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Tested: Ruger GP100 .44 Special Revolver

Last year we posted 5 Ruger Revolvers We’re Ready For. There I put into print my desire for a 5-shot version of the Ruger GP100. Instead of additional chambers for smaller cartridges, like the 6-shot .327 Fed. SP101 or the 10-shot GP100 .22 LR, I hoped for fewer chambers capable of holding larger rounds. I’m happy to say that my wish has just been granted in the form of the new 5-shot GP100 chambered in .44 Spl.

In an earlier post, Three Handguns That Got Away, I lamented my own short-sightedness in selling off what has become the relatively rare, collectable, 3″ barrel Smith & Wesson 696 5-shot .44 Spl. Writing the article made my desire to replace the 696 just that much stronger. So, I hit the Information Highway to see what was available.

The occasional 696 will pop up on the market from time to time, but with healthy price tags starting at $1,600. The Taurus Tracker has a 4” ported barrel but I wanted a non-ported 3” barrel. There is, of course, the Charter Arms Bulldog. However, it is quite lightweight and therefore pretty snappy in the recoil department. Visiting the Clements Custom Guns website gave me my first look at a 6-shot .357 Mag. GP100 converted into a 5-shot .44 Spl., which I thought was a great idea. Unfortunately, the price tag was once again too steep for my budget.

Luckily for me, the idea of a 5-shot big-bore GP100 is not an original one. Some folks will think I had some sort of insider information about this new model (including the insiders themselves) when I mentioned it last year. The truth is I just wanted what other folks had in mind. Ruger listens to its customers, but it still takes plenty of input to bring a new model into production.

This recent version of the GP100 double-action revolver enjoys the same features that have made this line popular for more than 30 years, including an all-stainless-steel construction and a 3-point lockup for the cylinder. It also has some of the company’s recent upgrades to the platform. The 3″ full-lug barrel is grooved along its flat top to reduce glare. The removable front sight blade has been replaced with a dovetailed green fiber optic sight. The front sight’s metallic housing has a square profile that matches nicely with the square notch of the fully adjustable, white outline rear sight.


The tank-like single piece frame is one of the strongest in its class. Designed to handle the regular use of magnum pressure loads, it will comfortably manage the typically lower levels of pressure produced by most .44 Spl. ammunition.