Army Issue Ruger Security Six?


June 27, 2010, 11:48 PM
I picked up an old Dept of the Army training manual for pistols and revolvers, October 1988 issue. It describes two types of revolvers then in use--a S&W .38 and a Ruger .38. The Ruger is listed as being double action, with a barrel 4" long and 33 oz. weight. That's too light for a GP-100, but right on the money for a Security Six, .38 Special only.

What I'm wondering is when or where were these revolvers ever issued to Army personnel? S&W's were kicking around for ages, but the Rugers must have been bought in the 1970's. For whom? Does anyone remember seeing them used?

Also makes me wonder if there are any surplus around. It would have to be one of the last issued revolvers in our or any other major military force.

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June 28, 2010, 12:11 AM
I saw some in the late 1970's used by contract guard force personnel for the Army.

June 28, 2010, 12:21 AM
Wikipedia is by no means comprehensive, but the result of this could be submitted here. From a layman's view, I would see these as training or otherwise specialty weapons. 1988 was two years before the M9 was adopted, so the official mindset had to be in the auto direction. Interested in any feedback on either of these weapons, as a military revolver used in 1988 seems pretty cool.

Although it's totally out of context with this post and real life, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has a Colt Anaconda .44mag as a sidearm option. Wonder if that ever got used in the military in real life. I've got a soft spot for them since they dropped the 1911 option (I like high caliber, small capacity. offers more of a challenge), but I tend to go with the M9 since I own a variation.

June 28, 2010, 12:24 AM
Excuse my ignorance, but what is contract guard force?

Blue Brick
June 28, 2010, 12:51 AM
I don’t remember where this information is from….it most likely from the high road forum or the Ruger forum. You can use the search field.

The Marine Corps Security Force Cadre Trainers,(MOS 8153) used them as did the NSF & ASFs, in the 70's, 80's & early to mid-90's.
The purpose for the Cadre Trainer Teams were to train the Naval Security Forces (NSF) and Auxillary Security Forces(ASF) on Naval bases where there were no Marine Security Force Companies (aka Marine Barracks) permanently assigned.
The Weapons in question were the blued 4" Ruger Service Six and to a much lesser extent the 2 3/4". Alot of the 4" version had lanyard loops on the butt, however, I don't recall the 2 3/4" having one. The std duty belt for the CTTs were a std web belt, Bianchi UM84R holster, and 2 speedloader pouches, each holding 2speedloaders and a std 10 rd shotgun pouch on the weak hand side.
Before the UM84R holster, a black leather "Border Patrol" type holster was used, either with the thumb break or the older retention strap type.
I might add that the Rugers used by the Marine CTTs were actually Navy Property not USMC property and the ammo was the std 130 gr FMJ, loaded by Winchester & Federal.

June 28, 2010, 08:52 AM
Saw them in armories aboard naval warships during the '80, 4", all had lanyard rings. Issued to helicopter pilots to replace the aging S&W Victory models. Pilots prefer revolvers because if they can fire flare cartridges if they ditch.

June 28, 2010, 08:57 AM
I was stationed in a ship home ported in Pearl Harbor, Hi. from '77 to '81 and spent time around Hickham AFB. The AF Security units at the base carried Ruger Service Six stainless steel 38 specials loaded with nickel plated rounds. The cases I recovered from the period were standard pressure loads by Federal(FC). I visited with a Marine Staff Sargent stationed at Camp Smith and he said there were a few blued Rugers showing up there and at Fort Shafter. So that covers the Army, Air Force and Marines of the time period.

June 28, 2010, 05:42 PM
Contract security forces would be a hired civilian security company for the base, very common on our military installations. Most of the bases I have been on, full time and Guard/reserve. use contractors for security instead of MPs.

June 28, 2010, 06:07 PM
Interesting! One of the lanyard US property Service Sixes would be a nice addition to the collection. The ones I've seen with the lanyard ring have been .38 S&W's from the Hong Kong special order.

June 28, 2010, 07:40 PM
In 1978 we had some that were for issue to Helocoptor pilots at a reserve unit that I was in. They were Ruger Service Six (a 38spl version of the Security Six) Blued finnish was the only one I ever saw. But that was the only time I ever saw one.


June 28, 2010, 08:53 PM
We carried Service Six's at Naval Station Philadelphia in the mid 90s. NAVSTA and TDY personnel, and DoD police. I also qualed with Service Six's at NAS Jacksonville and Cecil Field in the mid 80s. The Navy bought a bunch of 'em.

June 28, 2010, 11:30 PM
One of the reasons for the standardization on the M9 was the numbers of various guns across the services. 1911 and S&W Victory revolvers that had been in service since WWII served alongside brand-new purchased revolvers of various brands and barrel lengths. CID, MI, and others (some pilots) used short-barreled .38s, security types (and again, some pilots) used longer-barreled ones, and lots of them had lanyards.

I remember seeing a training movie about a missile silo where the Air Force officer in charge was armed with a snub-nosed .38.

Considering that command policies were usually that the 1911 would be carried chamber empty, the .38 made sense for people who might need to actually use their gun quickly and one-handed, since if you are carrying it loaded, it's ready to go.

I like mine!

Jim K
June 29, 2010, 03:35 PM
A gun "used by the military" covers a lot of situations having nothing to do with combat, including base security, criminal investigation, flying personnel, embassy duty, target shooting, post gun and hunting clubs, and so on. Guns used for such purposes are purchased on an "as needed basis", though some large purchases are set up on formal contracts. The guns are not "adopted" as standard and are not often used in combat.


June 29, 2010, 03:44 PM
If it's covered in the official training manual and issued to active duty troops, isn't it considered adopted to some extent? I guess that begs the question of what "adoption" is.

June 29, 2010, 03:46 PM
Contract security forces would be a hired civilian security company for the base, very common on our military installations. Most of the bases I have been on, full time and Guard/reserve. use contractors for security instead of MPs.
This must be something new...

No civilian security at Ft. Sill back in 86-87.
No civilian security at Ft. Lewis back in 87-89.
No civilian security at Ft. Campbell back in 90-93.

Jim Watson
June 29, 2010, 04:09 PM
On visits there for engineering projects, I saw Edgewood Arsenal go from MPs at the gate and on patrol, to an MP at the gate and contractors on patrol, to an open gate with contractors on patrol. Contractors wore faded blue coveralls, drove lime green vans, and carried revolvers and M16s (or ARs). This progression through the mid to late 1980s.

A co-worker had been a Navy SP and carried an old M&P to start with and a Ruger Service Six when they came in.

June 29, 2010, 04:11 PM
The Navy was using DOD Rentacops as early as the late 60's. They quit using Marines on Naval installations except for formal occasions and on gates regularly transited by Flag Officers.
I've wondered many times if the reason to take the Marines off Navy gates was because the Marines started loosing embassy gates at the Dep't of State, and the Navy didn't want to loose any gates.

Ron James
June 29, 2010, 04:37 PM
In the 1980's army pilots and certain personnel were issued both the S&W and Rugers as standard sidearms. The number of both were about 50-50 and there was no preference shown for one over the other. My side arm as a First Sergeant was a Ruger. which, if the balloon ever did go up, I would throw away and grab the first loose rifle I could find. BTW the Air Force is now useing Contract police now, on , I believe all installations.

June 29, 2010, 06:35 PM
I'm in and out of Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls Montana several times a month and all security and gates is handled by the 341st Missile Security Forces Group made up of several squadrons of regular Air Force personnel.

June 30, 2010, 09:42 AM
I was a Military Police Platoon Leader in the early 80s (3d Armored Division).

Male MPs were issued 1911A1s and female MPs got S&W or Ruger .38s. The S&Ws (like our 1911A1s) were pretty old and beat up. The Rugers were definitely newer.

The 38s were carried in a black leather, flap holster, with "US" stamped on the flap.

Endeavor to Persevere


June 30, 2010, 11:25 AM
I've wondered many times if the reason to take the Marines off Navy gates was because the Marines started loosing embassy gates at the Dep't of State, and the Navy didn't want to loose any gates.
The Marine Corps has been stretched quite thin covering hot spots around the world, so gate keeping duty on naval bases was eliminated. The thinking was rent-a-cops or DOD police were just as capable at checking the ID of drunken sailors as Marines were.

BTW: back in the day, some NIS (before the current NCIS moniker) agents carried stainless steel Speed Six revolvers.

June 30, 2010, 12:53 PM
I've tracked down one of the lanyard equipped service sixes in .38 Special that appears to have been part of a purchase order that was canceled. What I've never seen is an actual US military issue Six. Did they simply destroy these rather than surplus them out?

June 30, 2010, 01:35 PM
I've seen some of the "US" marked Speed Six (Ruger GS32N) revolvers up for sale on auction sites and and various boards. So there are some out there:

June 30, 2010, 01:44 PM
Thanks! I'm hoping to get a collection of anachronistic military firearms going, from these last revolvers to the last issued bolt action service rifles.

July 1, 2010, 01:39 AM
In the '82-'84 time frame, 6th Air Cav helicopter pilots at Ft. Hood were issued S&W and Ruger 4" .38 Spl revolvers. Carried them in black leather shoulder holsters. Don't remember the lanyard ring, though there might of been one.

August 30, 2011, 08:29 PM
I personally carried a .38 from '82 to '92. I had a Colt in one unit, a S&W in another and a Ruger in the third. The Ruger was the best of the three, she even had a name and I wish I could have kept her when the unit drew down. In '92 we were issued Berettas.

August 31, 2011, 09:05 AM
We also had them in the Navy in the 80's. Nice guns. They were 38's.

August 31, 2011, 10:23 AM
In reserve field exercises at Fort Hunter Ligget in 1981 I was supposed to be issued a 2" .38 as I was plain clothes counter intel. However there were no 2" .38s around and I had to wear OD to please the S2 officers so I was sent down to the Scout Company who road motorcycles and carried 4" Ruger .38s for a weapon. They gave me an old clapped out S&W Victory refurb at their arms room that none of the troopers wanted, and an equally clapped out black shoulder holster which I shined up. No I never shot that .38 nor was I issued ammo, but I wore it mucking around S2 for couple weeks.

Old Fuff
August 31, 2011, 11:25 AM
During the 1980's, and perhaps earlier, the military services bought .38 revolvers from both Smith & Wesson and Ruger on a low-bidder contract basis. Because the 1911A1 .45 pistol was still the standard sidearm until replaced by the Beretta M9, the revolvers were classified as "substitute standard." That said, they were still purchased on government contracts and marked as U.S. Government property. If you consider the World War Two era S&W Victory model (when marked as U.S. Govt. Property) to be a military weapon - as most do - then the revolvers under discussion are too.

The practice of arming gate guards with .38 revolvers is nothing recent within the military services. In 1941 the Navy ordered 3000 Smith & Wesson M&P .38 Special revolvers with 4" barrels, blued finish and lanyard rings. They were marked on the backstrap: U.S.N.C.P.C. (U.S. Navy Civilian Police Corps). Later these became the pattern on which the Victory Model was based.

As a side note: The government/Ruger relationship did not always go smoothly. Bill Ruger and I once had a conversation concerning a request form one of the arsenals to widen the ball on the cylinder latch to reduce rotational "wiggle." Bill strongly objected, and opined that it was clear that the engineers at the arsenal obviously had no knowledge of how revolvers worked, but simply wanted to do something to make it look like they were somehow useful. On this point we agreed.

Because of orders issued by President Lydon Johnson, which are still in force, military small arms that are classified as unserviceable must be destroyed rather then sold as surplus. After the Beretta M9 became common issue, all of the .38 revolvers were declared to be unserviceable, regardless of condition - and with few exceptions were melted or cut up. :cuss: :banghead:

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