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Ruger GP100 Beginner Gun Review

Ruger GP100

There’s something viscerally satisfying about holding a magnum revolver.

Polymer pistols like the FNP-9 or the Glock are lighter and FEEL like you’re holding a “plastic” gun, something toy-like.

When you pick up a .357 magnum revolver like the Ruger GP100, you KNOW you’re holding a weapon.

At 40 oz., it weighs nearly twice as much as an FNP-9.

Shoot, if you run out of bullets it’s actually possible to throw it at someone and knock them cold with it.

The .357 magnum round is nothing to laugh at.

People put that same bullet in a rifle and hunt deer with it. And as far as quality goes, it’s a Ruger revolver.  Among the things Ruger does very well, it makes great revolvers.

So how is it for a noob?  Let’s find out.


Let’s not mince words.  It’s a pain in the ass.  The good news is that you don’t have to disassemble it to lubricate it.  According to the manual, a few drops of oil in the frame openings will make its way to the internal mechanisms.  If you’re not comfortable taking this thing apart, don’t.

Ruger GP 100
Ruger GP 100


The good thing about maintaining this gun is that it’s pretty easy to do.  You don’t have to disassemble this weapon to do a routine cleaning.  Cleaning consists of swinging the cylinder out and running a patch and a bore brush through the barrel and the chambers.  Some light lube and you’re done.

Ruger GP100

Safety and Reliability

Ruger makes a fine revolver, I’ll give them that.

Pull the trigger, it goes bang.

In regards to safety, the GP100 has no manual safety on it, but it does have a transfer bar safety system which prevents the hammer from hitting the firing pin without the trigger first being pulled all the way to the rear.

What does this mean?

It means you can drop it without it going off.  The only other thing you can really call a safety feature is the double-action trigger pull, which comes in at about a quarter-mile.  When you’re pulling the trigger without first pulling the hammer back, it’s like the gun is asking you, “Are you suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuureBANG!”

Comfort and Recoil

This is a heavy gun, so there’s an upside and a downside.

The downside is that it’s heavy.

Not heavy enough to where you have a hard time holding it up, but heavy enough to know you’re holding a block of steel in your hands.

The upside is that a heavy gun has less recoil. Shooting .38 specials out of this thing is like shooting a .22.  You barely feel it.  On the other hand, you WILL feel the recoil of .357 mags.

Ruger GP100

Starter Kit

It comes with a hard plastic case.  What?  It’s a gun, not an aquarium.

Accessories and Upgrades

The grips and the sights can be swapped out, and that’s pretty much it.  You can change the springs to give it an easier trigger, but unlike an automatic there’s not much you can do to this weapon.  You can’t buy extended magazines, for instance.

It is what it is.

Final Word

A GP100 and indeed any .357 magnum revolver has a lot of advantages.

It’s powerful enough to put down an assailant… or a bear.  And you can use .38 specials if you don’t like the recoil or just for cheap training.

And make no mistake, having one trained on you is an intimidating experience.  No one in history has ever turned to a mob he was leading and said, “Let’s rush him! It’s just a .357!”

It’s also easy to load, operate and conduct routine maintenance.  As a first gun, you might be put off by the lack of a manual safety, but if you’re looking for something that’s easy to use and has enough raw  firepower to repel just about any threat, man or beast, the GP100 might be for you.

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12 Leave a Reply

  • Lost Croat Outburst

    You can put a nice scope on a four or six inch gp100 with a mount and rings from Jack Weigand. No drilling; you replace the front and back sights with the scope base. Save the original parts and you can go back to open sights anytime. A fixed 2X scope is all you need out to 75 yards or so, which is about your .357 mag limit anyway. Lighter, tougher, than a variable with a sharper image. Very bad-ass looking and performing.

    September 3, 2018 2:37 am
  • John

    Older review, but some comments nevertheless. My first firearm in the early 1970's was a Ruger Security Six shortly after they were introduced. I was under 21, but over 18, so my father bought it for me. It was my carry weapon for a couple of years. Like others in that era I had to load it with FMJ .38 Special. Got in a bit of trouble one day carrying when I had 158 grain SP . Sold it (and wished I hadn't later) when I went on active duty with the US Army (owning a personal firearm wasn't prohibited, but all the regulations about storage, transport and shipping between duty stations was a PITA). I've got a full size RIA M1911A1 and Beretta M9 now, along with a Sig P238, but I yearn for the .357 magnum. Not certain why someone would state it shouldn't be a first firearm or handgun. I do recommend the 4.2" barrel versus 3" as it gives you a longer sight radius with inherently smaller circle of error in sight picture and probability of greater accuracy with it. That's why many folks with the short barrel pocket pistols have marksmanship trouble, particularly if they've never used a pistol or revolver before. Regarding starting with a small caliber like a .22:LR. the M1903 Springfield, M1 Garand and M14 were first firearms for millions of draftees, as was the M1911 and M1911A1 and they didn't have to start out with pea shooters or straws with spit wads. They did just fine. Regarding using a .357 for personal protection, it's essential to know and consider what's behind your intended target, and using 158 grain or heavier hollow point or soft point ammunition that will expand. FMJ runs a much higher risk of pass through, hitting whatever is behind the intended target.

    June 3, 2017 7:47 pm
  • Stanley Haye

    I started shooting about a year ago (I'm 83) and I found that the semi-autos are too fussy about how you hold them when firing - hold them wrong and they jam. With the stress In a real situation this is too likely to happen and clearing the jan under stress chancy. You can hold the GP-100 any old way and it still goes bang when you pull the trigger and doesn't jam. Very good for home defense but a little big for concealed carry, although I have carried it in a briefcase,

    April 14, 2017 10:07 am
  • Ron

    My First handgun, loved it then over 30 years ago and still love it.

    April 12, 2017 9:59 pm
  • Charles

    Great review. The GP-100 was the first handgun I ever purchased...on the day I turned 21 actually. And that was 1991! I believe I paid $325
    Today, she looks almost like the day I bought her, and has never malfunctioned. So I would highly recommend the caliber and manufacturer and model. I do like most Ruger products.

    February 10, 2017 4:57 am
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks Charles and glad your GP is still like the day you bought her!

      February 10, 2017 3:41 pm
  • Boompa

    I'm a 75 year-old shotgunner with just a few recent years of handgun experience. I didn't consider owning a personal defense weapon until 2008, but I don't want to get into 2nd amendment politics here. I learned quickly that I couldn't hit anything with a .380 Bersa CC pistol. For me, as a carry weapon, it was better than nothing, but just barely. I bought a Taurus 1911 .45ACP which I found improved my accuracy 10-fold... but carrying it was not a practical option. I dropped a bundle on a Kimber 1911 CPD .45 and got the carry thing covered... but at the cost of some accuracy at the range. After about 15,000 practice rounds I gave up the idea of carrying a pistol and, instead, bought a short-barrel 20GA Weatherby pump for home defense.

    That was almost 3 years ago. Several months ago I got the urge to buy a revolver. Some decisions in life don't need to be justified... beyond the fact that they result in some enjoyment, which shooting has always been for me. The Ruger GP 100 had "buy me" written all over it. The one I lusted over was the model #1759 6" TALO edition with the unfiuted cylinder and the full length Hogue wood grip stock. I bought it 2 weeks ago (online) and received it yesterday. Today's session at the range was a blast... no pun intended. I'm in love with this revolver. I can actually put holes in a target that begin to resemble a "group"! Never been there before!

    The weight of the thing... 45 oz... is not an issue, even for an aging geezer like me. Nor is the recoil. The 6" barrel and the weight combine to make this a much more accurate handgun than I have ever fired. The noise is a concern. The moulded ear plugs I use on the trap and skeet fields are not quite enough to protect my hearing from the Ruger's .357 magnum decibels. I'll need to wear muffs as well. But I'll definitely be spending some quality time at the range with this new revolver... also spending my kids inheritance... one round at a time!

    July 23, 2016 5:38 pm
    • Boompa

      Name and email fields have accurate entries.

      July 23, 2016 5:42 pm
    • ehung

      Wow, thanks for the deep insight!

      July 24, 2016 10:44 am
    • Dave

      Boompa....I too fell in love with the TALO edition. The unfluted cylinder and wood grip are beautiful! I ordered mine yesterday and can not wait to take it to the range.

      As a long time fan of semi auto's I never thought I'd buy a wheel gun. But recently I was longing for something different, something that stood out amongst the plastic fantastics that crowd my gun safe. Once I decided to add a revolver to my collection the decision to purchase a Ruger was easy. I have several of their semi auto's and they are accurate and well built. An added bonus is the fact that the GP 100 is built in New Hampshire, my home state :)
      I'm not sure how many of these TALO editions they made but I'm sure glad they are still available. It has to be the most beautiful handgun I've ever seen. An heirloom piece for sure.

      It was more than I wanted to spend but like you said some decisions in life don't need to be justified :)

      August 2, 2016 1:07 pm
      • ehung

        Thanks for the insight Dave! Man, I need to get my hands on one of these TALO edition ones...I keep hearing about them!

        August 2, 2016 1:57 pm
  • Dave P.

    I agree that the 4" GP100 at 40 ounces is too heavy for many people to hold steady. The 3" barrel version (only comes with fixed sights) is a better alternative at 36 ounces. One other option is a used Ruger Security Six revolver (with adjustable sights) or the similar Service Six (with fixed sights), which are the 38 Special/ .357 Magnum revolvesr that Ruger made back in the 1970s up until the mid 1980s. They came in both 2-3/4" and 4" barrel lengths. They are about 5 ounces lighter than the GP100s in the same barrel length, but are still very strong and durable. Many people actually prefer them to the GP100. <br /> <br />There are lots of these Security Six and Service Six revolvers available used, sometimes in very good condition in the original box. Many people buy guns and then don't shoot them much. You can still get the instruction manuals for these older guns from the Ruger website in pdf format or request a paper one by mail for free. For a new shooter buying a used revolver, go to a reputable gun store - check the Better Business Bureau, other on-line reviews, take a safety class and ask the instructors. Some stores check them out well before selling and will give you exchange credit toward a different gun if there are any problems. <br /> <br />For a new gun, the Ruger SP101 in the 3" barrel length, with fixed sights, using standard 38 Special rounds is a great choice for beginners for home defense. It weighs about 27 ounces. There is a 2-1/2" barrel version for concealed carry, but at 26 ounces some people find it a little heavy to carry all day. Ruger also offers the lighter LCR .357 Revolver (also handles 38 Special) with a 1-7/8" barrel at 17 ounces. They have an even lighter LCR that only takes 38 Special, but it has an aluminum frame, which is less durable, and more recoil due to the lighter weight. I'd say the 17 ounce .357 LCR version is ideal for beginner concealed carry and home defense, using regular 38 Special rounds. If the recoil is too much with this combination, then it will be less with the heavier SP101s. Best to try them at a combination gun store and shooting range if you can. Some places will rent them to you. Of course take the safety course first, where you may also be able to try different revovers.

    February 14, 2015 10:06 pm