Sturm Ruger & Co. is on a roll this month, adding to a string of new handguns announced this month.
Ruger put the word out Wednesday that they will produce two of their successful double-action revolvers in chamberings not previously offered: the GP100 in the old school .44 Special and a .357 Magnum Redhawk.
The double-action GP100 was introduced in 1985. Before now it has been chambered in .357 Magnum/.38 Special, .327 Federal Magnum, and .22LR rimfire and available in 3-, 4.2- and 6-inch barrel lengths.
While the .357 version was a typical 6-shot cylinder and the .327 Fed Mag was a 7-shot, the new GP100 in .44 Special only holds five rounds because of the fatter cases and has a 3-inch barrel.
The .44 Special is an old cartridge going all the way back to the beginnings of smokeless powder. It was developed by Smith & Wesson in 1907 as a modern cartridge for its New Century revolver, introduced in 1908. It marked a move away from the .44-40, .44 American, and .45 Colt “cowboy calibers” of the late 1800s and the blackpowder era.
The .44 Special gained a spot in the revolver world through the 1920s, but wasn’t pushed to its limits until a loose cadre of gun writers and .44 Special enthusiasts who thought it could be the ideal handgun round began exchanging information and writing magazine articles about their ammo experiments.
Notably, famed gun writer Elmer Keith wound up developing some of the heaviest loads, and ultimately created the .357, .41, and .44 Magnum cartridges. Keith had suggested Remington call its new magnum version of the .44 Special the “.44 Special Magnum” but the company settled on .44 Remington Magnum.
Recently the .44 Special has had a bit of a resurgence after being eclipsed by the .44 Magnum in the mid-1950s as an alternative for situations and duties where a .44 Magnum is a bit too much. Plus, .44 Magnum shooters can run .44 Special loads in their revolvers much the way .38 Special ammo can be fired from .357 Magnum revolvers.
The new GP100 comes with a Hogue Monogrip, a fiber optic front sight, an adjustable rear sight, and a satin finish over its stainless steel construction with a weight of 36 ounces and a length of 8.5 inches. MSRP is $829.
Ruger’s other release is a 2.75-inch barrel Redhawk in the venerable .357 Magnum chambering. The stubby revolvers comes with hardwood grips, a ramp front sight and an adjustable rear sight with a satin finish over a stainless steel construction. It’s heavier than the GP100, weighing in a 44 ounces with an overall length of 8.25 inches, but has an eight-round cylinder. MSRP is $1,079.