Silk Pursing A Sow’s Ear

There are lots of what I call “targeted consumer guns” in today’s market. These are firearms and related items targeted to specific groups of shooters. The cluster of shooters manufacturers generally like to target are the largest groups which will generate the most sales. After all, gun companies have investors and are in business to be profitable. The largest collection of gun buyers in today’s market are in the upper-lower economic class through the upper-middle class who have enough discretionary income to afford personal protection — but not a lot to spend on high end frills.

Bill Ruger tapped this very consumer group from day one, and his fine company has capitalized on that market to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. One of these fine guns is the GP-100, introduced around 1985, designed to replace the Security, Service and Speed Six line of double-action revolvers. Ruger beefed up the design of those early wheel guns to create the GP-100 in order to handle the high-pressure .357 cartridge. I like everything about the GP-100 and similar-action Ruger revolvers, but from a gunsmith’s viewpoint it’s a little rough. I like to make it better by tweaking it here and there.

Shop Guns

I love to build shop guns for customers to see and handle so they can choose the work they would like to be performed on their similar revolvers and pistols. The GP-100 is a perfect revolver for a shop sample. The action can be “slicked up” to smooth perfection so even the weakest person or someone with damaged hands can work the double action. The two GP-100s shown, one by Marc Morganti of Gemini Custom and the other by me, have just about everything done to them we could dream up. Including the cost of the base revolver, we both put about $1,900 into custom work.

The barrels were cut to 2½”, slab-sided and an SDM gold-bead dovetail front sight installed. Marc chose a Jack Weigand interchangeable blade front sight with an SDM gold bead. Marc likes to use the Weigand sight so the customer has a wide choice of sight blades from which to choose, including fiber optic. Marc’s rear sight is an excellent Hamilton Bowen adjustable. I stuck with the integral frame rear sight and serrated the rear sight flat, keeping the revolver lower profiled for concealed carry.

Cylinder work included cutting for moon clips, polishing and beveling the chambers and opening the throats to .358″. Many Ruger cylinder throats come out of mass production a little undersized and need to be opened up for maximum accuracy. I also numbered the chambers, which is a feature dating way back to around 1860, believe it or not. Shooters back then often shot groups from each chamber to determine if there was one that did not shoot to the same impact point of impact as the others. I choose to carry on that old tradition.
By Alex Hamilton

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