March 11, 2022
Almost 50 years ago I was ready to obtain my first .357 Magnum revolver. It seems strange to say, but my grandfather was leery of the relatively new Ruger brand. Ruger’s double-action revolvers were competing squarely against Smith & Wesson and Colt brands. The price was right—about half the cost of a new Colt Trooper and considerably less than a Smith & Wesson Combat Magnum.
Ruger designed this midsize revolver with an investment-cast frame to provide a strong and reliable but relatively lightweight service handgun at 34 ounces.
In production in 1971 and generally available by 1972, the revolver was offered in blue steel. The barrel was four inches long, and it was chambered in .357 Magnum. A few were chambered in .38 Special, and there were numerous variants: the Police Service-Six; Speed-Six; and variations with a square butt and round butt, respectively.
Stainless steel revolvers followed. I carried a four-inch-barreled stainless-steel revolver on duty in the early 1980s. Among the best balanced versions was a relatively compact 2.75-inch-barreled revolver that provided good balance and a bit of recoil dampening over competing guns with shorter barrels.
The Security-Six offered the most rugged adjustable rear sights of the day, and a ramp front sight offering an excellent sight picture. The hammer spur is easily grasped to cock the revolver for single-action fire. The double-action trigger is smooth enough, and while heavier than the competition there are no hitches or rough spots in the action.
The grip design was a matter of much discussion at the time. While it is a square butt, it isn’t similar to other revolvers of the day. Elmer Keith felt it offered an excellent shape for fast instinctive shooting, but Jeff Cooper thought the grip angle was poor for control in rapid fire.
Ruger later offered larger target-style grips. The original press-checkered wooden slabs were nothing fancy, but they were small enough to allow most any hand size to wrap around the grip. The Ruger is fast to a first-shot hit. In single-action fire the grip frame isn’t a drawback.
Ruger’s Single-Six wasn’t the first to use a transfer bar action, but it was a step forward in magnum revolvers. Today a variation of the transfer bar action is used in most revolvers.
The Security-Six can be field stripped with nothing but a coin. Remove the grips, cock the hammer, put the supplied pin in the hammer spring, and slip out the action.
The Single-Six featured a solid frame, eliminating the side plates, and was a strong design. Leaf springs were replaced by coil springs. The cylinder release presses in to release the cylinder to be swung out for loading or unloading.
At the time the Security-Six was introduced, the major ammunition makers were developing the 125-grain .357 Magnum cartridge for law enforcement use. This powerful load was hard on the guns of the day, but the Security-Six suffered less than most.
The youngest Security-Six is now about 35 years old. They are not as common as they once were, but you can find them. A fair price is about half that of the new GP100 that replaced it.
The Security-Six is a good choice for anyone wishing to own a versatile defensive handgun with a good balance of weight to power. And it’s a piece of history because the Security-Six paved the way for Ruger’s successful double-action revolver lineup.