This forum seems to get some traffic from other forums such as the Cast Boolit and Single Action forums where big bore revolvers can be the main focus of discussion. Thought this might make an interesting topic if we can keep it to guns we actually owned or have owned in the past. My personal experiences range from a Superblackhawk 44 mag purchased in the mid 70's up to a couple of S&W 500's then recently a switch back to Freedom Arms and finally a new addition which is the BFR 500 JRH. Along the way tried the Redhawks in 454 as well. I have not killed a lot of animals with a handgun but have killed mule deer, plenty of Sitka blacktails, and my share of moose. I will only post on handguns I've actually owned.
Ruger single actions - fantastic revolver for the money. Buy a 44 or 45 Colt and add a trigger job and maybe some nice grips and sights and you are good to go. Good choice, but I prefer more hp for Alaska. Great starting platform for a custom. These are about as big as you want to go with a regular plow handle style grip but prefer the Bisley models.
Ruger Redhawks - big and clunky. Worse recoiling 454 Casull I ever owned and shot. Not for me. Would of liked to have owned a 480 but never got around to picking one up. These just don't fit my hands and I was disappointed in how gritty the action was and the creepy trigger.
S&W X frames - Pretty much tried them all, 4-8 inches, 460 and 500. Many +'s to these, smooth action, great trigger, very accurate. Never had a problem with any of them but their weight and concussion got to me after awhile. Sold them all off except the 4 inch model which is modified with a aftermarket comp which blocks the ports and makes it more "pleasant" to shoot. The 4 inch is still my all time favorite choice to carry while fishing in bear country or to keep in the tent. VERY HEAVY to carry all day long. Still, pretty good choice for the dedicated handgun hunter when moose or the big bears are on the menu.
S&W N frames - sort of limited in this area as I only own a 629 and a Stealth Hunter, both in 44 mag. Superb actions and triggers and they make a good dedicated deer, caribou, or sheep hunting revolver. Planned on using my Stealth Hunter with a scope on it for dall sheep this past August but a torn ACL changed all that. Some shooters claim these can't handle a steady diet of stiff loads but I've yet to experience any problems with either of these.
Freedom Arms - The best factory production revolver EVER built in my opinion. Superb accuracy and an action that feels like a swiss watch. Grip shape is very nice and handles recoil very well. Three complaints are the tolerances are perhaps to tight, cost, and the length of the cylinder. I've only owned two of these, one in 454 and my current one in 475 Linebaugh. To bad they don't stretch the frame a little and make the cylinder a tad longer. They should also work out a deal to chamber it in 500 JRH or 500 Linebaugh with a longer cylinder.
Magnum Research BFR - I am new to these revolvers and picked up a 500 JRH last year. It came with the wrong barrel length (7.5) but MR picked up the tab for shipping both ways and shortened it what it should of been (5.5) and slicked up the trigger for free. Great customer service. These come in two models, one with a "short" cylinder (44 mag, 475 Linebaugh, 500 JRH) and one with a long cylinder for stuff like the 45-70, S&W 500 etc. First trip to the range left me bruised and battered. Sent the revolver to Jack Huntington for him to change the grip shape, smooth the inside of the trigger guard, and added custom wood grips. Best $300 I ever spent on a revolver. These revolvers are built on a frame similar to the Ruger but beefier and bigger. Tolerances are much tighter than a Ruger but not as tight as a Freedom arms. If FA is a 10, BFR is an 8, and the Rugers are about a 5. The biggest plus to the BFR is the longer cylinder than the FA which gives you more lee way in seating out bigger (heavier) bullets. I also like the fact the tolerances are not quite as tight as the FA. Why? They are a hunting revolver and will be carried in a holster and be subjected to dirt and grit. The slightly reduced tolerances means there is less chance of anything jamming up the works. I dislike the allen head screws they use - should be changed to torx.
As hunters and shooters we should evolve and not be stuck on one thing for ever. I started out liking long barrels but now consider anything longer than 6 inches as to long. Try different calibers, brands of revolvers, types of bullets, etc. If we don't experiment we miss out on finding new things than can give us better choices. Even though I have not yet hunted with my BFR I give it the nod for being my best choice for a big bore revolver for Alaska. $900-$950 for the gun and add $300 for the grip mod and you are in business. The 500 JRH is most likely enough power, but I still wish they chambered in 500 Linebaugh.
Even though this topic is about factory revolvers I can't get the idea of a custom out of my head. One of these days.................