Ruger Alaskan 454 Range Review

| November 29, 2010 | 12 Comments

Talking about love at first sight. I knew when I first laid eyes on this beauty I had to have one. I have a passion for big bore revolvers and to see what Ruger had done to the Super Redhawk design by essentially cutting off the barrel made this attractive to me. Though the Super Redhawk is very sturdy and reliable I hate it’s looks especially the barrel end protruding from such a large frame. The Alaskan cured me of all the cosmetic issues which prevented me from buying a Super Redhawk. Most people think of a snub nose revolver as a concealment weapon, weighing in at 41ounces this is far from an 642 airweight. Though it is my understanding the folks at Ruger came up with this design at the request of the President of the company. While on a trip to Alaska he fielded many request to come up with a short barrel, large bore magnum handgun for field carry, hince the Alaskan was born in 2005.

The Alaskan has been produced in 3 Calibers 480, 454 and 44magnum. The 480 was Ruger’s first new cartridge which had been developed by Sturm, Ruger and Hornady. In 2003 when this cartridge was introduced it was the largest diameter revolver cartridge made. Around 2007 Ruger discontinued the 480 Alaskan due to sticky extraction problems. Then in 2008 Ruger reintroduced the 480 Alaskan with a 5 shot cylinder, this version of the Alaskan didn’t stay on the market very long either before meeting it’s demised and being discontinued. Ruger has been very tight lipped as to the reason the 480 were removed from it’s lineup. The Alaskan 454 and 44 are still going strong and it is the 454 model which I am reviewing today. I tested my Alaskan with 3 different loads at 15 yards with a standing unassisted two handed hold. First up was Hornady 454 Casull 240gr XTP/MAG the box says these are rated at 1900fps at the muzzle. With only a 2 1/2 inch barrel I am sure the Alaskan would produce about 15% less velocity which is still about 35% more than standard 44magnum rounds. The second box of ammo tested was Winchester Super X 250gr Jacketed HP Reduced Recoil load which is rated at 1300fps. One thing is for sure in a snub nosed packaged 454 reduced recoil or not will equal LOTS of energy and RECOIL. The recoil and muzzle blast from the Hornady rounds were what I was expecting from this snub nosed power house but it was more than anything I had experienced before. Though the Hogue Tamer Grips do an excellent job and prevents me from classifying this recoil as brutal and uncomfortable. My experience does include the Smith and Wesson 460 and 500 magnums but both of course are in the larger X Frame 8 inch barrels. The 3rd load tested was my own 45 Colt reloads using Alliant’s 2400 powder producing 890fps. These were the rounds we used for the dayattherange accuracy testing though all rounds were accurate my reloads were an absolute dream to shoot in this platform, the experience was equivalent to shooting 38 special.

On with the Range Review

Fit&Finish Grade = Excellent
The fit and finish is what many have come to expect from Sturm Ruger at 41 ounces with a 2 1/2 inch barrel is very hefty and is the tightest revolver I have owned. Stainless is one of the most durable finishes and will go well for it’s intended use as a field weapon. The cylinder lockup is very tight and the cylinder gap measured .004 while forcing and holding the cylinder to the rear. The Hogue Tamer Grips which are much like the grips which come on the Smith and Wesson X Frame revolvers do an excellent job at taming the recoil. The Alaskan sports the same grip as the GP100, some to make this a more concealable platform as removed the original grips for the smaller wood insert grips the GP100 were once known for. I could not imagine 454 recoil with the smaller grips, great job with the Tamer’s Hogue!

Trigger Grade = Good
The trigger on the Alaskan like most double action Ruger’s has a long pull. The pull was smooth, crisp and consistent on each pull. The double action pull on this revolver was some what heavy but that is subjective, this pull weighed in at 12 pounds with my RCBS trigger guage. The single action pull was very nice with not much over travel and weighed in at 4pounds on the trigger guage. A friend and I talked about the heavy trigger pull and the possibilities of why. His thoughts were it may be needed to consistently ignite the small rifle magnum primers which are used with 454 ammunition. Though this is heavy compared to other revolvers I have reviewed on this site I suspect and trust Ruger has a reason and I will not be attempting to change anything. Again the trigger does deliver a consistent feel each and every time and with more trigger time I am sure I will get used to it. It can also be very detrimental to your health to have a gunsmith do a action job to lighten the pull, be in the backwoods of Alaska and stumble upon a grizzly and have to pull the trigger only to discover a round will not go off. As Allstate insurance would say your in good hands with the Alaskan as it is out of the box. Seems fitting considering the Alaskan was developed as an insurance policy you hope you will never have to use.

Sights Grade = Excellent
From the factory, the Ruger Alaskan comes with a black pinned in front ramp sight and with traditional white outlined adjustable rear sight. This sight combination was very easy to acquire sight picture and sight alignment quickly on the indoor range as well as outdoors.

Reliability&Accuracy Grade = Excellent
The 2 1/2 inch barrel and balance of this weapon provides a center balance in the palm of your hands and provides a short eye relief, which most would say leads to poor accuracy but I found this not to be true. This is very subjective as well because I do spend a decent amount of time training with snub nosed revolvers. The firing of my SAAMI spec’d 255 grain 45 Colt provides 6 shots of very accurate deadly lead down range as well as a ton of enjoyment.

These test were conducted at 15 yards with two 5 inch Caldwell Targets.

Here are my first 6 shots of 45 Colt. I may have done a little better had I took these shots first before firing the 454 Casull loads. I believe my body was still shaking from the percussion of the high performance Hornady ammo.

DM my shooting partner wanted to try his hand at the accuracy test with the 45 Colt loads.

As you can see his group was much tighter than mine, great shooting DM.

The Ruger Alaskan .454 will be my go to pistol for packing in bear or big cat country. There are many large bore handguns capable of taking the large 4 legged creatures in hunting situations. However, everything changes when a momma bear becomes the hunter and surprises you when your gathering firewood for the camp fire or fishing for Salmon and find yourself far away from your rifle. Ruger has created a platform thats easy to carry especially if deployed with a simply rugged holster which ensures you will always have adequate protection on your person while in the back countries of wilderness.

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12 Comments on "Ruger Alaskan 454 Range Review"

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  1. joe in houston says:

    nice review. seems to be up to ruger standards and more

  2. admin says:

    Unfortunately I just found out Ruger has discontinued the Ruger Alaskan 454. I have always questioned Ruger’s marketing department but it surely seems like someone is sleep at the wheel. The movie Faster was just released and though I know Mr. Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock is not a Clint Eastwood he is using a 454 Alaskan as his tool of choice in this movie. Ruger what are you thinking, Can’t you smell what the Rock is cooking?

  3. Steve says:

    One of my favoritesbeneath the Smith and Wesson 460.
    I admit: I like powerful compact design.

  4. Thomas Kyper says:

    Ruger 454 is slightly short of being the ultimate handgun for multiple use….smaller
    grips should be available for persons wanting to conceal carry .45 colt loads, and
    3 dot combat or even more preferrable a glow in the dark sight picture is needed.
    Bad guys have them, momma bears at early sunrise or near dark can see, but a person
    with rugers sights can’t see to shoot…..I don’t care how big the bullet is, if you
    can’t see the sights in the dark your done for.

  5. Ian says:

    …I put Crimson Trace laser sight grips on my 454 Alaskan. Slipped in it’s “Guide’s Choice” chest carry holster it is par excellence in bear country! Fast ,accurate, and with a ‘ton’ of lethal wallop!

  6. cbgold says:

    Just wondering how those Crimson laser sight grips worked on the 454 Alaskan.

  7. msavageau says:

    Please excuse any typos, etc.- I’m doing this from a phone- Anyhow, you can now buy the “Big Dot” brand tritium sights for the Alaskan- it has tritium as well as a large white circle around the front sight insert making it really stand out in an emergency when many are prone to tunnel vision and other components of stress that don’t help when the chips are down. Matching rear insert for the size of the front sight post (no tritium in the rear insert- done on purpose. I bought my. 454 Alaskan a few years ago and carry it in bear/cat country loaded with hard cast and deep-penetrating HP’s in a Simply Rugged pancake- the best rig that I have found (they have made me other holsters and mag pouches for other firearms since- they have the skills and the right price. Tried the MSP paddle- sticks out too much and does not feel right. Tried a custom leather shoulder rig- unbalanced. I’m in bear/big cat country about 2 months per year. I’m a retired cop and have carried daily for over 30 years in all sorts of locations. I am lucky enough to have a national CCW as I am honerably retired under the LEOSA law. I have to qual yearly, but as a former weapons and tactics instructor I am at the range at least once a week. My “everyday around town” goes from a Kahr PM .45 to Glock29SF; and lastly a Chiappa 20D (2″ DAO 6-shot with flat-sided cylinder and the barrel lowered to be in line with your arm so there is no muzzle flip; and. 357 mag shoots like a .380- LOVE it- just have to get past how odd it looks). I change carry guns based on how my debilitating spine injury is feeling- I would prefer to stick with my G29SF; but it can be too heavy for me some days. SD ammo- I stick with DoubleTap loaded DPX HP’s (the all-copper; lead-free rounds as they perform flawlessly-balance of MASSIVE expansion and deep penetration. Anyhow; the Alaskan; the G29SF; the Kaye; and the Rhino all have had Robar Inc. Do their thing and are finished in NP3+, and given a good “reliability” job and smooth out actions. All in all; the .454 Alaskan fits a direct and very real need of mine- now I’m an admitted fan of the .45LC, but with my spine injury I cant realistically carry it except when I’m in Bruin country.

  8. Old Dog says:

    Just bought the .454 Alaskan. Only got to shoot some .45 LC self defense loads so far. My accuracy with them was about the same as yours. I have some of those Hornady loads on order and should have them in a week. Harder to find some good .45 LC practice ammo though. I used to shoot .45LC out of a Ruger Blackhawk and like the round. Never saw a snub nose to handle them so I figured I would go with the Alaskan. I used to own the .44 version but just knowing that a more powerful version was available bugged the heck out of me and I had to have the .454 Casull to shoot as part of my bucket list. 🙂 Nice Review.

  9. steve hammill says:

    You don’t need a .454 for a cat; they kill easy.
    A bear is a different story, but a .357 will kill any of the black or grizzly bears around here where a big bear is 600 pounds. That’s not to say that a 200 pound rascal couldn’t tear you to shreds, but we don’t have any of those legendary, perhaps mythical, 1600 pound bears around here.

    The “world’s largest bear” we all heard so much about was supposedly downgraded from 1600 pounds to something less…

  10. Joe carter says:

    I live in Alaska and would never carry anything but my 454 while out fishing or walking. It is loaded with large hard cast bullets and in a alaskan made chest holster. Makes it easy and fast to reach when fishing with waders or on my 4 wheeler. At 15 yards I shoot instinctively lots of time lots of rounds but my life and the lives of those with me are worth it

  11. Charles LaPiene says:

    I’m still searching for a handload that will not bind the revolver’s cylinder. I CRIMP to the limit, but still get unburned powder that binds the action. Happens with the 45 Colt as well as the 454 cartridges. When I first shot my reloads, I thought there was something wrong with the revolver. I know, I know – and I use factory for carrying, but I’d like to get a handle on a reload I can use. Hard to find a faster burning powder oublished for a 2.5″ Alaskan. I want to use 240 – 300 jacket or cast. Anyone?

  12. The Count says:

    I have both Rugers and S&W big bore revolvers. The Ruger in stainless is big, bold and heavy like an American Muscle car. The Smith is somewhat more refined, especially the performance center version, like a BMW.
    Love them both.

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