The .480 Ruger is a unique big bore caliber with minimal muzzle blast and low recoil – yet it still propels a 325 grain bullet faster than 1,300 feet per second. As a result, the bullet has more than 1,300 foot pounds of muzzle energy, and continues flying at 1,075 feet per second with an energy level of 835 foot pounds at 100 yards. While the performance of this cartridge is just less than the .454 Casull and above the performance of the .44 Magnum, its impressive numbers are achieved in a package with lighter recoil than can be found in a six-shot pistol.
Ruger and Hornady introduced the .480 Ruger in 2003, with a bullet diameter of 0.475" (it was called the .480 Ruger to avoid confusion with the much higher pressured .475 Linebaugh). Though the .480 Ruger does not reach the high levels of energy and velocity of the .475 Linebaugh, it should be noted that the .480 is considerably easier to manage in terms of recoil control and muzzle blast. The .480 Ruger is therefore a more accessible caliber for shooters who want more power than a .44 Magnum, but don't want to suffer the abuse delivered by other cartridges.
A great caliber for medium to large game hunting in North America, Hornady offers their XTP bullets in 325 and 400 grains that will please any hunter. CCI offers their Gold Dot hollow point bullets, weighing 275 grains for the .480. Federal offers a 275 grain bullet as well – the Barnes Expander – in their Vital-Shok cartridge line.
The .480 Ruger will likely never become as popular as the .44 Magnum, or other big bore revolver calibers like the .454 Casull. But for shooters who want an effective handgun hunting caliber with manageable recoil, the .480 Ruger is worth considering.