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.


Edward A. Sanchez said...

Hey, Michael...your blog has long become a must-listen every week...looking forward to this episode. Just contacted Cylinder & Slide to see about some work on my Taurus .357 (hope they work on 'em)

Keep on keepin' on...



Unknown said...

How coincidental: I shot an IDPA match today with my Smith Model 21. Keith 240s leave a fully defined hole, no arguments about : "Well, did it cut the line or not?". I enjoy the struggle to manage the trigger pull and recoil for accuracy.

Anonymous said...

One thing that caught my eye when the Ruger GP-100 "Match Champion" hit the gun news was just how much of the top-strap was cut away to enable mounting that combat sight. Note the dovetail cut. I looked at many pictures and concluded that it is over half of the cross-sectional area. I can recall awhile back, when S&W had many problems with their already-.357 mag'-rated guns suffering from top-strap "stretch" when they were fed a constant diet of "full- strength" loads. These Rugers are either strong beyond belief, or....? I think that the regular adjustable sight on the standard model is a stronger set-up that preserves the designed strength of the gun. As an engineer, maybe I'm overly cautious.

Life Member

P. S.: I'm also disappointed that the very robust Ruger "dovetail" integral scope mounts are disappearing from rifles across their lines. I don't think that Ruger did a good enough job promoting the soundness of the basis for that design and as MB pointed out, they didn't support the line with an adequate variety of mounts to match the variety of scopes out on the market. For those of us that have much experience with this style mount, it has been the "best kept secret". The future should hold either the dovetailed mounts or Picatinny, or Weaver mounts that are machined integrally in the receiver forging as a more suitable alternative. C'mon Ruger, someone else, get with it!

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Will said...

what sort of problems are you having with the Charter Bulldog?

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