Introduced in .38 special in 1989 and in .357-Magnum in 1991 the Ruger SP101 is a five shot investment cast frame revolver. It features a frame size between that of the small Smith and Wesson J-frame and the medium Colt D-frame. Closely resembling the ubiquitous Smith Chief’s Special, the SP 101 is heavier, bulkier, and generally considered stronger. The Ruger not only has the strongest design of any small revolver it features a unique, quick takedown feature that makes post range session cleaning a near joy to attend too. It was also at one time available from the factory with a spurless or “bobbed” hammer and with a double action only trigger.
The Ruger also has two unique cylinder release features. First, it lacks any form of checkering. Second, the Ruger release is neither moved forward toward the cylinder as is in the case of nearly all other revolvers nor pulled rearward in the fashion of the Colts. The Ruger cylinder release is pressed inward, into the frame. Lacking checkering makes it is nearly impossible to have the cylinder release “bite” the shooters hand during recoil. Pressing in on the release also makes it the easiest release to manipulate for one-hand-only reloading for both left- and right handed shooters. Ed Lovette himself has noted that he prefers the Ruger’s cylinder release to that of any other revolver’s.
Due to its heft, the Ruger SP101 is one of the few small sized snub revolvers that is not distinctly unpleasant to shoot when loaded with .357-Magnum ammunition. The SP 101consistently proves to be an exceptionally accurate snub. Rumors of an alloy framed or titanium frame version have yet to materialize.