First Time Shooters Have a Blast

A number of co-workers (IT industry / computer programmer types) have expressed interest in going out shooting. Most have never fire a gun.  Last weekend I had the opportunity to take the first of my co-workers and her friend out to shoot for the first time. (It also happened to be her birthday.)

We met at Freedom Armory in Glenn Rock, PA.  

I started with a lecture on safety, the three/four rules.  After that we entered the range, providing all partipants with proper ear and eye protection.  Now the fun began…

We started off with my Ruger MK III Hunter chambed in .22 LR. We progressed through the basics, grip, keeping from being bit by the slide, use of safety, sight picture, and keeping the finger off the trigger. (Always one of the more challenging aspects for new shooters as our fingers naturally want to curl into that trigger guard.) 

My co-worker’s friend began to get into a groove and had a very nice and condensed group around the bullseye.  I could see the look of “fun” appearing on her face.

Next we moved to my Ruger GP100 loaded with .38 Specials. A change in action, feel, and intensity. I explained that there would be additional recoil, but thanks to the weight of firearm it would not be significantly more than the .22LR.   We progressed to both shooters firing off some .357 Magnums –warned in advance that this would be a different level of heightened intensity.  And that within the confines of the indoor range they would experience the sensation of the air being moved and bouncing off the aisle walls.

Once again my co-worker’s friend was doing very well stayin on target.  She found the double-action trigger pull challenging and went with a cock and fire pattern. 

My co-worker while having a bit more difficulty in general staying on target did very well with the double-action pull.

Not bad for a first time shooter!

Clearly, my friend’s friend needs to start looking for a league!

We also discussed some understanding of the history of firearms & gun control, misnomers often repeated in the media.  Explaining those so-called “high powered assault weapons” use cartridges that are dwarfed by most deer hunting rifles.  How those tubular barrel shrouds are a safety device to keep one from being burned by the barrel. And how when you’re fielding an army of tens of thousands of soldiers of varying sizes, from 7ft tall men to 5ft tall women, having an adjustable stock made out of plastic simply makes a rifle more ergonomic – not more dangerous.

“Just like how in the movies they always do these impossible things with computers.”  they stated….and I was like “Exactly!”

I believe it was an eye-opening experience, and both seemed to have a great time. I’d call it a success as both new shooters and are interesting in pursuing things further. One purchased a 1 year membership at Freedom Armory as she passes by that way often, the other bought a hoodie sweatshirt.

Some interesting conversation has arisen since. My friend now sports two empty brass casings pinned to her cubicle wall. We discussed how the gun community is almost like a secret society, and that she might discover it’s akin to a “coming out party”.  I shared a couple of occasions in churches where the topic has turned from God to guns and the discovery that most of us owned firearms and were shooters.

Sure enough, she approached me at work, about how now she’s finding out how all different people she know have gone shooting and owned guns.  It’s almost like once the veil is removed, there are a lot more gun-lovers out there than anyone realizes.  And I think we’ve just grown that number by 2.

Gun II: Going Magnum

A few months had passed since we acquired our first firearm. Our Ruger MKIII Hunter.  When we purchased our MKIII it was with the understanding that it would not be our only firearm – just our first.

Having become familiarized with shooting thru our MKIII. It was time to move to something a little larger.  It was also time to experience a new cultural phenomenom; one I’d heard of but never actually participated in…what could this new cultural event be?

Why a GUN SHOW of course!!!

What an experience! It was like the scene where Neo says “We need guns, lots of guns…and then all of a sudden there were aisles and aisles of guns!”

(It is also nice to know that a few people are capable of holding off the BATF.)


I had my heart set on a revolver. The two revolvers I was most interested in were either a Ruger 22LR/22WMR revolver. This model .22 caliber revolver comes with a second cylinder for the .22 Winchester Magnum.  My other consideration was a .357 Magnum.  My father used to own a Ruger Security-Six; and at first I thought I might follow in his footsteps.

However, I discovered that Ruger no longer made the double-action Security-Sixes. Said models having been replaced by the beefier GP100.  I found myself drawn more to the lines of the GP100.  So this was the other revolver I was strongly considering. The Ruger GP100, being chambered in .357 Magnum is also capable of shooting .38 Special as well.

We found a used GP100 in the low three-hundreds. It was stainless steel with a 6″ barrel. After a bit of internal debate and with the encouragement of my wife, I made the purchase right before the show came to an end.


Range Report:

A .38 Special is a bit more than a .22LR, but I found it to not be overly forceful. The GP100 while not quite as accurate as our MKIII Hunter was still fairly accurate.  Though it did take me a few range trips to get the swing of things.

My GP100 features a fixed front sight. It is removable by pressing a pin inside a hole. This allows you to remove and replace the front site.  The rear site feature a square notch and controls to adjust elevation and windage.

Okay, so after shooting a few dozen .38 Special +P, it was time to truly see what this handgun was capable of. In went six .357 Magnums.  Woah!!!!! What a difference…

I was expecting the .357 Magnums to be significantly stronger than the .38 Special. From looking at and comparing the two rounds. The .357 Magnum seems to be approximately 15%-20% longer. But then I fired it… “oofda”

It’s hard to describe the difference between the .357 Magnum and the .38 Special. The .38 Special is a bullet. You know you wouldn’t want to be in the way of it. However, the .357 Magnum left me with am impression of true respect.  I wouldn’t even be comfortable behind a brick wall.  The recoil with the .357 isn’t drastically more than the .38 Special. It’s quicker, faster, and a touch harsher but not extreme. It is definitely several steps up on intensity. You can shoot a hundred rounds of .38 Special with little consequence, do the same with .357 Magnum and you’ll probably find your hand is sore.

(NOTE: My wife found .357 Magnums to be less than pleasant. She was okay with the .38 Specials. But found the recoil of the .357 Magnum to be just a bit too much for her wrists.)

Interestingly, I discovered that I tend to be much more accurate when using .357 Magnum loads than with the .38 Special. It’s not that great of a difference in accuracy, but it is a noticeable consistency of being more accurate.  I think this might be due to my poor follow-through as a new shooter. The .357 Magnum is a faster load. It leaves the barrel a split moment before the the slower .38 Special loads.  This means a failure of following through would have a slightly reduced effect.

The Ruger GP100 is most definitely one of my favorite handguns to shoot.  I also believe every gun owner should own a .357 Magnum revolver. And here’s why…the .357 Magnum is one of the best handgun loads.  There are other good loads, especially for semi-automatics.  However, semi-automatics require precise loads in order to function. If a load does not provide enough recoil, the slide will not cycle properly and the next round will not be chambered (loaded).  Too much pressure and the firearm might be damaged.  Where as a revolver doesn’t rely upon the load to function. This may not seem like a significant concern when ammo is readily available. But were ammo to become restricted and regulated.  Availability could become an issue. Even handloads could become scarce as the core components become unavailable. (Imagine going back to ammo manufactured in the 1800’s.)  If that ever were to become the case than owners of revolvers would be in a much better position than those with semi-automatics.  That’s why I advocate everyone owning at least one revolver. And the .357 Magnum is one of the best handgun loads available.


Disassembly and cleaning of the GP100 is fairly straightforward. Disassembly takes several steps, however, it is much easier than my MKIII.  The grips are a single rubber molding that slides over a frame extension.  And there is a little spot inside the grips for storing a pin used in disassembly.  This pin was missing when I bought my GP100, but you can substitute a thick paper clip. That said, I called Ruger to order one and they kindly shipped one out to me free of charge.  Later during a cleaning I lost a spring. (My fault I was fooling with the trigger for curiousity’s sake after having removed the trigger guard assembly and it went *boing*.) This resulted in another call to Ruger, and once again they sent me out the part – no charge. I definitely have to give Ruger credit for their customer service.

The grips on my GP100 feature rosewood inlays which make for an attractive appearance.  The grips aren’t bad, but there is a section that is molded with an indent, it’s supposed to facilitate the cyclinder release, but in my case just rubs my thumb in the wrong spot. A friend of mine also owns a GP100 (his is blued but other than that it’s identical to mine). He had a Hogue grip on his and is going to let me borrow it. So I’ll update this post at a later time with my experience with the Hogue grips.

Lastly, I want to comment on speed loaders. I picked up two different speed loaders for my GP100. An HKS and a Safariland.  To be honest, I am disappointed with both. Neither really is a good design IMHO.  The HKS are of better quality. You place the rounds in and turn a knob to lock them in. To release them, you place the speedloader into the cylinder and turn the knob to drop the rounds into their chambers…in theory.  But what I found is that the requirement of turning the knob essentially forces you to utilize two hands for the task. (Otherwise the cylinder turns when you turn the knob.)  The Safariland are all composite plastic. The quality feels cheaper. And the function is not quite as smooth. And I do not think the Safariland units would last as long as the HKS.  That said, I do think Safariland has a somewhat better design.  With the Safariland, you placed the speedloader onto the cylinder and push the outer edge of the top until it releases. The fact that you merely need to push as opposed to twist is beneficial. That said, sometimes I find it quirky. And it would be better (both more natural and more intuitive) if you just had to push the top.   I think the HKS design could be modified to do this by replacing their knob with unit that has a push button release. Or to go with a flatter squeeze release.  Sadly, to date it appears that innovation on speed loaders is stagnate.

If anyone from either HKS or Safariland reads this and wants to improve your speedloader designs, please feel free to contact me and I’ll give you my design ideas. Or anyone else who might have the talent, the tools and the inclination for manufacturing better speedloaders.

Lastly, holsters. I haven’t utilized a holster with this sidearm much. I did purchase a cheap used leather holster that fit it fairly well. Though I think it needs a slightly shorter retaining strap.  That said, be aware that many GP100s, including mine, have a fully shrouded barrel. Hence not all holsters designed for 6″ barrels will accomodate a GP100.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this review and found it insightful. I apologize that it’s taken so long for me to post this.  I will try to get to my next firearm review in a much more timely fashion.

– N.U.G.U.N.

Published in: on December 17, 2008 at 3:42 am  Comments (2)  
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