The sum of its parts…
By Dennis Adler
What do I mean by “The sum of its parts” when describing the Umarex Ruger Superhawk? As I have pointed out, the Ruger uses the same frame and internal parts as the Umarex S&W-licensed 327 TRR8. This platform was also used for the original ASG Dan Wesson models (obviously not accurate in styling), but not for the newer Dan Wesson Model 715 pistols introduced in 2016 and 2017. These latest models are almost 100 percent matches for the original centerfire Model 715 Dan Wesson revolvers, as well as the current DW models sold through CZ USA (which owns the Dan Wesson brand and licensed the design to ASG). The S&W 327 TRR8, early Dan Wessons and new Ruger Superhawk are all shared platforms.
Shared platforms are not unique to firearms; automakers have done it since the 1930s, General Motors most prominently in the past with brands like Chevrolet and GMC trucks, Chevrolet and Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick. The GM ladder of success created by GM president Alfred P. Sloan, (effectively establishing each of GM’s divisions as an economically identifiable market segment) literally defined one’s station in life from owning a Chevrolet all the way up to a Cadillac. Is this to say that Umarex having several recognized brand names on guns using the same frame and internal mechanisms and differentiated only by barrels, sights, and minor cosmetic features is the same idea? Well, what do you think? The Dan Wesson, S&W, and Ruger models (and others like the Crosman SR.357) all share a commonality and come from the same factories.
What the Ruger name brings to the table
Certainly Sturm, Ruger is one of America’s best known firearms manufacturers, but is neither as old nor as legendary as Smith & Wesson, and one would expect the 327 TRR8 to be a better gun, but the differences forward of the frame and inside the firing mechanism are really the defining characteristics. The Superhawk’s heavier, shorter bull barrel and slightly smoother DA/SA trigger offer an advantage in balance, handing, and perhaps even accuracy. As for fit and finish, both are equals but as different in appearance as the Dan Wesson is from the S&W 327 TRR8 and Ruger Superhawk. In my tests of the early ASG Dan Wesson BB and pellet cartridge-loading revolvers and S&W 327 TRR8 model, the Dan Wesson had a heavier action than the Smith & Wesson that felt more “air pistol” like than the 327 TRR8’s. That same distinction occurs between the S&W and Ruger, with the advantage going to the Superhawk. And while this is only a minor difference, it adds to “The sum of its parts.”
In Part 2, it was established that the Superhawk’s average velocity with steel BBs exceeded its factory velocity specs of 390 fps, and thus firing pellets from the Ruger holds the promise of fairly high velocities as well as improved accuracy with wadcutters. Since the Ruger is offered as a Dual Ammo model you can get pellet-loading cartridges with the Gun Kit, or you can simply purchase ASG Dan Wesson Model 715 pellet-loading shells in bulk (25 shells to the box); they’re the same. To get the maximum velocity from the Superhawk with wadcutters, I am going to test the gun with H&N Sport Match Green alloy pellets. An Umarex .177 caliber steel BB weighs an average of 5.1 grains, the H&N alloy wadcutters average 5.25 grains and unlike heavier 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters, alloy pellets cannot cause leading to build up in the gun’s smoothbore barrel.
The lighter weight wadcutters should come close to the average velocity of a .177 caliber steel BB. For the pellet velocity test 12 rounds were discharged with an average speed downrange of 445 fps, a high of 464 fps, low of 435 fps and standard deviation of 8 fps. What just happened here? Average velocity with the 5.25 gr. alloy H&N Sport Match Green wadcutter exceeded the average velocity with 5.1 gr. steel BBs by 55 fps, and the high velocity by 54 fps. This clearly makes the case for shooting alloy pellets out of a smoothbore CO2 revolver, particularly the Ruger. But why is the velocity higher than the lighter weight steel BBs? The answer here makes the case for rear pellet loading shells vs. front loading BB or pellet shells. The air pressure is delivered to the pellet the instant the trigger is pulled, it is not traveling down the length of the shell before reaching the BB or pellet in a front loading shell. You are getting the maximum amount of CO2 and maximum velocity for every shot.
Steel and alloy downrange
Since I was already shooting the H&N Sport alloy wadcutters for the chronograph test I kept going and put up a National 10 Meter pistol target at 21 feet (smoothbore optimum range) and sent six rounds downrange into 0.625 inches with the tightest grouping at 0.344 inches. That’s a nice run with a smoothbore. Sight adjustment at 21 feet for the alloy pellets was ½ turn UP and ¼ turn RIGHT to center the sights on a 6 o’clock hold. I decided to see what the pellets could do at 10 meters and shot another six which hit at 0.93 inches with a best group of 4 measuring 0.375 across the 9, 10 and X. I wrapped up with the Umarex Precision .177 caliber steel BBs, which landed a best six shots at 0.75 inches with five rounds at 0.625 inches (center hole-to-center hole). Clearly the Ruger can do well with BBs but better with alloy pellets and no matter what you feed the Superhawk, this DA/SA six-shooter can keep rounds well under an inch. That’s better than the Dan Wesson, better than the S&W 327 TRR8, both of which averaged 1.2 inch groups in their respective Airgun Experience tests at 21 feet. The Ruger has a smoother trigger, not the lightest just the best of the group and that, combined with its balance in the hand, excellent adjustable rear sight and higher velocity is the sum of its parts.