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Ruger GP100 44S&W Special - Tested

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Matthew Clark, Mar 24, 2019.

  1. Matthew Clark

    Matthew Clark Member

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    [ATTAC IMG_20190324_143412.jpg H=full]832823[/ATTACH]

    I aquired this beauty from my LGS a couple of weeks ago and finally got some descent weather to go shooting. It's a Lipsey's exclusive 5 shot Ruger GP100, 5" barrel. Pretty close to what "Skeeter" always considered ideal by his way of thinking. The Roper style grips are very comfortable during shooting and fit me very well. A little slippery for follow up shots but recoil is easy on the hand.
    Over the years well known gun writers have always tried to take the 44 spl to a higher level of performance than it's anemic factory pressure levels. Elmer Kieth, Skeeter Skelton, Brian Pierce and even the NRA to name a few wrote articles and tested the limits of the round. Pressure tested data above SAAMI spec has always been somewhat inconclusive, so safely loading the 44 spl. to a safe higher performance load in a given firearm can pose a problem if you don't read publications. I highly recommend that you read Brian Pearce's article on the 44spl. (I don't have a link but it is in Handloader Magazine August-September 2005) He breaks it down pretty darn good with load data and pressure limit groups for given firearms. My personal concern was as the article was written a few years ago other firearms have been produced that were not discussed in the article, including the 5 shot Ruger GP100.
    I'll be the first to admit I am an overly cautious individual when it comes to reloading. I will never be the adventurous pioneer of a new awesome load for any caliber and I'm okay with that. I like my face the way it is ( it ain't pretty but I've gotten used to it) and my digits intact. However in this particular case one could stay within SAAMI specs for the round (the consistantly safest, most reliable avenue) or review reliable pressure tested data, review the firearm's in question specs and limits and increase the rounds potential in a firearm designed to withstand the pressures of increased velocity. I chose to be a little bold and go with the latter. WARNING! I am in no way suggesting you follow my path. It can be very dangerous to your health to exceed SAAMI specs for any cartridge. I'm merely explaining what I did. If you think me an idiot then don't do what I did.
    I absolutely will not list the exact load data of my loads but I will tell you what pressure level my loads fall into. With the published pressure data available and the firearm's specs I chose to keep the pressures between 15,500 (SAAMI MAX) and 22,000 psi. tier 2 of limits in Brian Pearce's article. The cylinder wall thickness and forcing cone thickness played a big role in this. The other factor of major importance was I didn't want a 44 Magnum. I chose the 44 Spl. for a trail carry sidearm to have fun with, not pound my wrist. So I kept the loads on the medium side but better than factory performance.
    I could use Buffalo Bore but reloading is part of the challenge and fun of owning a new firearm. It's also cheaper to reload if I'm being honest.
    So the load was a Missouri bullets 240 gr. Kieth style cast bullet, WLP primer, Starline brass and Unique powder. I had an average of 980 fps from a 5" barrel ten feet from the muzzle. From a rest I got a solid 2.5 inch group at 50 yds. For me that is fantastic. I am not the world's greatest pistelero by any means. I was very happy and there were no over-pressure signs and cases fell out of the cylinder. I shot a total of 150 round through the GP100 and there was a little leading at the front of the lands but nothing affecting accursac or pressures.
    I believe I have found the load for the Ruger. I see no need to push it harder and putting unwanted wear on it and feel plenty confident with 240gr., .430 diameter cast bullets moving 980fps to dispatch anything I'm likely to run into.
    Sorry for the lengthy rambling, only my second post. Just wanted to give some solid information on a subject that doesn't have a lot of information out there. I hope it helps someone out.
     
  2. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Beautiful revolver, love the .44 Special and have lusted for one of the new Rugers.
     
  3. Matthew Clark

    Matthew Clark Member

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    I agree Walkalong. They were a limited run in this configuration. There was a full lug version and they have a stainless 3 inch version. All are still attainable from various avenues. Any of them would make a fine sidearm depending on it's intended use. Good luck getting yourself one.
     
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  4. golden

    golden Member

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    I just purchased the GP-100 6 shot .357 magnum with a 5 inch barrel and the same grips as yours. They are quite attractive and were fine to shoot .38 Special, but I will replace them with HOGUE'S before I shoot .357 with them. The .44 must be a very nice gun as my .357 is.

    Jim
     
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  5. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    That is a good-looking revolver! :)
     
  6. NWPilgrim

    NWPilgrim Member

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    Yes and an excellent report! I’ve been considering with the GP100 .44 spc or the S&W M69 .44 mag. Kinda leaning toward the M69 just because I already have a S&W M29 and only load for magnum currently, not Special. But your writing makes the Ruger very tempting. I once had a sweet shooting GP100 .357 so still like that midel/frame.
     
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  7. 2 Crow

    2 Crow Member

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    Matthew, how do you like that gold bead front sight?
     
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  8. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Matthew Clark

    Great review of your new Ruger GP100! I became interested in the .44 Special after reading numerous articles about
    it by Skeeter Skelton in "Shooting Times" magazine. Finally got one a few years back: a Ruger Flattop Blackhawk. Like it so much that I have been looking for another .44 Special revolver to go with it and that 5" barrel GP100 would certainly be a great choice to go with it! Thanks for sharing it and your reloading info with us!

    9LOn76d.jpg
     
  9. KnightHawk

    KnightHawk Member

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    Love the 44 Spl, one of my favorite cartridges. I have a target Model 24 Smith with a 6" barrel. It's a keeper.
    Years ago I bought one Lew Horton 3" round butt and one 4" square butt model 29 Smith's. At that time I also had a early model 24, plus a Charter Arms. Like an idiot I sold them off and have regretted it every since. All three of the Smith's were wonderful gun's. After that it seemed that the only 44's on the market were Charters. Their good utility guns and nice carry guns that fit in the back pocket.
    Just picked up a Smith model 69 4", but the GP100 44 Spl in 5" is definitely next on the list. Nice gun there Matthew.
     
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  10. Matthew Clark

    Matthew Clark Member

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    Thanks to all for your contributions on this topic. Always love hearing about others adventures.
    2 Crow I love that gold bead front sight. Only revolver I have with one and it was one of the reasons I chose this model. I resrea liked them on a couple rifles I have. If I remember my reading correctly that particular feature was one that Skeeter had imagined on his ideal revolver in this caliber. Being a big fan of ole Skeeter's writings it had to be. Most of the young fellers don't remember who Skeeter, Elmer and Jack were .Got to try to keep the history alive ya know.
     
  11. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    Beauteous Maximus OP & bannockburn.
     
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  12. Matthew Clark

    Matthew Clark Member

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    I agree, that flat top Ruger six has been making me breathless since I laid eyes on it. I wouldn't trade my GP100 away for it but I might have to get me one of those. Beautiful!
     
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  13. mdauben

    mdauben Member

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    I can't understand why they made this version a limited run. The OPs gun is Cinderella to the standard production, 3-inch underlug, "ugly stepsister" version. :(
     
  14. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    I, too prefer the half lug GP. The full lug just looks waaaay too plump for my eye. (I have the .38 SP 101 2” and the .44 GP 3”, the 2” looks more proportional) I wish the 3” had a half lug.

    That blued .44 is a real looker! Love the grips :thumbup: .

    My Redhawk .41 has a brass bead front/ V rear that makes for a great sight picture. The fiber optic of the GP is easier to see. but the precision isn’t what the brass bead offers IMHO.

    Dang it! I’m gonna look up the 5” 327 Fed on GB and get one soon ... I think I can pull it off with the spouse... maybe :confused:.

    Stay safe.
     
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  15. NWPilgrim

    NWPilgrim Member

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    Agreed!! Hopefully Ruger sees this as a good configuration to turn into regular production or st least the half lug on existing models. I have never liked the full underlug lines.
     
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  16. Hanshi

    Hanshi Member

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    You have a very nice looking revolver. It also seems you have the load it likes. That's good shooting!
     
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  17. whatnickname

    whatnickname Member

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    I have five revolvers that are chambered for the 44 Special. Two GP100s with 3” barrels. One GP100 with a 5” barrel and two Smith & Wesson’s one with a 4” barrel and one with a 6.5” barrel. I really like this round. Throws a nice, large diameter bullet at respectable velocity and is pleasant to shoot. My go to bullet for general use is 210 grain ceramic coated RNFP bullet from Missouri Bullet Company loaded to around 850 fps. If I’m going for a hotter performance bullet it is usually the Hornady XTP in either 180 or 200 grain weights loaded to 1000 or 900 fps respectively. All of these are easy to carry and accurate. If I want more horsepower then I usually go to one of several 41 or 44 Magnum’s I own.
     
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  18. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    I like the half lug version of the 5" 44 Special GP100. Wish that I had one but only the full lug version was available when I bought mine.

    I load 200 gr wadcutters for my 44 Special guns. They work well for most of the shooting that I do these days.

    I do have magnum version guns of many cartridges but I do like shooting the old original versions in guns chambered for them better (32 S&WL, 38 Special, 44 Special, and 45 Colt).
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2019 at 10:56 AM
  19. Overkill870

    Overkill870 Member

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    Very nice gun. Thanks for the write up it sounds like you found a great load.

    I love my 4" 357 GP100. I am sure the 44 would be a nice gun.
     
  20. critter

    critter Member

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    I have the stainless 3" version. NICE trigger and amazing shooter! Love the thing! I carry it as it would be a fight stopper!
     
  21. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    Good report on a nice looking gun!
     
  22. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Member

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