Gun Review: Ruger GP-100 .357 Magnum

53 responses

  1. avatar
    May 27, 2011

    It’s a shame Ruger won’t reintroduce the Police Service Six and Speed Six line. The GP was such a jump to the clunky from such a handy and user friendly “Six” line. They sat lower naturally in the hand and with use had a fairly smooth trigger. I just picked up my 2nd Service Six, from the 80′s, as my mom confiscated my first one-also a 4” model, for her own use. If you look at the video, you’ll see how the Misses has room to spare to bring that web of the hand up further-just as she is snatching the trigger. Surprise her one day and mix some empty casings in the cylinder-she’ll catch herself doing it. If S&W can’t get their revolvers to be dependable-I say no buy. I won’t risk my life on a failure by design. This is the same reason I wouldn’t buy an AR variant until piston variations were out.

  2. avatar
    Big John
    May 27, 2011

    Recently purchased a 3″ stainless version for my mom. I go 6′ 3″, 265 lbs. I shot the beast before I gave it to her – my first time with a .357. The recoil and noise surprised me. Fun, but I didn’t know how she would handle it. Mother is a tiny filipina. She wanted a home protection gun, and liked the Judge because of the large grip. I vetoed that because of the lackluster performance of the rounds it would chamber. We tried my autos. Typical problems arose – couldn’t safely or reliably rack the slide, too much to remember… She was pumped when I showed up with the GP100, and it showed. She was on paper immediately with .38 specials. We switched to .357′s, and she continued hitting exactly where she had been. She didn’t really even notice a difference.

    Moral of the story? A rock solid, point-and-pull revolver is always the best choice for a beginning handgunner. The GP100 is most certainly that.

    • avatar
      May 7, 2013

      That’s awesome that your mom loves the Ruger GP100. But that’s no surprise to me. I also own a 3 inch GP 100 & I also have a Colt Trooper 4 inch 357 the Colts also a great gun it has wooden grips were my Ruger has the Hogue grips & as far as comfort when shooting 357 rounds I have to give the Ruger the win. When I shoot my Ruger it actually feels like I’m shooting a 22. Regardless cool story about a mom with a 357. Also great review about getting your wife into shooting with you. Glad she enjoyed it & didn’t get turned off easily.

  3. avatar
    May 27, 2011

    Is my favorite shooter amongst my handguns.
    Is what I will be using as I test the waters of USPSA competition at local club I recently joined.

    Stainless GP100 with 4″ inch barrel.

    It shoots fine.

    I like it.

  4. avatar
    May 27, 2011

    Excellent review, exactly right. For a gentle range or home defense handgun, you cannot beat a big, heavy .357 revolver loaded with .38s, possibly +Ps. And nobody does big and heavy quite like Ruger.

  5. avatar
    May 27, 2011

    Nice report, Don! Great pics, too.

    The Ruger GP100 is a great revolver. The Smith and Wesson 686 is a greater revolver, and the stupid internal lock is easily removed. I wouldn’t feel naked carrying either the Ruger or the S&W, even though I freely admit to being a Smith weenie.

  6. avatar
    John Fritz
    May 27, 2011

    It’s not often that I read the phrase black rubbery goodness and it’s referring to something positive. :)

    Oh, I almost forgot; Excellent review. Thanks!

  7. avatar
    May 27, 2011

    That Dog Can Hunt. Carry for me is not a problem, it just has to travel well in the car, not to be left alone too long in the sun.

  8. avatar
    Chris Dumm
    May 27, 2011

    While I’ve got a 686 myself, there’s nothing ‘second-rate’ about the GP-100. The Ruger double-action revolver pattern is a true modern classic, and over the last four decades it has proven itself incredibly versatile and virtually indestructible.

    Gunsmiths may frequently tune up GP-100s, but they rarely have to fix them.

  9. avatar
    May 27, 2011

    I’ve never gotten the chance to shoot this beauty but have always been interested. I imagine it’s very comfortable to shoot. At least relatively.

    BTW, I noticed that this article is in the gear review section and not the gun review.

  10. avatar
    May 27, 2011

    I own a GP100 also. Yes, in DA mode, you can feel the little tick-tick when the cylinder locks into place just before the hammer drops.

    I actually find that point useful in staging the DA trigger pull. Haul that trigger back, tick-tick, recheck the front sight, another couple ounces of pressure and off she goes.

    I occasionally think of putting in a spring kit, then I decide that the money’s better spent on more practice ammo.

    Speaking of .357, does anyone have a source for Speer .357 ammo with the 125gr Gold Dot HP bullet? I believe their part number is 53920 for the box of 50. Can’t find it anywhere. Thanks.

    • avatar
      Patrick Carrube
      June 2, 2011

      “useful in staging the DA trigger pull”… ahhhhhhHHHHH!! My ears, by bloody ears… no staging! Learn DA and learn it forever. It doesn’t take (too) much practice to learn how to shoot accurately (even out to 75-yards) with a DA pull. Snap caps and/or dry firing is your friend, staging will set you up for terrible inconsistencies.

      • avatar
        Don Gammill, Jr.
        June 3, 2011

        I have to agree. Even though I wasn’t fond of the GP100′s trigger, and even though it was rather easy/predictable to stage, I always got better results without staging it.

    • avatar
      Rey Chirino
      December 12, 2011

      Maybe is a little bit late but, are you still interested in those speer .357 mag HP ammo?
      if so, goto this address
      We have lot of different caliber there.

  11. avatar
    Bob H
    May 28, 2011 shows it in stock, as does

  12. avatar
    Dan M
    May 29, 2011

    A 4″ gp100 is my first handgun and I couldn’t have made a better choice. I got mine used but unfired for about half the cost of a smith 686. It is made like a tank and I cannot imagine what I would have to do to break it. My only concern is that after about 100 rounds the pin for the rear sight works its way out to the right… a few drops of loctite should fix it but I have not tried yet. I have about a thousand rounds of .357 and 4-500 of .38s through it and it has yet to complain, malfunction, or even have a light primer strike.
    My biggest issue with the gun was the plain black front post. I have since switched it out for a fiber optic and it is so much easier to shoot. It draws your eyes right to the front sight.
    The trigger has only got better with use… after ~1500 rounds and twice as many dry fires it has smoothed out a bit. I think it is significantly better both single and double action than my best friends sig sauer 226. The double action is smoother and the cylinder clicking into place gives a perfect warning for staging the trigger. In single action is has less take-up and over travel vs the sig and generally feels very crisp.
    Now I just need to figure out what to get to carry. The gp100 is almost impossible to conceal without a winter jacket.

  13. avatar
    June 6, 2011

    Have any of you guys/gals ever tried out the most excellent Ruger Police Service Six/Security Six (with adjustable sights)/Speed Six (round butt/snub nose version)? This I believe, is the finest revolver ever made by Bill Ruger. It naturally sits low for better alignment and control. They stopped manufacture in the 80′s to make the GP100. Today, mint Service Six’s are sought after like old Colt Detective Specials. They fit all K frame holsters and speedloaders are still avaailable for them.

    • avatar
      January 13, 2014

      I have a Speed 6 that I bought new way back when and I think it is the best. I’m partial to Ruger and have others but they play 2nd fiddle.

  14. avatar
    September 1, 2011

    I have the GP100 in the 3in version , had a trigger job done on it. It is better than my S&W 28-357.

  15. avatar
    September 1, 2011

    I’d have to say, a Ruger with a Cunningham action job is going to kick the pants off of a stock S&W. Of course, you can work on the Smith, too.

  16. avatar
    September 30, 2011

    Just bought my wife a GP-100 4″ for the same reasons as the writer, and so far, I have come to the same conclusions. My wife had a Walther PK-380, which is a fine little self-defense gun, but admittedly show lackluster performance. After a few jams at the range, she lost confidence in her Walther, and wanted a revolver. So we replaced the Walther with the GP-100, and she feels much better. She has never even shot .38s out of it… Just magnum rounds, and the felt recoil is minimal for a .357.

    I own several Rugers, both rifles and pistols, and do not understnad where they get their “second rate” classification. In my opinion, they are one of the finest American guns on the market, regardless of caliber or model. My Mini-14 easily holds a 3″ group at 300 yards (on a windless day) in the sled, and we all know the capabilities of the Mark II and Mark III. The GP-100 fits right in, performing above all of my expectations! Keep it up, Ruger, and I will never own another gun (except maybe Colt!).

    • avatar
      July 8, 2012

      I completely agree. I have several Ruger revolvers and several S&W revolvers and I actually like the Rugers better, in general. In fact, I have heard numerous complaints about S&W in recent years. This article about S&W’s quality issues may be of interest to some here.

      My GP100 is the stainless special edition 5″ barrel model. 5″ seems just about perfect to me and the gun balances beautifully. I also installed a lighter spring set, did some very minor polishing of the action, installed new fiber optic sites front & rear and replaced the rubber and wood grip that came from Ruger with a nice premium Hoag rosewood grip with finger notches and and cap which not only gives my large hand a much better grip but doesn’t cause any discomfort at all with even the hottest .357 loads. Recently, I polished the matt finish to gloss using Mother’s wheel polish. I just polished while watching TV and it was done by the end of an hour long show. It’s not practical but it really looks nice.

      • avatar
        February 11, 2013

        I just bought the 5″ as well and love it. My hands shake a lot and the extra weight actually helps. I was wondering if you have purchased a holster for yours and, if so, what you went with. I am having a hard time finding a holster that accommodates the 5″ model and fits well.

  17. avatar
    Frank Milino
    December 29, 2011

    I’ve owned my gp100 for 10 years now and I love everything about this gun
    every time I go to the range with other friends they are all intimadited
    because it’s a farilly heavy gun, but I keep telling them that it has the least
    amount of mussel gump of my 45 Kimber, and it’s very very aucurate
    All I do is point and shoot. The automatics have problems. but not my Kimber
    It has a 6 inch barrel , to shoot it is to love it, just make sure you clean it
    after you shoot it Frank

  18. avatar
    Allan Wise
    January 18, 2012

    After carrying my GP 100 4″ for a number of years in a belt holster for bear protection in the fall of the year on our Ranch, I decided to look for something better. Tried a Galco VHS Shoulder System and it works great—a little pricy from the factory in Phoenix—but can be found cheeper from dealers with a web search. Can concealed carry with just a lite over shirt on when I go to town but I am a big person.

    My GP 100 shoots good and is just the proper size for my use. Ruger made a very good pistol. Would not trade it for a S&W.

  19. avatar
    Arizona Mike
    February 9, 2012

    I’ve read Don’s review of the Ruger GP-100 .357 Magnum, and Chris’s review of the Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 686, but how would you guys compare the Ruger GP-100 to a standard (non-Performance Center) S&W 686 Plus in the .357 Magnum? I am leaning towards the S&W for trigger action and resale value, but have some concerns about the internal lock failures. I’d love to hear your experienced judgment on which gun you would buy.

  20. avatar
    February 9, 2012

    the sights were off (the groups were consistently down and to the right)

    My recently acquired 357 is a classic Dan Wesson model 15. Firing 357 magnum loads the DW15 shoots true to its sights. Firing 38 wadcutters it shoots 3-4 inches high of its point of aim. This is at 25 feet.

    Apparently this difference is due to how quickly the bullet exits the barrel i.e. the quicker it exits the less the muzzle has flipped up.

  21. avatar
    May 9, 2012

    I was in the market for a GP100, and was trying to decide on a 4″ or 6″. Boy what a decision. I have had numerous revolvers in both length’s over the years. After reading all the different reviews I was more confused than ever. So to somone else with the same problem, here is the answer: Get what YOU like. I decided to go with the 6″ because 1. I thought it looked better 2. I like the longer sight plane of the extended barrel 3. I thought it balanced out better 4. I thought it looked better 5. I thought it looked better (sorry). This will not be used for CCW, just plain ole shooting and as all the other of my weapons (home defense). I have always been a Smith guy when it came to revolvers. But in my opinion Smith is going to price themselves out of business. The GP100 is great and you can’t beat the price for quality. Also I got the stainless. If the hammer spur had been just a smige wider would have been great. Thanks Don for a great review, and to all the others for their reviews as this helped in the decision.

  22. avatar
    k. oades
    May 31, 2012

    I’ve been shooting gp-100s since the late 1980s, YES THAT LONG!! and have found that with a decent action job they are quite capable of out shooting S&Ws out to 50mtrs.
    The match we shoot here in Australia starts at 50m and goes down to 7m toal 900 points. With my GP & good .38 loads my averages are up in the 860s!
    Hell I’ve even played at IPSC matches and given the auto fans a run for their money!
    A factory ruger is in no way a slick gun, HOWEVER they are far from a piece of crap and I would put my faith in a gp 100 before any other revolver currently on the market!

  23. avatar
    Tom …
    August 18, 2012

    I picked up my GP-100 at a local gun show, used. I had been looking for a Security 6 since firing my Son-in-Law’s (an heirloom from his grandmother). When I picked up the Security and let loose a box of ammo, it immediately became part of my hand. No weapon, not even my SEA M-16 felt so meant for my hand.

    Unfortunately, the boy would not part with it. So I settled for the GP after scrounging around for a few months. My GP is blued, has a minor scratch on the cylinder and has (I believe) rosewood grips. First range session showed me the previous owner kept her well in tune and sighted fine for 7-15 yards. I didn’t try the longer ranges as I was interested in this weapon for close duty home defense, nor did I use the speed loader.

    What did impress me was the accuracy of the sights set by the previous. A solid 6 round 4-5 inch group @ 7 yds dead center using inexpensive Range/Target .357 FMJ in single action. If the sights stood up to being trailered from show to show by the seller, surely to God she’ll be fine in my night stand. That and my Step-Son’s novice shooter 12 year old boy was able to comfortably shoot it as well, so the issue of flinch as time passes becomes moot.

    All in all …I agree w/ the reviewer. And I am thinking about that “Dirty Harry” shoulder rig for wintertime!

  24. avatar
    September 3, 2012

    One of the best reviews on the GP-100 I have ever read. I remember when I saw the “soon to be released” magazine ads for the Ruger GP-100. I finally purchased my first GP-100 in the late 80′s. It was a 4 inch blued. Since then I have purchased a 6 inch blued and a four inch stainless. I made the mistake of selling my 6 inch blued GP-100 to a friend and I regretted letting it go. My first S&W I purchased came after years of using GP-100′s. It was a model 1982 limited .357 on a heavy frame, unfluted cylinder and heavy underlugged barrel. Yes, the trigger pull & travel was smoother than my GP-100……yes, the ergonomics felt better slightly than my GP-100 and yes, the S&W broke after only 60 rounds of hand loads my GP-100 had regularly digested for years. Seriously, the S&W timing failed on two of the 6 positions. I sent it back to S&W with a letter detailing the problem and um, the included info of how my Ruger GP-100 handle these handloads with no problems for years. (my handloads are well with in specified limits of the sierra loading manual, only idiots take pride in over charging handloads) Funny thing……S&W repaired the pistol’s function and sent it back to me free of charge, to their credit….but…. the trigger pull was increased and the smooth travel was all gone. It felt like, (drum roll please) my GP-100!… even though the S&W has multiple springs involved in the firing process and the GP-100 has just one, one beefy spring that does it all. I never again fired my handloads through the S&W, It sits in a safe and gathers dust but my GP-100 stainless 4inch’r still handles the rounds fine with nooooo malfunctions after all these years. In my opinion, there is no better full sized .357 magnum on the market than the Ruger GP-100 especially if you have to trust your life to its function dependability.

  25. avatar
    General Stonewall Jackso
    October 22, 2012

    Well I love Ruger, especially my 2 GP-100′s. I wouldn’t take a Smith and Wesson over a Ruger if you promised Obama would leave the country and never come back if I took the S&W. It’s very easy to get used to the Ruger trigger and I continually get excellent groups at a longer distance, but then this is a firefight pistol for close range combat. I also took off the annoying adjustable sites in the back and just use the front site like an old western fire arm. With some practice, the results are about the same. Keep up the good work, you the man!!!

  26. avatar
    November 12, 2012

    Like the others, I love my GP-100. Shoots way more accurate at the range than any of my semi-auto’s. The hottest .357 loads I can find are not punishing, and with a good holster rig she’s not bad lugging around the woods. It’s not an ideal gun for EDC but I’ve taken her out with me around town when I get a SHTF feeling and a pocket nine just doesn’t feel as comforting.

  27. avatar
    November 24, 2012


    Tip of the cap to the subliminal pitch in your photo array. From a woman who loves guns AND the Simply Vera Vera Wang fashion line.

    Well played, sir.

  28. avatar
    December 4, 2012

    Props on the review! Very possibly the best I’ve ever read. I’ve seen loads of them too.
    If you cover all the nessesites, make me laugh and tell my new ruger gp 100 is a big ass crap your pants intimidating revolver, your getting my vote!
    Keep up the good work, be safe.. And of course GOD BLESS!!

  29. avatar
    Chris C.
    January 20, 2013

    I have had lots of wheel guns over 40 years of competition shooting, mainly smiths one python, and an old 6inch security six. A couple of months ago I bought a new 4inch GP100 in stainless, what I like is the early lock up when shooting double action, very comforting to see it lock up and the hammer still on its way back, am happy with the action and the accuracy out to 50 yards. Only real dislike is the ejector stroke is too short to cleanly clear magnum brass, I can’ believe no one else ever mentions this problem. I reckon all you Ruger shooters made a good choice.

  30. avatar
    Lee S. Phillilps
    March 24, 2013

    Mr. Gammill,

    I appreciated your remarks on the Ruger GP. I picked mine up last year, new, and have enjoyed taking it out to the New Hampshire woods and ranges. Fit and finish is not as good as a Smith and the trigger is more industrial, but I have no complaints. I’ve gone to and replaced the front site post with their alternative red one, and I’ve also placed trigger/hammer shims in it and replaced the springs with a kit from Wolff. No complaints now. The trigger has smoothed up and runs smoothly. Double action gives me no complaints, the pull is long but smooth and predictable.

  31. avatar
    March 30, 2013

    Have had mine since late 1990′s great gun,had a friend of mine that is a machinist do some polishing on it,very smooth,and a better trigger.My wife gave it to me as a Christmas present,great woman!Reload for it,have gotten pretty good with speed loaders for it a little too big for ccw during the summer though,but is my go to gun for home defense,if needed.Have a Rossi Model 92 to go with it,16″ barrel,blue,very handy and love that ammo interchangeability.Keep your powder dry.

  32. avatar
    April 9, 2013

    Just fired my new GP100 for the first time today. Shot Speer FMJ’s .38+p and American Eagle 38′s. Absolutely loved it, and the review is dead on. It is unbelievable the lack of kick, recoil or muzzle flip. I could definitely see a woman enjoy shooting this. Don’t let the heavy weight and size fool you. This is what makes it so easy to shoot! I also shot my new G19 today. Half the weight of the GP100 and “smaller” rounds, but was comparatively more jumpy than the heavy Ruger. Loved the Glock too, nothing like knocking out 15 rounds in a few seconds. Also shot a Taurus Judge with the .45 round. I liked it and think I am going to get one.

  33. avatar
    April 19, 2013


  34. avatar
    April 20, 2013

    I’ve had my 4″ ss GP-100 for about 20 years now and it has never disappointed. I have well over 6000 rounds (mostly handloaded) and it has only gotten better with use. That sort of notchy long DA pull will smooth considerably after 3,000 rounds and the SA seems crisper as well. Mine now sports Trijicon night sights and has had a Hogue finger groove Coco-Bolo for years. The old panel/rubber grips were lousy pointers as on the SP-101′s. Hogues fix the angle to make them more natural pointers. Apparently, Ruger thought the same thing eventually. The only other .357 I enjoyed nearly much was a Colt King Cobra which I stupidly let go in a trade… Just keep putting the rounds through your GP-100 and your diligence will be rewarded with a smoother trigger. Same thing applies to the .357 SP-101 as well.

  35. avatar
    May 15, 2013

    I have two gp100s 4″ and 6″ and an original six series. Both of my gp100s I had my gunsmith smooth the actions, no spring kits. Better trigger than stock S&Ws now.

  36. avatar
    October 14, 2013

    It is my favorite shooter amongst my handguns.
    Stainless GP100 with 4″ inch barrel.

    It shoots fine.

  37. avatar
    October 22, 2013

    First gun purchased was Ruger LCR .38 Had to change out grip to a Boot Grip, replaced blade front sight with standard XS. Has a great trigger. With snub nose 1.78 barrel and no space for good pinky finger purchase, it’s still excellent close range even though it does pack a punch, it fits in a pocket holster for most of my jeans/pants. Added Ruger SR .22, a Ruger P95 9mm and now Ruger GP 100
    Wiley/Clapper version 3″ Best one yet for home and winter cc. Love the comfort of beveled trigger and smooth as a baby’s butt trigger pull. Hallmark of Ruger feature is the trigger. Selling all other brands of pistols/revolvers to purchase Ruger 101 3″ revolver for summer carry.

  38. avatar
    November 6, 2013

    what sights do i need for gp100.
    What about holsters and other accessories
    how do I clean it

    • avatar
      December 17, 2013

      You need the sights that come with it. These are standard handgun sights which you would expect to come with a, I don’t know, handgun. You can buy colored ones if you want, look at midway. The Galco Summer Comfort is a IWB choice and the Simply Rugged Pancake is an OWB choice. Any good belt holster would do. You don’t need to clean it. But I would look under the ejection star for any debris. You can run a bore snake through the cylinder and barrel and disassemble and clean everything if you are really attentive. Accessories? Maybe a speed loader. I prefer safariland comp III but HKS would also work.

  39. avatar
    December 17, 2013

    The fact that you are from Atlanta explains your overly pessimistic outlook on carrying this gun. I carry this gun throughout the winter up north and in the woods. I am 5′ 10″ and 195 lbs and IWB is my mode of carry with a Galco Summer Comfort Holster. Not uncomfortable for me. Find the compact grips if you can, but with a coat to cover printing this won’t be an issue.

  40. avatar
    March 1, 2014

    If you have accuracy problems past 15 you just suck at shooting. Get you eyes checked and grow a pair.

    • avatar
      Taro Tsujimoto
      March 12, 2014

      Don’t be a dick, Jay. It’s a lousy way to go through life.

  41. avatar
    March 18, 2014

    I had a Ruger GP-100 357 Magnum with 6″ Barrel for a few years and I wish I never sold it.
    I used to P.O My Brother in Law because I could hit the same target He would shoot with His AR-15.
    The GP-100 is a fantastic Firearm and I want another One to go with My Ruger SP-101.

    • avatar
      March 18, 2014

      You sold your Ruger, tsk, tsk. I would never sell one of myRugers, Colt, or S & W, Mossberg
      Taurus, Bersa,Charter Arms, no problem. In fact sold acouple of those in order to buy the others.

      Now go forth to buy another Ruger .357 and sin no more : )

  42. avatar
    April 9, 2014

    Fastidious answer back in return of this difficulty with real arguments
    and telling the whole thing regarding that.

  43. avatar
    April 15, 2014

    I’ve owned the GP100 4″ in stainless and the 6″ in blue finish for over 10 years now and love them both. My wife is very comfortable running the .38 round and I like keeping them loaded with .357 able to stop a bear if necessary. They sure have gone up in price, I bought mine brand new for under $375 each!

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