Lipsey’s Exclusive Ruger GP-100 Royal Phoenix 357 Magnum Revolver


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

April 22nd, 2010




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I remember a time when every shooter that I knew wanted a 357 Magnum revolver. These were the days before Dirty Harry Callahan had everyone lusting after the 44 Magnum Model 29. Even then, most of us were better served with a good 357, not needing the power of the big 44, as no one that I knew ever went bear hunting, and around here, the 357 was all a man needed for hunting deer and hogs, and it would also serve perfectly for home protection, and could be loaded with 38 wadcutters for cleanly harvesting small game. When I did feel the urge to get a 44, it was a Ruger Super Blackhawk, but that is another story for another time.

I got my first 357 Magnum when I was sixteen years old. I had reached the point to where I not only wanted a 357, but I needed one badly. I had worn the pages thin on every gun magazine that I could find, studying closely every detail of every 357 Magnum double action revolver available. Heading down to the Sportsman’s Store on Riverside Drive in Clarksville, Tennessee, I picked out a brand new Ruger Security-Six with a four inch barrel. The store was having a “going out of business” sale, as a fast food chain had bought the property, and would be tearing down the Sportsman’s Store later that month. Despite my friend Terry Murbach’s affection for their culinary delights, I cannot step foot into a Wendy’s without thinking about the one that replaced the gun store of my youth. Anyway, with my father’s signature on the paperwork, I stepped out of that store for the last time carrying that Security-Six, a leather holster, and a box of cartridges, after parting with $121. That seems like a great price, but that much money was hard-earned and slow to come by in 1976 for a high school kid sacking groceries at night and on Saturdays.

I soon discovered that 357 Magnum cartridges didn’t come cheap, so I bought a used RCBS Jr. press, dies, scale, powder hopper, and other accessories from a cousin for sixty bucks, and taught myself how to handload ammunition. Around here back in those days, loading your own ammo was considered to be very close to witchcraft, and most of the family thought that I would surely kill myself in a terrible explosion, but I survived the experience with both of my eyes, all of my fingers, and most of my eyebrows intact. Anyway, I learned to handload on the 357, and doing so allowed me to do a lot more shooting than I could have done using factory loaded ammo. That Security-Six also taught me how to shoot a revolver. It was a dandy sixgun; strong, powerful, and accurate.

In 1986, Ruger ceased production of the Security-Six, and introduced the GP-100 as its replacement. The GP had some unique features that made it even stronger than the Six series of double-action revolvers. The GP-100 cylinder locks into the frame at the rear just like most other double-action revolvers, but in front it uses a latch in the crane to lock into a recess in the frame, instead of locking at the end of the ejector rod. This allowed Ruger to use an off-center ejector rod, which left room to beef up the breech end of the frame which supports the barrel in the forcing cone area. On most double-action revolvers, this area is the weakest, but with the GP design, Ruger was able to significantly strengthen this section of the frame around the breech end of the barrel, and I have never once seen a GP-100 with a cracked forcing cone.

The GP-100 featured here is a special limited edition revolver with a high polish deep blued finish. This type of finish is seldom seem on production revolvers today, as most blued handguns now have a semi-matte finish. This GP-100 is called the Royal Phoenix, and is only available through Lipsey’s. Lipsey’s is a large wholesaler in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is one of the nation’s top Ruger distributors. Lipsey’s often has special Rugers available, and this new Royal Phoenix is absolutely the best-looking GP-100 that I have ever seen. All of the exposed metal parts are highly polished, with the exception of the sights, which have a standard satin blued finish. The rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation correction, and the front is easily removed to replace with a sight of another style, if desired. The hammer and trigger are highly polished stainless steel. The hammer has a checkered spur for easy thumb-cocking, and the trigger has a smooth surface for controlled double-action fire. The trigger pull was very good on this Ruger, with a crisp four pound, two ounce single action pull and a very smooth nine and three-quarters pound double-action pull.

The Royal Phoenix wears a superb set of Hogue wood grips that have finger grooves that are perfectly placed for my large hand. This is a very comfortable set of grips. Even after firing a lot of ammo in a short time while testing this weapon for reliability and chronograph readings, there was never any pain, even with the 180 and 200 grain ammunition. The 357 Magnum is not very punishing to shoot in most revolvers, but there are some now on the market can begin to wear on the shooter in short time. The Royal Phoenix is not one of them. It is a very easy-to-shoot revolver, and the grips are the most comfortable that I have ever used on a GP-100.

The Royal Phoenix has a heavy-profile barrel with a full underlug. The barrel length measures 4.18 inches, and is rifled one turn in 18.75 inches, with a right-hand twist. The Royal Phoenix weighed in at 39.8 ounces on my scale, but the weight might vary a bit by the density of the wood in the grips of each particular revolver.

I tried every type of 357 Magnum ammunition that I had available to me in the Royal Phoenix. All of it was high performance premium ammo, along with one of my favorite cast bullet handloads for general use. This handload is a moderate one, but uses the excellent Mt. Baldy 173 grain plain base Keith semi-wadcutter bullet with six grains of Hodgdon Titegroup powder. The accuracy of the Royal Phoenix was tested using my Ransom Master Series machine rest. The Ransom eliminates human error when set up properly, and the Royal Phoenix proved to be exceptionally accurate with a couple of different loads, and acceptably accurate with everything else tried. The chronograph and accuracy results are listed in the chart below. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. SP is a jacketed soft point bullet. DPX is a homogenous copper hollow nose bullet made by Barnes Bullet Company, and loaded by Cor-Bon. Glaser is a specialty jacketed bullet with a compressed pre-fragmented core. PB is Cor-Bon Pow’RBall. HC is a hard-cast lead bullet. Keith is the aforementioned semi-wadcutter cast lead bullet. Velocities were recorded at a distance of twelve feet from the muzzle, and are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Bullet weights are listed in grains. Accuracy results listed are the average of the five-shot groups fired at a distance of twenty-five yards, listed center-to-center of the widest apart bullet holes in each group. Group sizes are listed in inches. Testing was done on a calm day with an air temperature in the fifty-five degree Fahrenheit range, at an elevation of approximately 541 feet above sea level.

Cor-Bon HC 200 1102 1.00"
Cor-Bon JHP 110 1523 1.57"
Cor-Bon PB 100 1623 2.13"
Cor-Bon JHP 140 1340 1.87"
Cor-Bon DPX 125 1393 2.10"
Cor-Bon SP 180 1256 1.87"
Cor-Bon JHP 125 1414 1.75"
Cor-Bon Glaser 80 1794 2.87"
Buffalo Bore JHP 125 1594 0.94"
Buffalo Bore JHP 170 1244 1.75"
Buffalo Bore JHP 158 1303 1.58"
Grizzly Cartridge HC 180 1243 1.75"
Handload Keith 173 1049 2.10"

As can be seen in the chart above, every load tested performed well, and a couple of the loads were match-grade accurate from the barrel of the Royal Phoenix. Besides those two loads which grouped under the one inch mark, several more were plenty accurate, and shows the attention to detail that went into the production of this sixgun. The barrel/cylinder gap measures a very even six one-thousandths (.006) of an inch. Cylinder/barrel alignment was near perfect, and standing beside the sixgun while firing it in the Ransom Rest showed no signs of spitting out the barrel/cylinder gap. Cylinder lockup is very tight, with little discernable side play and no fore-aft movement at all. Ejection was smooth and easy with all ammunition tested.

Coming up on its twenty-fifth anniversary, the GP-100 has proven to be a rugged, reliable, and accurate 357 Magnum revolver. It is a very durable design. It does not need re-timing and rebuilding every few years as do some 357 Magnum sixguns. The GP is built to be used. It can withstand a steady diet of 357 Magnum ammunition and still remain accurate and tight. The heavy barrel gives the weapon a nice forward balance, and it is easy to control under the effects of recoil.

While most of the world has laid down their sixguns in favor of autos which hold a fistful of cartridges, the 357 Magnum is still as powerful as it ever was, and can do double duty as a weapon for hunting and for personal defense. In the case of this GP-100, it can also serve admirably as a target gun.

The Royal Phoenix is a fine weapon, as good or better than any double-action 357 that I have ever fired. It is beautiful, accurate, reliable, and powerful. It is built with quality materials, built right, and built in the USA. I like it, and highly recommend it.

For a closer look at the GP-100 Royal Phoenix, or to locate a Ruger dealer near you, go to

To look at the extensive line of Ruger firearms and accessories online, go to

To order any of the high performance ammunition shown here, go to,, or

Jeff Quinn


For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to:


The Royal Phoenix comes with a hard plastic storage case.







Beautiful or not, only accurate revolvers are acceptable. The Royal Phoenix is both beautiful and accurate.



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Click pictures for a larger version.


Lipsey's exclusive Ruger GP-100 Royal Phoenix.





Hogue grips feel as great as they look.







Sights consist of fully adjustable rear (top & center), and replaceable blade front (bottom).





Stainless piece shown is the crane lock, which locks into the frame.





Cylinder has plenty of length even for long 200-grain bullets.