By John Taffin, GUNS Magazine
It took a while. But patience has been rewarded and the 10mm is now alive and well. Two of the latest offerings in this excellent chambering come from Ruger. First to arrive was the stainless steel SR1911 with adjustable sights. Now it’s been joined by the Super Redhawk. The 10mm cartridge has a somewhat rocky history, but with Ruger offering it in two well-respected packages, its future should be assured.
From Cult to Mainstream
In 1971 two men, Whit Collins and gunsmith John French came up with the .40 G&A using the .224 Weatherby case trimmed back and loaded with (would you believe?) a 180-gr. .38-40 bullet at 1,100 fps. This proprietary wildcat was chambered in a Browning Hi-Power and six years later the velocity was upped to 1,250 fps. The next step was Dornhaus & Dixon offering a CZ-75 style pistol chambered in the new 10mm with a 200-gr. bullet at 1,200 fps. Both the gun and the cartridge caught Jeff Cooper’s attention and he promoted the project. Unfortunately, the manufacturers were unable to deliver and that was almost the end of that — except for Colt throwing a lifeline to the cartridge by chambering it in their Delta Elite.
The 10mm is the most powerful semi-auto pistol cartridge offered in a portable package. Yes, there are more powerful offerings such as the .50AE in the Desert Eagle. But the 1911 platform carries much easier all day long and is certainly quicker into action. With the SR1911 we basically have everything we could want in a 10mm. It can be carried all day, yet still be able to handle anything encountered.
The finish is a low-glare stainless steel — accented by black for the extended slide release and thumb safety and the beavertail grip safety, complete with memory bump. I personally need both of these as the memory bump ensures I get a proper grip to depress the safety and the beavertail protects the top of my shooting hand from taking a beating. The serrated flat mainspring housing (something else I prefer on a 1911) is also black.
The sights are Bomar-style — a fully adjustable rear matched up with a post front sloping towards the front. Both sights are set in a dovetail on the slide. The slide itself has cocking serrations at the rear and both slide and frame are CNC machined for a smooth, close fit with no expensive hand-fitting required. The skeletonized hammer is mated up with a skeletonized trigger, which has an adjustable over-travel stop. From the factory my test gun already had a smooth, creep-free 4-lb. trigger pull.
Instead of the typical barrel/bushing setup as found on the SR1911 .45 ACP version, the 10mm has a tapered, bushingless stainless bull barrel and a full-length guide rod. The barrel is also ramped for strength and ease of feeding and the ejection port is enlarged for positive ejection. The magazine release is extended for ease of operation and the magazine release is positive when the button is pushed. The firing pin is titanium. In short, this 10mm has everything I want in a 1911 and nothing I don’t. It comes with two 8-round stainless steel magazines.
I did make one addition though. The front strap is smooth and my shooting hand is not nearly so strong anymore, so I added rubber finger grooves from Pearce Grip Company. They fit over the frontstrap and have two thin rubber flaps that fit under the grip panels to hold everything in place. When shooting hundreds of rounds per session, they are greatly appreciated. So much so I’ll probably leave them in place for everyday use.
There may be more powerful autos than the 10mm SR1911, but none can match the time-proven “carryability” of Browning’s legendary platform.
A Lotta Loads
In test-firing over several days, I enlisted 19 factory loads and six favored handloads. Cor-Bon’s 150-gr. JHP proved to be the velocity champ at 1,400 fps and was also exceptionally accurate with a 1″ group for 5 shots at 20 yards. Their 180-gr. JHP also performed very well with a 1-1/4″ group and a velocity of 1,200 fps.
Federal’s excellent 180-gr. Trophy Bonded JHP at 1,300+ fps yielded a 1-3/8″ group; their 180-gr. Hydra-Shok 1,045 fps/1-1/4″, 180-gr. Personal Defense 1,025 fps/1-1/8″. But the accuracy champion of all loads was Federal’s 180-gr. JHP, producing a 3/4″ group at a mild 950 fps.
Hornady’s 200-gr. XTP-JHP shoots into a tight 1-1/8″ while clocking 1,100+ fps. The Black Hills 200-gr. JHP, SIG SAUER’s 180-gr. FMJ, and 180-gr. JHP V-Crown all gave 1-3/8″ groups with muzzle velocities of 1,020, 1,270, and 1,260 fps respectively.
More than 25 years ago I tested every 10mm available at the time and I settled on Winchester 231 as my powder of choice for cast bullets. With 5.5 grains of WW231 I use the Lyman #401043 (originally designed for the .38-40), Oregon Trail’s 175 SWC, and the RCBS #10-200. Velocities are all in the easy-shooting range, registering at 1,000, 1,075 and 1,035 fps respectively. They all shoot well enough to serve as everyday packin’ pistol loads.
The Ruger SR 1911 10mm is a welcome addition to my stable of Perfect Packin’ Pistols. The MSRP is just over $1,000 and as usual with Ruger, we get more than we pay for.
Although the recoil generated by the 10mm isn’t as severe as say, a .454 Casull or .44
Magnum, John appreciates the Super Redhawks’s rubberized GP-100 grip panels.
No shortage of sighting options! The Super Redhawk accepts integral Ruger scope mounts, or you can go with the fully adjustable rear and ramp front sight.
The second 10mm offering from Ruger is the Super Redhawk. This big DA revolver first arrived more than 30 years ago and although it has a somewhat ungainly appearance, it has proven itself in the game fields. I’ve used a pair of Supers chambered in .44 Magnum and .454 Casull to take such varied critters as whitetail, exotic sheep, elk and bison.
One of the major changes in the Super Redhawk as compared to the Redhawk is the trigger pull. The Redhawk uses the same spring to operate both trigger and hammer; the Super Redhawk uses separate springs for the trigger and hammer, going back to the hammer spring and strut used in their single-action revolvers. This results in a much smoother from-the-box trigger pull.
Another change: In designing the Super Redhawk, the Redhawk grip frame was replaced by the GP-100 stud to accept the rubberized GP-100 grip panels to help tame felt recoil, so Ruger’s Super Redhawk is about as comfortable shooting a 10mm as you can find. Obviously it’s nowhere near as heavy-recoiling as a .454 or even a .44 Magnum, although some of the heavier 10mm factory loadings exhibit significant felt recoil in a semi-auto. With a 6-1/2″ barrel and a weight of 54 oz., Ruger’s Super Redhawk tames these loads significantly.
With the heavy 6-1/2″ barrel this Super Redhawk is an exceptionally good-looking sixgun without the ungainly appearance of longer barreled versions.
Sights are the interchangeable insert type Ruger uses, with other colors available from Ruger. They are matched up with the classic Ruger adjustable rear sight. The finish is satin stainless, grips are also the typical Ruger cushioned rubber with a hardwood insert on both grip panels.
Moon Clips and Crimps
The MSRP is $1,159 and it ships with three 6-shot full moon clips for ease of loading and extraction (extras are available from Ruger). These moon clips are the best to be had for ease of inserting cartridges, as they have a slit on each arm that allows the arm to flex and the cartridge to be inserted without pain to your fingers. For those of us who reload, the use of full moon clips allows a roll crimp instead of a taper crimp on 10mm cartridges. This not only aids powder combustion, but also prevents bullets with heavier loads from jumping the crimp as the gun is fired. The moon clip also allows the use of the shorter .40 S&W cartridges.
The add-on finger grooves from Pearce Grip Company contributed materially to his shooting comfort!
John’s SR1911 printed a premier group with Federal 180-gr. JHPs, but also did well with some of his pet handloads.
The scoped Super Redhawk was no slouch at 25 yards using heavy loads such as DoubleTap 230-gr. WFN and Buffalo Bore’s 200-gr. FMJ.
The sixgun accepts Ruger’s stainless steel scope rings, which are included. They mount solidly via one large screw each and semi-circular recesses on each side of the frame. For added strength, a lug on the bottom of each ring mates with a recess on top of the frame. This allows each ring to be anchored from side to side as well as front to back. The rings install easily, and once the scope is zeroed in will come back very close when the scope is removed and replaced again. For testing I installed a Leupold 4X Silver LER scope. I’ve been using Leupold scopes on sixguns for several decades and they’ve served me exceptionally well.
This easy on-again, off-again feature allows almost-instant use of scope or iron sights, and makes the Super Redhawk very popular as a double-duty sixgun for hunting with either sighting system. The scope is there for taking longer shots and can easily be removed for hunting such things as feral pigs up close. To remove and return the scope and rings of the Super Redhawk, all you need is something as unsophisticated as a 50-cent piece to loosen and tighten the ring screws.
I tested the Super Redhawk in the dead of winter. Now 50 years ago, I was “Mighty Casey at the Bench,” but now my fragility doesn’t mesh well with frigidity. I really prefer shooting in spring and summer.
My cold weather testing yielded excellent results. Both the Cor-Bon 180-gr. Bonded Core and the SIG 180-gr. JHP V-Crown yielded 1″ five-shot groups at 25 yards with velocities of 1,354 and 1,315 fps respectively. Some of Buffalo Bore’s Heavy loads I tried included their 200-gr. FMJ (1-1/2″, 1,238 fps) and 180-gr. JHP (1-3/4″, 1,451 fps). Other “high test” offerings I tried were Double-Tap’s 125-gr. Barnes (1-1/2″, 1,774 fps) and their 230-gr. WFN (1-3/8″, 1,151 fps).
Now, it seems, the “twin-tens” are actually triplets. Lipsey’s offers the stainless steel Blackhawk as a convertible with cylinders chambered in 10mm and .40 S&W.
Thanks to Ruger, shooters have a choice when it comes to selecting a 10mm — semi-auto, double-action or single-action sixgun. If the choice is too difficult, the obvious answer is “buy ’em all.”