SP101 revolver quality and features questions

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tercel89

Single-Sixer
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Jul 22, 2010
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174
I had an SP101 several years ago and sold it. I am looking to buy one again to keep . I remember them being marketed as being stronger then the other makes of revolvers because of the one piece sidewalls and not having any side panels an that they have 3 point lock-up for the cylinder. I have always been a semi-auto pistol guy since 1996 so I am still new to the revolver world. So tell me if the Ruger revolvers are as good or better , or worse than S&W and why please. Any information is greatly appreciated.
 

hittman

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If you’re gonna carry it, to big and heavy for my liking. A J Frame or LCR would be my choice.

Now, if you just want to plink and hit the range you’ll never ever wear it out.

But then again if you want a range gun …. Go ahead and get a Security Six and have 6 shots.

I have way way more faith and confidence in the Ruger than I do any S&W. Maybe Rugers are over-engineered, I don’t know, but in my mind they make the S&Ws seem light and cheaply built.
 
Joined
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I my opinion (and others in the business) the Ruger DA revolvers (Security Six series (not made any more but can be found), SP101, GP100, Redhawk, Super Redhawk) are stronger than the S&W's because they have no side plate and seem to be better able to handle high pressure rounds without loosening up because they are so robust. That said, the S&W trigger pull is probably better than the Ruger (but I've been hearing complaints about it with guns made in the last 5 years or so). BUT, you, or a gunsmith, can really slick up the Ruger action with a little polishing work and replacement springs.

The Ruger is also MUCH easier to work on the internals because of how they are made. S&W lock work has a lot of small pieces that you have to worry about if you want to work on it but the Ruger hammer and trigger assembies come out in one piece and are very easy to work on.

Put a L frame S&W (Model 686 .357 Magnum) and a equivalent Ruger (Stainless Steel GP100 .357 Magnum) in front of me, I wouldn't even think about it and would take the GP100. Then pass it on to my children, and they pass it on the their children, and ...
 

hittman

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Dry fire a Model 10 or 15 or 686 and listen carefully …… sounds like shutting the door on a cheap import car.

Dry fire a GP100 or other Ruger double action …. Like closing the door on a Mercedes.
 

needsmostuff

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Boxers , briefs. Red wine ,white wine.
It's all just opinions and both are great revolvers at the top of the game..
Ask questions here for sure but rest assured all your gonna hear is opinions and this is a Ruger forum . Aside from occasional lemons from either camp neither is a bad choice . Overall strength, MEH. Average shooters seldom stress or wear out either.
Know what is more important ? Your opinion !
Get out and hold some , fire some and look at carrying some.
Your gonna know pretty quick what is right for you .
Perfect BEST gun? Your probably going to have to try and trade a few to boil that down to your perfect gun . Good news both have great resale if you change your mind.
Yeah ,,, it is that individual of a choice and your needs change over time .
 
Joined
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Reading, Pa
Pocket carried an SP101 for years until the LCR came out. The SP101 is like any other Ruger, built like a tank and simple to clean/maintain, I love everything about the SP101 except for the weight when it comes to pocket carry. My .22lr SP101 is by far my favorite range gun.
 

Big John

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If you want to carry I’d seriously consider a J frame S&W, assuming you aren’t going to shoot it a lot. They are smaller and lighter and damn reliable. But if you’re looking for something to shoot for the rest of your life and pass on to others I would spend my money on a Ruger, with a caveat. I’ve purchased two revolvers in the last eight years where the front sight wasn’t properly indexed. And I had a MIM part break. In each case Ruger fixed the problem, no charge, but there is cost incurred with shipping, time, etc. If you order any gun through a dealer you are at risk of getting something like a poorly indexed sight, etc. Buy it in person if possible. Better yet, buy both.
 

woodsy

Blackhawk
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Jan 5, 2012
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Seymour, CT
I have two SP's: one for woods carry (one 4" in a waist pack for bears) and the other 2" in pocket for other threats. Both are totally dependable. Could not imagine any other make being even close to them as rugged and reliable.
 

Mobuck

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I can't say much about quality of current production since my SP101 is over 12 years old. I carried it for a couple of years before my work demanded something a bit more discreet with more rounds on board. Didn't mind the weight but it did pose more concealment problems than other options. Switching to a smaller frame 9mm (13 rounds with loaded chamber + 12 in a spare mag) allowed 25 rounds on my person vs 10 rounds with the SP101 (5 rounds and a speed loader).
This may not be an issue for some but I'm a follower of the "he who holds a loaded gun is superior to he who ran out of ammo" theory.
 

contender

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This type of question gets a lot of responses.
First off, decide WHAT you plan on using it for. AND how it will be used.
CCW or the range? Self defense, or casual shooting? Will it be carried a lot & shot little,, or shot a lot & carried a little?

The SP-101 was built as a CCW self defense gun, IN GENERAL,, to compete with the S&W line of compact revolvers.
Yes,, they are heavier,, and designed to be stronger. Doubtful one would ever wear one out.

Many complain about the weight of one for CCW. As a person who studies the concept of having to actually USE a gun I'm carrying in a SD situation, (and having had to pull my gun occasionally to where it was ready just in case.) I'm always of the mind I want the strongest, best designed, & least problematic firearm to use to defend myself. Lightweight guns get shot less due to many folks feeling they "kick" too much. Heavier guns get carried less because some folks feel they are too cumbersome.
YOU have to make the choices.
But the SP-101 is an EXCELLENT firearm.
 

tercel89

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Jul 22, 2010
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174
Thanks to all you guys for the information. This will be for a fun range gun , occasionally carrying it , and just to have a good revolver that will last a lifetime.
 
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tercel89 said:
Thanks to all you guys for the information. This will be for a fun range gun , occasionally carrying it , and just to have a good revolver that will last a lifetime.

It will definitely do what you are looking for it to do. And, if it turns out that you really don't care for it, it will be VERY easy to sell.
 
Joined
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My preference remains the Security Six series and its variants. But I understand that was not the question. :mrgreen:

I am also a fan of the L-Frame Smith's. That doesn't mean I wont continue to own both Ruger's and Smith's.





And carryability? I tend to prefer shootability over carryability. Everything is relative. The SP is slightly larger and slightly heavier than other small frame revolvers, shoots well because of that, but is still easily carried by me. 8)








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Biggfoot44

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Sep 6, 2009
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For context , the SP-101 is same general size and weight as Colt Detective Special of similar bbl length , and they were definitely considered concealed carry guns . For tight pants pocket carry , either would be big and heavy , for belt or IWB , with Good belt , and reasonably decent holster , they'll be fine .

For the intersection of reasonably compact and accurate , extended range sessions w/o hand and wrist pain , very durable , and on the borderline of actually shooting with full power .357 , that's exactly the SP-101 .

If that's what you want , SP-101 is your huckleberry .

If you want a lighter than air , shoot infrequently pocket gun , or a full size belt/ range/ hunting gun , then go smaller or larger respectively .
 

Alex

Bearcat
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Oct 1, 2017
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Phoenix, AZ
A few things need mentioning. First, the Galco "concealable" holster is about the best I've found for an SP101 snubnose. While the .357 Magnum is so well built that it just may last longer than I will, I don't think it's comfortable firing actual .357 cartridges. I find that target practice with .38 Spl is a joy, and .38 Spl +P is plenty of stopping power should that day come.
 

dfletcher

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Sep 14, 2006
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Leaving California .....
I'll be contrarian on one point and that is overall quality, fit and finish. I have an older SP101 and a newer one. The older is OK, the newer I can well do without.

Yes, it's built like a tank. I've driven a tank and a finely tuned piece of machinery it was not. The 101 hammer has alot of side to side slop as does the trigger. There's a fair amount of travel before the trigger engages and lifts the hammer in DA mode. SA trigger pull is pretty hefty. There's no cylinder bolt timing to speak of - it drops pretty much immediately and has enough spring power to rub a drag line in the cylinder.

Has no effect on function but at some point Ruger changed the cylinder scallops to a scalloped shape - looks odd as heck to me.

On the plus side, lock up is excellent and factory grips while pretty basic are well shaped and comfortable. The gun is a breeze to shoot with 110 and 125 grain bullets.

I've not had the best of luck on my last few Ruger handguns. For now, I always handle and inspect before buying.

Don't mean to sound too negative, I do like Ruger in general. And the 101 is a great design. I suppose grabbing an older one or checking out the new 1st hand would be my way to go about it.
 

weemsf

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 9, 2010
Messages
284
Location
West Tennessee
I'm a sucker for any revolver in 3" configuration. The SP101 is a great gun. I've carried everything from a 1911 to a Taurus 728. The weight of a gun does pull on your clothing. Get a dress belt designed to carry a pistol and enjoy your personal choice of firearm.

Wish I still had my SP101. Actively looking for a good deal on one.
 

paboxcall

Bearcat
Joined
Oct 23, 2011
Messages
66
If it wasn't for the weight, I'd CC the SP101 every day, but that job goes to the j-frame and the .380 Bodyguard because of the way I dress.

I have the SP101 in .327 Fed Mag. and I take it on woods walks regularly carrying OWB. Its simply a beast of materials and straight forward engineering.
 

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