The pistol was the last firearm that I picked up to round out my collection. It’s a hard decision – semi-auto or reolver? I have a Winchester 1894 in .357 Magnum so I was interested in getting another gun that shot that round. So that immediately narrows it down to a revolver (lots of choices) or a Desert Eagle (which is about the only semi-auto on the market chambered in .357 Magnum). While the Desert Eagle guns are nice, they’re also pretty pricey, running on average about $1,000 US. If I went the revolver route, I had a lot of choices basically starting at $300 and on up, with $500 being the price on average.
Going with a revolver wasn’t such a bad deal for me. I have a lot of interest in single-action revolvers, and considered getting a Ruger Blackhawk for a really long time. In all honestly, I thought I’d get that Ruger up until a day or so before the purchase. What held me back was the fact that this was the first revolver I was going to purchase. I had the goals of:
- Get good at shooting with a handgun
- Have a handgun I could take hunting (elk) and camping
I specifically wasn’t interested in (at least for this gun/purchase):
- Concealed carry
- Home defense (I prefer the shotgun)
Given the goals I had, I focused in on guns that offered a 6” barrel, and at least 6 shots. Given the supply at the local Sportsman’s Warehouse, I held and researched a Smith and Wesson 686, a Taurus 627, and a Ruger GP100. There are plenty of reviews on the web, and all the guns are considered good by many. These are just my thoughts and impressions:
I start off with price, because it’s the main thing that controls what guns I can think about getting at a given time. Sure, you can read plenty of articles on tricked out race guns, and while they are cool and accurate, they’re also generally beyond the reach of a lot of buyers.
The S&W was out of the running right away, because it was nearly $150 more than either the Taurus or the Ruger (which cost about $450).
The Taurus held seven rounds, and the Ruger only holds 6. While there is a Taurus out there that holds 8 rounds of .357 Magnum, it wasn’t available locally. Frankly, I don’t think that 7 is that much of an advantage over 6, and I specifically wasn’t worried about defense uses. I have bought 3 speed loaders over time, and while it’s certainly not as fast as popping in a new magazine, it’s fast enough for me at this time. That means I can get 24 shots (6 in plus 3*6 speed loads) in less than a minute, assuming double action shooting. Of course with .357 Magnum loads, I’d say my ability to hit drops to 75% (paper plate at 10 yards) right now and there’s not much use racing it like that. If you assume that I’ll be shooting slower than that for better accuracy (and precision), then 24 rounds spread out over several (3-5) minutes seems fine.
Taurus makes a really big deal about their flex grip, custom molding on their pistols. I really liked it too, but the overall width of the grip seemed too narrow for my hands. I’m sure this is something specific to me, and everyone has to try it out on their own.
The Ruger grip felt extremely nice in my hand. It has a much wider width than the Taurus, and the inlaid wood looked nicer in my opinion.
Both the Taurus and the Ruger weigh in at the 50+ ounce range, but that didn’t really bother me. I lift fairly regularly, so this may be less of an issue for me than others. Again, you’ll just have to try it out.
For better or worse, there’s a lot of pages you can find on the net about problems with the Taurus revolvers. I couldn’t find much negative said about Ruger, but sometimes I think that’s just North American bias (maybe not?). That being said, I figured that if the pistol didn’t work out, the Ruger would have higher resale value in the long haul. I’m still interested in Taurus, as their Judge revolver in .410/.45LC seems like an interesting proposition.
Shooting the GP100
I’ve really enjoyed shooting the GP100. By now, I’ve put nearly 500 rounds through it, and I’ve never had a problem. Of course it’s a revolver, and I’d expect fewer issues than a semi-automatic pistol, but it’s still nice to say “problem free”.
I did eventually pick up a shoulder holster for it, as it’s much nicer to keep track of it that way at the range. I went with a simple “Old Mike’s Cross draw shoulder holster”, which I find is easier to carry a large 6” barrel gun like the GP100.