Well I'm in for the night, and it's not so much of a range report as a series of observations, but I gotta talk about this GP100.
Recently in a fit of weakness I broke down and bought a Ruger GP100, stainless finish, 3" full underlug barrel. I've had the thing about... 4 days.
I've got to give it to Ruger for marching to their own drummer. Their handguns have style, the cool sleek lines demanded by Hollyweird be damned.
First of all look at this thing.
Is that not a neat looking gun? I quite like it. It doesn't have the classic profile of a neat and trim Smith and Wesson, but it's got its own unique look.
I have to say this... this is, in my opinion, my choice for a handgun in this caliber if we're restricing ourselves to only new handguns. This is a rare thing, it's a classic combat revolver in a modern package and that is a dying breed, sadly.
There's nothing ridiculous, useless, or sissy here. The sights are rugged and fixed. I quite like the fixed sights personally. I find them to be my preference on a personal defense revolver. For an all around good gun I prefer adjustable sights, but for defense I like the fixed. The gun is built out of good old fashioned steel and weighs enough to help soak up recoil. I've already found getting back on target isn't too hard and with practice I'm sure it will be very quick indeed.
The GP100 uses a frame mounted firing pin, and a transfer bar system. Its action feels more like the Smith and Wesson short action than the long action to me, but that's my personal feeling and highly subjective. For form factor I give this gun my highest approval. The size is perfect. For general use I like to go just little bit bigger, but for defensive/CCW use the size is perfect. It's a lot of revolver in a relatively small package. I'd just as soon have this as the SP101, but I feel the SP101 has its own appeal. This gun is just barely small enough to fit in my jeans pocket. The grip protrudes have no doubt, but its size tells me it could be carried lots of different ways.
It's unique to me in that it is balanced in feel. A lot of revolvers don't feel balanced, even revolvers I really like.
Construction is heavy. The gun has a lot of weight in the hand and it feels and looks nice and solid. I've often summed up Ruger firearms in one word: Overbuilt. That seems to be the case here. This may be good or bad. If you're a revolver geek like me or you just like things that are ridiculously sturdy, you'd probably like this. If you like slim and trim and heavy enough to get the job done but not excessively heavy, well you might not like this product as much as some others.
The design, if you aren't familiar with it, is very different, but it's quite possibly superior in a number of interesting ways. Just look at the pdf of the takedown as detailed in the manual and you'll see what I mean.
It points very naturally if you're used to L frame Smith and Wessons. What's remarkable to me is that the sight radius with the 3" barrel is not a significant disadvantage at what I'd personally consider typical combat distance with a weapon of this type (say within 15 yards).
It's a size exactly between a snubnose and a full size revolver. You could argue it falls into either or neither category. For that reason, it fills a niche for me. I consider it a compact full size revolver.
The factory grips I didn't think I was going to like at first. I quite frankly think that non custom wooden grips on a revolver are horrible. I know the grips were rubber with a wooden insert but I felt their neutral, dimple free shape would make them slip. It seems like they work however. I also like the relatively compact and yet also hand filling quality of these grips so I will test them extensively. If they aren't to my liking I'll switch to Hogues.
I do have a slight gripe about the front sight... for some reason I find it harder to get a good sight picture against a dark target. I am wondering if a simple application of some kind of flourescent yellow, green, or red paint on its ramp wouldn't help immensely. Perhaps even that is too much and the old white out trick would suffice.
The trigger... here is one of the two reasons I feel a Ruger is not quite as refined as a good Smith and Wesson. It's not a bad trigger, it's just a different trigger. I've dry fired mine about 350 times trying to get used to it. The main thing that's driving me crazy about establishing trigger control is that the reset on the trigger seems like it's just a tiny hair longer than I am used to, and I still sometimes try to fire again too quickly and pull back on a locked up trigger.
The good news is, folks I admit it, I dryfire practice a lot. This habit will sooner or later give me a pretty good trigger if I just make sure this one is my designated "toy".
It definitely has CCW possibilities. I find that that extra 1" less of barrel makes far more difference than I could have ever imagined.
Comparing it to S&W, I feel the current Rugers against Current Smiths, the Rugers seem to be better in this particular niche of what I'd consider to be "combat revolvers". However, there is a level of polish, finish, and elegance of design my slightly older Smiths have on it. The Smith and Wesson is something like a Rolex and the Ruger is more like a Seiko. Really, I feel the most honest comparison would be a GP100 in this format against a 681 with the same length barrel to really understand the differences. I'd specify a prelock 681 but I think they're all prelock.
Will I carry it? Not seriously yet. I want to play with it some more first, learn its trigger, and figure out what bullet weight it seems to be the most "on" with. I figure it's sighted in for some 158 grain load.
What I'd actually like to do with it is get it where I could carry this as a BUG here in these winter months where I can get away with it. This is definitely a blue jeans gun. It's plenty hefty.
For actual carry my XD40 has a better and more slender form and carries on me in a very concealed position very comfortably. But this is an interesting toy that will keep my interest for some time to come. I love .357 Magnum and do not question its effectiveness with good loads, but it presents problems I don't wish to deal with in a defensive caliber when I have other choices. It is however a very appealing BUG caliber. I was considering a 640 but I feel like this fills the same niche I was looking to fill.