If I recall correctly, some of the more recent vintage Model 12’s have dimensions similiar to a model 10 and are easier to acquire grips, etc. for.  How can one tell if the Model 12 is compatible with the model 10 parts?

I currently have a Ruger sp101 with 2 1/4 inch barrel.  The Model 12, with round butt and 2″ barrel that I saw is in 99% condition with the box, but priced at $490.  How would you compare the desirability of these two snubs?  If you were forced to choose only one, which would you opt for carry?

Thanks for any insights from your experiences.



Dear Randy:
Thank you for the great question.
If I remember correctly, the Model 12, 12-1, 12-2 and 12-3 all used a frame 1/10 of an inch narrower than the standard model 10s.
They also used a thinner hammer and trigger. Neither which could be substituted for model 10 parts.
The Model 12-4 used the same parts as the model 10. If you swing open the cylinder and check near the hinge between the yoke and the crane you should find a “12” either with or without a -1, -2, -3 or -4 following it. It you see the -4 you should be good with any model 10 parts. If not you would need the narrow parts from another narrow framed Model 12.
Regarding the SP101 vs. the Model 12 – Ouch! Tough question.
First, the Model 12s around here are going for $375 so $490 seems like a little much.
Second as much as I LOVE my Model 12s if I had to limit myself to one or the other I would lean toward the SP 101.
Yes the SP 101 is a lot heavier – but a great holster can take up for a lot of that weight distribution.
Also the Model 12 does offer you an extra round, but the SP 101 has too many advantages not to give it the nod.
More power – .357 vs. standard velocity .38 (S&W literature recommends against any +p in the Model 12’s alloy frame.)
Versatility – You can shoot nearly any .38/.357 round out of the SP 101 – comfortable too.  
More options – Very few after market extras were ever available for the Model 12 – even available stocks won’t fit right if your Model 12 has a thin frame. Alternatively, there are many extras for the SP 101 up to and including laser stocks from Crimson Trace.
A lifetimes worth of shooting – The SP 101 will run for decades after you have shot the Model 12 to death.
Replacement parts – Finding Model 12 parts is harder than finding hen’s teeth.  Ruger is still making SP 101 parts.
Would the SP 101 be my first choice if I could have only one snub? No – I would opt for a J-frame air weight (not air lite) rated for +p and one without a frame lock – But if the choice is between the Model 12 and the SP 101 for self-defense – I would have to go with the SP 101.
I hope that helps a little.
Thank you again for a great question.
Michael de Bethencourt