super Blackhawk’s Western roots give it a fantastically nostalgic appearance; one backed up by tremendous power.
So you can imagine what my thoughts were when Ruger’s newest hand cannon arrived: the Super Blackhawk chambered in the earth-shattering .454 Casull.
When picking up a Ruger Super Blackhawk in any caliber, the first word that comes to mind is “power." If by some magic all gunpowder were rendered inert, the Blackhawk could double as a warhammer. Like a warhammer, the Ruger feels like a finely-crafted relic forged from steel for a singular purpose.
In this case, that purpose is throwing huge, heavy projectiles at blistering speeds. This may sound melodramatic, but once a shooter has a chance to put even a single cylinder of .454 Casull down the pipe, it’s hard not to respect the mighty handgun.
For me, the moment that totally cemented this Ruger Super Blackhawk’s place of honor among the halls of Handgun Valhalla was when I used it to vanquish an old adversary of mine: a wok pan.
My wife made the mistake of letting a novice like myself near the evil thing in an attempt to cook some stir fry. The details are unimportant, but suffice to say I charred the already blackened pan to the point of no return, forcing me to take it to my personal range, and give it the Old Yeller treatment.
I began by ventilating the pan with .308 Win. from a Ruger Precision Rifle at about 65 yards. I was curious what the round would do. Much to my dismay, the results were fairly unspectacular: minor dents and 30-caliber holes. I then stepped in closer to the 50-yard mark, and fired two Hornady 300 grain XTP rounds from the Ruger Super Blackhawk into the unsuspecting cookware. The results were astounding.
- The Bisley grip doesn’t look like it would make much difference in felt recoil but is tremendously effective.
The pan looked like a tack hammer from hell had hit it. Huge .45 caliber holes and half-inch deep dents surrounding them like craters from a meteor impact. Obviously this is anecdotal evidence at best, but it's worth saying, because it had nearly as large of an impact on me as the now ruined pan.
Culinary destruction aside, this Ruger Super Blackhawk is more than simply a larger magnum. It’s a single-action, all-steel revolver chambered in .454 Casull. It features a 6.5-inch stainless steel barrel topped with a serrated black front sight post. Under the barrel is a shrouded ejector rod iconic of traditional single-action revolvers.
- The smooth-walled cylinder is attractive and adds extra support for chamber walls.
Continuing back, the rear sight notch is fully adjustable for windage and elevation and is secure to the frame by a single roll pin. Beneath it, the Ruger Super Blackhawk’s five-round smooth-walled cylinder blends well with the matching stainless frame. The cylinder features thick supported chambers to better deal with the .454’s impressive pressure (an average of 65,000 PSI compared to a .44 Magnum's average of 36,000 PSI). Also, the edges are chamfered and rounded to better meld it to both the frame and the loading gate.
- The Ruger Super Blackhawk with five patriot missiles....er.... rounds of .454 Casull.
Other features like the checkered hammer tang and smooth-faced trigger demonstrate Ruger’s mastery of the single action revolver. As such, it comes as no surprize, that the hard-hitting Ruger Super Blackhawk forgoes traditional single action grip style in favor of a Bisley one. For years, veterans big-bore gunsmiths have recommended the Bisley type grip for single action heavy hitters. How well does it work?
Much better than anticipated. As someone whose first exposure to the .44 Magnum round was with a Ruger Super Blackhawk with hardwood grips and a short 4.62-inch barrel, I was anticipating the need for Tiger Balm and aspirin after each shooting session. I was totally wrong.
I won’t sugarcoat the truth. The recoil from a full-powered 300-gr. round is brutal, but not uncontrollable. Normally, after a dozen rounds of .44 Magnum from a similarly sized revolver, my hands simply can’t stand the recoil, and I call it quits. I was able to shoot two boxes of Hornady XTP rounds without getting hand tremors. This may sound trivial, but is akin to the felt difference between a .30-06 and a .300 Win. Mag.
- The adjustable rear notch contrasts well against the ramped front post - though are tricky to acquire in low light.
Better yet, if a shooter is simply trying to get accustomed to firing the powerful wheelgun, they can use .45 LC rounds that not only have tremendously less felt recoil, but also run close to half the price of the full-powered .454 Casull loads.
Accuracy testing with the Ruger Super Blackhawk produced respectable groups with both calibers but showed a distinct preference for .454 Casull rounds. Point of impact was different between the two calibers, but since the sights are fully adjustable, was a non-issue.
- A .454 Casull impact hole in a well-used wok pan. The smaller holes were made by .308 Win. rounds.
Reloading fresh rounds of either power, is a simple, yet somewhat time-consuming affair. Since the cylinder doesn’t swing out of the frame, the loading gate and ejector rod must be used to replenish spent rounds. While not exactly complicated, fast reloading just is not meant to be. That's okay, though, because the only shooters that would likely want to rapidly reload the Ruger Super Blackhawk are exhibition shooters like Jerry Miculek and cowboy action competitors. For the average hunter or shooter, five rounds of .454 Casull will get the job done.
The Ruger Super Blackhawk in .454 isn’t for everyone. The recoil alone will scare off casual plinkers. This gun is for shooters looking for a serious wheel gun in a very serious caliber for handgun hunting or a good defense against bears while hiking. The recoil is no joke, but when launching a 300-gr. projectile at 1,500 feet per second, shooters shouldn’t expect it to be.