Ruger has a new high-end version of its GP100 revolver and it’s a beaut, with stainless finish, a fiber optic front sight, and a Hogue Stippled Hardwood grip. But any of the GP100 models would be great for prepping and survival purposes.
These .357 Magnum revolvers can also shoot .38 Special ammo. For self-defense, especially if you are an inexperienced shooter, the .38 Special has the least recoil and muzzle blast of any effective caliber. Then you always have the option to increase the power with .357 Magnum ammo. The one-shot stopping power of the .357 is unrivaled.
Revolvers have several advantages over semi-automatic handguns. The revolver has fewer moving parts and so it is more reliable. The fixed barrel of the revolver makes it more accurate as well. The semi-auto has a moving barrel and slide, which adversely affects accuracy. The semi-auto also relies on springs in the magazine, to feed each round into the chamber. When the magazine is full, these springs are under constant tension, so they can weaken over time. But with the revolver, no springs are under constant tension. You can load a revolver, throw it in a gun safe, and it will be ready to use in a month, a year, or ten years. A revolver would be my recommendation for anyone needing a handgun for self-defense, especially if they did not want to spend much time practicing at the range.
The Ruger GP100 is one of the better revolvers for home defense. Barrel lengths are available at 4.2 and 6.0 inches. I wouldn’t use anything less than 4 inches for self-defense. The shorter barrels reduce accuracy and increase muzzle blast. People like the shorter barrels for easy concealed carry. But a home defense gun does not need to be so small.
The GP100 is heavier than the typical semi-auto and heavier than the small concealed carry revolvers. But the greater weight gives you lower recoil, and that translates into greater accuracy. The various GP100 models weigh from 38 to 45 ounces.
One model only of the GP100 comes in a recent caliber called .327 Federal Magnum. This caliber shoots bullets from 85 to 115 grains at velocities approaching those of the .357 Magnum. The advantage to the .327 Federal is lower recoil, due to lighter bullets. But the bullet weights and velocities are still effective for self-defense. It’s a good compromise between the powerful .357 Magnum and the adequate .38 Special. You have reduced recoil compared to the .357, but also greater effectiveness compared to the .38 Special. More on the .327 Federal Magnum here.