Ruger has done a great job with the Ruger Custom Shop. The SR1911 Competition Pistol and 10/22 Competition Rifle both offer a high degree of aesthetic appeal, significant functional refinement over standard models and measurably enhanced performance. The Super GP100 is aggressively more of the same with a revolver that fits right into USPSA, ICORE and Steel Challenge competition. I am not a competitive shooter at this stage of my life. I think it is the short pants and sneakers that keep me out of it… that and the running and dodging, jumping and sweating in public. The following, however, does come after putting large amounts of factory and handloaded, jacketed and hard cast 357 Magnum rounds down the Super GP 100’s barrel. So with right hand and wrist submerged in ice water…
Ruger Custom Shop Super GP 100
||Newport, New Hampshire
|Action||Double / Single|
|Rate of Twist
|Metal Parts Finish||Physical Vapor Deposition|
|Grips||Hogue Hand Finished Hardwood|
||Fiber Optic – Green|
||White Outline Adjustable
|Trigger Pull SA/DA*||4 Lbs 10 Oz / 11 Lbs 9Oz
*Actual, not nominal
What’s rounder, an orange?
What is the Super GP100 357 Magnum? To someone competing, it might be thought of as a direct application upgrade from the eight shot Ruger Model 5060 Redhawk; lighter, better trigger, better grip. To the rest of us, it could be described as a Super Redhawk large frame revolver, minus the Super Redhawk’s frame extension, plus a shrouded barrel. It could also be described as a GP100 with a hypothyroid condition, that manifests itself as a stout, large frame and a correspondingly larger diameter cylinder for increased capacity. Like the Super Redhawk and GP100, the Super GP100 has a stub grip frame to allow more creative grip shaping to accommodate the individual shooter.
The Super GP 100’s hammer and trigger are sprung independently, like the Super Redhawk and GP100, rather than with a single spring like the standard Redhawk. The Ruger Custom Shop has also refined the fit and finish of the trigger pieces, added centering bumps and micro shim spacers to achieve a lighter and smoother single action / double action trigger, without jeopardizing ignition reliability. Yes, of course sustained double action shooting will leave you with forearms like Popeye, but the trigger enhancements make the Super GP 100 easy to control and keeps sights on targets while shooting single or double action.
Can you do that with a little less ambiguity, Joe? For you? Sure…
What is up with the diminished diameter and heavily fluted cylinder? Easy. Thick wall, full diameter at the case head to take the brunt of the pressure, then reduced and heavily fluted to keep weight down. The pressure areas are substantially thicker than the six shot standard GP 100 and the throat wall thickness is as thick on both. Keep in mind that the standard Ruger GP 100 is a stout revolver in its own right.
Sure, Joe, dressed in your fancy Amazon Essentials cargo pants and Dominican Republic made T-Shirts, you can pull off shooting a gun with those spiffy vents, but what about the rest of the folks? Fair question. For folks who shoot more than a single cylinder full, the shroud keeps gun handling temperature down and the barrel shedding heat rapidly. In more specific terms…ambient 49°F ambient, 49°F barrel and shroud, measured at second vent slot from frame. Immediately after eight rounds, 68°F barrel and 59°F shroud. Within two minutes, 60°F barrel and 55°F shroud. Within fifteen minutes, 49°F barrel and 49°F shroud. So the vented shroud turns out to be an efficient radiator. The shroud also makes it easy for that front sight to always be perfectly aligned at 12 O’clock and not tilted at the mercy of barrel threads and torque values.
Obviously not from this model, so please don’t point and guffaw, but still an excellent example of the Ruger barrel / shroud assembly. The pin at the back of the shroud locks into the frame and puts the front sight into perfect radial alignment with the frame top. The barrel’s 0.560″ threads are supported by the frame. The body of the barrel measures 0.632″ in diameter. The shroud’s wall thickness is 0.142″ and its bore is a close fit to the barrel. The barrel’s front flange that secures the shroud to the frame is 0.072″ thick. It is a substantial assembly.
The Super GP 100 is an all stainless steel gun with a black physical vapor deposition (PVD) finish. PVD is a process where a hard metallic or crystalline substance is vaporized and deposited on the surface of a firearm. Only a few microns thick, PVD is able to take on the surface texture of the coated material. PVD does not chip, it is highly corrosion, chemical and wear resistant, and powder and bullet residue are easily removed. In the case of the subject Super GP 100, a cylinder latch drag mark barely became noticeable after one-thousand rounds and never wore completely through the finish. Cleaning at 250 round intervals, a light going over with a soft brush was all that was required to removed powder and bullet residue from the face of the gun’s cylinder. For folks who lament the passing of black oxide and swear it wore like no other, black oxide as a conversion coating is only a 0.0002″ finish at best. Let it see the inside of an unlined holster for a couple of weeks and there will be no black oxide finish between leather and bare metal.
How quickly can ammo inventory be diminished?
Sometimes eight shots are not enough, like when you are in the midst of competition and you need to reload before entering the 50 yard, horseback, sidesaddle leg of the course. The Super GP 100’s cylinder is cut for moon clips, three of which are supplied with the revolver. For greater demand, moon clips, moon clip loaders and speed loaders abound, even on Amazon. Most of the time, I just manually loaded the subject gun’s cylinder, one round at a time, because speed reloading was not of the essence and because my thumbs were getting sore loading moon clips.
One source of reloading brass…
There was no scientific methodology applied to the selection of ammunition for this live fire component. The effort was more of me reaching into the 357 Mag space on the shop shelves, rooting around for a range of weights, and making sure there were different types of bullet weights and construction. Shooting was done to see how the Super GP held up to flogging. Some was directed at paper targets, some at tree stumps with way too much attitude, some at random branches protruding from winter tree fall, more than a few at dissident pine cones. Then, of course, some took the obligatory trip over the chronograph to determine muzzle velocity.
|Hornady Critical Duty||135||Flex||1275||1380||1.9|
Velocity was recorded with an inexpensive, yet accurate and calibrated chronograph, positioned 10′ from the revolver’s muzzle and validated with yet another inexpensive, but accurate chronograph. Barnes TACXPD ammunition factory rating is based on a 2″ revolver, so it checked significantly higher, as it has in other 4″ and 5.5″ revolvers. Other higher than factory rated velocity is attributed to the combination of longer than typical cylinder length and barrel combination. Accuracy, “precision” for those who speak NRA, shooting was done over a cast iron front rest, with grip and hands supported by sand filled leather bags. Shooting followed a terrific lunch; fresh turkey on toasted bagel thins, crisp iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced tomato and a teaspoon of olive oil mayo. I thought you should know. I would also add that the group size reflects my marksmanship limitations, as a better shooter could have shot the Super GP 100… better.
Shooting impressions, or impressions formed while shooting….
All of my handguns with fiber optic sights have a red front sight and a two dot green rear sight. I won’t mention the name of the person who challenged my choice by insisting a green front sight was better, then citing many technical eyesight experts I was, and remain, unaware of. Suffice it to say, the same gentleman co-invented the inverted helix auto-gyro and once dated Tarja Turunen. No, the last two parts are not true. I’m just stalling before admitting he was right, at least in the case of the Ruger Super GP 100. Walking around in dense woodland where all shots taken were almost always in shadow, the green front, white outlined black rear were easy to pick up against any background.
Big surprise, the Super GP 100 is a little nose heavy, but actually a lot less than I anticipated. The balance caused the revolver to be steady on target and the weight did a good job of dampening recoil. I joked about a sore wrist at the beginning of the article… no, don’t page up to look, I’ll lose my train of thought… but I shot the Ruger for sustained range sessions and it never thumped me around. The grip is narrow, quite common these days, but the vertical contours spread the recoil around in the palm of my hand.
As a larger revolver, the thing I could not do, which I can do with my GP 100, was to easily thumb the hammer if I wanted to shoot single action. As the thumb piece on the larger Super GP 100 rides lower, the reach is the same on both guns, 1 1/2″ from the top of the grip to the center of the thumb piece. After watching my hand reach for the hammer for about fifteen minutes, I traced the issue to the Super GP 100’s 1.170″ wide grip top, compared to the 1.085″ soft grip on my standard and woefully unexciting GP 100. The other influencing factor is that the wood grip has a gloss finish that tends to be a bit slick, where as the soft grip on my GP 100 sticks like Velcro. Accepting that special guns have to be supplied with special hardwood grips, it is easy enough to pick up a set of soft grips for times when you are planning to shoot the Super GP 100 and not just bask in its afterglow..
For the sake of proving out my theory, I pulled the soft grip from my standard GP 100 and installed it on the Super GP 100. Grips interchange between the Super Redhawk, Super GP 100 and standard GP 100. Sure enough, I was able to thumb the hammer with solid control, even with the gun’s addition weight. Not sure if everyone would like the Johnny Cash version, but I think it improves handling for folks with large medium to small large hands.
The cylinder gap at the onset measured a snug 0.007″. A thousand rounds later, and it still measured 0.007″. No cylinder rock developed and the cylinder latch burnished, but did not wear through the cylinder’s PVD finish. A range rod dropped cleanly through the cylinder chambers on the onset and did the same at the conclusion. There was no jacket or lead shaving suggesting timing issues of any type. No cracks or etching developed.
The Super GP 100 barrel shroud slots did not become collecting points for powder residue, dust and candy wrappers as I thought they might. Even my heavy smoking Power Pistol and cast lead handloads could not gunk up the Super. Trigger pull began at 4 lbs 10 oz single action and 11 lbs 9 oz double action. Trigger pull ended at 4 lbs 3 oz single action and 12 lbs even double action. Pull was very smooth throughout, just heavy… ish double action.
As a big fan of the Ruger GP 100, the Super GP 100 represents yet another solid option for the Ruger revolver product line up. It will be interesting to see if the frame shows up in big bore calibers as six shooters with reduced cylinder diameter giving way to yet another frame variation. All conjecture on my part. In the Interim, as an eight shot 357 Mag revolver, it is a standout and one that will last a very long time even under heavy use.
As a closing note, I have to express appreciation to Ruger for paying attention to competitive shooting with firearms and team sponsorship. Competition is a big draw for new enthusiasts, it contributes to holding the interests of seasoned gun owners and it projects a positive and real world perspective on firearm ownership.