Ruger GP100 Review: Ruger’s wheelgun workhorse!

by Daniel Young

March 8, 2023

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Ruger’s GP100 has been the company’s flagship .357 Magnum for decades. This Ruger GP100 review will look at the pros and cons of this wheelgun.

A robust revolver from Ruger with either 6 or 7 round cylinders, SS or blued finish, several different calibers, and many different barrel lengths.

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Ruger GP100 Specs

  • Name Ruger GP100
  • Caliber 357 Magnum
  • Capacity 6
  • Action DA/SA
  • Frame Stainless Steel
  • Sights Ramp (Front) Adjustable (Rear)
  • Barrel Length 4.2 inches
  • Weight 40 ounces
  • Safety None

Ruger GP100 Background

Ruger has established itself as one of the premier revolver manufacturers in the United States. Their offerings range from single action rimfires like the Bearcat and Single Six to magnum double actions like the Super Redhawk.

.357 models also feature prominently in the Ruger lineup. The Blackhawk and Vaquero models are among the most popular single action revolvers in the market. The SP101 is a great option for a concealed carry gun. And, finally, we have the GP100, Ruger’s full size double action .357. 

The GP100 replaced the Security Six, Service Six, and Speed Six models. These predecessors had some success in the 1970s and 1980s in law enforcement and military service. Units like the Naval Investigative Service (precursor to the NCIS) and Postal Inspectors used various models in this range.

The GP100 is a modernized version of the Six series. It fills the same niche as the L-Frame Smith & Wesson revolvers, which are also designed for full-time .357 magnum use. Some smaller, lighter frames can accommodate the dimensions of the .357, but are not strong enough to handle the strain of thousands of rounds of magnum punishment. The solid steel frame of the GP100 lives for hot, full power ammo, and it is made for the shooter who would rather fire the real deal than .38 Special wadcutters.

Ruger GP100 Features

Ruger GP100 Gun Features
1 Steel Frame

Solid steel frame construction

2 Sights

Adjustable rear sight

3 DA/SA

Double or Single Action Operation

4 Capacity

6- or 7-round capacity

Models and Variations of the Ruger GP100

Ruger has made a wide range of GP100 models. Most are chambered in .357, but versions in .22LR, .44 Special, .327 Federal, and 10mm are also available on a limited basis. Barrel lengths range from 2.5 inches to 6 inches. Various special models like the Match Champion have been made over the years. Some .357 models are also available with 7-shot cylinders in lieu of the traditional 6.

Ruger GP100 –  Our Take

Ruger GP100 Review

Recoil can be an issue on magnum revolvers. Unlike semiautomatics, which have a slide that moves against a recoil spring to slow down the felt recoil impulse, revolvers send all of the recoil force right into the shooter’s hand. The GP100 is much less abusive than the older breed of .357 wheelguns thanks to its grip design. Older revolvers generally had a grip frame with stocks attached to the sides. This placed the metal of the frame against the web of the hand, and metal does not give when pressed against flesh. The GP100 reshaped its frame so that rubber overmolded grips can fully surround the frame. This may not sound like much, but it makes a huge difference in the pain levels felt by the shooter.

The sights on the GP100 are good, with a traditional post-and-notch style in black. The rear sight is adjustable. This is beneficial for target shooters or people who like to stretch the .357’s legs out to the distances at which it is capable. They are a little less durable than fixed sights, though. 

The GP100 is an accurate gun. Its fixed barrel, adjustable sights, and light single action trigger all work together. I found it easy to shoot groups at 25 yards in single action. The double action trigger pull is very smooth and also shot well.

Ruger GP100 Open

My only real ergonomic complaint is the cylinder release button that Ruger uses on their revolvers. It is better than pulling to the rear as is done with a Colt, but not as nice as pushing forward on a Smith & Wesson. It is still plenty easy to use, and surely there are people who prefer this button to a sliding lever. But to me, it is faster and easier to push a release forward.

Reliability of revolvers tends to work a little differently than with semi autos. Because revolvers don’t rely on the energy produced through firing, bad ammo typically does not cause a failure to feed the next round. A dud round is addressed by simply pulling the trigger again. The GP100 is typical of other quality revolvers and will work when it is called upon.

Bad ammunition can cause a malfunction if a bullet jumps the crime of its case, but this is a fairly uncommon. This type of malfunction is theoretically less likely in a heavy gun than in a light gun, but in practice it is not really a factor. Buying quality ammo is the best way to avoid this issue.

If there is one word that describes the GP100’s construction, it is solid. It is readily apparent that this gun is made out of a large chunk of steel. Some revolvers feel like a collection of parts that are tacked together. Not so with the GP100. It lives to shoot full power .357 ammo all day, every day. If you do manage to wear something out, it is backed by one of the best service departments in the industry at Ruger. 

Now, this robust construction does not come cheap. MSRP is around $1,000 for most models. MSRP is only a suggestion, and actual street prices vary wildly. However, directly comparable guns like the S&W 686 have list prices that are lower. Be sure to shop around before picking up a GP100. The GP100 has been in production for many years so the used market is worth checking too.

All in all, the GP100 is an excellent gun. It might not be a part of our best revolver rundown, but it is built to last decades and is a thoroughly enjoyable gun to spend time with. Should you happen to be in the market for a full-frame .357 Magnum, the GP100 is one you should consider.

Ruger GP100 Review

Ruger GP100 Pros and Cons 

  • Sturdy – Durable construction
  • Strong – Built for magnum use
  • Enjoyment – Fun to shoot
  • MSRP – High price point

Report Card

Shootability

Makes the .357 Magnum as pleasant as it can be

A
Reliability

Will probably outlast its owner

A
Ergonomics

The cylinder release is the only annoying part

A-
Accuracy

Superb in both double and single action

A
Value

MSRP near or above $1,000 is steep

C+
Ruger GP100 Final Grade

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Daniel Young

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 5 Reviews

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Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

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Added To Our Reader’s Score

Ruger GP100 Starter Pack

If you’re serious about picking up one of these bad boys, there are a few extra things you’ll probably want to pick up–if you don’t have them of course.

  • Gun Cleaning Kit: Revolvers are known for their reliability. However, they do still need routine maintenance when used or carried. Check out some of our favorite gun cleaning kits to keep your revolver in top shape.  
  • Eye Protection: Whenever firing your guns, you need to have eye protection on. Here are our recommendations for the best shooting glasses!
  • Hearing Protection: We’ve gathered all of our favorite hearing protection to help you decide the best hearing protection for you.

Upgrades and Accessories for the Ruger GP100

Instead of buying magazine, you will want some form of speed loader for your revolver. We have found two that are perfect for your GP100. One is to maximize speed, the other is to maximize carry ability.

You will also want a good holster and maybe to improve the sights. We found some of those for you as well.

Best Accessories For The Ruger GP100

Best Accessories For The Ruger GP100

HKS A Series Speedloader
  • holds rounds securely
  • twist to release once seated in cylinder
Check Price
Bianchi Speed Strips
  • Holds 6 rounds
  • Loads two at a time
  • Compact and convenient
Check Price
Meprolight Tru-Dot Sights
  • Always ready when you need them
  • Daytime confidence under low light conditions
  • Totally integrated day/night sighting
  • Maintenance free
Check Price
Desantis Speed Scabbard
  • Is open top for quick draw
  • Rides high and tight to the body
  • Features three belt slots so you can have either straight up or a forward draw
Check Price

Best Ammo for Your Ruger GP100

One of the neat things about 357 magnum revolvers is that you can usually shoot the lower powered 38 special in the same gun. This makes for cheaper and and easier on the wrist practice. We found some deals on 38 special ammo just for this purpose. We also found deals on full power, defensive 357 magnum ammo for more serious use.

Training Ammo

Speer Lawman 38 Special Ammo

Speer Lawman 38 Special 125 GR TMJ

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Target Sports USA $0.60

Defensive Ammo

Speer Gold Dot 357 Magnum 158 Grain Ammo

Speer Gold Dot 357 Magnum 158 GR HP

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Optics Planet $2.34

Other Revolvers of its Class to Check Out

We have dedicated two full articles to revolves. One is about our favorite revolvers, the other is focused on our favorite 357 revolvers. Check them out!

Another Ruger Revolver Ruger SP101 5718

Ruger SP101 Review Feature Image

Ruger SP101 5718

An all steel 5 shot revolver in 357 magnum

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability B+
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics B
  • Accuracy A-
  • Value B-

Our Grade

B+

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 3 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

How to Care for Your Ruger GP100

Revolvers are known for reliability, but they do require maintenance to continue to function properly. This video by Ruger is short and to the point and shows you how they want you to clean and care for your Ruger revolver.

Looking for some more information on the Ruger GP100? Check out the links below for the manufacturer’s website and operator’s manual. We also have a video from the famous Jerry Miculek showing you how he likes to load a revolver.

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About Daniel Young

Daniel is an attorney and lifelong gun nerd. His Instagram account, @fromtheguncounter, grew out of his work at a gun store and shooting range. He can usually be found in the hills with a rifle when he's not working.

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