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Old September 8, 2009, 12:16 AM   #1
Kels73
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Ruger GP100: Should I go with 4" or 6"?

Hello, everyone:

I'm very close to buying my first GP100, but am having a difficult time determining whether or not I should purchase one with a 4" or 6" barrel. It will serve as an all-purpose gun, but admittedly it's primary use will be as a range/woods/hunting gun. Because of this, I'm leaning toward the 6" barrel so that I can benefit from the longer sight plane and increased velocity. However, a part of me wants the 4" barrel for the simple fact that it makes the gun more compact and concealable. I've also heard that the 4" GP100 has better balance.

Does the longer sight plane really provide that much of an advantage when shooting at distances of 30 to 50 yards? And what about the velocity gains obtained with the 6" barrel? Is the increased velocity that important, say for whitetail hunting? I appreciate the ability to conceal, but I don't want to sacrifice hunting performance. I'm interested in hearing some opinions on the matter.

Thanks,
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Old September 8, 2009, 12:51 AM   #2
mathman
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I don't know, but if you do decide that you want to have a more compact gun, I'd recommend the 3" bbl over the 4" bbl.
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Old September 8, 2009, 12:58 AM   #3
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Either way, it's a large, bulky handgun. I have a 6" GP100 and like it very much but I don't have a holster for it. I just use it as a range gun. I would have gane with the 4" if I had to hump it around much.
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Old September 8, 2009, 01:03 AM   #4
Jim March
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Let's start with balance.

If you can find one of the "short lug" 6" barrel GP100s, you'll find it balances damned near identical to the 4" full lug. The 6" short lug is a wonderful gun. Unfortunately out of production however cutting off most of the underbarrel weight (the "lug") out past the ejector rod housing area lets you brew one up yourself. Any local gunsmith can do this cheap and get a decent looking result.

As to bullet performance, Buffalo Bore did some tests with the 6" GP100:

1. 3 inch S&W J frame

a. Item 19A/20-180gr. Hard cast LFN = 1302 fps
b. Item 19B/20-170gr. JHC (jacketed hollow cavity) = 1299 fps
c. Item 19C/20-158gr. Jacketed Hollow Point = 1398 fps
d. Item 19D/20-125gr. Jacketed Hollow Point = 1476 fps

2. 4 inch S&W L frame Mt. Gun

a. Item 19A/20-180gr. Hard cast LFN = 1375 fps
b. Item 19B/20-170gr JHC = 1411 fps
c. Item 19C/20-158gr. Jacketed Hollow Point = 1485 fps
d. Item 19D/20-125gr. Jacketed Hollow Point = 1603 fps

3. 5 inch S&W model 27

a. Item 19A/20-180gr. Hard Cast =1398 fps
b. Item 19B/20-170gr. JHC = 1380 fps
c. Item 19C/20-158gr. Jacketed Hollow Point = 1457 fps
d. Item 19D/20-125gr. Jacketed Hollow Point = 1543 fps

4. 6 inch Ruger GP 100

a. Item 19D/20-125gr. Jacketed Hollow Point = 1707 fps

5. 18.5 inch Marlin 1894

a. Item 19A/20-180gr. Hard Cast = 1851 fps
b. Item 19B/20-170gr. JHC = 1860 fps
c. Item 19C/20-158gr. Jacketed Hollow Point = 2153 fps---- Can you believe this?!!!
d. Item 19D/20-125gr. Jacketed Hollow Point = 2298 fps---- Or this?!!!

Jim again. Unfortunately they only tested the 125gr full house load but we can still extrapolate from that somewhat. A Ruger GP100 barrel (of any length) tends to "shoot fast" - faster than a vintage S&W for example. Newer S&Ws can keep up with Rugers.

So in test #4, with the 4" barrel recent S&W, that's probably about on par with a 4" barrel GP100 and drives the 125 at 1,600fps. Matching the usual rule of "50fps extra per inch of barrel", the 6" GP100 gets another 100fps.

Working off a handy energy chart:

http://www.naaminis.com/energy.html

...we get 802ft/lbs energy from the 6" GP100, and 711ft/lbs from the 4".

That kind of energy difference does matter.

Upshot: find a used half-lug 6" and I think you'll be very happy for woods/hunting use. I would consider a crossdraw holster with the barrel at a pretty extreme angle as opposed to straight down, like this Mernickle:

http://www.mernickleholsters.com/fc/fc3.html

Because I was interested in CCW, I went with a 4.68" tube 357 (Ruger New Vaquero). If it's not a CCW piece, 5.5" on an SA or 6" on a DA makes a lot of sense.
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Old September 8, 2009, 03:39 AM   #5
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For hunting I favor longer than 6" barrels and for concealed carry I favor shorter than 4".

Yes, there is a difference in velocity, using the same load, between the 4" and the 6" barrels. How much I cannot tell you, as I don't have access to a chronograph at the moment.

IMO the 4" Barrel is sort of a "compromise".

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Old September 8, 2009, 03:51 AM   #6
Rich Miranda
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Quote:
It will serve as an all-purpose gun, but admittedly it's primary use will be as a range/woods/hunting gun.
Jim March has shown that the extra length makes a significant difference in energy, so that is +1 for the 6-inch.

Plus, look at your uses:

Range - no reason not to have a 6-inch
Woods - sure, the 6 adds a little heft, but makes up for it in energy gain.
Hunting - (see woods)

I think you're better off with the 6-inch. The GP100 is the next gun on my list but in 4-inch, which I intend to carry in winter.
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Old September 8, 2009, 07:10 AM   #7
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The wife and I went with the 4" GP100. Both of us felt the full lug barrel made the 6" gun too muzzle heavy. However, we do not hunt.

We have a 6" Security Six which is a great long barrel gun, as are our 6" S&W Model 19s. But, for us, a full barrel lug and a 6" barrel are not a great combo, at least in .357 mag. Maybe for a .44 mag, but the .357 simply doesn't need a barrel that heavy.
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Old September 8, 2009, 07:21 AM   #8
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As a guy who owns both 6" full lug and 4" pencil tube revolvers, I think they fill very different roles. If you are going to include 50 yard shooting and hunting, I think you owe it to yourself to buy the 6-incher.

All I had was a 6-inch (686) for years and years and at some point it occurred to me that I would really enjoy the handy nature of a shorter tube. That's where the 4-inch came in. For lots of regular recreational target shooting, the 4-inch barrel is just more user friendly.

I wouldn't consider a 4-inch barreled revolver any kind of concealed carry item. Duty carry, (open carry), sure. But not concealed.

IMO, there's room in the safe for BOTH of 'em! But a 6-inch barrel "looks" more "correct" and the 4-incher handles better. (insert desire for a 5-incher right here!)
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Old September 8, 2009, 07:24 AM   #9
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Get one of each

Go on, you know you want to .... BBbwwwwwwaaaahahahahahahaha
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Old September 8, 2009, 10:41 AM   #10
That'll Do
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While I own a 686 and not the GP-100, I was torn about which length to choose too.

I ended up going with the 6". While I don't hunt with mine, I do a lot of target shooting, and I like the extra heft of a 6" barrel for range use. In my opinion, it soaks up some of the abuse that comes with shooting heavy 357 loads.

From what you've mentioned your intended use of the gun will be, I'd recommend the 6" barrel.

I'm thinking the same thing as Sevens though, what I *really* want is a 5" barrel–the best of both worlds!
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Old September 8, 2009, 10:58 AM   #11
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I agree with “RNB65” it’s a big gun. Heck, I struggle with buying a three-inch these days, simply because I don’t get to the range as often I use to. As such, I try not to buy something that I can’t feasibly conceal carry. If you’re planning on just having fun, then buy what ever feels good in your hand and forget everything else.
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Old September 8, 2009, 04:40 PM   #12
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4"... it's easier to wield and easier to sell.
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Old September 8, 2009, 06:01 PM   #13
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If you are going to use it as a hunting gun, I'd go 6" for accuracy and additional energy.

If its a hunting backup gun I'd go 4" or 6" depending on which one you like best.

Personally, my back up, hunting, range gun is a 6" S&W 686. You just can't go wrong with a 6" revolver and the Ruger GP is a damn fine one at that.
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Old September 8, 2009, 08:32 PM   #14
Kels73
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Thanks for the replies, everyone. They are all very helpful. It appears that the majority of you recommend the 6" for my intended application. That's definitely the way I was leaning. I just wanted to make sure that the advantages of the 6", which I mentioned in my original post, weren't overrated. It sounds like they aren't.

One point of clarification, though I don't think this will change anyone's advice. When I talked about the ability to conceal, I was thinking of concealing the gun when out in the woods here in the Green Mountains. I wasn't thinking of actual CCW while downtown. I probably should have stated this.

I want to have a handgun whenever I'm in the woods. I would just assume not freak-out any hikers that I might run into in the process. Perhaps the 6" isn't that hard to conceal under a long jacket, though. Either way, this isn't a deciding factor for me. I'm more concerned about the other items that I mentioned. The hikers should get over it.

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Old September 9, 2009, 08:42 AM   #15
Legionnaire
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I see a pattern here:

Hunting = 6-inch
General Purpose = 4-inch
CCW = 3-inch

Function -> Form
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Old September 9, 2009, 08:43 AM   #16
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I see what you are saying... but if it's legal to OC in Vermont, then I would find a guy deep in the woods/mountain without a handgun to be no different than a camper without a backpack and a tent.

So if some hiker would wig out from a guy carrying a revolver in the woods, I say, "let him!" Seems to me that a hiker who is offended at a guy in the woods carrying a handgun needs to go hike elsewhere. (and I'm trying to be as polite as I can manage)
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Old September 9, 2009, 01:35 PM   #17
Kels73
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Legionnaire,

Good point. I think that about summarizes it. Thanks.
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Old September 10, 2009, 03:28 AM   #18
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If you didn't mention hunting, I'd go 4".
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Old September 10, 2009, 09:09 AM   #19
KurtC
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Every now and then Ruger makes a run of GP100's with 5" barrels. The best of both worlds. They turn up on the usual auction sites.
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Old September 10, 2009, 09:28 AM   #20
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As some others have said if its not for hunting go 4 inch.
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Old September 10, 2009, 09:34 AM   #21
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I like the looks of the 6" better. Maybe not scientific but it does come into play.
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Old September 10, 2009, 11:47 AM   #22
kle
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6" (for hunting) in a vertical shoulder holster.
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Old September 10, 2009, 02:42 PM   #23
Detective_Special
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4" or 6"

Unless it's used exclusively for hunting, I'd go for the 4". May not be perfect, but the 4" tube does everything well and aesthetically much more pleasing to the eye, at least mine.
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Old September 10, 2009, 02:55 PM   #24
Melissa5
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VTShooter, have you fired both the 4" and 6"? If so, which one felt the best in your hand? Which one were you able to shoot the best with?
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Old September 10, 2009, 08:20 PM   #25
Kels73
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Melissa5,

I read your post last night. It sounds like you have a similar decision to make, though your requirements are definitely different than mine.

I have never shot a 4" model and don't have the opportunity to do so where I am located. I have shot a 6" model, however, it was a half-length shroud, not a full-length shroud. The former is generally thought to have superior balance when compared to the latter. This is undoubtedly true, but I don't have a problem with the full-length shroud version. It feels like an extension of my arm and is very easy to aim and hold steady. Granted, I'm 6'5" and have fairly strong forearms.

The main challenge for me is to nail down the issue of application. If I'm going to use it for hunting then I feel that I should go with the 6". However, if I decide to limit its use to woods carry and use my Blackhawk for hunting, then I feel that the 4"becomes a reasonable option. However, even then a part of me still wants the 6" for the longer sight plane and extra power. We all know what the real problem is. I want both! And therein lies the dilemma.

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