6-round cylinder, 5-shot cylinder on 2008-later 480 Ruger
Introduced in 2005, the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan is a short-barrel, big-bore revolver. The firearm is distinguished by its 2.5 in (64 mm) barrel, brushed stainless finish, and oversize Hogue Tamer grip designed to help reduce recoil. The Alaskan is offered in .454 Casull/.45 Colt, .480 Ruger, and most recently, .44 Magnum/.44 Special. The 480 Ruger version was originally a 6-shot revolver like the .454, but was discontinued in 2007. It was reintroduced in 2008 with a 5-shot cylinder. The 44 Magnum features a fluted cylinder while the .454 and .480 versions are unfluted.
The revolver is intended for use as a self-defense option against large, potentially dangerous animals such as grizzly bear, cougar, and wild boar. It is also usable as a potent self-defense weapon against human attackers, with proper ammunition selection. Some critics feel the Alaskan's barrel is too short for such a large caliber revolver, while others believe its relatively compact size, coupled with big game stopping power, makes it a practical "pack gun" for hiking, fishing, or hunting trips in the wilderness. The large magnum cartridges do suffer ballistically from the short barrel, but still produce considerably more energy than is typically available from a compact firearm.
On August 2, 2009, Soldotna, Alaska resident Greg Brush was walking his dog, and heard a twig snap. He turned to see an Alaskan brown bear charging him. He drew his Ruger Alaskan in .454 Casull and fired three shots while backpedaling, then fired a final fourth shot into the bear before a failure to fire on the 5th shot due to a defective crimp in the bear-load ammo he had purchased from a local supplier. The bear died mid-charge and slid on its nose approximately 10 feet (3.0 m) past Greg's original standing position.