Saturday, February 18, 2017
Fun Day at the Range
Yesterday we began filming for an SGO episode centering on the new Ruger GP-100 .44 Special…I want to talk a little about the history and the enduring appeal of the .44 Special. Since yesterday was B-Roll Day, I got to haul out a bunch of cool guns to shoot, including my Taylor's Schofield .44 Russian top-break, an S&W M-21 .44 Special and a plethora [use "plethora" 2 more times and it's MY word!] of GP-100s in multiple calibers.
As I've talked about on the podcast, I was never a particular fan of the GP-100. I have and had Smiths and Colts in .357, and because of my fascination with big bore handguns, .357 guns didn't much show up on my radar. That changed when my friend Ken Jorgensen at Ruger convinced me to try one of their Match Champion GP-100s. Ken is a revolver specialist and an enthusiastic ICORE competitor, and I know he had a lot of input into the Match Champion (so named as it was designed for IDPA revolver competition).
I got the gun just before I headed out to GUNSITE for a week of filming, so I took the Match Champion and a case of .38 Special ball along with me. In between filmings I had a great chance to run the gun and really liked it. Initially I wasn't crazy about the Hogue grips, but they feel really great in the hand. I bought the gun and ran it in USPSA revolver competition…no, I didn't win the Cadillac, but I had a lot of fun.
It only got worse from there. We did a SHOOTING GALLERY episode on the ICORE Revolver World Championships, and I used a "vintage" GP-100 6-inch I bought off GunBroker and had overhauled by my friends at Cylinder and Slide Shop. I shot in the"classic" division, which requires speedloaders instead of moon clips.
From there I added a Wiley Clapp 3-inch (customized by Gemini Custom) and a 5.5-inch 10-shot .22 GP-100 for easy practice. I had trouble with my first .22 GP-100…one of the chambers was, in my best guess, not cut quite deep enough, causing the cylinder to bind up. I ended up returning that gun to Ruger, and the second has worked without a hitch. I plink a lot with CCI Quiets, which are…quiet.
One of the things we filmed yesterday was a recoil comparison with self-defense loads in the 3-inch .44 Special, the 3-inch .357 and a 2.75-inch Redhawk. I'm also doing a little history of the .44 Special, working up through .44 Russian (hence the Schofield) to the .44 Magnum. The other 2 parts we need to film are a comparison with other mid-frame .44 Specials (a Hamilton Bowen custom S&W .44 Special "Mountain Gun," a S&W 396 AirLite, a Charter Arms Bulldog and a Taurus 431 stainless steel. As you know, most of my revolvers have been "dinked." The Bulldog was redone by MagNaPort and has been a consistent problem child. The old Taurus, which was a gift from my father decades back, ended up in my safe because my father said it had the worst trigger in history…which is did. Jim Stroh from Alpha Precision completely redid the gun, rounding the square butt and going through the action with a fine-toothed comb. The result is one of the best .44 Specials I own. So the Ruger GP-100 has a lot of competition there. The final part is going through the GP-100 line. I'll do accuracy testing next week.
FWIW, in the last few years I have gone to "designer" cartridges for self-defense carry in both .44 Special and .44 Magnum. In the Specials, I've defaulted to Buffalo Bore Anti-Personnel 200-gr wadcutters at 1000 fps; in the Magnum, as I've mentioned before, I've sett;ed on the Garrett Defenders, 310-gr at roughly 1000 fps.