The Super Silent Super Secret Ruger Redhawk Rifle

Back in the early 1990s, C. Reed Knight Jr.’s Knight’s Armament Co (KAC) of Vero Beach, California responded to a shadowy call from a government agency as yet unnamed to produce a small and short ranged but devastating suppressed rifle. Their answer was a unique weapon based upon a Ruger Super Red Hawk.

ruger RevolverRifle-1
What was it?

The story goes that KAC built the gun on spec to provide a weapon capable of making effective anti-personnel shots at ranges of up to 100-yards while being capable of a rapid follow-up shot. The rub was that it could not eject shell casings (so there would be nothing left behind by the user to pick up before leaving the area presumably). This ruled out semi-autos, bolt, pump, and lever actions. In fact, it left the revolver as the answer. But everyone knows you can’t suppress a revolver, right?

Well, about that.

History of suppressed revolvers

Back in the 1930s, the Soviets took the Nagant M1895 pistol and added a neat and (reportedly) very effective suppressor to the barrel for use by their secret police and special operations kind of people. These guns remained in service into the specifically designed APB (Avtomaticheskij Pistolet Besshumnyj– automatic silenced pistol) was produced in the 1970s to replace it.

Note the gas-sealed rounds

Note the gas-sealed rounds

What made the earlier revolver special was the fact that the inventor, a Belgian by the name of Emil Nagant, designed his wheel gun to push the cylinder forward at the moment before firing, creating a near airtight seal in the chamber. Further, the gun used a unique 7.62×38R cartridge that had a recessed bullet, which completed the gas-seal when the gun fired. Now Emil did this to add some velocity to the underpowered 108-grain bullet– but the Soviets figured out a generation later that it could also work for a suppressed weapon.

This made the addition of a can to the 19th Century wheel gun an instant assassination and black ops whacker.

In the West, the U.S. made their own suppressed revolver during the Vietnam conflict for the use of tunnel rats who needed an effective but muted gun (for obvious safety reasons– they were underground!) that was short enough to move around the Viet Cong tunnels with that also had a muted muzzle blast.

In 1966, the Army made a half-dozen tunnel rat kits that included a suppressed Smith .38 with downloaded ammunition for use by these underground gladiators. However, they weren’t liked and weren’t really all that silent due to the escaping gas from the cylinder.

A soldier poses with his Tunnel Exploration Kit, consisting of a silenced .38 S&W, special holster and a mouth/teeth bite-switch activated headlamp.

A soldier poses with his Tunnel Exploration Kit, consisting of a silenced .38 S&W, special holster and a mouth/teeth bite-switch activated headlamp. Great trigger D by the way.

Australian combat engineer assisting American forces in Vietnam with tunnel clearing operations Vietnam, Phuoc Tuy Province, 1966. Note S&W Smith Wesson suppressed revolver (AWM P01595.021)

Another attempted solution was the 1969-era Quiet Special Purpose Revolver, a Smith and Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum that was chambered for a very low power special .410-ish Quiet Special Purpose Round filled with 15 tungsten balls in a plastic sabot. Since the ammunition itself had about as much powder as a 4th of July party popper, the gun was fitted with a short smoothbore barrel and did not need a suppressor. Just 75 were made and, though quickly withdrawn from Army use, were purportedly still utilized by SOG in places that never existed late into the war.

The QSPR snubby .410 and one of its shells

The QSPR snubby .410 and one of its short-range shells

This brings us to the 1990s when again, for an end-user not currently known, KAC moved to make another suppressed revolver and went Ruger.

knights revolver rifle ruger redhawk

Read the rest in my column at Ruger Talk

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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