The GP100 has been my favorite revolver for some time. Mine has found a place in home defense, it has been on my belt when walking trails, it has seen a great deal of use for recreational target shooting, and it is frequently the basis for 357 Magnum handload development. Over the years, my GP 100 has been fitted with grips and sights that best suit my purposes and its trigger was finessed until it was smooth, light and creep free in both single and double action operation. Thousands of rounds fired and hours on the bench were required to get this result that, lucky for you, can now mostly be found with more power in a factory stock Ruger Match Champion.
Welterweight Vs Middle Weight
|Model GP 100 Match Champion|
|Type Action||Double / Single|
|Grips||Hogue Stippled Hardwood|
|Trigger Pull DA / SA||4.7 Lbs / 10.6 Lbs|
|Rear Sight||Adjustable W/E|
|Front Sight||Green Fiber Optic|
|Type Safety||Transfer Bar|
|Width – Cylinder||1.550″|
The 357 Magnum is a lot of cartridge, it was in 1935 and even more so today. No, I am not suggesting the 357 Magnum is a physically large cartridge that has grown larger over the years, I am just suggesting its bite is commensurate with its bark and factory ammunition has grown more stout with time.What could be done with a 357 Magnum? Revolvers like the GP100 allow control even in stressful situations and there is enough power for the short range hog and deer hunter, assuming practice and proficiency.
The 10mm Automatic Ruger GP 100 Match Champion provides a bump in power over the 357 Magnum, without sacrificing control. A good performance load for the 357 Magnum is 158 grains at 1235 fps with 535 ft-lbs of kinetic energy. A good performance load for the 10mm Auto is 180 grains at 1350 fps with 728 ft-lbs of kinetic energy.The combination of higher velocity and heavier bullet of larger diameter provides greater stopping power, flatter trajectory and higher kinetic energy than the 357 Magnum.
The 10mm Automatic is proving its worth. Not more than a few years ago, it seemed as though interest in 10mm Auto pistols had waned. There were few firearms chambered for the round and only a handful of factory ammunition choices. Today, the round is being chambered in a broad selection of auto loaders and, more recently, revolvers. The 10mm Auto shooter has a choice of approximately 60 factory loads and handloaders have access to a broad selection of components. It appears the public decided the lower power 40 S&W was not a necessity and opened an opportunity for the 10mm Auto to gain a foothold.
No, there is not a suggestion this takes the place of a .41 Magnum or a 44 Magnum as they are different classes of cartridges that pack more punch, but are not so easy to handle in a compact revolver. I think this is upping the GP100’s game without crossing that line… the one about the “not so easy to shoot” comment.
What makes a Match Champion a Match Champion
There appears to be a trend with manufacturers pushing a service or department that finesses certain premium models, where the finesse is limited to affixing a nifty label or where the “custom shop” does no more than make short runs of production guns and call it fashionable macaroni. Not the case with The Ruger Match Champion carries the good features of the GP100 and is actually finessed to refine the product’s function.
The 10mm Auto version of the GP Match Champion is very similar to the 357 Magnum version, with several exceptions to accommodate the larger 10mm cartridge… like barrel and cylinder dimensions. Additionally, the 10mm Auto version comes with moon clips to aid in extraction of the rimless cartridge and a round contour barrel replaces the 357 Magnum’s slab sided barrel. The front fiber optic sight is now open to the sides to gather more light. The top strap chamfer is still present, but only at about half the width and the same beefy frame remains.
My standard GP 100 retains the full underlug, the Match Champion versions have half lugs. Lug length reduction does take off some weight forward of the trigger guard which aids balance. The Match Champion grips are less swept, more vertical, which moves hand and trigger finger closer to the trigger and at a less accute angle. This realignment helps to bring the Match Champion naturally level on target.
Before the introduction of the Match Champion, I pulled the original swept, finger groove grip from my own GP100 and replaced a grip that is more perpendicular to the revolver’s bore. It is a soft rubber grip that is similar in form to the Match Champion grip.
The Ruger Match Champion is a tight assembly of parts. No big gaps or misalignment, no squeaks, no rattles, so listing of sights to the leeward side. It is a medium frame product that feels as substantial as a large frame. I dropped a range rod down the cylinder to check for critical cylinder chambers to bore alignment and it thunked against the breech face without interference. After a few live fire workouts with my own personal blend of 10mm Auto ammo, I ran the same check with the same results. The cylinder gap began, an remained, a snug 0.005″.
The Match Champion carries forward the triple locking feature of the GP100 with the front latch (arrow) retained by a slot in the frame. The other two locking points are at the cylinder latch and center pin. The red arrows automatically move out of the way when the cylinder is closed. The internal fire control pieces are polished and of optimal dimension. Raised bosses center the trigger on its pin axis and precision shims center the hammer. The accumulative result is smooth double action pull and crisp single and double action let off.
The GP100 10mm Match Champion has a dovetail mounted, quick change front mount for its fiber optic front sight. The rear sight is Ruger’s windage / elevation adjustable with click increments that equal 3/4″ at 25 yards, either elevation or windage. The rear sight has a white outline, the combination of front and rear are quick to align and stand in contrast against just about any background. The barrel rib striations do a good job of killing reflective reflective flare.
The Ruger GP100, including Match Champion versions is quite narrow with a maximum width of 1.550″ at its cylinder. Between the narrow profile and moderate weight, it is an easy revolver to carry in a belt holster.
The stippled hardwood grip on the Match Champion is one piece and slips over a stub grip frame. GP100 grips will physically interchange with Super Redhawk grips so there is a good selection of Ruger and aftermarket grips for folks who would like to try other types. GP100 Match Champion 10mm Auto recoil is moderate. Even 220 grain Buffalo Bore loads were on par with performance 357 Magnum ammo.
The Match Champion was easy to shoot, with either one or two hands. Cocking the hammer one handed was comfortable and effort was fairly light. That said, all of the shooting for record was done double action. I think some people give up on becoming proficient with double action shooting and lose the benefits of the design.
The 10mm Auto
If you asked me a few years ago, I would have guessed the 10mm Automatic round would have faded away. There were few handguns chambered for the round and there was but a few factory loads available. It appears the industry got over being 40 S&W wacky and the 10mm Auto had too much to offer for self defense and hunting. Today, revolvers join auto loaders in taking advantage of the round and there are 60 factory loads available.
Four loads were selected within the confines of this project. They were selected because they represent a good variety and because I had live fire data from other types and models of firearm to make comparisons with the GP100 Match Champion.
|Buffalo Bore Heavy||220||1200||1183||1203||1247||1185|
Barrel length between revolvers and auto loader pistols is not an apple to apple comparison. The revolver barrel length is muzzle crown to cylinder face, where the chamber is included in the auto pistol barrel length, in this case a 1.250″ chamber. The point is, the 4.2″ barrel GP100 Match Champion, with its cylinder gap, gives up nothing of consequence when compared to auto loaders and longer barrel revolvers. if you ever wanted evidence of manufacturers soft loading the 10mm Auto, you need look no further than the table where Buffalo Bore 220 grain which is loaded within maximum standard pressure ranges has much higher velocity than ammunition with bullet weights 40 and 50 grains lighter.
Accuracy… err precision… whatever
I used to shoot 3 shot groups to demonstrate consistency of shot placement, but people whined if 5 shots weren’t fired. Five shots may be a better as a statistical assessment, but it has little relationship to firearm use. If a hunter with a rifle thinks five shots are the routine, he probably should spend time at the range. Three shots, within my little bubble of experience is already an extreme. So if I wanted to gauge its consistency of accuracy, I would shoot multiple 3 shot groups, each from a cold barrel. Handguns? Who knows? In the woods, use is about the same as a rifle, so multiple 3 shot groups works for me. Still, there is the “shoot until it is empty” school of thought. So I though I would skip the 3 and the 5 shot groups and go right to full cylinder increments of 6 shots. I am also using 25 yards as the shooting distance rather than the 7 yard increments some folks use so they can report 1/4″ groups from a 44 mag. Now that was a whirling dervish of verbiage.
As I’ve already mentioned ad nauseam, the Ruger GP100 Match Champion is an easy shooting, yet powerful revolver, even though it is relatively compact and relatively light in weight. The level of recoil is moderate and the well shaped wooden grip does a good job of spreading the load over the palm of the hand.
The 25 Yard group on the left is Buffalo Bore Heavy Ten 220 grain, 1 1/2″ center to center, farthest holes. The 25 yard group on the right is Federal Hydra Shok 180 grain, 1 1/2″ center to center, farthest holes. The others shot about the same. Shooting was done from a steady rest to minimize the influence of my… unsupported stance shooting skills. From a two hand modified Dennis Weaver hold, with cold winter wind blowing up my pants legs and me grumbling, I could still definitely put down any Olympic standard size saucer at 25 yards.
Something profound… Yeah, not hardly
If I were a young guy and did not have so much invested in time, money, effort, and bonding into and with my own GP100, I would start fresh with a Ruger Match Champion in either 357 Magnum or 10mm Auto. With the finesse work already done, there would be lots of time left over to hang out with friends, swap lies, drink coffee and talk about the days when we smoked and drank beer and could do a real sit up without assistance. The Ruger GP100 Match Champion is built like a tank and it will last a lifetime. The 10mm Auto version lends yet another dimension of performance.