With the introduction of the Security Six line in 1971, Bill Ruger reinvented the double-action revolver and made an aggressive foray into the world handgun market. At that time and for some years afterward, revolvers were the "weapon of choice" for most police agencies as well as a significant portion of the civilian market.
Major selling points included ease, of disassembly, great strength and durability by virtue of solid-frame, modular construction and relatively massive action components. Ruger's sales reps traveled the planet gleefully shot-putting the Security Sixes around police ranges and running over them with trucks. These tactics were quite successful.
By 1985, 1,210,000 examples of the Security Six and the fixed-sight Speed Six variation were in the field. When the dynamic duo was retired in 1988 with the introduction of the GP-l00, their final count exceeded 1.5 million.
Caliber options included the ubiquitous .38/.357, 9mm and even the .380 British revolver cartridge in deference to former members of the Empire. The revolvers had proven as rugged in the field as advertised and the Ruger division dedicated to servicing them was quite small. It consisted, in fact, of one employee in a small office.
The Security Six had barrel length options of 2.75", 4" and 6" with the latter variation being quite popular among outdoorsmen. The Speed Six featured a roundbutt and an option of two shorter barrel lengths.
The revolvers presented, relative to the traditional designs, a low barrel-to-grip axis and an overall aspect that could be accurately described as "Victorian streamline." The frame-fitting standard grips were quite easy to conceal, but were notorious for their capacity to transmit recoil to the shooter's hand. Wood and rubber target grips soon became a factory option.
All things considered, the Security Six was a resounding success. Out of print now for 15 years, excellent examples abound in the second-hand market. Generally priced between $200 and $250, they represent a particularly good bargain because Ruger retains a supply of parts and continues to provide full service.
Enter The GP-100
In 1985, Ruger redesigned the mid-frame revolver line to incorporate certain advances pioneered in the .44 Redhawk. The GP-100 retained the proven modular design of the Security Six. It was, and is, promoted as being specifically designed for unlimited use of full power magnum loads.
The basic 4" adjustable sight model weighed in at a hefty 41 ozs. in contrast to the 33.5 oz. Security Six. The full-size cushioned grips, attached to a stud rather than the traditional grip frame, featured wooden inserts inspired by the dash panel of Bill Ruger's BMW.
Available in blue steel or stainless, basic barrel lengths include 3", 4" and 6" with a multiplicity of barrel weight options among the fixed and adjustable sight variations.
In deference to the concealed market, Ruger kept the Speed Six in the catalog until 1988 and developed a down-sized five-shot dubbed the SP-101. Introduced in 1989, The SP was to be Ruger's contribution to the snub market. This 25 oz. (with 2.4" barrel) revolver was so massively constructed as to invite experimentation with high pressure loads. An historic meeting between Ruger and Massad Ayoob culminated in an early upgrade to .357 Magnum.
Originally available in 2.25" and 3" barrel models, the SP-101 has expanded into the kit gun realm with 4" tubes in .22 LR and .32 Magnum.
A Share Of Rugers
Over the years, I have owned several Ruger double-actions and examined a great many more. After returning my gently used Smith & Wesson Performance Center 627-8 for retiming, it occurred to me that I had never seen a Ruger of any vintage that had developed significant problems from wear.
I had put thousands of rounds through an early stainless Security Six and, while it had become incredibly smooth over time, no functional problems ever developed. My SP-101 carry gun has digested a full measure of the kind of handloads no longer published in the loading manuals and it remains as tight as when new.
I began examining used guns at gun shops and gun shows and talking with other shooters. I was unable to come up with a single example of a Ruger going out of time. I called up 10-Ring Precision and talked with former APG president Alex Hamilton. He has had quite a number of these through the shop for custom work and could not recall ever having seen any timing problems.
He added that he has never seen any problem with Ruger DA coil springs and the Rugers he has Rockwell tested have all met optimum specifications.
Terry Murbach at CorBon Ammunition told me that the Sturgis, S.D. company uses a 4" GP to test their trademark high pressure loads. Quite a number of vociferous rounds have gone through this revolver, producing no ill effects.
By this time, I understood that it was time for another revolver. I picked up a stainless GP-100 with the shrouded 4" barrel. It came complete with the highly visible adjustable sights comprised of a white outline rear and interchangeable front. The trigger weighs in at 55 lbs. SA and 12.5 lbs. DA. While spring kits will reduce these numbers, I decided to leave things as is.
The stout Ruger mainspring is noted for its ability to detonate any and all primers. The action is quite smooth and the ergonomics of the design make for a good, straight-back trigger pull.
Bring Me Saddam's Head
I had already chronographed several examples of the much loved 125 gr. JHP in my SP. I now wanted comparison numbers from a GP. Arriving at the range, I found that somebody bad abandoned a target representative of a well-noted Iraqi boogey-man. The top half was free of bullet holes so I decided to use the head as a reference while chronographing.
It was 45 yards downrange and I was sitting, knees upraised and back rested against the bumper of my jeep. After the first five rounds, I adjusted the rear sight and landed 14 of the next 15 smack dab in Saddam's face. I knew this revolver was gonna work.
I had four factory loads which included the traditional Remington short JHP. This is the one with all the exposed lead and the scallops.
Other loads were Remington Golden Saber and Speer Gold Dot. I am particularly fond of the Speer load because it provides optimum results in both the GP and the SP. It also provided the same velocity as my longtime favorite 125 gr. handload.
At a later range session, I fired one five-round 25 yard group each from a makeshift rest. The largest group, at 2.4", came from the Remington SJHP. The Golden Sabers went into 1.9" with the Speer GD doing 2.1". The largest three-shot cluster came with the Gold Dot measuring .90 caliber.
The handload, consisting of 21 grs. of WW 296 with a 125 gr. Hornady XTP and a WW magnum primer, put four into .43" with the fifth shot opening the group to 1.9". I shot one more group with this load obtaining a 1.1" five-round spread.
Ruger DAs are smooth and free of trigger stack. The cylinder comes to lockup well before the hammer releases and the drop of the locking bolt gives a tactile clue that the shot is about to go. This allows excellent control of double-action work with delivery of five shots in under 10 seconds to be expected when firing one-handed. Roger maintains no network of authorized repair centers. None are needed. A Ruger owner need not familiarize himself with the policies of UPS and their ilk. For all the Ruger man cares, the local gunsmith can go sit on the bench with the Maytag repairman. Roger double-actions have much to recommend them to the practical- minded shooter.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Publishers' Development Corporation
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group
One of my favorite forms of plinking is to toss out several golf balls and just shoot away. Or, as a compitition, toss out only one golf ball and both (or several) of you try to be the first to shoot it downrange. Anyway, my SP101 nevere lets me down.
I carried a 2.75' in .357 security six for several years. A couple of years back I found a NIB speed six at a gun show. I couldn't get my wallet out fast enough!! It spends a lot of time inside my waist band. I have a sig, a variety of .9s and .357s and these two are at the top of my list!
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