Ruger GP100 Match Champion: The Best .357 Magnum in Decades
Over the years, I've tested countless revolvers, but few are truly "good to go" out of the box. Jack Weigand did much of my pistolsmithing. The triggers and double-action smoothness have often been sorely lacking, whether on S&W, Taurus, Rossi, or standard Ruger revolvers. My favorite hunting pistol, a Super Redhawk .44 Rem. Mag., needed some spring switching to get it up to snuff.
The GP100 has been around since 1985 or so and has always been a good, strong and durable revolver designed specifically for and appropriately sized to the .357 Magnum cartridge. I have owned several, but they have always needed some action and trigger work to make them superb. The GP100 Match Champion changes all that, for this is a superbly crafted, tuned, super-smooth revolver right out of the box.
Here are some of the Match Champion features, as described by Ruger:
"The Match Champion Model is designed with the competitor in mind. With its ergonomic enhancements and tuned action, the Match Champio delivers fast, accurate shots and takes the popular GP100 to the next level. It features a contoured cylinder, Novak Lo-Mount Carry rear sight and fiber optic front sight, Hogue hardwood grip with stippled sides and a slab-sided, half-lug, 11-degree target crowned barrel.
Patented grip frame design easily accommodates the use of a wide variety of custom grips. Patented Ruger transfer bar mechanism provides an unparalleled measure of security against accidental discharge.
Triple-locking cylinder is locked into the frame at the front, rear and bottom for more positive alignment and dependable operation shot after shot.
Easy takedown of integrated subassemblies requires no special tools and allows for no hassle maintenance and assembly. Also features a slab-sided, half-lug barrel and hard plastic case."
Ruger's stainless steel GP100s have always worn an attractive external finish and the Match Champion is no exception. The natural color stainless is polished to an attractive satin finish that is smoother and more attractive than a matte finish, but not as flashy as a mirror polished bright finish. It is an excellent compromise and entirely functional.
GP100 revolvers feature access to their internals from the bottom of the frame. There are no pesky sideplates, just remove the grip panels and trigger guard. This is an excellent, gunsmith friendly system.
The cylinder rotates counter-clockwise (out of the frame), so the front and rear cylinder latches are appreciated. The release to swing out the cylinder for loading/unloading is the usual Ruger push button, easy and positive in operation. Ignition is by transfer bar, making it safe to carry the revolver with all six chambers loaded.
It does seem that a match grade revolver should be supplied with a six inch barrel and fully adjustable, black, target (Patridge type) sights. The Match Champion's 4.2 inch barrel, fiber optic front sight and Novak Lo-mount (non-adjustable) rear sight are inappropriate for a true match target revolver.
On its inaugural outing, 1240 fps American Eagle 180 grain factory loads (AE357A) and 1130 fps Federal Premium Vital Shock Swift A-Frame 180 grain factory loads (357SA) were fired at 15 yards. The Federal Premium Swift A-Frame loads were obviously more accurate. Within range, the 180 grain Swift A-Frame has proven to be an excellent hunting bullet for whitetail and feral hogs.
The Ruger GP100 Match Champion looks great, feels great, handles great and is a remarkably soft shooter with 180 grain factory loads. You'll be surprised that 180 grains of hollow point can be this comfortable to shoot.
The GP100 Match Champion is one of those rare products when there is little else to say, but "check one out at your local pro shop." If you, you will probably want to have one. The Ruger GP100 Match Champion is an excellent revolver straight from the factory.
Copyright 2014, 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.