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New .44 Special GP100 range report

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by minutemen1776, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. minutemen1776

    minutemen1776 Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Just when I thought there was nothing new I wanted to get, Ruger announced before Christmas that it would be making the GP100 chambered in .44 Special. Right away, I knew I wanted one. Though I'd expected not to see one until the spring or so, I had a chance to get one much sooner and did so. I picked it up last week and I shot it for the first time today at a nearby indoor range. Here she is:
    And with the cylinder open:
    Before I get to the range report, I'll explain why I wanted the .44 Special GP100 so much. A dozen or so years ago, I owned a S&W 696, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I reloaded back then, but I stopped doing so after my sons were born and my free time left the building. Eventually, I sold my reloading gear and my "reload-only" guns, including the 696. I don't regret it so much, though at times I thought about getting another, at least until I learned how expensive the 696 has become.

    In the meantime, I've become a fan of the GP100. I tried lots of DA revolvers (Colt, S&W, Ruger, Taurus, etc.), and I enjoy the GP100 the most. In addition to my new .44 Special GP100, I also have a 6-inch .357 GP100. When I saw the announcement for a .44 Special GP100, I was excited. It has a 3-inch barrel like the 696, as well as a sexy unfluted cylinder, which I really like. The Hogue grips are sweet and I like the front fiber-optic sight, even though I generally don't care for fiber-optic anything. Basically, there's no feature on the .44 Special GP100 I don't like; it's pretty much exactly what I wanted. Understand, too, that I don't want .44 Magnum performance. I don't enjoy shooting .44 Magnum loads even in a much larger handgun. I also don't want the .44 Special GP100 for CCW, as I have other things that are much better suited to that task. For me, this revolver will mostly be a range or hiking gun, and perhaps a great excuse to return to reloading after all these years.

    For the range, I picked up several boxes of HSM 240-grain LSWC "cowboy" loads. I ordered these from Palmetto State because they were in-stock and on-sale. Besides, no one in my area seems to stock .44 Special.

    First of all, let me say that the OCD side of me really enjoys 5-shot revolvers. One row of five rounds equals one cylinder, and ten cylinders equal one full box. ;)

    Initially, my new GP100 shot REALLY high. At 10 yards, I was shooting nearly a foot too high. After 10-12 elevation clicks on the adjustable sights, I was doing all right. It took a few more cylinders to get used the DA trigger pull. It was pretty good, with some stacking and a decently clean release. I think the trigger on my .357 is slightly better, but the difference isn't much. I do know it's better than any trigger pull I ever experienced on a Security or Speed Six.

    Before I'd gone through a full box of rounds, I'd produced some respectable groups. This is probably the best 10-round group:
    Unfortunately, you can't tell too much from my groups, because I was experiencing some major rip-tears. At first, and after seeing another THR post on the .44 Special GP100, I thought I was seeing evidence of keyholing. However, closer examination shows that this is just the result of firing slow, heavy slugs at close range into a cheap suspended paper target with no backer. When I fired a few rounds at longer range, this phenomenon disappeared, leaving me with mostly clean-cut holes.

    Shooting the .44 Special GP100 was pleasant. As expected, recoil was somewhere between shooting .38s and .357s in my other GP100. The 3-inch barrel was not too forgiving as I learned how to stroke the DA trigger, leaving me with a couple of truly BAD groups. :( The sights were nice, and I liked the non-grooved Hogue grips. Overall, this is an enjoyable shooter, but right now I think my .357 is the better performer. Some experimentation with reloads might change that, so we'll see. I've been looking at presses, so maybe I'll get back into reloading later in the year.

    Here's the .44 Special GP100 after firing 50 rounds. Those HSM loads were VERY sooty.
    For lovers of the GP100 and .44 Special, I think you'll be pleased with this offering from Ruger.

    As an aside, I always bring a pair of handguns when I go to the indoor range. Accompanying my new GP100 was a FEG Hi-Power I bought a few months back. I really enjoy this gun:
    It shoots pretty well, too. This is 26 rounds. :)
  2. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Peidmont/Triad, NC
    I'm glad you like it. I am also interested in it but I wish it were 41 spl. I have everything I need to load for it. If I buy one of these I will have to buy a lot of other things to load for it and it will be expensive. Probably an extra $200.00 on top of the price of the gun.

    I may still do it. I have to hold one first.
  3. 357smallbore

    357smallbore Member

    Feb 14, 2015
    Baderville, AZ
    I thought I would really want one. But after seeing them. I will stick with my Rossi 720. I have a vintage 4in GP100 in 357. Bought it back in the 90's. I will never part with that beauty. But the 44 Special is a round I love to shoot and reload for. I use my Rossi in my CCW rotation. The new Ruger hasn't given me anything I already don't have. I hope many folks take a good long look at the gun and caliber though. The 44 Special is just that.... Special.
  4. tommy.duncan

    tommy.duncan Member

    Aug 30, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    I picked up one on Sunday. I can't wait to get it to a range!!
  5. 200Apples
    • Contributing Member

    200Apples Member

    Jul 6, 2013
    Los Angeles
    Thanks for a great, detailed range report, and with pics!

    I have recently become a devotee of the .44 Special and wheelguns chambered strictly for it. Right now that consists of two Rugers; one of which is already home, the second in 10-day jail and a S&W thats on the horizon...
  6. eastbank

    eastbank Member

    Jul 30, 2009
    i started my love affair with the 44 special many years ago, with a colt SA 5.5" nickle revolver and it just would not shoot worth a hoot.. so i bought a smith 29 with a 6.5" in .44 mag used for a good price and had the best of two worlds. and several years ago i found out a good friend had a smith 624 in .44 special with a 4" in the box with all the goodies and it took me two years to pry it from his collection at a good price.. now i,m not down on ruger as i own and shoot 7 revolvers and auto,s, i just find most model,s heavy and way over built for my general field and hunting needs, the load i use most is a 240gr GC,s hard cast bullet at 900 fps and i have shot clean thru a decent white tail from stem to stern at 40 yards. eastbank. Picture 7654.jpg
    Dframe, 200Apples and 460Shooter like this.
  7. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

    Apr 24, 2007

    Great review! Thinking about getting one when finances allow for it. Nice shooting with the FEG PJK-9HP too!
  8. Wishoot

    Wishoot Member

    Jun 6, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    If I were not buying a new car today, I would be buying a new 44spl GP100 today.
  9. GunNut

    GunNut Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Washington State
    Now that's a GP-100 that I may have to buy.
  10. red rick

    red rick Member

    Aug 11, 2009
    That's a nice looking revolver and nice range report . I wonder why they came out with a 3" barrel first . I think it would really be sweet with a 5" or 5 1/2" barrel .
  11. DPris

    DPris Member

    Nov 4, 2007
    Stay tuned.
    Walkalong likes this.
  12. joneb

    joneb Member

    Aug 18, 2005
    Having a S&W 696 I would like a longer barrel? not sure. The 3" works quite well in a modern gun chambered for 44 spl for its intended purpose.
    So would I want a 4.2" or 5.5" maybe, but we all know there is a appeal for a 3" revolver.
    Poohgyrr likes this.

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