Ruger’s Heavy Duty Magnum Snubbies
Dr. John Woods 04.13.17
As it is often said, “good things come in three’s.” Unbeknown to many right now, there is a triple offering from Ruger that puts “magnum” back in the magnum power of handguns. This threesome triple threat is a Ruger Redhawk series of double action revolvers with short barrels and big muzzles.
The three revolvers are Ruger models of Redhawk, 5033, 5034, and 5028. Those designations probably don’t mean much to most gun buyers or even those that collect or follow the Ruger line of firearms. Sometimes Ruger slips in a few from left field without really meaning to or even advertising it.
I first got on the trail of these three magnum snub nosed revolvers about a year ago when searching special edition models made and sold exclusively for Davidson’s Gallery of Guns in Prescott, Arizona at www.galleryofguns.com. I had a tip that Davidson’s was having Ruger make them a special Redhawk version in .41 Magnum with a 2.75 inch barrel. They did.
Then just out of curiosity, I did another search on Davidson’s site to also discover another exclusive model made just for them in .44 Magnum. It, too, is a Redhawk with the short 2.75 inch barrel. Then my interest was really piqued.
About this same time in conjunction with press releases and other materials coming out for the 2017 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, a story came out on Ruger’s next new shocker. This was a Redhawk in .357 Magnum, but with an 8-shot cylinder also with the 2.75 inch snub barrel. So, naturally I put 2+1 together to complete the Ruger triple threat. Three short barreled snub nosed magnums. Wow.
Detail wise, there is little difference in terms of overall specifications between the three revolvers except the obvious chamberings and the associated handgun weights and such. All three are made of stainless steel in what I believe is a satin finish, though this is only noted on the .357 and .44 models on the spec sheets. I bet the .41 also has the satin finish.
All models have the 2.75 inch barrels with a colored red/orange front blade insert and adjustable rear sights with a white outline. The barrel profiles have a full under barrel lug out to the muzzle. Weights for the .357, .41, and .44 are 44, 47, and 44 ounces respectively. Again the .357 holds 8 rounds, while the other two sport 6 round cylinders. The .357 Magnum model comes with a fully relieved cylinder designed to accept full moon clips and 3 are included with this model.
The cylinder lock up on the Redhawk models is also a robust triple-locking system. The cylinder locks into the frame at the front, rear, and the bottom. This engineering is designed to provide a more positive alignment of the cylinder to the barrel. This allows for a more dependable operation for continued shooting. With these short-snub barrels this is an extra strong feature for trouble free lock up and reliable performance. Trust me, at least the .41 and .44 Magnums can rattle the cage at both ends and the .357 is no slouch either.
As a sidebar noted on the spec sheets for these three revolvers, only the .44 Magnum version is approved for California and Massachusetts. I have no sense of what those “approvals” are for, but it is curious the bigger .44 is okay, but not the .357 or .41 Magnums. Go figure with a little more craziness for state laws, but then consider the states.
As Ruger handgun owners know, Ruger virtually over-builds its guns for strength and reliability. These three revolvers made in stainless steel for corrosion protection are made with no side plates. This design specifically was created to provide strength to handle the powerful magnum level loads by adding extra metal in the top strap above the cylinder, frame sidewalls, and the barrel mounting areas. I mean, when you pick one of these up, you will immediately note the difference.
Safety wise, too, these Ruger’s have the patented transfer bar mechanism that provides a super measure of security against accidental discharge. This transfer bar feature has long been a standard fixture with Ruger handguns.
What kind of power are we talking about? In terms of muzzle velocity with standard loads from standard 4 or 6 inch barrels, we are looking at 1200-1500 fps for the .357 Magnum with a 158 grain bullet; 965 to 1300 fps for the .41 Magnum with a 210 grain bullet, and 1000 to 1350 fps for the .44 Magnum with 240 grain bullets. Energy levels equal 535, 788, and 971 foot pounds respectively.
That is a lot of muscle for a handgun. Of course, the expectations of the shorter 2.75 inch barrels on these snub nosed models would certainly be less, but I have not seen any data recorded for loads shot in these shorter barrels. When the .357 version becomes fully available, I expect we will see more performance data reported on these handguns.
In truth, each of these magnums demand a rifled tube of at least six inches in order to fully tame the muzzle whip recoil, the muzzle blast noise, and the flame throwing torch issued upon trigger release. The longer barrels also maximize the potential of the load in terms of muzzle velocity and energy as well. These facts are a given with any handgun.
So, as several have asked. What exactly are these snub nosed magnum flame throwers good for? What is their utility? A smart aleck might reply as I have heard many times, “If you have to ask that, then you probably don’t need to know.” For pure gun enthusiasts every gun has a value and use, even if it is just the fun of collecting or shooting a behemoth firearm just to see a big hole punched. There is intrinsic value in all guns as with any other material possession.
Honestly though, if you ask a bear guide in Alaska, he will describe the comfort of having a smaller, “lighter,” compact, big magnum on the waist or in a Diamond D Guide’s Choice shoulder rig just in case. These magnum snub noses can also find utility in self-protection against two or four footed varmints. I also suspect the appearance of one of these three handguns would serve as quite a deterrent as well. These are good guns made for good uses.
MSRP on these is about $1080, but ordered through Davidson’s to your local dealer it is considerably less.