New Ruger GP100 in .44 Special | Outdoor Channel
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New Ruger GP100 in .44 Special

The one gun Ruger fans have been waiting for is finally here: the new GP100 in .44 special

(Photo courtesy of Down Range TV) (Photo courtesy of Down Range TV)

By: Ed Head

Ruger revolver fans, your long wait is over. The gun you wanted Ruger to make, the one big bore revolver shooters wanted, is finally here. At long last your prayers and lamentations have been answered with the new five shot GP100 in .44 Special. For the rest of you who might not get why this is a big deal, please allow me to explain. The .44 Special is something of a magical cartridge with a devoted but deprived fan base. Enthusiasts know the cartridge is highly accurate, mild to shoot, easy to reload and as versatile as any pistol cartridge you can imagine. From mild target loads to hot stompers rivaling the .44 Magnum in effectiveness, the .44 Special is something of a do-it-all round. Unfortunately it isn’t a big seller so manufacturers of guns and ammunition haven’t devoted the attention to the .44 Special they have to hot sellers like the 9mm Luger. Devotees of the Special are left to suffer in the wilderness, despairing of having their needs fulfilled. Fortunately outfits like Hornady, Doubletap and Sig Sauer make defensive .44 Special ammunition and every once in a while a gun maker comes out with a .44 Special, usually as a limited edition.

In 1986 when the GP100 was introduced as a .357 Magnum it went head to head in competing with the L-frame Smith & Wesson 686 for a share of the police revolver market. The two revolvers are very similar dimensionally, and as a matter of fact you can use the same speed loaders and holsters for either revolver. While I think the GP100 may be a bit stronger, the 686 can hold up with high-pressure loads, as Smith & Wesson released a 5 shot version in .44 Magnum about a year ago. So where does that leave us with the GP100? I think it will handle any .44 Special load, including some pretty hot handloads. The folks at Ruger must have anticipated this, as they strengthened the cylinder by eliminating the usual flutes. That’s not to say I’m recommending the use of extreme loads – they aren’t necessary. The “sweet spot”, for the .44 Special is flinging big, heavy bullets at moderate velocity. As it turns out, this is exactly what’s needed for defensive use against man and most beasts.

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