Ruger SP101

Ruger SP101

The Ruger SP 101 is an investment cast small frame five shot revolver. Its frame design resembles a heavier, bulkier and generally more robust Smith & Wesson J-frame. Ruger introduced the SP101 in .38 Special in 1989 and in .357 Magnum in 1991. In both .38 and .357 the SP101 consistently proves to be an exceptionally accurate snub. 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. In addition to having the strongest design of any small revolver, the SP 101 features a unique quick takedown feature that makes post range cleaning sessions a near joy to attend to. The SP101’s unconventional cylinder release latch design offers two unique benefits. First, the release is pressed into the frame to unlock the cylinder rather than being pulled rearward as in the fashion of the Colt or pushed forward in the fashion of the Smith & Wesson. Ed Lovette, author of The Snuuby, has written that he prefers the Ruger’s cylinder release design to that found on any other brand of revolver. Second, the release lacks any form of checkering that might tear up the shooter’s thumb on recoil. Rugers do possess two features that distract from an otherwise excellent design. The first is its ejector rod and the second is its hammer. The SP 101’s ejector rod features a two piece, flat tipped design. An ejector rod is obviously critical for unloading and while the two piece design offers several lock up advantages, a rod that comes from the factory in two pieces does not instill rough handling confidence. Additionally the end of the ejector rod is, as noted, manufactured flat across at the top. This flat ejector rod tip design will regularly cut the thumb and/or heel of the shooter’s hand when reloading under rushed conditions. The situation can be easily corrected with a slight radiating of the rod’s tip. The second limitation stems from the decision by the company to halt production of factory supplied after market spurless or “bobbed” hammers. These bobbed hammers came pre-machined to offer double action only trigger action. Suspension of the after market bobbed hammer retrofit option could be quickly remedied with the reintroduction of these hammers. Despite this, the Ruger SP101 in .357 is one of my favorite range training tools. It is a fun gun to train others on. It handles hot .38 rounds readily and is unmatched as a diminutive powerhouse when loaded with .357.

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