When I think about growing up as a kid, I can’t think of any of the men who owned and worked the farms around us who didn’t have a .22LR revolver. It was always just kind of expected that there was one in the pickup somewhere, maybe next to the work gloves. As there should be. Beyond just being fun to shoot, there are times on a farm when things just have to be done, and those things are most easily done with a rimfire.
A quick glance into my gun-room reveals six Ruger pistols and two rifles. The first semi-auto I ever shot was a Ruger Mk II I still own and my first revolver was a Blackhawk in .357 Magnum. It killed many a javelina and white tail before I sold it, buying new ones in .41 magnum and .44 magnum, which I still own.
And yet somehow I’ve never owned a GP100. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever even shot one. Ruger fans, unclench your pearls. Shooting the .22LR version has me re-thinking that gap in my toolbox.
Taking the Ruger GP100 out of the now very familiar grey plastic Ruger case, I discovered an attractive, working class revolver. The entire stainless steel gun sports a brushed satin finish. Nicely done, but nothing flashy.
The Hogue Monogrip is fairly utilitarian: a rubber outer grip with hardwood inserts. Surprisingly, there’s no Ruger medallion. But the grip stays put even in wet or sweaty hands. The shelf cut in the left side for your right hand thumb is particular welcome for one-hand firing.
Still, I’m not a fan of rubber grips. I’ve always preferred a solid wood or G10 grip that I can squeeze without any give in the material. Considering the caliber, though, I don’t think recoil’s a concern here. And if you don’t like the grips, a quick internet search reveals a ludicrous number of aftermarket options.
One disappointment: the large “Ruger GP 100” billboard across the right side of the barrel. Not to mention the serial number, caliber, the Ruger emblem and the copyright mark.
The left side is a little more understated, with just the Ruger logo (this time without the copyright mark) on the frame and the name and city roll-mark on the barrel. The underside of the barrel lug reminds us to “read instruction manual.” Thanks.
While disassembling the GP100 .22LR, doesn’t unearth tool marks, none of the parts are particularly polished, either. There are a lot of fitting lines on the revolver. This is especially noticeable just above the trigger, where the long line of the trigger guard assembly meets the frame. I kept thinking the gun was scratched, but it’s just where the two sections meet up.
Although the GP100’s well put together, nothing on the pistol’s particularly tight. There’s definitely some play in the cylinder even after lockup. The upside: the gun is a breeze to disassemble and clean, especially for a double action revolver. The only tool you’ll need is a basic flathead screw driver. And for once, the manual clearly walks you through the process. If you’ve ever reassembled the Rube Goldberg-ish Mark II, this is child’s play.
The .22LR GP100 isn’t a six-shooter. It’s a 10-shot revolver. That’s much appreciated, if not a little time-consuming to load. Like all GP100 models, it’s safe to carry on a full cylinder; the patented transfer bar means that the gun only goes bang when you pull the trigger.
Even though this model is “only” in .22LR, Ruger hasn’t scrimped here in comparison to their larger caliber brethren. It’s the only model listed without a full underlug, but at 42oz, it certainly doesn’t need the extra weight.
The 5.5” barrel maintains the same full outside diameter of the larger calibers. If you wanted a .357 for self-defense and hunting and the .22LR for light work, both wheel guns would feel the same in your hand, and, of course, have identical manuals of arms.
I was always a bit disappointed with both my Redhawk and Blackhawk triggers, so I wasn’t expecting much from the GP100. I was mistaken. Yes, it is heavy. The factory trigger is listed at 14 lbs. and it’s every bit of that. But after just a bit of hesitation at the start, the double action trigger is smooth all the way until it breaks, with no stacking.
That early hesitation, which occurs before the hammer or cylinder start moving, makes the trigger feel heavier than it really is. In single action, there’s the tiniest bit of pre-travel followed by a crisp, easy break. It’s far better than my stock Blackhawks, including my Bisley Hunter.
If, however, you’re determined to lighten the pull, there are aftermarket options available to you. I’d leave it alone, but it’s work that any intelligent adult should be able to accomplish without a professional gunsmith.
One more note on that trigger: the GP100 has a considerable length of pull. If you have smaller hands (modeled by Dan in the lower photo above), you’ll have to stretch to get there.
As far as reliability, there were no unhappy surprises. (After an initial application of RAA’s Gun Oil no additional lubrication or cleaning was performed.) The GP100 is boringly reliable . . . as it should be. Over two weeks’ time, I put 500 rounds of various .22LR cartridges through the gun with zero issues at all. Pretty much what you’d expect.
The GP100’s cylinder release button depressed easily enough, but it always took a good push with my palm to get the cylinder to swing out, as well as a push to get the cylinder back in. If you’re used to just flicking your wrist, this revolver requires a little more effort. That’s really the story of the gun as a whole: everything works, but nothing is super smooth.
If your goal is to take varmints such as the constant corn-thieving raccoons around our farm, the accuracy level of the GP100 is plenty good for body shots off-hand at 25 yards.
Shooting from bags at 25 yards in single action, I was getting 1.5” to 1.8” five-round groups, depending on the round used. At 50 yards I could place every round inside a 19” silhouette offhand, but the rounds were all over the target.
Part of that’s the arrow, but a big part of that’s the Indian. The sights are outstanding. The rear sight is easily adjustable with a small screwdriver, a flat black ledge with a bright white outline. The front sight is ideal for general use, a green dot fiber optic sight that really pops out in any light. There’s just a little space on either side of the front sight when aiming, plenty to see your target through, but not too much to be a detriment to accuracy.
I wish the Blackhawks shipped with these sights; they’re the most effective on any stock revolver I’ve seen. As with the grips, there are many aftermarket options available if you fancy something different.
This pistol is heavy, only 2 oz lighter than my 7.5-inch Ruger Bisley in .44 Magnum. Assuming they can work the trigger, even the weakest grips and smallest adult frames can fire the GP100 in .22LR. It’s also fairly quiet, for a pistol. With CCI Quiet-22 rounds, I could avoid ear protection for a cylinder at a time and suffered no ringing or pain in my ears. Don’t try that at home, kids.
The Ruger GP100 in .22LR is a quality revolver at a decent price. Ruger just announced a .44 Special version of the GP100 coming soon. Based on my experience in .22LR, I look forward to trying out the GP100 in a frequently forgotten, always outstanding self-defense caliber. I imagine a GP100 in .44SPL or .357 Magnum is in my future.
Specifications: Ruger GP100 .22LR
Grips: Cushioned Rubber with Hardwood Insert
Front Sight: Fiber Optic
Barrel Length: 5.50″
Material: Stainless Steel
Capacity: 10 rounds
Rear Sight: Adjustable
Finish: Satin Stainless
Overall Length: 11.30″
Weight: 42 oz.
MSRP: $829.00 (Found easily online for $150 or less than MSRP)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Customization * * * *
This is a working gun and it looks the part. The finish is a well done satin, with no obvious tool marks inside or out. The grip could be prettier. There’s nothing particularly polished about this revolver. There’s an extremely large array of aftermarket options available.
Reliability * * * * *
Shoots everything just fine. I put six different flavors of ammo through it with zero issues.
Accuracy * * *
With groups averaging 1.5” at best, this is an average shooter. At this price level, I’d expect to be more in the 1-inch neighborhood. A little disappointing since my single action Rugers shoot better in heavier calibers.
Overall * * * *
This is what I’ve come to expect from Ruger and why I have so many of their firearms. Overbuilt, heavy and not particularly pretty. Also unfailingly reliable and a solid value.