When Ruger introduced the GP100 in 1986, they emphasized the tough new double-action revolver's modern design with a full-frame and thick top strap, attributes it still has today.
"Strength and design separate an ordinary .357 from the Ruger GP100," the company said of their newest DA wheelgun installment, a revolver intended to replace the company's popular Six series guns (Security Six, Speed Six, Service Six) which had been around since the 1970s.
Designed for constant use with full-powered loads, the GP100 borrowed the full one-piece frame with integral side plates from the Six series, then added a triple-locking cylinder, a heavy full-lug barrel, cushioned rubber grips on a redesigned grip extension, and an offset ejection rod-- the latter borrowed from the company's Redhawk series of .41- and .44 Magnums, which had just been introduced in 1984.
The Sept. 1986 edition of American Handgunner, in speaking of the new GP100, noted, "Sturm, Ruger has again grabbed the bull by the horns offering yet another marked improvement in wheelgun technology."
The revolver proved a success and Ruger has gone on to produce the gun in both blued and either satin or bright high-gloss stainless steel variants as well as in models chambered for the lower-powered .38 Special, the old-school .44 Special, and the spicy .327 Federal. Barrel lengths included everything from 3- to 7-inches with most falling in the 4-inch range.
In 2014, the GP100 Match Champion model, complete with a 4.2-inch slab-sided half-lug barrel, contoured cylinder, and fiber-optic sights was introduced. It was later joined by a clip-using 10mm Auto version in 2018.
In 2016, a .22 LR plinker and small game hunter variant of the GP100 with adjustable sights and a 5.5-inch barrel complete with a 10-shot cylinder it the market.
By 2018, the GP100 was updated to carry a seven-round cylinder for centerfire loads in .357 and .327. Then came 8-shot variants.
Now celebrating its 34th uninterrupted year in production, the Ruger GP100 is still pretty hard to beat when it comes to the world of full-sized wheel guns.