The Ruger GP 100 Seven-Shooter may be the best combat revolver of the century. Read why HERE
The buying public is voting for revolvers and buying them in great numbers. Fueling the new trend, Ruger introduced a 7-shot version of its popular GP100. While there has been a previous 7-shooter in .327 Magnum, this new model fires the .357 Magnum cartridge.
Ruger offers longer barrel versions, but the 2.5-inch version is, in my opinion, among the finest combat revolvers ever manufactured. There are many who appreciate tradition, and others, who simply trust revolvers.
While modern self-loading handguns are as reliable as a machine can be, the revolver is more likely to fire after long term storage while loaded. You may leave the revolver at home, ready, and it will come up shooting. The revolver may also be placed against an adversary’s body and fired. On the other hand, a self-loader may jam after the first shot in this scenario.
In its best versions, the revolver is accurate and powerful, making it well suited to outdoors use. This latest from Ruger, the GP100 7-shot, is an exciting handgun. It is accurate, well-balanced, and fast-handling.
The GP100 was introduced in 1986. Police service handguns in .357 Magnum had not always held up well to constant firing and frequent qualifications with the Magnum cartridge. The larger and more robust GP100 solved a lot of those problems. For many years, the majority of qualifications were done with the .38 Special 148-grain target wadcutter. Problems with this oversight led to court decisions forcing agencies to qualify with the issue load. A hot 125-grain JHP was hard on small parts and sometimes the shooter as well. The 125-grain .357 Magnum hollow point at 1,380 to 1,480 fps was the most powerful cartridge fielded by police agencies — and the most effective. However, it was also difficult to master.
Today, the police carry self-loaders. However, the .357 Magnum cartridge remains relatively unequaled for wound potential. Those who train hard and master the cartridge have a powerful loading that is effective against both two- and four-legged threats, and against light cover.
The GP 100 is capable of absorbing the pounding of a steady diet of .357 Magnum ammunition without going out of time or self-destructing. The shooter will be tired long before the revolver shows any signs of trouble. The GP100 is not only among the most rugged revolvers ever designed, and it is among the most accurate as well.
The GP100 will accept heavy handloads that will literally lock up other handguns. As an example, I worked up a load using H110 powder and Hornady’s 125-grain XTP that develops 1,628 fps from my 4-inch barrel GP100. This load never sticks in the cylinder or exhibits excess pressure signs. When the .357 Magnum was first developed an adventurer wrote, after killing an attacking jaguar — the .357 Magnum was like “having a rifle on your hip.” I agree.
The GP100 has been manufactured in 4- and 6-inch barrel versions, 3-inch barrel fixed-sight revolvers, and a .44 Special version. The new 7-shot revolver is certain to be popular. As said, mine sports a 2.5-inch barrel. It is surprisingly compact and well balanced. The sights are the Ruger fully-adjustable rear, and a green fiber-insert front sight; this combination makes for a good sight picture.
The compact grips are an aid in concealment, and they offer good control when firing Magnum loads. When working the action, the 7-shot action feels different from the 6-shot’s trigger press. Some of the cocking force is used to move the hand and cylinder while the rest cocks and drops the hammer. The GP100 action has always been smooth, but the action feels a bit shorter than the 6-shot version. This results in faster shooting. The heft is excellent — neither handle heavy nor barrel heavy.
The muzzle blast is sometimes startling, but with most loads the GP100 isn’t difficult to control. The balance is similar to the Smith & Wesson Model 27 with a 3.5-inch barrel, but the GP100 is lighter. There are other short-barrel revolvers that are difficult to use well. They twist in the hand, and their excessive muzzle flip is uncomfortable. The GP100 is the fastest-handling, and most controllable, short-barrel Magnum I have fired.
I began my test program with .38 Special ammunition. I suspect many shooters will engage most of their practice targets with .38 Special loads. That is the proven path to proficiency and marksmanship.
I used three choices from Double Tap ammunition in the first evaluation. These included the 850 fps 148-grain wadcutter, a 110-grain JHP at over 1,000 fps, and the 125-grain JHP at 959 fps. With these, this revolver was actually docile. It wasn’t difficult to make fast hits using double-action pairs. Moving to .357 Magnum loads, I fired a representative number of self-defense loads. First came the Hornady 125-grain Critical Defense. At 1,215 fps, this load hits hard and expands well. Velocity fell from the 1,383 fps exhibited in the 4-inch revolver — par for the course with short barrel Magnums.
The Federal 125-grain JHP broke at 1,221 fps. I also fired a handload I consider my favorite in .357 Magnum. At 1,250 fps from the 4-inch barrel, this load — using Titegroup powder — retained 1,180 fps in the Ruger. A handloader may tailor loads to the handgun, and using faster-burning powder clearly paid off in this application. This load isn’t difficult to control and makes a good all-around choice. The balance of expansion and penetration is on the long side. All threats are not two-legged, so penetration is desirable.
I continue to be impressed with this GP100 the more I work with it. With a smooth double-action trigger press and good sights, the revolver is well suited to use by a trained shooter. With proper load selection, the GP100 makes an excellent all-around defense revolver.
For protection against the big cats and feral dogs, I cannot imagine a better choice. Against bears, I would load the Buffalo Bore 180-grain loading, or one of my own handloads using a hard cast 175-grain SWC. Ounce for ounce, the GP100 offers plenty of power for the street or trail.
Slow-fire accuracy fired from a solid benchrest firing position at 15 yards, 5-shot group —
Federal 129-grain Hydra Shok +P 1.25 in.
Double Tap 110-grain JHP 1.5 in.
Buffalo Bore 158-grain Outdoorsman 1.4 in.
Buffalo Bore 158-grain Low Flash Low Recoil 1.2 in.
Hornady 125-grain Critical Defense 1.5 in.
Hornady 125-grain XTP 1.0 in.
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