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Review: Ruger 10mm GP100 Revolver – Unicorn Revo

This article originally appeared in CONCEALMENT 10
Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

10MM FANS REJOICE. RUGER ROLLS OUT THE GP100 IN THE BEST MILLIMETER

There are guns for serious purposes, guns for fun, and guns we buy simply “because.” Ruger’s GP100 in 10mm auto could legitimately fall into all three categories, but probably skews toward the latter for most people. We could trot out the standard gunwriter’s trope, extolling the virtues of having a long-gun and sidearm using the same cartridge — just like in the old west, dontcha know — but that would be both derivative and dishonest. But if you do want to venture down that path, then Candice Horner might have just the companion gun for you elsewhere in this issue.

This isn’t a handgun we’d recommend for a first-time shooter. Hell, it isn’t a handgun we’d recommend to someone as a second or third purchase. But for someone who doesn’t want to follow the herd and wants something a little different that can perform in all three roles, it has a certain flair. Maybe the GP in GP100 really does stand for “general purpose.”

Until now, if you wanted to indulge in a revolver in this chambering, your options were severely limited to either a one-off custom job, or else one of two, now-discontinued Smith and Wessons — either the Model 610, or the Nightguard. With used Smiths starting at north of a grand, Ruger evidently thought there was room in this niche market for an alternative. For those who understand a revolver’s attributes, it’s a handsome gun. For those who don’t, well, you should probably take time to cultivate an appreciation of that heady combination of Old Spice and Icy Hot, while figuring out just what style of mustache would look best on your upper lip.

JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM

Based on the already-successful Match Champion in .357 Magnum, the 10mm GP100 offers a few upgrades over the standard model, such as a tuned trigger, fiber-optic front sight and walnut grips. It retains the GP’s bombproof reputation, and with a six-round payload is just about the optimum combination of frame size, cylinder diameter, and capacity — it’s certainly a more sensible package than Ruger’s portly Super Redhawk offering in the same caliber. As the case it was originally designed around is longer than the 10mm, (1.29 inches for the .357 versus 0.992 for the 10), there’s enough cylinder length to accommodate a 10mm Magnum case, should you feel a 10mm auto revolver is too banal and mundane, and you can find a gunsmith willing to ream the chambers.

If you plan on messing around in USPSA’s revolver division, then you may wish to relieve the GP100’s grips a little to make dumping cases easier. Note also offset bolt notches in cylinder, away from the thinnest part of the chamber walls.

If you plan on messing around in USPSA’s revolver division, then you may wish to relieve the GP100’s grips a little to make dumping cases easier. Note also offset bolt notches in cylinder, away from the thinnest part of the chamber walls.

With a 4-inch barrel, the GP100 is reminiscent of service revolvers of old, the kind that dangled from the hip of almost every cop up until the total domination of the polymer framed 9mm semi-auto. In 10mm, it gives the user a significant boost in ballistic capability over the 357 mag when it comes to launching heavy bullets, just the sort of projectiles you want to drop large game animals, or defeat intermediate barriers. How does Buffalo Bore’s 220-grain hard cast running at 1,200 feet per second sound? If you said, “Ouch at both ends,” you’d be right on the money.

Because 10mm is a rimless design, getting it to work in a revolver requires a little finagling. It headspaces on the case mouth, just like in its auto-loading counterparts, but getting spent rounds out of the cylinder requires the user to either pry them out individually with their fingernails (knife blade in the case of hotter loads), or else use a moon clip which allows the star-shaped ejector to kick them free, en block.

The GP100 ships with three moon clips in its plastic case, and you’ll probably lose at least one of them at your first range session. Or maybe that’s just us projecting. Either way, they’re $5 a piece to replace, which seems a bit steep for what they are. Moon clips also permit the use of 40 S&W ammo, which can save a few shekels on practice rounds. If you want to use the GP100 in competition, then the shorter cases make for faster reloads, and with a six-round cylinder, you’re going to be reloading a lot.

Using them as speedloaders might work well at the range, but they’re a bit fragile to schlep into the field, and if you bend one, it’ll tie up the gun. Fortunately, Safariland’s Comp II speedloader works just fine, even though it’s made for the 357, and were we to take the Ruger along on a backcountry trip, the first cylinder would be loaded with six rounds in a moon clip, with a reload in a Comp II riding in a pocket.

Now we’ve gotten ammo management out of the way, what about the rest of the gun? Sights are a combination of fully adjustable rear and fiber-optic front, both of which are securely inlet to the barrel and frame. Ruger employs their standard spring-loaded plunger to secure the frontsight, while the rear is sunk deeply into the top strap and largely shielded from knocks. There’s a ribbed section of barrel leading up to the frontsight, which cuts down on glare, but this feature isn’t carried over to the frame, leading to an awkward transition to the flat top strap.

There’s likewise a stutter step when it comes to the barrel’s side profile, with a sharp ledge leading from the frame, something that would’ve been beveled on a classic revolver such as a Smith Model 27, but it’s one more tool path on a machining center that could otherwise be eliminated to cut costs. To most people, stuff like this is a non-issue, but you only have to look at a few designs from the early 20th century to realize what we’ve lost in terms of manufacturing aesthetics, and it’s largely our fault as consumers for not giving a sh*t. Ruger is the largest civilian rearms manufacturer in the world, and they didn’t get so big by not giving people what they want. And what they want is good enough, and cheap.

ruger gp100 10mm

Apart from these couple of “almost, but not quite,” features, the 10mm GP100 does a creditable job. Its trigger in single-action mode breaks at 4.3 pounds, with a hint of creep and almost no overtravel, while the DA pull rolls over at 10.5. In rapid fire, you can haul right through the entire stroke without missing a beat, but should you want to stage it, there’s a noticeable tactile pause as the bolt drops into position to lock up the cylinder. Another 1/8 inch of smooth trigger travel and its hammer will drop, smacking the firing pin through a transfer bar, which rises into position at the last second.

Once six rounds have been expended, the usual Ruger push button on the left side of the frame’s fence falls naturally under the thumb for a right-handed shooter. Lefties aren’t so lucky. Using the trigger finger of the strong hand is awkward, and the quickest way we found to reliably hit the release was to slide the support hand forward and hit it with the right thumb, while pressing the cylinder out with the index finger. It’s slower, but not the same level of awkward as say, running a right-handed, scoped bolt rifle.

ROUNDS DOWNRANGE

We sourced a variety of both 10mm and 40 S&W loads, then ventured afield with a selection of targets and a chronograph to see what was what. The 10mm suffered for a decade or more due to wimpy factory ammo selection, and loads matching the original Norma specs were as rare as a 20-year-old white chick without a wrist tattoo. But fortunately the days of it being a slightly warmed-over 40 are gone. Sure, there are still downloaded options on the shelves, but if you want or need hotter fodder, it’s out there in abundance.

Ruger GP100

By all means dismiss it as part of our OCD nitpicking, but that sharp ledge where the barrel meets the frame really got to us.

That said, this particular GP100 isn’t something you’re going to want to shoot all day with ammo loaded at the spicy end of the spectrum. Those attractive walnut target grips do nothing to mitigate recoil, which is sharp and drives straight into the palm. While the 10mm is no 454 Casull, it’s way ahead of the 9mms most people select as their default handgun, and shooting it for an extended session requires the user to recalibrate their expectations.

One of the attractions the 10mm GP100 holds for us is its versatility. While it wouldn’t be a first choice in any particular category, it could serve in home-defense duties as a “point and click” handgun anyone in the family could grab in extremis, regardless of their level of firearms familiarity. Snatch it up out of its hiding place, point at bad guy, pull trigger till bad guy goes away.

Of the rounds we tested, the first we’d grab for home-defense duties would be Barnes’ 155-grain Tac XP which achieved a fairly mild velocity of 1,170 feet per second, but was stunningly accurate and shot under an inch at 20 yards. It’s relatively easy to control, produces great expansion through heavy clothing, and meets the FBI protocol for penetration. Unfortunately, this load is no longer cataloged by Barnes, but the bullet is loaded by other manufacturers, including Double Tap, which makes the second load we’d recommend. For those looking to up the destruction levels, then their 135-grain defensive load hauls ass at 1,575 fps from the GP100’s 4-inch pipe, for 744 foot-pounds of energy — more than enough to cleanly take medium game at revolver ranges. We’ve shot hogs with this load, and it’s pretty wicked in terms of fragmentation.

ruger gp100 match champion

And for those venturing into bear country, something like the aforementioned hard cast heavyweight would be a comforting companion when help may be hours away. There’s been times when hauling a carcass through Alaskan alder groves thicker than hairs on a dog, that the 22-inch-barreled bolt gun over our shoulder would’ve been gladly traded for a 10mm on the hip.

One handgun, three roles. Yes, there are plenty of better pistol options in each of the three categories. Home defense? Suppressed 300BLK AR with a SIG brace, please. Medium game hunting at short range? Let’s do something exotic like an XP100 in 7mm BR. And for a pistol to put minds at ease when out in the woods, then a Ruger Alaskan in .480 would handily bridge the gap between sidearm and anti-tank weapon. Of course, each one of those would be pretty much useless in at least one of the other jobs, but the GP100, being less specialized can dabble in all of them. And as Heinlein noted, specialization is for insects.


Ruger GP100 Match Champion
Caliber: 10mm Auto
Barrel length: 4.2 inches
Overall length: 9.75 inches
Weight: 37.3 ounces
Capacity: 6 rounds
MSRP: $969
URL: https://www.ruger.com/

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