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The .480 Ruger (12.1x33mmR) is a revolver cartridge, developed between Hornady and Sturm, Ruger & Co. in 2003.[2] At the time of release, the .480 Ruger was the largest calibre revolver cartridge in production.[1]


Ruger, seeking to improve upon their rivals, had already produced the only six shot revolver that fired the .454 Casull, the Ruger Super Redhawk.[3] In order to cement their reputation for having the highest quality firearms on the market, Ruger sought to produce a .475 cartridge that could be fired from a six shot cylinder.[1] In order to do this, they approached Hornady, an ammunition specialist, to design the new cartridge.[2]

Hornady took the .475 Linebaugh and shortened it slightly, while retaining the .475in diameter bullet (although Ruger chose to name it the .480 for identity sake).[2] The result was a slightly lower pressure cartridge then the Linebaugh, but the largest calibre cartridge for use in a revolver upon its release in 2003.[1] The Super Redhawk was the first revolver chambered for this cartridge, although others would soon follow, such as the Taurus Raging Bull.[2]

In recent years, however, the .480 Ruger has gradually fallen out of favour. One reason for this was the introduction of the .460 & .500 S&W Magnum cartridges, which were more potent than the .480 Ruger.[1] The .460 S&W Magnum in particular could be used in firearms previously chambered for the .454 Casull without modification, making it a more versatile option to shooters.[1] A further issue for the .480 was that Ruger chose not to release their most popular revolver, the Blackhawk, chambered for the .480 Ruger, removing a large proportion of their customers.[1]

Design Details[]

The .480 Ruger, as mentioned above, was based upon the .475 Linebaugh cartridge. The Linebaugh, already a Wildcat cartridge, having been chopped down from a .45-70 Government cartridge, provided a powerful base for the .480 Ruger.[1] The case was slightly shortened to increase the overall integrity of the cartridge, while also reducing the amount of propellant that could be used, meaning pressure could not exceed SAAMI's recommended 48,000psi for the cartridge.[1]

Otherwise, the .480 Ruger closely matches the .475 Linebaugh in size and potency.[1] The lighter 325gr (21.0g) bullet can achieve similar velocities to the Linebaugh, without producing the same amount of recoil energy.[1]


The figures for the .480 Ruger below are provided by Hornady, tested using a 7.5in barrel:

Name Muzzle Velocity (FPS) Energy (ft/lbs)
480 Ruger 325 gr XTP® Mag 1,350[4] 1,315[4]

Although these figures are lower than those for the .475 Linebaugh, the muzzle velocity in particular is within 150FPS of the Linebaugh, showing a similarity between the two.[1]