I've got a .480 Tarus Raging Bull and like it. No scope yet. I got it from a buddy that has a .44 Mag and couldn't handle the recoil of the .480. Me? I think it's a piece of cake. But then again, all I've shot are the factory 325g. loads.
Have you tried any of the Trail Boss powder for reduced cast loads? I've got the dies, couple of different powders and a variety of bullets, but haven't started reloading for it yet. Along with the pistol, I have 200 pcs. of Hornady brass. I'd be interested in some heavy and light load data if you care to share.
I hope you do not think I am telling you NOT to get the big S&W, Just want to let you know that for big game hunting, espacially out to the 100 yard mark, the extra stomp and roar are not needed. You would see absolutely no difference on game out to 100 yards weither you hit it with a top loaded 480 Ruger or a top loaded 460 S&W.
And while the 480 with the 425 gr bullets are a handful to shoot, the 325 and even the new 275 gr Bonded Core SPeer Gold Dot HP bullets loaded to around 1200 fps are childs play in the big SRH. The versitility of the 45 COlt and 480 Ruger as simply amazing, with one load you can pop cottontails for the dinner pot and with another you have perfect whitetail medicine and with another your ready for heavy game and loaded full tilt, it would serve well against heavy dangerous game as well once you get proficient with the big hangun.
Dies run no more then any other handgun such as the 44 Mag or 454. Brass is offered by Hornady and Starline. The Starline brass is significantly cheaper and very quality strong brass, only brass I use. I got 50 pieces when I got my 480 and that was around 4 years ago and that brass is still goign strong even with more 1200 fps loads with the 425 gr bullets then I can remember.
Powder is also cheap, H-LilGun is the best I have found for all bullet weights. Works much better for lighter loads then H-110 and W-296. You can also make some awsome target loads using Blue Dot.
Most 480 SRH revolvers I have shot have been very accurate. I use the open sights on mine as I use it out of my treestand in the thick river bottoms where 50 yards is a pretty long shot.
For testing I did mount a 2x Burris and at 50 yards it was cutting 1.5" groups for 6 shots. With open sights I can hold right at 1" groups at 25 yards pretty easily with a hunting style rest such as the cage around my treestand.
There are several bullet makers making .475" bullet. The 480 Ruger and .475 Line. use the same bullet diameter. Speer offers the 275, 325 and 400. Hornady has the 325 and 400 gr XTP-MAG. Cast Performance Bullets offers several very top quality hard cast big game bullets for the 480 Ruger. These will generally hold tighter groups then the jacketed bullets I have tested and you simply will not have a game animal stop one of these bullets.
for years I was an avid handgun hunter (mostly varmits), and used everything from a .357mag to a .445 supermag in revolvers and single shot pistols. Never really been a fan of the real high pressure rounds like the .454. But if you just gotta shoot them, then do it with a single action revolver or the Redhawk. That is unless you can lay your hands on a Dan Wesson in a Supermag caliber. I taught my sons how to shoot big bore hand guns with a Thompson, and each one is capable of making 200 yard shots on deer sized game with the right round of course. You just can't go wrong with an Encore, and when you find that you are tired of a certain caliber you just get another barrel.
I shoot the 250 grain bullets in a standard 12" 44 mag at 1750 fps (with a brake), and there's still a little more in it. The same bullet in a .445 won't shoot as well due to leading build up. But a 300 grain jacketed bullet will do about 1750fps out of a 14" barrel (a hand full). I also shoot the 35 Remington with 180 grain Hornaday bullets at at about 2100 fps. Get tired of that I switch over to a .222 remington barrel that shoots 52 grain Sierras at 2600+fps, and has tagged more than one Coyote in the 250 to 300 yards range. But for deer I've yet to find anything I liked better in a hand gun than the old 30 Herrett (200 yards). To take this further you just can't go wrong with a .357 Maxium with 180 grain bullets. Starline sells brass, and the Hornaday single shot pistol bullets work very well. I like it a whole lot better than the .357 Herrett I own, and scopes last a lot longer on it.
For a big game hunting Revolver, I much prefer the 7 1/2" barrel over the 9 1/2" barrel. I have the long barrel in a 44 Mag and it is very accurate but a pain in the rear to pack in the field, hell, a 12" barreled Encore is shorter, lighter and vastly more accurate and powerful then a 9 1/2" revolver.
In my opinion, a 6 1/2" barrel would be even better. Remember that big bore revolvers are not like high intensity rifles, the extra barrel really will not add much if any in the way of increased velocity, just added barrel weight which can be a good thing in stabilizing the handgun for a shot but its more of an annoyance in my opinion when packing in the field.
I have a 4 5/8" barrel on my Blackhawk in 45 Colt and LOVE IT!!! This is mainly for a pack gun for protection against bears but I have used it in the field for deer and a few +300 lb Russian Boars and it works very well out to around 50 yards which is about the limit in which I can hold tight enough groups with the open sighted short barreled Blackhawk.
For a dedicated big bore big game revolver, I round recommend at least 5.5" but not more then 7.5".
I have a 629 Classic Deluxe (or whatever they call it) that's been thru the S&W Performance shop. Shoots very well, but will never shoot the H110 loads I shoot in the T/C's in it. The action just won't take it! The revolver is somewhat heavy like you say, and bulky with the 2X scope on it. Still it shoots pretty good with cast lead bullets at just under 1400fps, and recoil is mild. It's a solid 50 yard gun if not 75 yards. For hunting I think I'd rather have a Super Black Hawk Hunter.