Ruger GP100 Double- Action Revolver




Ruger® GP100® is a rugged and reliable double-action revolver that serves equally well for field carry in the outdoors, home defense, law enforcement, or target shooting. The GP100 revolver is built on a robust, medium/heavy frame of stainless steel. To withstand recoil from heavy 357 loads, a triple-locking cylinder is locked into the frame at the front, rear, and bottom so it stays aligned without getting sloppy over time. A full-length rib along the top of the barrel adds weight, and provides ample steel to dovetail the front sight, making the sight easily replaceable. The rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation, and the factory ramp front sight is easily seen, while providing minimal interference when drawing the sidearm from a holster. (3″ barrel model has a fixed rear sight and a pinned front sight.) The angle of the GP100’s peg-style grip frame, and the recoil cushioning Hogue® Monogrip®, greatly absorb recoil and allow the shooter to stay on target while firing the revolver in double-action mode. A full-length ejector rod shroud puts extra weight out front to reduce muzzle flip, allowing for faster sight acquisition on follow up shots.

The Ruger GP100 has a smooth double-action trigger pull, and a clean, crisp break in single-action. Stainless steel construction provides corrosion resistance, and low maintenance in the backcountry. The solid frame of the GP100 has no side plate, and the revolver disassembles into large subassemblies with no tools, aiding to ease of maintenance in the field. As with all Ruger Double-Action Revolvers, the GP100 features the patented Ruger transfer bar mechanism that provides an unparalleled measure of security against accidental discharge—the revolver can be dropped directly on its hammer and will not fire without the trigger being pulled all the way to the back. The Ruger GP100 Double-Action Revolver is solidly built sidearm that will serve a lifetime of hard use. Made in the USA.

Robust, medium/heavy frame
Stainless steel construction
Fully adjustable rear sight
Full-length ejector rod shroud
Fieldstrps into large subassemblies
Transfer bar mechanism
Hogue Monogrip
Review: Ruger GP100 7-Shot .357 Magnum


Any list of the top American gun designers really must include Bill Ruger. Some of Ruger’s designs—like the Blackhawk, 10/22 and Mark I—set new standards for accuracy, safety and reliability in their respective classes. Ruger knew how to dress up a firearm to make it both eye-catching and functional—guns like the M77 Mark II Safari rifle that combined the look and feel of London’s Bond Street big bores with the functionality of a controlled round feed action at a fraction of the price of Rigbys, Purdeys and the like. The No. 1 falling block, which some called outdated at the time of its release, has developed something of a cult following.

But perhaps the most overlooked of all Ruger’s contributions to the world of modern firearms are his developments to improve the design of the double-action revolver. In the early 1970s Ruger developed his Six series wheelguns, a family that included the Security-Six, Speed-Six and Service-Six. All these guns featured investment–cast frames, transfer bar system and a coil spring design. Ruger GP100 Double-Action Revolver

The Six firearms were standouts in the popular double-action market in the 1970s and ’80s, but by the mid-’80s Bill Ruger was looking to improve those designs. Specifically, he wanted a slightly larger medium-frame revolver that was robust enough to handle round after round of the hottest .357 Magnum ammo available.

In addition to the cylinder bolt and rear of the extractor, the GP100’s cylinder locks up in front at the crane. It’s a robust setup that can handle magnum pounding with ease.

Enter the GP100. But the GP100 was more than a beefed-up version of the Six revolvers. For starters, these guns offered a new Triple Locking design that held the cylinder in place. There’s a lock in the frame at the crane as well as a lock at the ejector rod and a bolt at the bottom portion of the cylinder that prevents cylinder rotation when it is engaged.

Additionally, the GP100’s shorter, stubbier grip post allowed for a wide variety of different grips to be installed, a departure from the traditional full-frame design found on many double-action revolvers at the time. The GP100 was, and is, available with fixed or adjustable sights and in either a blued or satin stainless finish. Additionally, these guns were, and are, affordable.

I’ve got a soft spot for the GP100. My father has a six-inch stainless model that a gunsmith tuned to near-perfection, and it was the first centerfire revolver I ever fired. It’s still one of his favorite guns, and it still appears to be a fresh-from-the-box gun despite years of hard shooting. And my dad isn’t alone in his appreciation for the GP100’s many attributes. There are a number of shooter who still consider these guns to be among the finest medium-frame .357 Magnum wheelguns ever offered at any price point.

The cylinders of the new GP100s hold seven rounds of .357 or .38 ammo—making them capable and reliable guns for home defense, trail use or, in the case of the shorter versions, concealed carry.

Ruger has made minor changes to the GP100 over the years, offering it in various calibers and designs, including the Match Champion version that debuted a few years back. Most recently, Ruger upped the ante by adding an extra round to the GP100’s beefy cylinder. There are three barrel lengths available with seven-shot cylinders—2.5, 4.2 and 6 inches—all in satin stainless with Ruger’s trademark elastomer rubber grips with hardwood inserts. Ruger GP100 Double-Action Revolver

I had a chance to test all three versions with various loads ranging from mild-mannered .38 wadcutters all the way up to hot .357 Magnum loads for defense and hunting applications. Each gun was subjected to the standard test protocol of five five-shot groups with five separate loads, and each of these guns has its own personality and primary purpose.

The Backup: 2.5 Inch

The shooting world is flush with ultra-light, ultra-compact .357/.38 revolvers for personal defense. In this smaller–is-better universe the GP100 2.5-inch seven-shot is a behemoth, weighing in at a stout 33.7 ounces on my digital scale and measuring roughly 5.5 inches tall with an overall length of eight inches. The cylinder measures just under 1.4 inches wide, so this wheelgun has specs more closely resembling those of a full-size 1911 than a tuckable carry revolver like Ruger’s LCR.

But if you’re into carrying a revolver for defense against two- or four-legged predators, the GP100 seven-shot 2.5-inch has some real advantages over smaller .357 revolvers. The Triple Locking cylinder is one of those.

I owned a compact .357 revolver for backup that gave up the ghost and allowed the cylinder to spin freely after a few hundred rounds of .357 ammo, which is a pretty terrible feeling when it’s the gun you’re counting on to save your life. The Ruger’s time-tested system is durable and solid, so there’s less chance that you’ll have to deal with such shenanigans.

Medium-frame guns are harder to conceal than ultralight revolvers but are much more pleasant to shoot since the grip is larger and there’s more bulk to help mitigate the muzzle rise from hot .357 defensive loads. Sure, muzzle blast is more pronounced with this shortest of all GP100s, but it isn’t an unpleasant gun to shoot, and for a compact revolver, it’s relatively accurate. Ruger GP100 Double-Action Revolver

The accuracy is due in large part to the fact that this revolver comes equipped with real, functional, adjustable iron sights. Instead of the austere channel-and-post sights found on most pocket revolvers, the GP100 2.5-inch seven shot has a windage- and elevation-adjustable white-outline rear sight and a front sight with a green fiber-optic insert that is dovetailed into the solid top rib. Last, the Ruger offers at least one and perhaps two more rounds than you’ll get from the smallest defensive wheelguns.

In single-action mode the trigger on the test revolver broke at 4.2 pounds on my RCBS scale, and in double-action mode it broke at 10.4 pounds. There’s minimal stacking in DA mode, and the trigger guard is large enough to be accessible even with gloved fingers.

From 15 yards the 2.5-inch GP100 was capable of good accuracy, certainly on par with or better than most carry revolvers.

At 15 yards the average groups were respectable for a revolver with such a stubby barrel, ranging, on average, from 1.8 to 2.5 inches. At roughly 45 feet those are pretty good numbers for this class or revolver, and the 2.5-inch GP100 really shines when shooting offhand at defensive distances. The double-action trigger pull is rather long, but in single action it’s crisp and smooth. Ruger GP100 Double-Action Revolver

The gun’s weight and large grip make it easier to deliver fast follow-ups than with other, smaller defensive handguns, and although this gun will be noticeably more difficult to conceal than more compact revolvers I can assure you that anyone—new shooters in particular—will appreciate this wheelgun’s manageable demeanor.

If you’re looking for an open carry defensive revolver and don’t want to step up to a larger four-inch gun, this model is a sensible option. It should also be noted the 2.5-inch version comes with smaller grips and panels than the 4.2- and six-inch versions. It may aid in concealment and makes the gun look more proportionally correct, but there’s still plenty of grip on this smallest GP100. Suggested retail on this and the other new seven-shot GP100s is $600.

The 2.5-inch model (l.) has a slightly smaller grip than the two larger versions. Still, the rubber grip on the 2.5-inch model provides plenty of room for even the largest hands.

Riding the Fence: 4.2 Inch

There was a time not so long ago when four-inch .357 revolvers were the gun of choice for law enforcement agencies, and the Ruger shows that the midsize, medium-frame revolver is still a solid choice for personal defense. I think it’s safe to say it’s oversized for daily concealed carry, but at 40 ounces this gun isn’t so large it’s cumbersome to carry on the hip.

The 4.2-inch barrel gives the gun an overall length of roughly 10 inches, and the extra length stretches the sight radius for improved accuracy. Like the other GP100s in the test, the 4.2-inch comes with a full-length underlug that’s machined to the barrel. All these guns feature the same sight setup with screw adjustments on the rear sight.

The 4.2–inch comes with the same full-size grip you’ll find on the six-inch model. This adds about a half-inch to the overall height of the 2.5-inch model, and the extra height offers additional space on the elastomer grip for very large hands. And just like the other guns in the test, the medium-sized frame offers plenty of space to keep your thumbs well away from the cylinder gap when firing. Ruger GP100 Double-Action Revolver

The 4.2-inch revolver rides the fence between the stubby 2.5-inch and the hefty six-inch version, and it might well be the most versatile revolver of the bunch. Weight is still manageable for all-day carry, and the barrel clears the holster noticeably sooner than the larger six-inch model. But the 4.2-inch model offers better accuracy at extended ranges and higher velocities than you get from the short 2.5-inch gun while retaining some level of portability.

The best group average at 25 yards measured just 1.8 inches, the same as the 2.5-inch model at 15 yards. Velocities were higher, and muzzle rise and blast were less thanks to the longer barrel. The 4.2-inch model also offered the best single-action trigger pull at 3.8 pounds, and double-action trigger weight was 10.6 pounds.

Go Big: Six Inch

With its long pipe, the six-inch GP100 offers the best velocities and produced the smallest average groups, and recoil even with the hot .357 Magnum loads was so manageable even new shooters could handle it. Forget carrying this pistol concealed, though. It weighs 45 ounces and measures 12.5 inches long, so this revolver is best suited for target practice and field carry or hunting, and it excels in those roles. Ruger GP100 Double-Action Revolver

The .357 Magnum’s effectiveness on deer is a matter of opinion, but many hog hunters like the round (and they’ll really like having one more shot available). Hound hunters who pursue cougars will find that the six-inch Ruger’s added sight radius and increased power thanks to an uptick in velocity serve well.

But even if your ambition isn’t to follow a pack of lion hounds through steep canyon country, you’ll still appreciate all this gun has to offer. It makes an excellent trail gun, with .357 Magnum power to take on most any threat you’re likely to encounter when hiking or camping. It’s a pussycat with .38 Special loads, and it’s accurate enough to punch paper targets, pop cans and metal plates all day long. Ruger GP100 Double-Action Revolver

Like its brethren, the six-inch gun comes in stainless with a satin finish, and that’s a good thing because while testing this gun the skies opened and gun and shooter were caught in a torrential downpour. A wipe down was all that was needed to bring the Ruger back to its previous state. Also, the Ruger grips, which some shooters love and some don’t, work very well in wet weather.

This model favored Federal’s 180-grain hunting load, averaging just over 1.5 inches at 25 yards in terrible conditions. But the six-inch shot every load relatively well, with two of the five loads averaging under two inches and the other three striking close to that figure. The six-inch Ruger, like the two guns listed earlier, showed no signs of wear, and there were no issues with operation. These guns are, pardon the pun, bulletproof. Ruger GP100 Double-Action Revolver

If you’re a revolver fan, you won’t be disappointed when adding one, two or all three of these guns to your collection. If you’ve grown tired of polymer guns and you’re in the mood for something built from solid steel, you’ll love these revolvers. And Ruger has managed to up the ante on an otherwise great gun by making room in the cylinder for one additional round.

Ruger GP100 7-Shot

Action: double-action revolver

Caliber: .357 Magnum

Capacity: 7

Barrel: 2.5, 4.2, 6 in.

Overall Length: 8–12.5 in.

Weight: 33.7–45 oz.

Height: 5.5 in.

Grips: elastomer with wood panel inserts

Finish: satin stainless

Trigger: varies; see article

Sights: fiber-optic front sight, adjustable rear

Price: $600

Manufacturer: Ruger

REVIEW: Ruger GP100 Seven Shot Revolver


In selecting a handgun for protection, oftentimes double-action revolvers are dismissed as choices due only to their limited capacity. But that has changed somewhat, as viable, familiar wheelgun platforms have, of late, been updated with increased-capacity cylinders. The double-action GP100 is a fine example—previously only available in .357 Mag. with six-shot cylinders—Ruger is now offering a seven-shot version of the reliable revolver. The .357 Mag. GP100 seven-shot, the subject of this review, has a round count rivaling some small semi-automatic pistols, yet offers far superior stopping power. Ruger GP100 Double-Action Revolver

Increasing the revolver’s capacity by one round wasn’t a complicated task. Essentially, the spacing between the chambers of the fluted, 1.55″-diameter cylinder was decreased to accommodate a seventh one, and the placement and timing of attendant cylinder latch lockup points needed to be adjusted. Since the revolver was designed (if not overbuilt) from the outset for a steady diet of heavy, .357 Mag. ammunition, no further changes to the gun were needed.

The GP100’s triple-locking cylinder/crane assembly is secured to the heavy, investment-cast frame at the front, bottom and rear. Beyond enhancing durability, this aids forcing cone/chamber alignment (timing) to minimize bullet shaving and improve accuracy. The ejector rod doesn’t rotate with the cylinder, rather, it merely serves as an ejector.

Expedited cleaning is possible due to the revolver being able to be quickly and easily disassembled into sub-assemblies, such as the cylinder/crane, hammer and trigger guard assemblies. With the exception of a screwdriver, no other tools are needed to accomplish this. Pressing inward on the oversize crane latch—on the left, rear side—grants access to the left-swinging cylinder for loading and unloading. Ruger GP100 Double-Action Revolver

Ruger was able to increase the GP100’s capacity to seven rounds by simply decreasing the spacing between the chambers of the revolver’s fluted cylinder and by altering the timing and placement of the cylinder latch lockup points.

The frame is machined from a 410 stainless steel casting. To increase strength, there’s no sideplate; instead, the internal parts are installed either through the top or bottom of the grip frame. Contributing to the test revolver’s 40-oz. weight and front-heavy feel is a 3/4″-thick, 4.2″ barrel. Also available are 2.5″- and 6″-barreled versions weighing 36 ozs. and 43.5 ozs., respectively. While somewhat taxing for everyday, all-day carry, the heft greatly reduces the perceived recoil of stout .357 Mag. loads. Of course, in addition to .357 Mag. ammunition, the gun can safely fire .38 Spl. +P and .38 Spl. loads as well. Ruger GP100 Double-Action Revolver

Topping the barrel is a fiber-optic post front sight with a green pipette, while the blade rear sight is secured to a cutout in the topstrap. Adjustable for windage and elevation, the rear’s 0.140″-wide notch is outlined in white to increase visibility in compromised lighting. Each click is valued at 3/4″ at 25 yds. The barrel has 1:18.75″ right-hand-twist rifling, and ends with a recessed crown to protect the rifling—a welcome feature for a gun that is likely be holstered and carried a lot.

The GP100’s frame extension permits the use of full wrap-around-type stocks that are easily exchanged with aftermarket models if so desired. From the factory, the handgun wears a cushioned, slightly tacky rubber stock with hardwood inserts that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. A recessed portion of the top, left side permits the right-handed shooter’s thumb to rest closer to the frame and point the gun more naturally. Moreover, it improves access to the crane latch.

As a double–action revolver, the GP100 can be fired in single- or double-action modes. Thanks to a lengthy hammer spur with aggressive checkering, cocking the hammer isn’t an arduous task, and the trigger pull on the sample was 3 lbs., 14 ozs. There was minimal creep and overtravel, too—overall an excellent trigger. In double-action mode, though, the trigger pull measured 10 lbs., 4 ozs. Taking a well-aimed shot through the double-action pull would take a concerted effort. The revolver has no user-set safety; instead, it has a transfer-bar mechanism that prevents the handgun from discharging unless the trigger is purposefully pulled fully to the rear. Ruger GP100 Double-Action Revolver

Testing of the sample GP100 began with shooting five consecutive, five-shot groups from a sandbag rest at 25 yds. using three, diverse .357 Mag. loads. They included: Federal Premium Vital-Shok 180-gr. CastCore; Federal Premium Personal Defense 158-gr. Hydra-Shok jacketed hollow point; and PMC Gold 150-gr. Starfire Hollow Point. Of the loads, the most accurate proved to be the latter, averaging 1.73″ for all 25 shots. Although notably larger than the defensive offerings, the 2.56″ average of the 180-gr. CastCore load would suffice for close-range feral hog and deer hunting, or defense in the backcountry. Ruger GP100 Double-Action Revolver

With accuracy testing completed, we then chronographed the loads; most loads were close in velocity to their factory numbers. The exception was the PMC ammunition; according to the Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital chronograph, it averaged 1094 f.p.s., while factory-published speeds are touted as being 1350 f.p.s. In the hands, these loads seemed exceedingly mild, too, confirming the chronograph’s reading.

Rapid firing on a variety of reactive and stationary targets with low-recoil Federal Gold Medal Match 148-gr., .38 Spl. lead wadcutter match ammunition was pure pleasure. Such is the benefit of a revolver chambered in .357 Mag.—building confidence and muscle memory with reduced-power loads without the recoil, but having power if needed. Multiple shooters who held or shot the revolver commented positively about its feel. The muzzle-heavy characteristic helped reduce muzzle flip and aided pointing. While the heavy, double-action trigger was tough to use for pinpoint bullet placement, when shooting rapidly it wasn’t a problem. Delivery of rounds on multiple targets was quick, and there were no malfunctions whatsoever. Ruger GP100 Double-Action Revolver

There are a few changes that we’d suggest. First, it would be nice for the topstrap to be drilled and tapped for scope bases for hunting or feature Ruger’s optic-mounting system. There are, however, excellent aftermarket designs, such as those by Weigand, that can be added without altering the gun. Secondly, whereas the sides of the frame and the trigger guard assembly melded together seamlessly, there was a minute gap between the two on the bottom of the revolver. It didn’t affect performance or reliability, though.

In any of its various standard configurations, the GP100 would be a fine choice for home defense, protection on the trail, hunting feral hogs and deer-size game, or plinking (especially with low-cost and light-recoiling .38 Spl. ammunition). The fact that it now carries a seventh round just makes it all that much better.


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