After nearly seven years of wedded bliss, I caught her red-handed! Red-handed at the range, that is. At my insistence, my lukewarm-to-guns wife had just fired six rounds from my tiny, palm-punishing Kel-Tec .380. Her hand hurt and her face grimaced, and it seemed as though tears weren’t far behind. Our day at the range – and any budding interest she had in firearms – was in serious jeopardy.  I had to act fast . . .

To the rental counter I ran, with the voice of Dirty Harry himself resonating in my ears:  “You’ve got to ask yourself one question, punk: What’s the biggest, heaviest handgun your wife can run a decent self-defense round through and still have an enjoyable shooting experience?” I didn’t feel lucky, but luck shined upon me anyway. The magnum force answer that saved the day? The Ruger GP-100.

Second-rate status, blue-collar provenance and XL dimensions aside, the GP-100 absolutely hits a grand slam in the appearance department, delivering perfect hand cannon aesthetics. Although it’s available in classic blued steel, you’d be nuts not to come off the extra cheese ($75) for the satin stainless finish, which contrasts beautifully with the Hogue ® Monogrip’s ® black rubbery goodness.

In four-inch guise, the GP-100, with its full under-lug barrel and shrouded ejector rod, has just the right looks to make gun owners giddy and bad guys incontinent. According to my wife, “I feel safe just looking at it . . . it’s big, powerful, and easy to use in a stressful situation.”

The one place where you will want to dance with the Ruger GP-100 is on the firing line. When I returned from the rental counter with this shooting-day-savior, my wife agreed to fire it “just once” before she washed her hands of the whole scene. I dropped in six re-loaded .38 Special wadcutters and handed it over. Instead of experiencing wrist-walloping recoil, my dearest was delighted to find that it a) kicked like a pellet gun, and b) gave her a sub-five-inch group at 21 feet. Not bad for a first-timer.

Though my wife generally stuck to shooting .38s, I longed for a Magnum fix. I proceeded to run through a bevy of different .357 FMJs. After getting used to the (considerable) difference in noise, I quickly realized that the combination of an excellent ergonomic design, good weight distribution, and a huge chunk of rubber in my paws made for recoil that wasn’t off-putting in the least.

Two hundred rounds later, I honestly believe that it kicks less than my S&W Third Generation .40-caliber semi-auto.  (It kicks a lot less than my Kel-Tec .380.)  Even with the hotter stuff, muzzle flip was miniscule, and neither my wrists nor my hands ever declared discomfort. With these types of firing dynamics, tight groups should be just around the corner, no?

No. First of all, the sights were off (the groups were consistently down and to the right).  After I fixed that, things were good as long as I stayed in the seven-to-ten yard range.  When I moved the target out to 15 yards, the black-ramp front sight kept getting lost against the B-27 target’s black background in the indoor range’s dim light. Incidentally, Smith & Wesson makes a red-ramp front sight standard on all Smith & Wesson 686s. Why Ruger doesn’t – and instead sells one as $15 accessory – is a real mystery. Would an extra fifteen bucks really keep anyone from buying this gun?

Would Obama go hunting with Dick Cheney? Lots of folks choose the Ruger GP-100 as a cheaper alternative to Smith’s 686. Both .357 Magnums are medium-to-large frame double-action revolvers with full-sized grips and a choice of several barrel lengths (three, four, and six inches in the Ruger’s case). Both the 686 and the GP-100 have adjustable front and rear sights (except for the three-inch GP-100). Both weigh about the same.

The big difference: quality. The several hundred dollars more you’ll spend on the Smith provides a smoother trigger and parts that generally fit together more precisely. If a few rough edges and a merely average trigger aren’t a big deal, the Ruger makes a compelling case for you to save some green and pocket a very good revolver—that will never fit in your pocket.

Easy to use? Yes. Easy to carry? Well, that depends on whether or not Detective Callahan’s shoulder rig is an option for you. Not to say that the GP-100 can’t be concealed, but unless you’re an anorexic supermodel with a tape worm, inside-the-pants carry is simply not gonna happen. Neither is inside-the-pocket carry. Inside-the-purse carry doesn’t seem feasible, either, though this piece may fit in your car’s glove box.

Probably, your best bet for carrying this big .357: a belt holster. But not a cheap one. Smaller, lighter guns are more tolerant of a wide variety of belt holsters; larger, heavier guns like this are famously fickle. Buy a cheap nylon job from Walmart and the big Ruger will flail around your hip like the world’s deadliest lap dancer. Not to say it’s that much better in the accuracy department when you unholster the beast.

I blame the trigger. It’s not that it’s bad; it’s just . . . average. Revolvers like this tend to have heavy double-action triggers that offer a lot of initial resistance, stack a great deal as the hammer comes up, and then smooth out just before the hammer drops. The best revolvers (Performance Center S&Ws, old Colts, and, to a slightly lesser extent, the S&W 686) defy that stereotype by exhibiting lower initial effort and less stacking.

Unfortunately, the Ruger GP-100 is not one of these. Like many Ruger revolvers, this one has a little “hitch” immediately prior to the sear release. It’s not terrible. But it’s not helpful, either. Even though I could shoot relatively tight groups with .357s and make ragged holes with .38s at distances under 15 yards, everything I did past that point was just this side of pathetic. On a brighter note, the GP-100’s single-action trigger, though not what you would call crisp, was light and predictable. It yielded results that made me and my look like pros.

The GP-100 isn’t a class leader. But many of its shortcomings can be addressed by good ol’ capitalism. Don’t like the rough edges around the inside of the frame? Harbor Freight sells a five-dollar needle file set. Think that nasty double-action trigger can’t get any smoother? Your local gunsmith and Ben Franklin say otherwise.

Several sighting options – conventional, light-gathering, and laser – can make the low-light target acquisition problem go away (how far away depends on your wallet). Also, the constraints of using a revolver for self defense become at least a little less daunting when you invest in a good speed loader (though the big rubber grips get in the way a bit).

Speaking of grips, I’m sure someone molds them in pink if that’s your thing. And now that we’re back to aesthetics, is there any better-looking canvas on which to create all manner of awesomeness? Have a look at RF’s new Gemini Custom Ruger SP101. Grant Cunningham also takes the GP-100 to a whole new level, both style- and action wise. Yes, for the price of a Smith & Wesson Model 686, you can bring your Ruger GP-100 to the Smith’s level of quality (or completely bling it out with accessories and customizations galore).

But, for just the price of a Ruger GP-100, you can have a good (if not great) revolver right out of the box. And a happy wife who likes shooting it. In my case, that seemed to be the best value.  Was a post-tax total of $572 worth having a better half who actually wants to go to the range with me? You bet it was.


Model: Ruger GP-100
Action type: Double action/single action revolver
Caliber: .357 Magnum and .38 Special
Capacity: 6-round cylinder
Barrel length: 4.0″
Overall length: 9.5″
Weight: 40.0 oz.
Grips: Black Hogue ® Monogrip ®
Sights: Black ramp front (adjustable for windage) and black blade (with white outline) rear (adjustable for windage and elevation)
Finish: Satin Stainless Steel
Current Value: $729 Suggested Retail, $572 out-the-door at my local retailer


(Out of five stars)
Style  * * * * *
Do handguns look better than this?

Ergonomics (carry)  * *
If you regularly carry this, you probably drive an armored truck or spend a lot of time in the woods.

Ergonomics (firing)  * * * *
Handles recoil like Bill Clinton handles a young lady’s objections.   One star deducted for a slightly-harsh trigger and Ruger’s front-sight cheap-out.

Reliability  * * * * *
Not only is it an unbelievably robust revolver, but it doesn’t have Smith & Wesson’s annoying, failure-prone internal lock, utilizing instead a long-ass conventional pad lock that you run through one of the cylinder bores. K.I.S.S. engineering at its finest.

Customize This  * * *
Given what it is, holster and laser/light options are a bit limited. Still, there’s enough to keep you interested and help tailor the weapon to your particular needs.

The best dog you’ll ever own ain’t an American Kennel Club champion; it’s the decidedly average mutt you adopted from the pound. Why?  Because of core competencies, baby. Despite some significant shortcomings, he’s really, really good at just being a dog. The Ruger GP100 is really good at just being a big-ass, crap-your-pants-intimidating, rock-solid revolver.












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74 Responses to Gun Review: Ruger GP-100 .357 Magnum

  1. 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. 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.

    • 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. 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. 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. 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.

      • Yes, to each is on. I love Ruger and have several. Recently added a single six, stainless. I love that thing. My GP-100 is my favorite revolver.

  6. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

    • “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.

      • 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.

  11. 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.

    • Fiber-optic sights are great. I have one (front only) on my Taurus PT1911. Poor man’s tip: on a plain, black front sight, a little orange nail polish. It may wear a little over time & repeated cleanings, but is easily renewed.

  12. 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.

    • 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!).

    • 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.

      • 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. 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!!!

  24. 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.

  25. Don,

    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.

  26. 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!!

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.


  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

    • 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

    • 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 : )

  37. 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!

  38. Thanks for a well written and informative article. This sounds like a great revolver that’s well worth the money. Unfortunately, here in Canada the debate between the Ruger and S&W is null; the 686’s 4″ barrel is just shy of the 105mm minimum legal length while the GP-100’s 4.2″ barrel is just over it (shows how ridiculous some of these laws are). Once again, thanks for a great article, and thanks to Ruger for making a great pistol.

    • I have a very nice GP 100 with a 3″ barrel, nice comoprise between 2.25″ & 4″ Rugers .357/38
      Very little recoil shootig .38

  39. I bought my 6″ GP100 for hunting. Added the Hogue grip myself – now it comes with one. I have a Leupold 4x scope. Lots of practice and I’m comfortable shooting out to 75 yards. I have 13 one shot whitetail kills including 11 point this year. I shoot it single action and love this gun! Buffalo Bore ammo seals the deal.

  40. I wennt looking for a 686 at a local gunshop I never been to before, and was informed the guy in front of me just bought the only one they had 5 min ago. I was not impressed, but asked to see something in a 357 3-4 inch barrell and he whipped out a blued gp 100. I held it pointed it and said id take it. The owner said well for not arguing with me about the price 599$ , he threw in a box of ammo my choice and gave me 10 off a little belt holster. There were 3 black guys cutting up at one of their friends who was buying glock and said they would be more scared of m y gun than his wimpy looking gun, I knew I made the right choice.

  41. I have had a GP-100 for a while now. It’s my favorite revolver, love that gun. I always enjoy firing it. Its a little big for me to carry, prefer a smaller .38 for that. I’m big guy and the grip is perfect for my hand. This is a super well made firearm, over built really. I’m very happy with it and sure anyone would be, it looks great, feels great and shoots great. Maybe I’ll pass it along to a grandson some day. It’s a family heirloom now.

  42. Unfortunately, the GP100 was simply way over-built, and except for the cylinder lock-up, its excessive weight makes it just a step sideways from its lighter/sleeker predecessor, the Ruger Security Six revolver. In 4″ barrel with 38 Special or +P loads, the Security Six is a great home defense gun for the average person and also fun at the range. (The Ruger Service Six is nearly the same, but without adjustable sights.)

    You notice that Ruger shaved a lot of weight off the very expensive 4.2″ barrel GP100 Match Champion. It now looks a lot like a stainless 4″ Security Six, which was even a few ounces lighter. The GP100 is really so much heavier than it needs to be, and Ruger producing the Match Champion proves that. You also notice that they are now making a 4.2″ barrel in the 5-shot SP101 to try to fill the gap. But that smaller-framed gun is a little light for pleasant 357 Magnum shooting.

    Personally, I always tell people to save their money on a GP100 and instead buy a used 4″ Security Six rather than the now-overpriced and way-too-heavy GP100. You can find them at most gunshows and shops. Unless you know how to technically inspect the gun at a gun show, avoid any Security Six that looks well-worn or pitted, or just pay a little more and buy from a good gun shop that has inspected the gun and will guarantee it functional and safe. Over the years, I’ve seen dozens of Security Sixes at gun shows and shops that look nearly new. Many in original boxes. Ruger made so many of them. They used to be around $275 , but prices have risen as people are now appreciating them as superior to the GP100.

    Ruger made a mistake with the GP100 being too heavy, and I won’t be surprised if Ruger shaves weight off all the GP100s in the future like they do on the Match Champion.

    As an aside, the sights on the Match Champion are a step back though. There are a couple of aftermarket rear sights for the GP100 that are superior to the stock ones and don’t weaken the top strap like the silly Match Champion dovetail (also has no elevation adjustment). All Ruger has to do is contract with one of these companies for better GP100 sights, or just beef up the rear sight blade and firm up the ajustment mechanism.

    • Note that Ruger has responded to all the complaints about the Match Champion sites and recently come out with a version of the Match Champion that has the standard GP100 sites it is currently listed and pictured on gun wholesale distributor Davidson’s “Gallery of Guns” (January 2015) website – galleryofguns dot com.
      This change also goes back to the standard mounting system, which allows installation of many superior aftermarket rear sites for the competition shooter.

      Unfortunately they were not also able to go back to the excellent GP100 front sight – which is more easily user-replaceable. The Match Champion’s target crown barrel recess design currently prevents that – info on this on-line. However, I wonder if Ruger will come up with a work-around for this and go back to the standard front site also. If I were in the market for a Match Champion, I’d wait at least a year and see.

      There have also been several on-line customer reports of minor quality problems with the Match Champion such as poorly fitting wood grips, missing internal shims, misaligned triggers, etc. I think Ruger and the other gun companies are still in “crankin’ ’em out” mode due to the Great Gun Panic – though that should not be the case for a competition gun like the Match Champion (shame on you, Ruger). So again I’d wait a while for things to settle down before buying a used one.

  43. Yes, the GP100 Match Champion is moving the gun in the right direction, back to what the GP100 should have been nearly 30 years ago following the Ruger Six Series. It’s been a very long time, but what Ruger should rationally do for all the GP100s is the following:

    -Lighter weight. Slab-side the barrels like the Match Champion, and take weight off anywhere else you can without compromising strength. All they need to do is use the former Six Series revolvers as a guide, which were plenty strong. Dump the full barrel shroud/lug and go with the formerly standard half shroud that was on the Sixes. You want to get the 4″ GP100 down to about 35 ounces, rather than the now 40 ounces (or 38 in the Match Champion). Get rid of the 6″ barrel version in favor of a 5″ or 5.25″; the 6″ gun is way too nose heavy. This is obvious, and the Ruger special run 5″ barrel versions that they do periodically sell out quickly whenever they are offered.

    -Go with a stronger steel rear sight that won’t drift and is heavy-duty in case of bumps. Round the corners so they don’t snag. Maybe also offer the adjustable sight option on the 3″ barrel version. The special runs of 3″ barrel, adjustable sight guns that Ruger did also sold out quickly. And the current special run Wiley Clapp 3″ GP100 versions with windage-adjustable sights and nice-looking checkered grips are big sellers.

    – Better grips. The former grips (both compact versions and full sized) with the wood inserts were decent, looked nice, and could easily be redesigned to cover the back of the trigger guard and textured for a better hold. Add some nice checkering to the wood inserts like on the Wiley Clapp guns. The cheap Hogue grubber rips are just way too ugly for a $600 gun, and the finger grooves are actually a disadvantage according to many skilled combat revolver shooters.

    -Improve the double action trigger pull, just like on the Match Champion. Would probably cost Ruger $20 instead of having to pay a gunsmith $50-$75 to install a $5 11-pound spring and do some polishing. You don’t even need to use the Match Champion shims. There’s no excuse for such a heavy double action pull on these guns or with the variation on the pulls from gun to gun. 11-pounds is fine for safety.

    If Ruger were to do this, they would increase sales and really satisfy their loyal revolver customers.

  44. I am retired law enforcement with experience in Colt and Smith and Wesson semi-auto and revolver side arms and grew up in a military and law enforcement family. I purchased a GP 100, with 6″ barrel in .357 Mag last year. I sent it back to Ruger because of trigger assembly defects. Their number 1 gunsmith worked on that gun and returned one of the most amazing weapons I have had the pleasure of shooting. The trigger is now smooth as silk. The point I am making is that Ruger stands behind their products and makes sure the customer is satisfied.

  45. I love how anytime there is a review on something it brings people to either bash the gun being reviewed or say the gun being reviewed is so much better than the gun that is its direct competition (Smith and Wesson 686). Why cant both guns be great? Is one really better than the other as so many claim? The answer is no. Your personal preference is what makes the gun better. Everything is an opinion in the end. There isnt a scale that says one gun is better. People who makes comments such as the 686 sucks or the GP100 is no where near the 686 are just blowing hot air. There is no measure to prove this. I personally have both guns (686 6 inch and a GP100 3 inch) and i think both guns are fantastic and have their strengths and a couple of minor quirks. Thats not to say one is better than the other. Its all personal preference. I love this argument that everyone always goes to that says the GP100 is such a stronger frame than the Smith 686. Why, because its a little heavier and a little more robust? This is utter BS. The Smith and Wesson 686 is forged steel, which if you know anything about metals is probably the strongest way to make a gun. Dont get me wrong. The GP100 is a beast of a gun and a very strong frame revolver, one of the strongest for sure. But to say its so much more study and stronger than the 686 is bull crap. That like saying a fat guy is stronger and more sturdy than a guy that weighs less but is all muscle. Its a utterly stupid way of going about thinking or justifying that one is stronger than the other. I have never heard of any L frames that had frame strength issues. Trust me. Maybe a J frame shooting 357, but not L frames. And the whole GP100 trigger is crap argument. Yea maybe to you it is. But to some the heavier trigger pull in double action isnt a problem and some actually prefer it. I for one find no issue with the GP100 trigger. Anyone who complains should try going to a local gym, getting a membership and a trainer and increasing your grip and forearm strength by hitting some weights. I find these arguments dumb and without substance for the most part. Both guns are great and you cant go wrong with either one. Its all gonna come down to which ones suits your fancy the best.

  46. just picked up my gp100 with 6″ barrel man some of the reviews I read just dosn’t seem like we are talking of the same gun I love it as far as being accurate right out of the box its on the money I have a I few high end 357’s python,686,dan Wesson I get great grouping at 50 yards! the gun seems to push rather then snap muzzle up for better target re acquisition I am avid deer hunter and it is my favorite side arm great gun good investment I am very happy! great firearm.

  47. I just got a GP100 4in. I put 38s through it just to get the feeling. Not too bad. I was like oh crap 357 time…. the first shot I was smiling. I want more!!! I proceeded to put 100 rounds through it. The grips and weight help big time. My xd 9 jumps more than my gp100 when I shoot.

  48. I know it’s a bit late to be commenting but I just stumbled across this article.

    I’ve owned a 6″ GP100 for several years and have viewed it as my workhorse gun. It’s higher quality than my Taunus, more robust and durable than my Smith, and I don’t worry about wear and tare causing it to lose value like I do with my Colts.

    This week I decided to show it some love, so I picked up the factory orange sight, a set of trigger and hammer shims, and an ISMI spring kit. All together it ran me about $35. I decided to go slow with the install but it still only took an hour and was incredibly easy. The trigger on my GP is now very smooth and considerably lighter than it was, and feels slightly nicer than my Smith but it’s still not on Colt’s level.

    This was a very cheap and easy upgrade that makes a world of difference, and every Ruger owner should have this done. Ruger is now doing this with their Match Champion model, so a factory upgraded option is avaliable.

    Also, I installed a checkered rubber grip with fleur-de-lis checkered rosewood inserts from Altamont. They look and feel great.

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