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I’m relatively new to serious revolver shooting. Wheel guns were always fun for me, but they were plinkers. Only now am I learning how to shoot one quickly and efficiently.

This has led me to acquire a few revolvers and spend what feels like a healthy amount of my retirement funds on .38 Special ammunition. My latest acquisition is a Ruger Police Service Six, which I got for less than $400. Any amateur gun nut knows about the Ruger Speed Six revolvers.

The Police Service Six came in 4 and 2.75 inch varieties. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

However, what they may not know, and what I didn’t know, was that the Sixes were an entire family of revolvers. This includes the Speed Six, which is the most famous. Then there is the Security Six and the Service Six. The Service Six, also occasionally known as the Police Service Six, is the subject of today’s article.

The Dawn of the Sixes

The Sixes were the product of Bill Ruger’s desire for some of that sweet, sweet double-action revolver market. It was the 1970s. Hair was long, cars were cool, and revolvers ruled the police market. Ruger made revolvers, but they were limited to the single-action variety, and the police and defensive market was huge. Ruger got into the double action, duty, and defense-ready revolvers in 1972.

The Police Service Six was a .38 Special-only variant of the Service Six. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

According to Legend and Ruger, the engineers were given a fresh sheet of paper and an unlimited budget. According to Ruger, they represented the first major innovation in revolvers since the double action mechanism. They used solid frames made of investment cast. Parts were installed through the bottom of the gun. These solid side walls promised a strong and capable revolver.

Ruger is fairly well known for their rugged and reliable revolvers. The SP101 and GP100 revolvers are tanks. The Sixes appeared to be fairly tank-like themselves. This specific model weighs in excess of 30 ounces and feels like I could hammer nails with it.

The Ruger Police Service Six

The Speed Six and the Security Six embraced the .357 Magnum cartridge. It was the bee’s knees of fighting revolver cartridges for this era. The Service Six came in .357 Magnum, as well as 9mm and .38 Special.

The Police Service Six models were .38 Special only as far as I can see. Service Six models were simpler guns with fixed sights. They came in either 2.75 or 4-inch barrels. The Service Six in .38 Special were built on the standard .357 frame, making them an overengineered .38 Special.

This thing will likely last forever. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The United States military adopted a Service Six in .38 Special as the M108. It was issued to aviators, female MPs, and CID. This specific model had a lanyard loop but was fairly standard other than that. Ruger designed and designated the Police Service Six as the Police Service Six because Ruger aimed to capture the police agencies that wouldn’t issue a magnum revolver. Police administrative staff couldn’t issue a magnum. Imagine the fright and headlines that would incur.

Oh no, what if the police had a .357 Magnum? Better give them a .38 Special. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The Police Service Six revolver and all the Service Six revolvers use a square butt design. The Speed Six has a round butt. The Security Six also used the square butt design. It’s an interesting debate in terms of which is better, but the square butt seems to work well for me so far.

Do yo snicker too when you hear square butt? (Travis Pike for TTAG)

We get a partial underlug. The sight is a front ramp that’s large and serrated for reduced glare. It needs a dab of white paint, but it works. Overall, it might be basic, but it feels well-made and seems to be a solid revolver.

To The Range

With a revolver, I’m an okay shot. The 856 Defender and its red dot makes me better than I have any right to be. With iron sights, well, I’m a work in progress. However, at first shot, I loved this revolver. I loaded the gun and had my stuff at a small table 25 yards out. My intent was to grab my table and move up, but just for fun, I decided to take a few shots at the 25-yard line.

Fixed sights adorned the Service Six Revolvers. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

I aimed at a six-inch gong, cocked the single-action hammer and sunk the front sight into the notch and let it fly. A distinct ding ran out, and the gong swung. In my excitement, I let the next five shots fly. I switched gongs between shots and landed all six shots. My ego was most certainly stroked.

The .38 Special makes this revolver a soft shooter. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

For the rest of the day, I was blasting away and achieving accuracy with a revolver that was completely new to me. Punching headshots into an FBI Q target at 25 yards with a double action pull was a thrill. Stepping back to 50 yards and hitting that same Q target with a single action shot pulled me on cloud nine. Although not every round hit where I wanted it at fifty yards, enough did to make me happy.

Getting Close

My option came with a leather holster. While I wasn’t the fastest from this old leather gun bucket, once I cleared it, I could quickly put a 125-grain .38 caliber hole where I needed to. Laying down multiple shots in quick succession wasn’t hard either.

The Service Six proved to be quite accurate. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Up close, I could punch a fast double tap and land the rounds almost on top of each other. The recoil was nothing. Not even a little. Throwing shots at multiple targets gave me a huge thrill. I felt like Hutch from Starsky and Hutch shooting three targets with two rounds each in fast succession. I’m still working with speed strips, but pulling off the El Presidente was fun, although I won’t post my times!

The Police Service Six would serve as the M108 with the United States Military. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The smooth recoil and smooth trigger made it finally click why people love revolvers so much. I liked revolvers, but I love the Ruger Police Security Six.

Modern Carry Options

I loved this gun so much that I want to find a good IWB option for it! This gun is a total blast. I want to add a little white paint to the front sight, but that’s about it. I’m happy to continue to spend my retirement on a .38 Special to keep shooting the Ruger Police Service Six. These guns all tend to be fairly affordable and are great revolvers. Revolvers don’t seem to be the cheapest of firearms, so getting a good one for a good price is tough to beat.

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  1. I thought the Security Six was the most common of the three. That’s the one I have, and I love it. The Six series revolvers are getting harder to find, and I think they are ideal .357 revolvers.
    I think your $400 Service Six was a bargain. My Security Six was $300, but that was a decade ago. Maybe you got a good price because it is a .38 instead of a .357. That is one tough .38sp. 👍

    • Yup, my Dad gave me his Security Six (stainless) for my 18th birthday in 1979. Until Texas allowed licensed concealed carry (I started carrying a Sig 228 once I had my license), the Ruger was my bedside “bump in the night” gun. Still a very sweet shooter.

    • For sure the Security Six is definitely the most famous one of the lineup, no idea why the author says the Service Six is the most famous.

      The best proof for the Security Six being the face of the band is the fact that Ruger named their semi-auto pistol line replacing the SR series as the “Security-9” taking after the old Security Six name.

    • The Ruger Speed Six, the brother of thie Security 6, was the first gun that I have bought. I was 18, 42 years ago.

      Very well made, but the rear grip was rounded, unlike the Security 6, which made it spin in my hand under recoil. hated it. Should have bought the Security 6

    • Just shot one of these over the weekend while at the range with some buddies. Full size, 6″ barrel. Nice feel to it.

  2. I had the blued Police Service Six in .357 magnum. It was a hell of a gun and why I started reloading. I lived in the country in WV and could shoot off my back porch. If Ruger would bring back this frame size I would buy one, for sure.

    I currently have a gp100-7 and it has tank like qualities.

    • The GP100 is awesome and tank like. I’d like them to make a 5 shot version in .44 or .41 mag. For .357, I’ll stick with the Security Six.

      If like Travis I had a .38sp version, I’d work up some +p+ loads of .38 to almost get magnum power (and be careful to never shoot them out of my 642).

      • The only mods I made on my blued model Service Six was to put orange nail polish on the front sight and swap out the wood factory grips for neoprene.

        One size fits all factory wood grips do not work for me.

      • Didn’t they make a 44spc GP100 or am I getting other models mixed up. Either way I wonder if the 41mag would work as that would be a very interesting sized option in a substantial cartridge.

      • They still do have one .44 special in the catalog. That was my thought, if they can fit 5 .429″ rounds in a cylinder, why not 5 .41″ magnum rounds. Probably not as simple as it sounds though.

        • Forty-four special and 10mm are not what I am asking for. I want a magnum that starts with a 4, in that GP100.

  3. I bought a Security Six when they were first introduced. I shot IPSC revolver matches with it and did ok. I still have it many years later…a great piece.

  4. What are the significant differences between the Six series and the GP100 models?

    Also, when did they stop making Sixes, because I’m surprised to hear there was a 9mm option? I thought that was a fairly modern heresy.

    • The difference is mostly in the size. The Sixes were more along the lines of an S&W K-frame while the GP100 is an L-frame equivalent.

      The Sixes were discontinued in 1988. Supposedly Bill Ruger himself claimed they weren’t selling as well as he would have liked.

    • Best I can figure is the difference is in frame size. My service six was more akin to a K frame from S&W and my GP100-7 is heftier. More beef. Probably close to an L frame.

    • Great pistols.

      Major difference is adjustable sights, the security six was top of the line with adjustable sights including white outline rear and red ramp front.

      In addition to the 9mm cylinder, they also made special runs for various agencies. At one point postal inspectors carried speed six 2 3/4 in .38spl.
      They also made several foreign contract pistols, including some speed six in .38 S&W for the UK market.

        • Nope. I’ve owned blue service six 4”, ss speed six 2 3/4”, ss security six 4”, 6” and 2 3/4”, all in .357.
          Never had any GP100, too clunky.

        • Right? This guy has more whacked out crap about this revolver and it’s kin than I have read in a while. I have a .357 Service Six. When I read “The Police Service Six models were .38 Special only as far as I can see ” I knew the author was a pretender. And some of the terms, “banging away” is not only annoying but in my opinion telling. I have to guess if a person searched all of the paragraphs in a search engine, you would find a lot of cut and paste from other people’s work. This is a disgrace to gun owners everywhere.

  5. I had a stainless speed six. Bought it from a friend. He kept begging me to sell it back, so I did. The one I really miss is the stainless “4 HB security six I bought when I was in the army. It had a red insert front sight, white outline rear and factory target grips. If I can ever find another one…

  6. The first sidearm I was given in the Border Patrol was a 4″ Ruger Security Six…it seemed a well near indestructible defensive instrument. My only qualms about it were that far from being surprised by the the trigger break, as we were taught in the early 80s, every single shot (except single action) was inevitably preceded by an unignorable click, chink, BANG! I eventually finagled my way into well cared for S&W M 19 ‘turn in’ whose action broke like the proverbial glass rod. After many years of blissful quals, the powers that be decided that we should be using fairly hot 125 grain .357 rounds and qual with the same rounds we carried…fine as far as it goes, but the constant diet of full charge .357 loads, and an end to wadcutters for quals, ended up splitting the forcing cones on most of the M19s and M66s that were in live inventory. I eventually was given an L frame that was not bothered by the constant diet of .357s after renewing my acquaintance with a Security Six for a few months. What I can say is that after the planet is consumed by nuclear war or an errant asteroid the cockroaches and the Ruger Sixes will be around to inherit whatever is left. Bill gave us damn near indestructibility with the Sixes I don’t think even the Patrol’s Marines ever put one out of service…

  7. I had two of them I got on a super deal but back in the early 1980’s. Ruger did not make its own barrels back then and as to be expected for every Ruger you saw that was accurate you ran into 10 that were basket cases and so it proved to be with these two revolvers so I promptly got rid of them. I did like the design and how easily they came apart for cleaning or parts replacement.

    Now that Ruger is making its own barrels I am again open to buying a Ruger revolver only this time probably in .22 rimfire.

    • Yessir. Our biggest anti gun nudnick has owned one or two of every gun mentioned on ttag. By his own standards if that were true he would be the most uncivilized man in a most uncivilized country.

      But we all know he’s fulla shite.

      • Like his other personalities “Miner49er” & “Albert J. Hall” our resident expert on all things 2A related, “Dacian”, relies on Wikipedia and other online resources for his “knowledge” of firearms.

        • Its hilarious the Far Right is so ignorant they cannot believe that Socialists own guns. We need them to protect ourselves from right wing Nazi’s like Jethro the Janitor and Walter the Beverly Hillbilly.

        • dacian. You are the nazi. I realize you are ignorant and uneducated, but every statement you make here proves you’re a fascist.

          You national socialists aren’t very bright, are you?

        • You national socialists own guns, dacian? So all your talk of disarming the people is just another fascist tactic to gain control?

          Who would have guessed it? All of us.

      • Two of my comments to dacian have gotten moderated, Apparently he is protected here.

        No more comments from me for the night.

    • I bought a Security Six when they first came out. Stainless 2 3/4” barrel. I couldn’t hit a barn door with the thing. Ruger wouldn’t sell me a 4” barrel unless I was in law enforcement and that was my carry gun. I was told I would have had to send them the gun for them to fit the barrel. I later bought a nice Smith 65-2, K frame in stainless, 4” barrel and fixed sights. The first time I shot it I was shocked at how accurate the gun was. I haven’t shot the Security Six since.

  8. “…love the Ruger Police Security Six.”
    which one?
    anyhoo, pal died, his brother gave me 2 3/ 4″ ss security six he bought from another pals cpd brother. i lent it to octegenarian for qualification, he did something cranky and dumb (early onset dimentia). never saw it again. i never fired it. one of two i’ve let go… that one i miss, the davis not.

  9. I have a 6 inch Security Six in stainless and it is a certifiable bad ass. The factory wood grips are suboptimal for me, so I put some Pachmayr Grippers on that beast and I will admit I’ve surprised myself with the shots I’ve made. Mine has a little hiccup as the transfer bar slides into position in double action, and the single action is shockingly light!

  10. Ah yeah, the Ruger Sixes. My first new handgun was a blue Security Six 357 mag. Sold many years ago to a work buddy. The last few years I’ve on and off been looking for any of these guns but the few that come up are ragged and/or too much $$$. I’d really like a Speed Six stainless in 357 and 9mm but oh well!

    • Just about everyone I know who has a Security Six as a shooter (as opposed to a collection piece / safe queen) has replaced the factory grips with Pachmayr or Hogue synthetic grips. Cheap and easy mod; easily reversible.

      I suspect that when the weapon was designed, the designers assumed people would shoot it one handed, as opposed to the typical modern two-handed grip + Weaver / modified Weaver / Isosceles stance. Hence the wooden grip that modern shooters view as undersized.

      • I had the same problem with S&W K frames. The wood grips from the factory just did not cut it. Even my old .38 got Hogue. Not for recoil. Just better handling.

        My new GP came with better grips from the factory.

      • The only mod I ever made on mine were indeed the grips, I really like the round butt configuration of the speed six Pachmayer grips so on two of my security six I ground the corner of the grip frame off so I could fit speed six Pachmayer grips.
        The speed six was the only one with the rounded butt.

  11. “The Police Service Six models were .38 Special only as far as I can see”

    I can personally confirm that this isn’t entirely accurate. If the author, whose knowledge base is clearly substantial, doesn’t know about them then I’ll assume not many of them were made (im a younger guy and I’ll admit my knowledge of mid 20th Century revolvers isn’t quite up to snuff). But the first ever handgun I purchased for myself, from a co worker about 6 years ago, was a Ruger Police Six chambered in .357. I still have it and I even double checked, is very clearly says “Ruger Police Service-Six” on the frame underneath the cylinder and then reads “.357 magnum cal” along the barrel.

    Definitely great guns though, mine is 50 years old, has changed hands I don’t even know how many times and is scratched up and beat to shit. But it’s a workhorse that just won’t quit and the action is smoother than it has any right to be

    • Yup, my blued, 4” barreled, fixed sights, .357 is marked as a Service Six. I haven’t shot it in years but it was dead on accurate with the right weight round. Might need to get it out of the box in the near future, it’s a sweet shooter with .38 Specials.

  12. Love the Security Six. Like all RUGER handguns, built so even a Russian plowboy couldn’t break it. Actually like it’s size better than the current crop of SA/DA RUGER revolvers. Got an early (1972) 6″ Blued model, but swapped it for a 4″ SS model when they appeared. Big mistake.

  13. I have owned a few of the “six” revolvers.

    Two in 38 and one in 357.

    I prefer the speed six but wouldn’t pass a service six if it fell in my lap.

    I wish Ruger would bring these back.

    I don’t care for the GP100 in its current configurations or the rubber grip on a peg.

    Although the GP100 with the short lug is close to a “six”.

  14. Had all the different models at one time or another. 4″ Security Six was my bedside table gun forever. One day I had to clear my house from a possible break in and walking thru the house with the SS felt like I was trying to point a brick. Too much time behind a 38 Super 1911 race gun. I sold it during the TOC (time of Covid). The Six Series of guns are GREAT GUNS.

  15. Great article. What I’m reading is that you need to take up reloading. Reloading for 38 special is very rewarding and not terribly difficult.

    There is a beautiful simplicity to blade and trough sights that I enjoy. It’s not appropriate for all pistols, but neither are adjustable sights and dove-tail sights.

    Revolvers are much like analog watches. There’s an art to their function.

  16. I have a 6″ Security Six in .357 and it is a nice shooter. It came used with huge cushy rubberized Pachmeyr grip and the trigger reach was just too long for me to reach while maintaining a proper grip in Double-Action.

    I found some factory grips at a gun show and swapped them out to return the revolver back to stock configuration. The trigger reach is still long but doable now without needing to rotate my grip. Recoil with the stock grips was a little sharper but not bad at all. This is a fairly massive gun and .357 is not .44 so I think the last owner might have been a little bit recoil sensitive.

    I carried the Security Six for many years as a sidearm deer hunting with a Marlin 336 in .35 Remington mostly in the brushy woods.

  17. Back in the late 60’s my Dad started building gunstocks and pistol grips as sort of a hobby, and as he got much better at it, he got his FFL and the pistol grip hobby became a side business for him. This was before Herretts and Pachmayr started up. Word got out that Dad’s grips were really good – actually custom fit to the hand with the customer. The armorer at the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Dept (Oregon) started sending his officers out to Dad, and not too long after that, a large percentage of law enforcement officers from surrounding counties, police departments, Fish & Game, and even Border Patrol became customers of my Dad’s business. It was pretty cool as a young guy to be able to visit with all these guys; sometimes they even used Dad’s shooting range to check out fit and function. The majority of those pistols were Ruger Security Sixes.

  18. I love the Six series revolvers, I’ve owned a number of them. I have a stainless Service Six in .357Mag that is a permanent part of my collection. I regret parting ways with a Speed Six in 9mm.

  19. The first Ruger I ever bought was a Police Service Six in .357 magnum. It was 1976 and it had the bicentennial stuff on the barrel too. I bought a second one used in 1988 also a .357 magnum. Yes, they were made in .38 special, but not only. Hey, nobody knows everything, least of all me, so keep up the good work, Travis. Enjoy your writing.

    • Me too, only mine was a .38. Bought it in 76 as as the bicentennial edition as well.
      I gave mine to my Dad who gave it back before he passed away 21 years ago.
      I wore that thing out as a teenager. I even dropped it in the river once. Didn’t hurt it a bit.
      A couple of years ago I took it completely apart, polished everything including the trigger mechanism.
      It shoots better now that when it was new.

  20. I own a Ruger GP100 revolver chambered in .357 Magnum and I have no complaints. If I found any of Ruger’s Six series that were in very good condition for sale for $400, I would immediately buy it.

    By the way I recently handled and dry-fired a Colt 2021 Anaconda revolver chambered in .44 Magnum. The double-action trigger is, well, I am at a loss for words to express how fantastic it is compared to all other revolvers that I have dry-fired. The word nirvana comes to mind. I wish that Ruger made revolvers with an incredible trigger like the Colt Anaconda.

  21. I’ve got an interesting one that’s like this; It’s a GP100 with CAI import markings, 4” 1/2 lug barrel, fixed sights, factory bobbed hammer DAO, .357 chambering and compact factory grips. It’s my cold weather carry piece when I want to schlep a duty pistol around. The configuration is so svelte for a full sized pistol it carry’s inside the waistband like a dream. I picked it up on Gunbroker 5 years ago for $280. Maybe I’ll review it for the site if I ever have time haha

  22. I bought one of the earliest available 6 inch barrel,stainless, .357 with a sixgun outline grip frame which only had Herrett grips made for it. An unusual grip frame. A very accurate gun, and when I went down out on my dirt bike with that gun on my side, in slimy mud,I only had to field strip it, wash out the mud in a stream, and it worked fine.My son still has that Ruger Security Six, but I havent ever seen that grip shape again on later production guns.We both love it!


  24. 72 years old, sitting here looking at the pristine stainless Police Service Six 357 I bought in 1976 so I could work as an armed security guard to help pay for college (using also the GI Bill). It says “Made in the 200th Year of American Liberty”. My how things have changed (for the worse) since those days. I acquired quite an arsenal since then but this is the last gun I’d sell. Always thought of it as solid and reliable. It could sit at the bottom of the ocean for years and still fire.

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