Ruger Super Redhawk Hornet Review: A Whole Lot Of Little Gun

Gun News
Ruger Super Redhawk Hornet Review: A Whole Lot Of Little Gun
Ruger’s new Super Redhawk in .22 Hornet was a surprise introduction. It’s also surprisingly enjoyable to shoot.

We hit the range to test out Ruger’s new Super Redhawk Hornet revolver in .22 Hornet.

The .22 Hornet is a rifle cartridge you don’t hear much about anymore, but when it was introduced in 1930, it became very popular, very quickly. Understand, this was about 30 years before we had the .22 Magnum. A lot of hunters liked the .22 Hornet for varmint shooting and—where legal—for turkey hunting. But it was the slower velocity and less expensive to shoot .22 Magnum (1959) that eventually led to the decline in the Hornet’s popularity.

Ruger has been a supporter of the .22 Hornet for a long time, and the cartridge has been moderately popular in their .77/22 bolt-action rifle that’s still available. But, in 2023, Ruger surprised everyone with the introduction of a Super Redhawk chambered for the .22 Hornet.

I’ve had this revolver on hand for a while, but I’ve held off reporting on it because of a couple hurdles:

I have a very difficult time sourcing .22 Hornet ammunition. The revolver’s barrel accepts Ruger scope rings, but I did not have—and apparently no one else does either—a pistol scope that was suitable for mounting on this hefty revolver. Today, it’s all about reflex sights on handguns, which was also an option. However, every source I tried was sold out of mounts for the Super Redhawk. Finally, after Hornady managed to get me some ammunition, I gave up on the optics and tested the revolver with the open sights that came on it.

ruger-22-hornet-scope-rings
Ruger’s new Super Redhawk in .22 Hornet comes with Ruger scope rings.

Hatching and Early Life

Ruger introduced the Super Redhawk in 1987. Initially, it was chambered for the .44 Magnum, but the platform has also been offered in .454 Casull, .480 Ruger and even 10mm. All these cartridges are handgun cartridges that operate at pressures between 40,000 and 70,000 psi, so there’s no surprise the Super Redhawk can handle the .22 Hornet, which is loaded to around 52,000 psi. The big difference between Super Redhawks chambered for handgun cartridges and the Super Redhawk chambered for the .22 Hornet is capacity. The .22 Hornet Super Redhawk holds eight as opposed to six cartridges.

ruger-22-hornet-cylinder
The cylinder of the .22 Hornet Super Redhawk holds eight rounds and is easy to load.

Like all Super Redhawks, the No. 5526 version in .22 Hornet is 100-percent stainless-steel. The finish is satin but a bit on the shiny side. The .22 Hornet Super Redhawk is also fitted with the same soft and comfortable, finger-grooved Hogue Tamer Monogrip that’s commonly found on other Super Redhawk handguns. The big cylinder, which is 1.75 inches in diameter, locks into the frame at the front, rear and bottom, and like other Ruger double-action revolvers, it has a transfer bar mechanism to protect against accidental discharge.

ruger-fiber-optic-front-sight
The Ruger Super Redhawk .22 Hornet has a fiber-optic front sight that’s easy to see in bright and dim conditions.

All the other Super Redhawks from Ruger—except for distributor exclusive models—are fitted with a ramped front sight that’s either all black or has a red insert. The .22 Hornet version has a replaceable HiViz fiber-optic front sight fitted to the end of its 9.5-inch cold hammer forged barrel, which has a five-groove, 1-9 right-hand twist. The rear sight is the common Ruger, white outlined square notched leaf, and it’s fully adjustable for windage and elevation. Also, like all other Super Redhawks—except for the Alaskan versions—this revolver’s top strap has been machined to accept Ruger scope rings, and a set of rings comes with the revolver.

ruger-super-redhawk-hornet-1

Performance

At 15 inches long and 66 ounces in weight, this is a big and heavy revolver. However, because it balances so well, it’s not too big or heavy for off-hand shooting—at least for a grown man. I had no functioning issues with the revolver and fired a total of 200 rounds. My only complaint was that the trigger had a bit of creep and seemed to feel minutely inconsistent at times.

According to my Timney Trigger pull gauge, the single-action trigger pull broke at between 3.75 and 4.25 pounds. The double-action pull was off the scale at more than 10 pounds, but I don’t know why anyone would shoot this revolver in the double-action mode … unless you’re maybe fighting off a platoon of charging groundhogs.

The revolver was very easy to load; the .22 Hornet cases with their long and gentle taper dropped right in the cylinder chambers. Initially, ejection was smooth, but after three cylinders full, the ejection rod needed a bit of a slap to get some of the empties out. But when they did eject, they ejected fully, and there was no need to pluck them out of their chambers.

ruger-redhawk-rear-sight
The Ruger Super Redhawk in .22 Hornet comes with a fiber-optic front sight, a fully adjustable rear sight and integrated scope bases.

The integral Ruger scope bases are for sure a nice touch, but if you’re thinking about getting this revolver and pairing it with an optic, you might want to shop for the scope first. Right now, they seem to be as rare as unicorn poop. Though reflex sights do not offer any magnification advantage, which could be appreciated with the flat-shooting .22 Hornet cartridge, there’s no shortage of miniature reflex sights to choose from. Maybe Ruger should’ve considered offering a reflex sight mount or an optics-ready top strap with this revolver.

What really surprises me is that Ruger didn’t introduce the .22 Hornet in their Super Blackhawk single-action revolver—especially the Bisley version with its ribbed barrel. That would have appealed to me more. Maybe, if the Redhawk in .22 Hornet sells well enough, we’ll see that become available down the road. Maybe, too, if the revolver sells well enough, .22 Hornet ammunition will not be as hard to find as someone who actually voted for Biden.

ruger-super-redhawk-22-hornet
For varmint shooting or even for turkey hunting—where legal—Ruger’s new Super Redhawk in .22 Hornet should be more than capable.

Shooting Results

When it comes to shooting handguns at distance using open sights, the results are largely dependent on the target you’re shooting at. If it’s one that allows a good sight picture, you’ll shoot much better. I found the sights reasonably regulated out of the box at 50 yards, but I did have to fine tune them a bit at 100 yards, where I zeroed—as best I could—for a point of impact that was about 3 inches high.

hornady-22-hornet
Hornady’s 35-grain Varmint Express .22 Hornet load.

At 50 and 100 yards, I used an 8-inch black bull and held at 6 o’clock. Most of my 50-yard, five-shot groups measured between 2 and 4 inches. At 100 yards, five-shot groups ran between 4 and 6 inches, but there were occasional flyers that I’m sure were my fault.

The surprise came at 200 yards while shooting at a white, 16-inch steel plate. Holding as best as I could on the top edge of the plate, I fired five shots that printed a brag-worthy 4-inch group just right of center. I figured that was a good place to stop, because I wasn’t going to shoot any better than that with an open sighted handgun at a target two football fields away. Using a red-dot with a small dot, I’d expect groups to be slightly smaller, and with a magnified pistol optic, I’d not be surprised if 2-inch or smaller groups at 100 yards would be the rule as opposed to the exception.

ruger-super-redhawk-hornet-3
It’s a bit unusual to see a revolver chambered for a rifle cartridge, especially the .22 Hornet.

What’s It For?

For starters I can tell you that this revolver was a blast to shoot. It wasn’t offensively loud, and the recoil was pleasant. I really enjoyed shooting it at 100 yards with the open sights, and I think it would be a hoot in a prairie dog town or for slipping around pastures or agricultural fields looking for groundhogs. Ideally, to take advantage of the trajectory and reach the .22 Hornet cartridge offers, I think a low-power pistol scope would be the right call.

I’m not a turkey hunter by any measure, but occasionally I’ll go with my son because a man should never turn down an opportunity to hunt with his son. When I do go turkey hunting, I take a rifle, which is legal in West Virginia. By the time I got the ammo for the Super Redhawk, turkey season was just wrapping up. Had it not been, I would have for sure taken this revolver to the field and let my son try to call me up a turkey bird.

ruger-super-redhawk-hornet-2
Would you have thought you’d ever see “22 HORNET” engraved on a revolver’s frame under “RUGER SUPER REDHAWK?”

One thing I would have needed would have been a good holster. GunfightersInc and Triple K Brand show holsters for a 9.5-inch Super Redhawk, but I’m sure Rob Leahy at Simply Rugged Holsters could put something together as well.

For me, as fun as this handgun was to shoot, I think it’s a bit pricey for just recreational plinking at $1,500. This is a special-purpose handgun for a specific pursuit. If I was in the market for a good varmint revolver or something to spice up my turkey hunting adventures, I’d probably start my search with the Ruger Super Redhawk Hornet.

SPECS:

  • Manufacturer: Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc.
  • Model: Super Redhawk #5526
  • Action: Double-action revolver
  • Chambering: .22 Hornet
  • Frame: Satin stainless-steel
  • Barrel: 9.5-inch satin stainless-steel with a 1:9.5-inch 5-groove twist
  • Grip: Hogue Tamer Monogrip
  • Capacity: 8
  • Length: 15 inches
  • Front Sight: HiViz green fiber optic
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable, square notch
  • Weight: 66 ounces
  • Suggested Retail: $1,499

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the August 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


More On Hunting Revolvers:

44-Targetposters-pack-GD-reduced-300

Next Step: Get your FREE Printable Target Pack

Enhance your shooting precision with our 62 MOA Targets, perfect for rifles and handguns. Crafted in collaboration with Storm Tactical for accuracy and versatility.

Subscribe to the Gun Digest email newsletter and get your downloadable target pack sent straight to your inbox. Stay updated with the latest firearms info in the industry.

Articles You May Like

There’s only one right response to the Trump shooting
Some of My Bushcraft Gear
From the 2024 Serialization of Steven Jonas’ book, “The 15% Solution,” Chap 15: The National Plan for Social Peace, 2015
Besigye calls out Museveni on graft in govt
Mobilizing apathetic hunters and gun owners could be key to conservative victories in November

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *