Ruger Six Series Review: An Obsession

| March 30, 2014 | 18 Comments

I figured that I might help you understand my obsession.

By Mark Singer

Safe Direction Firearms

Web Address: safedirection.org

In this author’s humble opinion it is the best revolver ever offered by Ruger. As compared to a Smith and Wesson I’d say there is a tiny bit of travel in single action with nearly zero pressure behind it and while the single action may not be as crisp as a S&W; I like how smooth the double action trigger is compared to the Smith. I even think the Security, Speed, and Service six revolvers’ DA triggers are better than other Ruger models, such as the GP100 and SP101. Also, Ruger revolvers tend to be low maintenance and are very easy for a novice to completely disassembly.

.357 Magnum Ruger Security Six Early 150 Prefix Model

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I’ll start a brief history on the Security Six .357 Magnum. It was introduced in 1968, released in 1971, and in production between the years 1972 and 1988. I know that sounds confusing, well that is because there were two major “frame types” released. The early models had a serial number with a 150 prefix code and below had a “square” butt with a low back on the end of the frame; the idea was to control muzzle flip. The 4″ blued model pictured above is a very early 150 prefix model, made in Jan, 19 1972. The end result was that the frame did not fit some hands and upon recoil it moved enough in the hand when shooting heavy loads to slow follow up shots, but not as much as you would think. In 1975 they brought out the stainless model. And in short order Ruger followed it with a giant warning message right on the barrel. Early examples without the warning may be worth more to a collector. My stainless 4″ below wearing the Kingswood grips is a 151 prefix without the ‘low back’ frame but with this warning. It is pictured with speed loaders from 5 Star Firearms. As an aside, the Manufacturing/Engineering and Production Supervisor at 5 star firearms, Clinton Hartford, was the lead designer behind these speed loaders. They are made of Billet Aluminum and are of high quality. An interesting design as they rotate opposite of the commonly found speed loaders; so that the rotation of the loader does not push the cylinder closed. Furthermore, the fluting machined into the loader allows it to clear most grips with greater easy than the competition.

.357 Magnum Ruger Security Six 151 Prefix Stainless Steel Model

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A rarer model is the Stainless 2 3/4″ Security Six without the warning message, pictured below. They were offered for a short time without the warning on the barrel. They are harder to find in good condition. It took quite a while to find one in this condition:

.357 Magnum Ruger Security Six 151 Prefix Stainless Steel Model Pre-Warning

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Many more of the shorter barrel models were made of the Speed Six and Service Six variants. The Police-Service Six or simply Service Six is a fixed sight version of the Security Six with a square but frame; originally designed with law enforcement in mind, they make excellent carry guns for civilians. As for the Speed Six, it was designed with concealed carry in mind. It is a rounded butt version of the Service Six and also a fixed sight design. The Service and Speed Sixes were both made with 2 3/4″ and 4″ barrels with no 6″ barrel versions produced. They were offered in a number of calibers; including a 9mm Speed Six variant designed to be fired with moonclips and a .38 S&W Special Service Six variant.

In 1988 Ruger broke this author’s heart and discontinued the Six Series guns and replaced them with the GP100. Now, while the GP100 is a great gun I prefer the Security Six. For many people, the differences between the GP100 and the Sixes are blurry; well, the differences between the Security Six and the GP100, are as follows: First, the Security Six has a full size grip frame compared to the GP100’s “stub” grip frame. Also, the GP100 has a locking piece between the yoke and frame (instead of between the ejector rod and barrel) and a fixed (non-rotating) ejector rod. The reason for the change is more theoretical than real with the main advantage of the GP100 being the front lock-up being right at the front of the cylinder, instead of out on the end of the ejector rod, but that is a slight advantage. The real motivation was that the GP100 is less expensive to produce than the Sixes were. Furthermore, the full under-lug on the GP100 is there to reduce muzzle flip, some like it, others don’t; I personally prefer the look of the half-lug for aesthetic reasons only. Other than that most differences are cosmetic, such as the barrel profile as you can see with the GP100 below:

.357 Magnum Ruger GP100

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As for the accuracy of these fine firearms. I generally do not believe in firing from a bench rest to test a handgun, though it does remove some human error from the testing. I still feel that a gun should be tested as it is to be used. Here are three 6 round groups at 14 yards with the 2 3/4″ Speed Six pictured below using my favorite self-defense load: 158 grain Hornady XTP-

.357 Magnum Ruger Speed Six 2 ¾” Barrel

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The next target was shot with a 6” Security Six, also pictured below, at 35 yards with Federal Premium Vital-Shok 180 grain 357 Magnum ammunition:

.357 Magnum Ruger Security Six 6” Barrel

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Now, while the Six Series guns have been discontinued they can still be found on the used market with prices ranging from $400 up to $700 dollars for a rarer model, possibly even more depending on your location and if you find one of those 9mm variations. They can be worked on quite easily and are tough guns. They can handle a steady diet of practically any factory 357 load that is available today and are an excellent choice for a defensive firearm.

So, if you are looking for quality without breaking the bank, look for a Security Six variant.

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Ruger Six Series Review: An Obsession, 8.3 out of 10 based on 47 ratings

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18 Comments on "Ruger Six Series Review: An Obsession"

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  1. My first online revolver review - Ruger Forum | March 30, 2014
  1. Robert Barker says:

    These guns are obvious keepers as I hardly ever see them come up for sale.

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  2. Agreed the speed six’s are rare on the open market.

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  3. Scott Astin says:

    These are great guns. Very reliable and well built. As you know, I have an obsession with these as well. Another very well done and informative write up Mark.

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  4. AZ Ames says:

    I have one of the older 150 series Sixes as well as a newer GP100. They are both fine weapons and I wouldn’t hesitate to rely on either one in a pinch.

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  5. CT Joe says:

    Nice read. As a new owner of a Service Six stainless 4″, I appreciate all the information I can get on this beautiful revolver.
    My model 19 finally has company.
    Regards

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  6. Mark says:

    The model 19 is another great one, CT Joe. I love the old combat magnums.

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  7. rdmershon says:

    I dig your speed six.

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  8. Kent says:

    These are great guns. I have a model 150 and am in need of grips. Could someone point me in the right direction?

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  9. There are some really nice ones that can be found on Ebay at this time and you also have Badger Custom Grips.

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  10. Ron Burris says:

    Great summary on the Six.

    Unfortunately, the GP100 which replaced the Security Six was simply over-built. Except for the somewhat better cylinder lock-up system, its excessive weight makes it just a step sideways from the lighter Security Six. In 4″ or 2-3/4″ barrel with 38 Special or +P loads, the Security Six is a great home defense gun for the average person and also fun at the range. The Service Six and Speed Six are nearly the same, but without adjustable sights.

    Notice how Ruger shaved a lot of weight off the very expensive 4.2″ barrel GP100 Match Champion. It now looks a lot like a stainless 4″ Security Six, which was even a few ounces lighter. The standard GP100 is really so much heavier than it needs to be, and Ruger producing the Match Champion proves that. Also notice that they are now making a 4.2″ barrel in the 5-shot SP101 to try to fill the gap. But that smaller-framed gun is a little light for pleasant 357 Magnum shooting.

    Personally, I always tell people to save their money on a GP100 and instead buy a used Security Six rather than the now-overpriced and too-heavy GP100. You can find them at most gunshows and shops. Unless you know how to technically inspect the gun at a gun show, avoid any Security Six that looks well-worn or pitted, or just pay a little more and buy from a good gun shop that has inspected the gun and will guarantee it functional and safe.

    Over the years, I’ve seen dozens of Security Sixes at gun shows and shops that look nearly new. Some in original boxes. Ruger made so many of them. They used to be around $275, but of course prices have risen steadily as people are now appreciating them as superior to the GP100.

    I think your listed price of “$400 and up” is a little off. You can get a decent one with moderate wear for less. At Midwest and Rocky Mountain state gun shows prices for blued models are now about $480 for one in excellent condition (98% original finish/appearance, minimal wear), $400 for very good (90%, moderate wear), and $300 for good (80%, noticeable wear but still good function). Stainless models are about $25 more. Other parts of the country may be more. There are lots of good Sixes out there still for $300. However, if you don’t know how to check one out mechanically, it is best to pay a little more and buy one from a full-service shop as I said.

    Ruger made a mistake with the GP100 being too heavy, and I won’t be surprised if Ruger shaves weight off all the GP100s in the future like they do on the Match Champion.

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  11. Georg Garner says:

    Have a stainless speed six in 357 mag. Says made in the 200th year of American liberty. Do they all have that on them? What can you tell me about it? Have the factory pachmyer grips and camo lamo wood grips.

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  12. “Made in the 200th Year Of American Liberty” was only applied to Rugers in 1976. In Good shape they usually command a price about 10% more over one not stamped.

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  13. John says:

    Bought a stainless ruger 357 mag with 2.75′ barrel back in late 70’s and love this gun. Shoot mostly my .38spec handloads. With the rubber pachmyr grips this revolver is a gem.

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  14. Fred Pick says:

    This past weekend I found an immaculate Ruger Police Service-Six in 357 Magnum cal. It’s a 152- serial number with the 2 and 3/4 inch barrel and fixed sights. I quickly snatched up the stainless steel revolver for $375.00. And there is no read the directions warning as well. Man does that stamped warning on firearms look ugly to me. You have to clean the gun up after each use especially the burn rings on the front of the cylinder and around the forcing cone, as the carbon deposits build up quick. For me cleaning a firearm is a labor of love. I put up the S&W Model 19-8 and carry the Ruger now. It’s a joy to shoot, even with the factory wood grips. I have enough varieties of old ammo to supply an army so I’ll be able to shoot a pile of different brands and such to find out what the Police Service-Six shoots the best. Feed your firearm the ammo it likes to eat the most, so to speak, and you can’t go wrong.

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  15. Bought my first service six in 73.Still have it.I love the old Ruger,Smith and colt 357 magnums.Use 38 special for shooting.Self defense mainly 357 hollow points.Can’t be anything better in your hand.Taurus ain’t all that bad either.

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  16. mike miller says:

    i have a stainless security six with a 153 prevex no 4in barrel can u tell me the year and the worth

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  17. Bryan says:

    After much research, this is the model I decided I wanted to learn how to shoot on. I became set on a 357 with a 4 inch barrel for the diversity of uses it provides in spades. After some searching I scored a bicentennial model that I never intend on selling.

    The trigger for me isn’t as bad as seems to be their reputation; it has a natural staging point that I like to use. Mine had a grooved trigger that I swapped out for a smooth on which helped, as did the wolf springs kit and plenty of safe dry fire practice.

    Even though this gives had a square butt, it isn’t all that big and isn’t difficult to conceal. This gun has ridden iwb, owb, in a belly band and in a shoulder rig nicely, all with minimal adjustment. Owb in a simply rugged sour dough pancake holster is my favorite way to go here. Compared to an L frame or GP 100 I find the Security Six a better compromise of weight and size. If you find one you can’t go wrong

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