Last year, Ruger's Custom Shop released the Super GP100 revolver chambered in .357 Mag. and .38 Spl. Double-action .38-cal. wheel guns that hold eight rounds have become a popular option for a variety of shooting competitions of late, including USPSA, ICORE and Steel Challenge events. The well-tuned and customized Super GP100 arrives loaded with features and ready to work right out of the box.
However, these kinds of shooting events burn through a good deal of ammunition in the course of a weekend. That's why Ruger is now offering this model in a 9 mm version. It handles and hits like a .38 Spl. while costing less to operate. Here's a closer look at what this unusual 9 mm has to offer.
The Ruger GP100 Competition as it comes in the box.
Like other members of the GP100 family, the Super GP100 is a double-action revolver with a transfer-bar safety and a cylinder that locks up in three locations (front, rear and bottom) for improved alignment and durability. However, this particular model is built around a Redhawk action. This provides the frame space needed for the larger diameter of the eight-round cylinder and a two-spring lock work configuration for improved cartridge ignition and smoother double-action cycling.
The Super GP100 is wholly constructed of stainless steel with a natural satin finish for the frame and barrel shroud. The eight-shot cylinder and barrel sleeve are both treated with a durable black PVD finish. The sight system consists of a dovetailed metallic fiber-optic front sight paired with a fully adjustable white-outline rear sight. The post-shaped grip extension is outfitted with a smooth, one-piece hardwood grip manufactured and hand finished by Hogue.
The black barrel insert as seen through the lightning cuts in the outer sleeve.
The 6" long half-lug barrel assembly is a sleeve and shroud configuration. Not everyone cares for the multi-part barrels, with some purists preferring one-piece barrels. However, two-part barrels simplify the assembly process, allow metals with differing properties to be used and provide for a more precise barrel-to-frame fit. In this case, the 'sleeve,’ which is the rifled tube most would call the barrel, is cold-hammer-forged for precise rifling that provides top-notch accuracy and a longer working life.
The barrel also has an 11-degree target crown to tighten up the accuracy even more. The barrel shroud, which is the outward framework for the sleeve, is indexed to the frame for proper sight alignment. The top is grooved for reduced glare in bright daylight and both sides sport six weight-reduction cutouts that show off the black finish of the sleeve nicely. The half lug houses and protects the ejector rod.
A view of the Ruger GP100 from the right side.
The contours of the weight-reduced cylinder are borrowed from the LCR series of concealed-carry revolvers. There's a noticeable 0.5” gap between the front of the cylinder and the frame. This is because the 9 mm is shorter than the .357 Mag cartridge the frame was originally built around. But converting a .357 Mag length cylinder to 9 mm means the bullets have to travel an extra 0.5” before meeting the forcing cone of the barrel, which in turn, affects accuracy.
In order to get the best balance of ammunition performance, without the added expense (to the customer) of redesigning the revolver's frame, the cylinder was shortened and the forcing cone extended. It also shaved around 1 oz. of weight off of the revolver. Because this is a Ruger Custom Shop product, the Super GP100 gets an added dose of polishing and fitting for the internal components.
The Hogue one-piece wood grips that come with the Ruger GP100.
The smooth-faced trigger, housed in a traditional rounded trigger guard, has a centering boss. The exposed hammer sports a checkered spur and is outfitted with centering shims. The push-button cylinder release is easy to operate and the cylinder spins freely when opened. All of this extra work lends to an exceptionally smooth, consistent trigger pull.The double-action trigger pull weighs in at 10 lbs. 5 oz. Manually cocking the hammer for single-action fire brings the trigger pull down to a short, crisp 3 lbs. 15 oz.
While some shooting enthusiasts may argue the usefulness or limitations of moon clips when used in defensive revolvers, their utility is clearly evident in a competition gun like this one. Because the 9 mm cartridge has no rim, they are headspaced off of the cartridge-case mouth in each chamber of the Super GP100's cylinder. This means the revolver can be safely loaded and fired without a moon clip.
The cylinder opened on the Ruger GP100 with the moon clip attached to the 9 mm cartridges.
However, these semi-auto cartridges have no rims for the ejector star to press against in order to kick out the empty cases, so each case must be poked out of the cylinder manually with a cleaning rod or similar tool. This revolver arrives with three full moon clips which literally clip into the groove at the base of the cartridges to align them with the chambers of the cylinder. This allows all eight rounds to be dropped into the cylinder at once.
When the rounds are spent, the ejector star presses against the moon clip to eject all of the spent cases simultaneously. This allows for quick reloads while running through the various stages of competition. The clips need to be manually loaded beforehand and manually unloaded once the stage is complete. To make the unloading process easier, Ruger provides a tubular tool for twisting spent cases out of the moon clips without the risk of bending the clips or tenderizing your finger tips in the process.
Loaded moon clips with the extractor tool.
Although I certainly have no complaints about the off-the-rack revolver actions Ruger is currently offering, the Custom Shop work shows through in the smooth operation of this model. Firing standard pressure 9 mm cartridges through a 45-oz., 6" barrel results in modest levels of felt recoil that contribute to quick follow-up shots with the easy to see sight system. Formal accuracy testing was conducted from a bench rest at 25 yds. with the hammer manually cocked for single-action fire.
Aguila's 124-gr. full-metal jacket tapped out a best single five-shot group of 2.99" with a five group average of 3.14". Winchester's USA Ready select grade 115-gr. full-metal jacket flat nose printed a best group of 2.84" with an average of 2.96". Federal's Syntech 150-gr. total synthetic jacket load is a low velocity target round with a listed bullet velocity of 870 f.p.s. It yielded the tightest single group of 2.61" with an average of 2.80".
The Ruger GP100 and 9 mm ammunition used in testing.
The new Super GP100 chambered in 9 mm is a soft-shooting steel-plate ringer that has to be fired to be fully appreciated. It's a real pleasure to work with for a double-action revolver fan like me. It was smooth, utterly reliable and quick to reload. If you want a more flexible platform that could also be used for handgun hunting, the .357 Mag. And .38 Spl. version is the way to go. But for pure range time enjoyment, the 9 mm is hard to beat.
Manufacturer: Sturm, Ruger & Co. Model: Custom Shop Super GP100 (#5066) Action: Double-Action Caliber: 9 mm Frame Finish: Satin stainless steel Cylinder Finish: Black PVD Treated Stainless Steel Barrel: 6" Half-Lug, Round Profile with Weight Reduction Cuts Front Sight: Fiber Optic Rear Sight: Adjustable, White Outline Grips: Hogue One Piece Hardwood Overall Length: 11" Weight: 45.2 oz. Capacity: Eight Rounds Twist: 1:16" RH Rifle Grooves: 6 Accessories: Travel Case, Thee Full Moon Clips, Clip Unloading Tool, Lock, Owner's Manual MSRP: $1549