The Ruger Redhawk 5033 Eight Shot .357 Magnum Snub

Ruger has just introduced an "ultimate trail/survival" version of the Redhawk for 2017- the eight-shot .357 Magnum 5033 "snubnose" Redhawk.

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The original six-shot double action/single action Ruger Redhawk is a large frame revolver originally designed as a hunting handgun. It was introduced in 1979 in .44 Magnum caliber to compete with Smith and Wesson's large N-Frame Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver made famous in the "Dirty Harry" movie series. Neither gun was intended for law enforcement use.

The original Redhawk, which could be had in blued or stainless steel, was later chambered in .41 Magnum, .357 Magnum, .45 Colt and .45 ACP/.45 Colt calibers. It features solid frame construction, rather than a partial frame and sideplate like Smith and Wesson, and was intended to be capable of firing almost limitless (more than the average shooter would enjoy) amounts of full power .44 Magnum hunting loads without shooting loose. Lower powered .44 Special ammunition could also be fired with aplomb in the .44 Magnum Redhawk.

The other thing about the Redhawk design, which is shared with the double action Ruger GP100, SP101, and the sadly defunct Speed Six/Security Six, is the ability to be field stripped down to its basic components for cleaning as one would do with a semi-automatic pistol. The Redhawk can be broken down to the barrel/frame, hammer assembly, trigger assembly, and cylinder crane/yoke in minutes with nothing more than a screwdriver. It is a very unique and valuable design for those who wish to keep their handguns immaculately clean.

Ruger has just introduced an "ultimate trail/survival" version of the Redhawk for 2017- the 8-shot .357 Magnum 5033 "snubnose" Redhawk.

The 5033 is not a snubnose revolver in the traditional sense. A true "snubbie" not only has a short barrel, but is also built on a small frame, making it capable of being carried in the pocket. The only thing this Redhawk has in common with a traditional snubbie is its short barrel-the Redhawk's is only 2.75 inches in length.

The all stainless steel 5033 Redhawk weighs in at a massive 44 ounces-fully 10 ounces heavier than my 7-shot Smith and Wesson Performance Center 686 snub-making it a belt or shoulder holster carried proposition. On the flip side, the solid weight means that even heavy .357 Magnum loads are easily controlled.

The eight shot cylinder is unfluted-the only one in the current Redhawk lineup-which gives the 5033 a distinctive appearance. The cylinder has been relieved to accept 8-shot moon clips. I have been working with moon clips in my 7-shot 686, and they are a boon to rapid revolver loading and loading. To load, open the cylinder, drop in the moon clip, and close. There is nothing to manipulate as the rounds drop in the cylinder still attached to the clip. They also eject intact after firing still affixed to the clip, meaning there are no loose empty cases flying about to get caught up in anything. I never appreciated their speed of operation until recently, particularly since I never owned a 9mm or .45 ACP chambered revolver which almost universally require moon clips to function. Three stainless steel moon clips are included with the 5033.

But the beauty of the Ruger's modified cylinder is that it also functions with standard "cartridge release" type speedloaders. Ruger offers the 5-Star Firearms 8-shot loader for sale on their website. If you want the flatter carrying loading strips, TUFF Products has their 8-shot QuickStrip available in .357 Magnum caliber.

The Ruger Redhawk features fully adjustable while outline rear sights with interchangeable front sight blades that release by pushing in on a recessed plunger in the muzzle end of the front sight. The 5033 comes standard with an old school red ramp sight blade. Fiber optic replacements are available on the Ruger Website. I think a gold bead front would be perfect for the 5033 considering its intended field role, but none appears to be available on the Ruger website.

Because of the single trigger spring operating system, the Redhawk's pull is long and somewhat heavy, but still easily controlled due in part to the nicely smoothed and contoured trigger face. The single action pull is short and fairly crisp. Both pulls are more than adequate for the Ruger's intended purpose in the outdoors as a hunting backup, trail gun, ATV gun, or a survival piece in an aircraft.

The factory grips are striking service style laminated wood grips. Service grips mate up with the frame without overlapping, leaving the front strap and back strap exposed. The lower half of the grips are partially checkered and a silver Ruger Medallion is embedded in the top of them. While there are overmolded rubber replacement grips available for the Redhawk, they enlarge the overall size of an already large gun. If I were carrying the 5033 afield, I would leave the wood service grips on it-it will ride a lot better under a coat or vest.

I had a chance to fire the Redhawk 5033 at a writer's conference last September. Having 8 rounds of potent .357 Magnum ammo on tap makes it a formidable arm when faced with aggressive man or beast. Reliability was of course flawless, and groups were more than adequate for a gun of this type. Full power .357 Magnum ammo-attention getting in lesser guns-was easily handled in the 5033. Of course, .38 Special ammo can also be fired if you want a zero recoil target shooting experience.

While the 5033 Ruger Redhawk is not for every shooter or every occasion, it does fill an important niche for those who enjoy traversing outdoor areas more rugged than the average suburban bikepath or walking trail.