July 13, 2018
By Joseph von Benedikt
Bill Ruger's first double-action revolver wasn't just a success, it was almost perfect. A lot of shooters thought the design had no bugs that needed to be worked out. Many thought it had no deficiencies at all. For a lot of handgunners, the Security-Six revolver was a flawless sixshooter, and that is unusual for a first effort.
Conceived as a powerful middleweight sidearm for self-defense, law enforcement, and military purposes, the Security-Six is a midsize, six-shot double action. Typical to Ruger creed, it was made using robust, cost-effective investment castings and coil springs and quickly gained a reputation for durability and reliability. It was stronger than Smith & Wesson's excellent Model 19 and could better withstand a steady diet of heavy magnum cartridges. Yet the versatile 4.0-inch-barreled version weighed only 33.5 ounces, which as far as .357 Magnum revolvers go is relatively light and a feature much appreciated by those who carried one day in, day out as a duty or service gun.
Most Security-Sixes were chambered in .357 Magnum, although .38 S&W, .38 Special, and 9mm Parabellum (cut for moon clips) were also available. Early versions introduced in 1972 were available only in blued steel; stainless options were added in the mid-1970s.
Because production costs were low, Security-Six revolvers were very competitively priced. A reputation for excellent performance at a superb price vaulted the model to brisk sales. By the time the Security-Six was discontinued in 1988, over 1.5 million had been manufactured and sold to civilians, various government agencies (including the Border Patrol), and police agencies.
Variations include blued and stainless with a variety of barrel lengths, including 2.74-, 3.0-, 4.0-, and 6.0-inch versions. Both round- and square-butt versions were manufactured, and an adjustable-sight model was geared toward police use and marketed as the Service-Six. For the most part, stocks were wood and featured a bit of pressed checkering.
Eventually, Ruger discontinued the Security-Six and its sibling Service-Six and Speed-Six revolvers. It was replaced by the GP100 line of midsize revolvers.
Uniquely, the Security-Six may be fully disassembled with nothing but a flat-head screwdriver, coin, or whatnot to loosen the grip screw. Once removed, the grips, mainspring, hammer pin and hammer, trigger assembly, and cylinder and crane assembly take down without tools and in very short order.
Notably, when taken apart, the frame's strength is obvious. There is no removable sideplate weakening the structure.
Like all double-action Ruger revolvers, the Security-Six features a rugged press-button cylinder release. Thumb it firmly to open the cylinder latch and swing the cylinder out to load six cartridges.
To fire, either ear the hammer back with your thumb and squeeze the trigger, or simply sweep the trigger through its full rearward swing to fire it in double-action mode. Pop out the cylinder, point the barrel at the sky, and thump the ejector rod with your palm to decisively eject empty cartridge cases prior to reloading.
Little is known about the particular revolver shown. It's a standard stainless version with 4.0-inch barrel, discovered on the used-gun shelf at Gunnies Sporting Goods in Orem, Utah. While I wasn't in the market, my good friend Ty Evans was.
A savvy gunsmith had worked it over at some point, tuning the timing, polishing the internals, and lightening the trigger action to perfection. The single-action pull is crisp and light: only 2 pounds, 5 ounces with less than 2 ounces of variation over a series of five measurements. Double action, it tips the scale a fraction past 9 very smooth pounds.
Less-than-ideal overcast January light made it difficult for my middle-aged eyes to resolve iron sights, but even so, the Security-Six produced stellar five-shot groups at 25 yards. The light, crisp trigger made getting the best out of the revolver easy, too. Of the four .357 Magnum loads and two .38 Special loads I tested, all averaged less than 3.00 inches, and its two favorites- Fusion's 158-grain JSP and the vintage Remington UMC 125-grain JSP- averaged less than 2.00 inches.
Despite the relatively moderate barrel length, muzzle velocity was good. In fact, the 125-grain Remington UMC load the Security-Six shot so well averaged close to 1,500 fps, producing over 600 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. That's considerably more than even a +P .45 ACP load generates.
With formal testing accomplished, I shot casually in the waning early evening light, turning frozen dirt clumps into smaller clumps and cracking slow-fire shots at inviting rocks on the slope 200 yards distant. Recoil with both standard and +P .38 Specials is positively pleasant; with .357 Magnums, it's zesty but not painful or difficult to control. The factory grip is well shaped, making it easy to find a sure, correct grip when drawing the sidearm and easy to maintain that grip even during rapid fire with magnum cartridges.
All things considered, Ruger's long-discontinued Security-Six revolver is still an outstanding option for the personal-protection-minded among us who prefer a wheelgun to a semiauto. And for wilderness types who spend more nights beneath the stars than under a roof, it's an easy-to-maintain tool-less design that will go the distance.