In my opinion, the overall best big bore revolver cartridge is the .45 Colt in a gun that can handle "Ruger-only" loads. Such loads can equal or surpass the power of a .44 Magnum, and do so at a lower pressure. At the same time, the original load spec of a 255 grain lead bullet at approximately 900 fps is a very useful load. It has more power than standard .44 Special loads and will handle anything short of big bears (which some Ruger only loads can handle, btw) while also being capable of bagging a rabbit or similar sized small game for the pot. And standard pressure .45 Colt loads are not as hard on the ears as something like a .357 Magnum.
The performance of that original .45 Colt load is what the US Army wanted to approximate in an autoloading pistol when they asked for the round that became the .45 ACP. As it turned out, the Army ended up using that round in Colt and Smith and Wesson double action revolvers as well as the 1911 auto pistol. In a double action revolver, .45 ACP has the advantage of using moon clips to hold the cartridges. This works similarly to a speedloader, except it is even faster because the clip remains with the cartridges through the loading, firing and ejection cycles.
That's one thing I had never owned, but always wanted. I did have a Blackhawk single action revolver in .45 Colt with a second, .45 ACP cylinder. But moon clips don't work with that one.
This Redhawk covers all the bases in the packable workhorse category. It's a .45 Colt and a .45 ACP that accepts full moon clips. Because the chambers are .45 Colt, it cannot accept .45 ACP loaded singly: the moon clips are a prerequisite for shooting .45 ACP. If I remember correctly, the original Colt and Smith and Wesson Model 1917 military revolvers were the same way; although the later civilian Smith and Wesson Model 1950 Target, 1955 Target and 25-2 did headspace on the case mouth (like auto pistols do) so they could be loaded either singly or with clips.
That's ok though. I wouldn't want a Redhawk chambered for .45 ACP only, which is what it would have to be in order to single-load it with ACP. As it is, this is a great revolver. It comes with three moon clips, and additional clips are available from Ruger. Ranch Products also makes clips for it, and I bought some of those as well. In case you didn't know, Ranch Products is well known for making clips for the Smith and Wesson and Colt revolvers.
No, before you even ask, the Smith and Wesson clips don't fit the Ruger.
I would like to see them make some third-moon clips, holding two rounds each. They are available for the Smith and Wesson.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Redhawk is even stronger than the large frame Ruger single actions. Therefore, it can handle the hottest published .45 Colt loads you will ever find. In fact, some folks have rechambered .45 Colt Redhawks to .454 Casull with no apparent ill effects. I don't recommend that, but the fact that some people have done so and got away with it speaks volumes for the strength of the Redhawk.
By the way, I have to point out that the newer Vaquero and some Blackhawks (maybe all newer non-Super Blackhawks?) use a smaller frame and are therefore not suitable for "Ruger-only" .45 Colt loads. For .45 Colt accessories and reloading, click here. And for more information about .45 revolvers, click here. Thanks for your support!