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I carry a Ruger GP100. Specifically a 3″ Wiley Clapp model in one of the very few non plastic 3″ IWB holsters available, made by Bianchi. Why? Mostly because it’s what I like to shoot. Like a lot of people, when I first got my carry permit I thought I needed a single stack 9mm, so I picked up a Taurus PT709 and carried it for a few months. It was reliable and accurate enough for most defensive situations, but it just didn’t feel right . . .

I have large hands and I quickly learned how easy concealing a weapon was under my baggy t-shirts. Frankly I felt a little silly carrying such a diminutive weapon. I tried carrying a Ruger P95 for a while and before I knew it I was lugging around my Beretta 92fs every day.

Then a couple of years ago I finally got around to expanding my firearms collection into revolvers with a .44 Magnum Blackhawk. I had a .357 Blackhawk a couple decades ago and hadn’t shot a revolver since. I thought the recoil of the .44 might take a little getting used to, but I was able to shoot it pretty much right away from an unsupported Weaver stance at 50 yards and I could cover all six holes with one hand. Under the same circumstances I could get nearly all of my shots on a full-size silhouette with the Beretta, but this was significantly more accurate in my hands anyway. So I started the search for a carry revolver.

I really like the GP100’s Novak sights. It’s got the gold bead front and none in back. The shorter sight radius doesn’t seem to matter one bit. I also love the older style grips with the wood side panels. I’ve never picked up an auto that felt that good in my hands. I replaced the original side panels with a set from Altamont after I dinged the originals. I like the extra checkering. I also added a lighter hammer and trigger return springs which probably took about a pound off the pull weights in both DA and SA.

I could argue the advantages of a revolver over a semi-auto. Sure, they’re more reliable, but to be honest I’ve run several thousand rounds through my 92 without a single malfunction. Most of us live in relatively safe neighborhoods and we tend to stay away from people and situations that attract trouble. And when trouble comes it’s often resolved without firing a shot.

I compensate for the six-round capacity by carrying full pressure Double Tap 158gr. hollow points, not any of the downloaded “carry loads,” and a speed strip. It might be a little on the heavy side, but with a good belt it easily carries better than the PT709 did with a poor belt.

Mostly I carry the GP100 because it’s what I like to shoot and it’s what I shoot well. Very well. And that gives me confidence. If the need arises to shoot a beer can off the top of a bad guy’s head at 20 yards, I’m prepared. If I’m attacked at close range, I have six extremely powerful rounds to make my attacker rethink his life decisions. I don’t get enough range time or ammunition to waste it brushing up my skills with a weapon I just don’t care to shoot. Like most everything else in life, find out what you’re good at and do it.

(See the rest of the posts in this series here. Send your What I Carry and Why submissions with a photo to [email protected] with WICAW in the subject line.)

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  1. “If the need arises to shoot a beer can off the top of a bad guy’s head at 20 yards, I’m prepared.”

    You’re supposed to shoot whats holding the can up, silly. 😛

    • No, you’re supposed to “shoot to stop the threat.” If knocking that beer can off does the trick, you’re golden. Just be sure to tell the responding LEO’s that it was a missed shot, not your intended target.

  2. A GP 100 Match Champion is on my list. Might well be my first handgun purchase when I reach the silly arbitrary age of responsibility with handguns set by .gov

  3. “I have six extremely powerful rounds to make my attacker rethink his life decisions.”

    …and once you’re out, you can club them to death with it.

  4. I’ve switched to a .44 special in my old age, but .357 was my constant companion for many years. I always carried full power 158’s as well.

    • I always liked 125 g Federals, which is what took me from 158 g handloads in the first place. The Federals were incredibly accurate and no fun to be hit with. WAY too much blast, however, out of 4″ Python.

  5. Thinking about those 158-grain hollowpoints, I just re-realized how brutal .357 mag can be. I like my high-capacity polymer 9mm, but there’s something to be said for raw ballistic power.

    • Well, it got so that every piss-ant prairie punk who thought he could shoot a gun would ride into town to try out the Waco Kid. I must have killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille. It got pretty gritty. I started to hear the word “draw” in my sleep. Then one day, I was just walking down the street when I heard a voice behind me say, “Reach for it, mister!” I spun around… and there I was, face to face with a six-year old kid. Well, I just threw my guns down and walked away. Little bastard shot me in the ass. So I limped to the nearest saloon, crawled inside a whiskey bottle… and I’ve been there ever since.

  6. Gov, Great looking rig and for reliability can’t beat a Ruger Revolver and full metal frames on GP100 & SP101, if run out ammo, they make a really effective club.
    Mine is the Wiley Clapp version with matte stainless steel frame and wears a Bear Paw Carving on the face of the leather holster. If you would like your EDC to also be your Bar-B-Q handgun as well, this is a very handsome holster. Have purchased 4 already for my use + Christmas gifts/B-Day gifts.

    • You must be a Gunblast fan.

      Love the bead blasted stainless but went for the blue mostly because I like the gold bead sight better. I later bought a 6″ stainless and put a fiber optic on it. It works well but at the range it’s a little too bright. Definitely agree on the Mernickle for BBQ, but I carry concealed. The Bianchi isn’t great but it does the job. I like the thumb break. And I’d rather have leather wear than a big fat kydex rub on my EDC. Unfortunately if you’re going to carry something nice it’s going show the wear before long.

  7. “I compensate for the six-round capacity by carrying full pressure Double Tap 158gr. hollow points …”

    The only down side: you will pretty much be deaf if you have to unload all six rounds. The only question is how long the hearing loss will last. My suspicion is partial hearing loss will be permanent.

    On the other hand, I don’t know that you would fair any better with 6 rounds of just about anything else. And for those people who figure they can dump 12 to 16 rounds of 9mm (just because their magazine holds that much), I have to imagine that many rounds would be just as damaging as 6 rounds of full-house Magnum loads.

    All I know is the one time that I fired two full power (also happened to be DoubleTap ammunition) rounds of .357 Magnum out of a GP-100 with a four inch barrel, I had serious hearing disruption for at least a week. And I had several layers of knit hats and ear warmers (although not hearing protection) over my ears that definitely attenuated the sounds in the forest before I fired. I honestly don’t know if my hearing restored completely or not.

    • Learn to shoot one handed if the opportunity presents itself and cover one ear. NOT recommended for life or death situations but it keeps the ringing out of at least one ear if, like my personal experience, a gunshot is needed to break up two dogs fighting without diving into the blender of fur and teeth.

      On a related note… The other ear will still ring like a MOTHER%$#@#$ for a few days!

    • If I ever have to shoot even one round without hearing protection the ringing in my ears will be the least of my worries. Should pass in a couple hours, though. Hopefully.

  8. Those .357 Magnum revolvers in 3 inch barrels seem like a pretty popular and practical choice. Can anyone enlighten me as to why someone would choose 3 inch barrels over 4 inch barrels? Personally, I would want as much sight radius as I can get … as well as the added velocity that a longer barrel provides. (Longer barrels allow the powder to burn longer and for the pressure to accelerate the bullet longer.)

    I know, the 3 inch barrels are shorter. Do they make that much of a difference for concealment?

    • Perhaps 3 inch barrels draw quicker, I have a 4 inch Tracker Judge that actually carries well at 7 o clock, but the 4 inch barrel and the overall length makes drawing and presenting it very difficult and unnatural for me. Plus a 3 inch barrel will be completely covered by most shirt tails. Others may have other reasons but there’s my opinion.

    • Nobody makes a iwb holster for a 4″ version of the gp100…I had to make one myself just to see if it would be concealable. It was concealable but it felt like carrying a Buick iwb. That and being a lefty (awkward reloads) keeps me from carrying it most of the time instead of a glock, But on the plus side if I run into a knight in full armor it would make a fairly effective mace.

    • Because a revolver with a 4″ barrel is longer than a 1911 which is about the max size for concealability.

      One of the big drawbacks of a revolver is that you can get the same barrel length in a much smaller package. For example a Beretta Nano carries a 3″ barrel in a pocket sized pistol.

      • True, the 3″ GP is as long as my 4.9″ Beretta 92, however it seems to carry more like the 3.9″ P95 because of the rounded profile. As far as the Nano, if you want .357 power out of a 9mm, you’re going to need a 16″ barrel.

        • Wasn’t comparing power just packaging. The only automatic that matches a 357 in power is 10mm.

        • And .50AE.

          The real drawback with revolvers is that the length of the cylinder is pretty much negated by the cylinder gap, velocity wise. The Coonan 1911 with a 5″ barrel delivers velocities about what you’d expect from a 5″ revolver. That and capacity. The advantages are simplicity of operation, ability to chamber more powerful ammunition, mounting sights directly to the barrel and frame, not being limited on grip size and shape by the magazine, etc.

          When it comes to carry it’s not so much the overall length that matters. My GP100 is about the same overall length as my Beretta but the length from the muzzle to the back of the hammers is 2″ less on the GP, which makes it easier to carry.

  9. Sure the shorter barrel can make a difference – its all about personal preference and comfort. And since the majority of armed confrontation takes place with in that 15 foot range the difference in ballistics that extra inch of barrel might make isn’t really going to make a difference in the overall affect; hit the bad guy center mass with a .357 mag and he will not longer be standing.

    And Gov., I have loved the GP100 since the first time I saw it many years ago. Can’t go wrong.

    • Hitting someone center mass with a .375 does not guarantee they will drop. People have taken worse and kept on fighting.

      • Statistically (no citation, but I remember reading a study of police shootings some years ago), the very best commonly used self-defense pistol round for “One-shot stops” was hands down the .357 magnum. The study also indicated that standard .38 Special was quite possibly the least reliable for stopping power, even after multiple hits. The venerable .45 ACP was somewhere in the middle of the pack, possibly because at the time, many years ago, there were few reliable hollow-point rounds in that caliber.

        As usual, YMMV, but if you’re looking for the best results from a six (or 5) round sidearm, .357 Magnum seems to be the way to go.

        • Cliff,

          I saw the data at one point. It looked like the highest “one shot stop” percentage went to .357 Magnum revolvers shooting a Federal 125 grain hollow-point cartridge out of longer (4 inch or more) barrels. I believe that was a potent combination because the round (if Federal loaded it close to full power) would have had a muzzle velocity on the order of 1500 fps. And yet the relatively light hollowpoint bullet would not typically overpenetrate. That means it dumped ALL of its energy into the attacker and that had to feel like an explosion wherever it hit.

          Compare that to a .38 Special 125 grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of something like 950 fps out of a snubby and you can see the clear difference.

          As for .38 Special rounds being somewhat ineffective, I have heard that 158 grain pills of the hollowpoint and full wadcutter varieties were supposedly quite effective. Other, lighter bullets probably didn’t have enough velocity to do the job?

          I also saw that .45 ACP rounds with modern hollowpoint bullets are just about as effective as .357 Magnum shooting the magical Federal 125 grain hollowpoints.

  10. Barrel length vis-a-vis concealed carry and IWB in particular is just one of those things that depends on the person carrying. I’ve learned through my own experiences that everyone is a law unto themselves. What works for me may or may not work for someone else. But we all pretty much knew that.

    I love the GP100, and in my personal opinion it’s pretty hard to beat a 6 or 7 shot, 4″ barreled, Ruger, Smith, or Taurus .357 from an OC standpoint and depending on physique, concealed as well. Although I do not personally open carry, it is easy to appreciate why some people gravitate to a nicely blued Smith&Wesson revolver in .357 or .44 with nice grips and a proper leather pancake holster, especially with a good hat and boots. Alas, I’m not one of them.


    • “…it’s what I like to shoot and it’s what I shoot well. Very well. And that gives me confidence.”

      I’m sensing a theme here.

  11. In winter I often carry a 4″ GP100 in a Galco VHS system with full house Remington R357M1. Easy carry and very easy to conceal. In summer I revert to a kLCR with Speer Short Barrel in several different holster setups. Once killed a beaver on one of our irrigation ditches with the kLCR with Speer Short Barrel and he literally exploded!

    Just for “fun” once I shot a cylinder of the R357M1 in the kLCR. The recoil was not bad but the flash and boom were astounding.

    • I was thinking of getting an LCR for a backup/motorcycle jacket pocket gun, but I’m now leaning toward a Bond Arms derringer. The derringer is actually a bit heavier than the LCR, but at some point I’m going to have to put a couple of those Double Taps in and find out what happens. I’m guessing a death grip would be appropriate.

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