Ruger GP100 Review: Ruger’s wheelgun workhorse!

by Daniel Young

May 10, 2024

0 comments

5
(5)

Ruger’s GP100 has been the company’s flagship .357 Magnum for decades. In this Ruger GP100 review, we’ll take a closer look at all aspects of this gun while also assessing its pros and cons.

I originally reviewed the Ruger GP100 last year. However, after spending more time with it and firing off a couple hundred rounds, my thoughts on it have changed. So, let’s dive into this updated review of the Ruger GP100 and see what’s changed.

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

Have an opinion on this product? Click to leave your review

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 leading manufacturers of fine firearms in the United States, particularly renowned for its revolver craftsmanship. 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 lineup of both old and new Ruger revolvers. 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.

As a lifelong gun nerd, I appreciate how 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 they are not robust enough to withstand the strain of thousands of magnum rounds. 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 overmolded rubber 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. It has a ramp front sight and the rear sight is adjustable. This particularly beneficial for those who are into target shooting, especially those who enjoy pushing the .357 to its limits at extended distances.

The Ruger GP100 has one of the best revolver triggers I’ve come across. It has a smooth, consistent pull, which helped me maintain accuracy during shooting sessions. It operates in both single and double action modes. In single action mode, I manually cock the hammer, and a lighter trigger pull releases it. In double action mode, the trigger can be pulled once to both cock and release the hammer, although this requires a heavier pull. This versatility allowed me to rapid fire without needing to manually cock the hammer before each shot.

Now, If you want a smoother trigger experience, there are options available. Whether it’s through adjustments or aftermarket upgrades, you can further enhance the smoothness and precision of the trigger pull to suit your preferences.

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 8 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

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

Ruger GP100 – FAQs

Is the Ruger GP100 suitable for concealed carry?

The Ruger GP100, with its 4.2-inch barrel and weight of 40 ounces, is generally considered too large and heavy for comfortable concealed carry. However, with the right holster and clothing choices, you might find it manageable.

Is the Ruger GP100 suitable for self-defense?

Yes, the Ruger GP100 can be a good option for self-defense. Its sturdy build and reliable performance make it a firearm you can depend on. With its ability to fire powerful .357 Magnum rounds, you can trust it to help you protect yourself if needed. However, keep in mind that the GP100 is a larger revolver, so carrying it concealed may not be as convenient.

Can the Ruger GP100 shoot .38 special ammunition?

Yes, you can use .38 special ammunition in the Ruger GP100 chambered in .357 Magnum. This versatility allows for cheaper and lighter recoil practice rounds while still retaining the option to use more powerful .357 Magnum cartridges.

Is the trigger pull adjustable on the Ruger GP100?

While the trigger pull weight is not directly adjustable from the factory, aftermarket options such as trigger spring kits are available to modify the trigger pull characteristics to suit your individual preferences.

Can the Ruger GP100 be used for handgun hunting?

Absolutely! If you’re into handgun hunting, the Ruger GP100 is a solid choice. Its capability to fire .357 Magnum rounds means it has enough power to take down game like deer or wild boar. Just make sure to familiarize yourself with local hunting regulations, as they may vary.

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

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 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 5 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.

Rate

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 5

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

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.

Recent Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *