Thoughts on Ruger SP101 vs Smith Model 60, 66, etc???

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WanderLust

Bearcat
Joined
Dec 2, 2017
Messages
40
I'm looking at buying a 3", or possibly a 4" .357 revolver in SS, primarily for carry when I show land (realtor). I prefer the Wiley Clapp version if I choose the SP, as it has nice Novak rear sights, but that's not an absolute. I would carry 95% of the time and shoot 5% of the time, so weight has some say in the matter. I've owned a large number of guns over the years, so I have preferences and experience. I like a smooth single & double action, which makes me lean more toward the Smiths. In a perfect world, a worked Smith tends to beat a worked Ruger, at least in terms of smoothness. Both can be made to be quite nice, so no disputes there, but I'm looking at apples to apples comparisons. I'm also a bit concerned about the quality issues I've seen on a newer Ruger vs an older Smith. I'm not going to wear the gun out through use, ever, so strength is not really a factor between the two types. I've carried .45's and smaller, so control is not really an issue. I'd lean toward a Model 66 or a 60, but not a 686 due to the weight and bulk. I have to conceal at times to avoid upsetting some clients. At this point, I'm really splitting hairs on a decision like this. Ordinarily I would buy 1 of everything and try them all, but it's hard to even find new or used guns right now. I'm wanting someone who has had both brands, if possible, to give me real-world experience. I don't need a knee-jerk reaction about "Ruger is GREAT!"; I already have a safe full of them. I also don't need to hear that Smith sold out and can't be trusted; I'm buying a gun, not a political event. What I want is actual experience with both brands, if possible. I'm open to ideas and opinions about other models, but I prefer a SS, SA/DA with adj. sights and a hammer. I need this gun to fill a specific role: responding to 2-or 4- legged beasts when I'm out in the field. I've got other carry guns, but this is an itch that I want to scratch. I know the difference a quality holster makes, but I had a broken back that lets me feel every extra ounce at times. I ordinarily buy lightly-used guns at good prices, just harder to do that lately. So how about it? Release the floodgates and give me some honest experience, just save the hate-mail for someone else! Thanks for listening, I love to read this forum!
 

deac45

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Messages
387
I once had a 3" M60 with adjustable sights and a 3" SP101 both chambered in 38 SPCL. I still have the SP, the Smith was traded away. Nothing wrong with it, I just shoot the SP better and I like the extra heft over the Smith. Also, the SP is more comfortable to carry. While both had hammers, I always had more problems with snagging on the draw with the M60...even when using near similar holsters. Never could sort it out. Really you can't go wrong with either.
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2015
Messages
84
I'm looking at buying a 3", or possibly a 4" .357 revolver in SS, primarily for carry when I show land (realtor)... I'd lean toward a Model 66 or a 60, but not a 686 due to the weight and bulk... I ordinarily buy lightly-used guns at good prices, just harder to do that lately. So how about it? Release the floodgates and give me some honest experience, just save the hate-mail for someone else! Thanks for listening, I love to read this forum!

I was scratching a somewhat similar itch last year, and because of the high demand/short supply situation, ended up with a "porkchop" Dan Wesson .357 (for some reason it was in my price range). I'm happy with it; I've always been a sucker for Ruger 'convertibles', so I like the ability to remove the barrel, which also makes cleaning easier. It fits a holster I had picked up somewhere for an L-frame Smith, so it might be heavier than you want, but (FWIW) maybe you could see what's available locally, and if you find an acceptable price on a quality item, support a local gun shop!
 

beentheredone

Bearcat
Joined
Mar 27, 2022
Messages
61
Make your choice, and let the rest of us put our thoughts to more productive pursuits. You know you can't really go wrong...
 

hittman

Moderator
Staff member
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Messages
8,982
If you want a 3 inch or 4 inch 357 and the weight and frame size of the 66 doesn’t bother you ….. I’d get that or a Six Series Ruger.

The 3 guns you mention are 3 different weights, 3 different frame sizes and 2 different ammo capacities.

I’d toss the SP idea and decide between the K frame size 66 or Six Series and toss LCR into the mix.
 

Coyote56

Bearcat
Joined
Oct 4, 2017
Messages
50
Holsters will make the difference when it comes to all day carry.
I will tote my SP 101 around all day in a proper OWB. Never know it’s there.
Also, give the Colt King Cobra a look. Spendy but a fine carry revolver. Again, good holster=effortless carry. And a S&W J-frame is always a contender
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Coyote56

Bearcat
Joined
Oct 4, 2017
Messages
50
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If you are thinking of a 4” barrel, consider:
Ruger GP 100…the tank of handguns
S&W N frame (top-.44 magnum) or K-frame (bottom .357 magnum)..time tested and well proven
Colt Python…overpriced and worth it
 

JStacy

Single-Sixer
Joined
May 6, 2016
Messages
493
A SP101 4" with adjustable sights and light pipe front sight would be a reasonable compromise. For light carry, if you can find one, a Taurus Mod 627 Titanium is about as light as it gets at 23 Qz and 7 shot. The Titanium frame has some problems with high intensity 125 grain loads so don't use them. I have had and carried one for years and the frame has sustained no damage from high velocity cast bullet loads and the gun is quite accurate BUT DA pull is heavier than Ruger or S&W . The Tracker series is a good carry size , slightly smaller than a K frame S&W but in several potent calibers. I also have a Tracker in 44 mag , which I hand load for , and it will take care of business for 2 or 4 legged problems.
 

WanderLust

Bearcat
Joined
Dec 2, 2017
Messages
40
Excellent advice from everyone so far! I greatly appreciate your wisdom gained from experience. Here are some thoughts, for what they're worth:
I'd love to find a Six-Series gun, but have worries since Ruger no longer supports them with parts.
Many of my preferences (66-1, etc.) are older and hard to find. Makes me consider buying the newer Wiley Clapp version of the SP.
Some very nice holsters in the pics so far. I wonder how hard to find similar holsters with the Novak sights being a factor?
I did pick up a generic SP (new) and notice the front sight seemed tilted to one side. 2 friends had to return new Rugers for that. Fixable though.
I've considered (and owned) larger sizes (Dan Wesson, GP-100) but I do have to conceal at times. When I walk land in shorts, a bit tougher to conceal.
I have Colts, and love them, and also some upper-end Smiths. It would be a woods/brush gun, so I don't want to carry a rarer, "nice" gun and damage it.
I have maybe a dozen Ruger Single actions, all wonderful but a little large. I don't mind the extra weight as much as the extra bulk for this gun.
I'm wanting a revolver in .357 to have snake shot, then heaver loads available. Some may raise the question of autos instead, hence this answer.
I really like the look of certain guns, and I want stainless because...because it's stainless! So those Smiths and SPs are high on my list for now.
Please keep the advice and photos coming, if you're able and willing. It's a tough decision to make, especially when I can't easily find these guns!
I am always open to buying and trying a good used gun as an experiment, if anyone knows of something available. Thanks for the help!
 
Joined
Nov 20, 2007
Messages
5,075
I own a Colt King Cobra 3" and owned a 4" SP101. I did a field comparison a couple of years ago.
 

Goldstar225

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 11, 2011
Messages
269
I've owned both the 3" S&W 60-15 pro series and a 3" SP101. They S&W was IMO a bit more refined but the SP101 with its extra weight dampened recoil better. With your stated desires I would look hard at the 4" SP101 with adjustable sights (model 5771). Its weight would almost exactly split the difference between the S&W model 60 and 66. A durable gun that would serve for many years. IMO easier to conceal than the 66.
 

noahmercy

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jun 13, 2015
Messages
219
I will say that after having owned and shot several different brands of "snubbies", I have yet to find one as accurate and comfortable as the SP101. That being said, I love carrying my LCR, and the trigger out-of-the-box is amazingly good. I've been looking for an LCRx 3" .357 Mag, but they seem to be rare as hen's teeth...
 

Knuckles

Buckeye
Joined
Jan 8, 2007
Messages
1,214
I’ve owned an early model and MIM model SP101,..a S&W Continental in between those, after checking out my son’s buddy’s Kimber I’d go with one of those instead of a Smith or Ruger (if my wallet was flush) …they’re smooth!
Can’t go wrong with any of those three.
On a side note… I as of recent absolutely love the Lipsey’s half shroud SP101 model #15707…Beautiful!
 

WanderLust

Bearcat
Joined
Dec 2, 2017
Messages
40
GoldStar225, excellent technical advice that I had not considered, especially the weights. I'm getting some very good advice so far from many people that obviously have personal knowledge based on experience, rather than hearsay. I do tend to lean toward a Ruger just from my own past experience with the brand and their customer service, it's very hard to beat! A 3" or 4" with sights is nicer to me. I don't think the SP is offered with rear sights in anything less than 3", except in limited runs, if I'm correct. I like a Smith target hammer as opposed to a SP hammer, just makes it a little easier to handle, but thats a nit-pick item. Does anyone make an after-market hammer for the SP? I like to alter my Rugers to Bisley when I have the chance, so the preference carries over to smaller guns that I have. Please keep it coming, guys!
 

GittinSkinny

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 5, 2017
Messages
2
I was introduced to a Kimber k6s combat the other day. Color me impressed! That will be my next revolver. I have sp's 4 & 3 inch, like them alot. Match Champion gp100, nice. J,K & L framem Smiths. Even an old K frame PPC comp gun. I was impressed with the Kimber.
 

WanderLust

Bearcat
Joined
Dec 2, 2017
Messages
40
GittinSkinny, I've had Kimbers and liked them, still have an Ultra-carry in .45 that is easy to shoot! I have never tried the Kimber revolver, as very few stores carry a display model, and those tend to have trigger locks which they won't remove. I'm willing to look for one locally and see. As with anything else, I hesitate to spend extra dollars on something that may be left in the car at times. I'm assuming spending $600 to $700 on my next purchase.
As far as your 3" vs 4" SP's, did you notice a real difference in carrying holstered, or trying to conceal? Didn't know if that applied to you.
 

Klondike Mike

Single-Sixer
Joined
Apr 9, 2011
Messages
224
IMG 20170115 1247401442

I have and like a lot of short barrel revolvers including a 3" SP101, a 3" S&W 66 and a 2 3/4" Security Six. That said, when I'm out in the woods bird hunting and feel the need for a sidearm this S&W 60-4 38 Special will be along 90% of the time. I'm not hunting bears or moose so I don't think a magnum anything is necessary and the 38 should be enough to convince anything within arms length that it would be better off elsewhere. It's also accurate enough to take an upclose snowshoe hare that's too close for the shotgun or a coyote that takes in interest in me or my dog. It's certainly not perfect for every situation, a 642 Airweight is more concealable, but as far as compromises go it's very good. Best of luck with your decision.
 

WanderLust

Bearcat
Joined
Dec 2, 2017
Messages
40
Klondike Mike,
That's a very encouraging photo and some good comparisons you offered. I have seen enough data to suggest that .38+P ammo will solve most issues with the shorter barrel flash and recoil. I'm impressed with the accuracy of the gun (and shooter!) in your pic. This is the reason that I like to get answers from people that certainly can back up their opinions with facts.
 

WanderLust

Bearcat
Joined
Dec 2, 2017
Messages
40
For what it's worth, I prefer to have the option of .357 but might downgrade to the .38 +P ammo. This is mainly based on the weight of the gun that I end up choosing. However, I saw a coyote, two snakes and a wild dog while walking land last Sunday with clients. This was in a town that has no red lights at all, but had a murderer from Atlanta come through and kill two, and another driver hit 150 MPH driving a stolen car. So now, I like having more power when needed. 5 shot vs 6 shot is not a factor, as I carry speed strips, but .357 is more comforting than .38s at times. I normally load the first round to be snake shot, then something stouter after that.
 

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