The 480 Ruger is viewed by some as a “.475 Special”, a slightly downgraded version of the super-magnum cartridge. In fact, .480 Ruger rounds will fit and function in a .475 Linebaugh revolver, just as a .44 Special will fit and function in revolvers chambered for the .44 Magnum. Reviewing the .480’s ballistics, however, reveals this is somewhat misleading, as this “Special” reference may cause one to consider the .480 as a low-powered target round, when in actuality it is much closer to its more powerful cousin, the .475 Linebaugh than the .44 Special is to the .44 Magnum. The .480 Ruger operates at a maximum pressure of 48,000 psi, whereas the Linebaugh has a maximum pressure of 50,000, showing how close indeed the two cartridges are. Depending on load, the .480 Ruger can easily reach within 150 ft/s (46 m/s) of the .475 Linebaugh, making it a very formidable hunting cartridge for large and dangerous game. The initial response to the .480 Ruger was mixed, as many reviewers compared it unfavorably to the more powerful .475 Linebaugh or .454 Casull, and wondered why Ruger had bothered to introduce a lower-powered cartridge. (This was based on muzzle energy alone, with no regard to either bullet diameter or weight, or to TKO, as was evident in the sales literature and magazines of the times, which compared the new 325 gr load’s muzzle energy to the muzzle energy of other handgun hunting cartridges.)[ Indeed, the first factory load, a 325-grain (21.1 g) bullet at 1,350 ft/s (410 m/s), is nearly within reach of the .44 Magnum. However, with bullets of 400 grains (26 g) and higher, the .480 Ruger starts to show more potential. The standard .44 Magnum powders, in similar amounts, will push a 400-grain (26 g) bullet at over 1300 ft/s (thus yielding a TKO factor around 35.28 vs. 34.62 for a 325 gr 454 Casull at 1,650 ft/s (500 m/s) ). This provides 1,500 ft⋅lbf (2,000 J). of muzzle energy, about 50% more than commercial .44 Magnum loads, showing the .480 Ruger’s good efficiency with the heavy bullets. The lower velocities and lower pressures mean the .480 Ruger has less felt recoil and muzzle blast than the higher pressure super-magnums.
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