At a September writers' conference at the Texas' FTW Ranch, Ruger showed us the way cool Mark IV .22 pistol [see Holt's Rimfire column] with quick and easy takedown/reassembly, the soft-shooting Compact version of their American 9mm [review coming soon!) and a couple of new revolvers definitely out of the mainstream today. One of them was the GP1Q0 rendered as a short-barreled, 5-shot .44 Special.
We all asked the same question. "Why?" Ruger's Brandon Trevino gave the best possible answer: "Because we had customers who wanted it."
Ruger brought out the GP100--essentially, a ".4l-frame" revolver, similar to the Colt Python and S&W L-Frame seriesin 1986. It was a rugged beast, very accurate, built the way Mikhail Kalashnikov would have built a revolver. (There are reasons why Kalashnikov and Bill Ruger got along so well in person.)
When Ruger had introduced their Security-Six 15 years earlier, they made great inroads into a service revolver market dominated by S&W and Colt. Then, with the GP100 in the catalog, they had eclipsed Colt and were biting on S&W's butt for market domination when the great wave of autoloader adoption swept the police market and brought about the end of the service revolver era. But the GP100--designed for a steady diet of full-power .357 Magnum--lived up to expectations and has been a mainstay of the Ruger catalog ever since.
The .44 Special cartridge dates back to 1908, introduced with the great old large-frame S&W Triple Lock. At the time it was generally accepted the larger the bullet, the harder it hit and "got the job done." Time marched on, however, and the "velocity vs. bullet diameter and weight" argument consumed countless forests worth of gun magazines.
These days the auto pistol is king and the 9mm cartridge is the most popular. But "revolver vs. auto" and "light and fast vs. slow and heavy" arguments continue. And folks who like large-caliber revolvers for personal defense remain "The Loyal Opposition." And those folks make up the niche for which Ruger has built the GPL00 .44 Special.
The ruggedness of the GPL00 is more than a little akin to that of its automotive homonym. The .44 Special is the fifth cartridge for which the GPL00 has been chambered. It was conceived, of course, as a super-strong holster-size .357 able to stand up to the pounding of constant training fire with magnum rounds. But some law enforcement and corrections...