Please help me choose a sturdy snubbie


January 4, 2003, 01:25 PM
I own full size semi-auto, and I am looking for a small-frame revolver with a short barrel.

Is Ruger SP101 a good choice? So far it appeals to me the most, with Smith & Wesson out of the picture for political reasons. I don't want to get a used gun.

What is a better choice, 38 spl or 357 mag? I am aware that you can shoot both calibers in a Magnum, but is it managable from a snubbie? I am sure that most of the time I am going to be shooting 38 spl and there are plenty of good defencive ammo in that caliber as well.

Anyway, please give your recommendations. I shot many autos but have very limited experience with wheel guns. I only shot large and medium frame .357 magnum revolvers.

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January 4, 2003, 01:47 PM
If can -shoot as many varieties as you can. Personal taste and FIT and loads to attain consistent hits quick. Naturally 357 allows use of both ctgs. In doing a search here you'll find some good info. You'll also find a lot of persons with experience-,looking for , recommending used guns as a way to get a lot of gun for less--disregard if not applicable.

January 4, 2003, 01:57 PM
I have four .357 Mag (they form the core of my concealed carry battery and reside in two different homes) and one .22 LR SP-101's (inexpensive sub-caliber practice), so I think it is a good revolver. I cannot think of a sturdier compact snubby.

I do believe the SP-101 benefits from a bit of work out of the box. I like to use a fluropolymer grease in the action and break the sharp edges on the sides of the trigger. The front sight does not have the best bluing; you may wish to darken it or replace it.

As far as which caliber, that is a personal matter since we all handle recoil and blast differently. I only shoot .357 Mag in mine, and almost all of the rounds are the "medium-velocity" variety. Three of my SP-101's are hybra-ported since, for me, it decreases my recovery time and makes practice more enjoyable. I like to use the 125 grain Remington Golden Saber in my SP-101's although I have also used the 158 grain Golden Saber and the 125-grain Federal Hydra-Shok.

January 4, 2003, 02:02 PM
I have (and daily carry) a S&W442. Its light, has a covered hammer and will take +P ammo. Usually it is fed standard pressure Nyclad 125 grain HP's, that is until my stash runs out.

The main benefit of my J frame is its unusual concealability. In a Kramer pocket holster you simply cannot tell its in your front pocket. While it certainly is not a target pistol, at the ranges it was designed for it is very capable.

I have found the newer light weight scandium and other alloy small frame revolvers to be to harsh in recoil for my taste.

January 4, 2003, 02:31 PM
Unless you're willing to buy a S&W or a used Colt Detective Special, the Ruger SP-101 is your best bet.

It's about as sturdy as you can get, and has the advantage of being the only revolver that can be stripped similar to an automatic, for cleaning.

Unlike many other revolvers, you won't need to replace the grips to get a good handhold or to make it more concealable.

It can benefit from some smoothing-up work on the action, and removal of some sharp edges, but this isn't absolutely necessary. It will serve quite well right out of the box, and is more controllable than most other small snubs.

Brownell's sell an inexpensive luminous night sight that is easily installed in place of the factory sight blade.
There are plenty of holsters made for it.

Ruger has a warranty that's famous for taking care of Ruger owners.
The only "minus" to the SP-101 is that it's slightly larger and heavier than most small frame snubs, but this is offset by it's strength, durability, and "shootability".

For defense ammo, you have a range from the excellent .38 Special +P, 158 grain lead hollow-point, to the .357 Magnum 125 grain that leads the defense gun pack.

A great compromise would be something like Remington's "light Magnum" which is less than a full-charge Magnum, but heavier than the .38 +P.
To determine what ammo you will use, I recommend shooting a variety and picking the type that you can shoot well, with the least muzzle blast.

January 4, 2003, 03:29 PM
There aren't many choices if you don't want a Smith and Wesson, or a used gun.

The SP-101 is a very good choice and I would recommend one in .357 magnum. In .38 special, the 158 gr. lead hollowpoint +P is one of the best for self defense. I feel the .357 magnum 110 gr. JHP and medium velocity 125 gr. JHP is better and it doesn't recoil any more. The Winchester 110 gr. would have have the least felt recoil of above magnum loads.

If you'd be happy with a Taurus, then look at their model 650 which is a .357 magnum, 5-shot, internal hammer. It weighs about same as SP-101, and it's grip frame looks right for handling recoil.

My suggestion: If you're looking for a small, light CCW then get a good used Smith and Wesson J frame or Colt D frame snubby in .38 special. That's what I'm reverting back to.

January 4, 2003, 03:35 PM
Ruger SP101 is the only snub I have, also have GP100 Ruger and both seem accurate, reliable and likely to last forever.

I did find shooting .357 out of the snub a bit much for me- much nicer was .38 +P.

January 4, 2003, 03:39 PM
My wife has an SP101 in .357 that she shoots .38's out of (158 gr +P SCWHP). Ruger makes about the sturdiest revolvers in any flavor you name, but they're dang heavy - certainly sub-optimal for pocket carry, which is a common method for snubbies. The plus side with all the wt is that they're real manageable to shoot. But don't rule out a used S&W too easily - lots of them show up in gun shops with very little wear. That's because a lot of people buy a snubbie, and then find out it takes practice to shoot them well, and that they can be a real handful, and so they trade them away with very few rounds thru them.

January 4, 2003, 07:50 PM
I like Ruger revolvers, but not for snubbies. If you like the size and the weight it should be a fine gun.

The lightest SP-101 weighs 25 ounces. The 442 weighs 15.8. I carried a S&W 649 in my front pocket for a while and 24 ounces is too heavy for me and the gun's a hair too big. But maybe you're not concerned about pocket carry. The 24 ounce gun is a little easier for me to shoot than the smaller ones, even using mag rounds.

I'd buy a used 442-1 and load it with .38 +Ps. Oh yeah, forgot to mention I did buy one. It was maybe 6 months old, looked new and saved me about $80 over new.


Gila Jorge
January 4, 2003, 08:14 PM
I go with Ruger Single Actions only and maybe their rifles....but for double actions there is nothing that will compare to Smiths. So shoot yourself in the foot if you must...not politically prudent to do so...the first rule of engagement is not to screw yourself. The second is to bring a gun to a knifefight, and bring friends with guns to a gunfight. I like the 60LS with 38Spcl+Ps.

Standing Wolf
January 4, 2003, 10:26 PM
My used, slightly scratched Smith & Wesson model 60 .357 magnum is a dandy. It's a bit less comfortable to shoot with full house loads than a full-sized revolver, but nowhere near as uncomfortable as I thought it might be.

I sent it to Magnaport for refinishing, barrel crowning, porting, and hammer and trigger jewelling, replaced the main spring with one from Wolff, and pack it in an inside the waist band holster from Kramer Leather. I put on a pair of Badger stocks that fit my hand very well, and am happier with it than any other small gun I've ever owned or shot, with the possible exception of my Walther PPK.

Even before I sent it to Magnaport, it was a better gun than the new Smith & Wessons.

Kahr carrier
January 4, 2003, 10:54 PM
I like the Ruger Sp101 ,they are built like tanks ,Weigard does a nice job on them.:evil:

January 5, 2003, 12:08 AM
I recommend a Colt Detective Special.

You get six smooth shots from a very solid gun.

I prefer standard .38 Special chambering to the .357 magnum chambering in a snubbie revolver. The magnums have too much flash and blast in a snubby, and that makes for slow recovery time between shots. This is especially true when shooting at night.

A standard .38 Special 158 SWC will do the job.

January 5, 2003, 06:44 AM
Should have no problems shooting .357's out of a SP101.

January 5, 2003, 10:30 AM
If you leave out the S&W, then ditto the 101.

Gary A
January 5, 2003, 10:47 AM
Gila Jorge said, "...the first rule of engagement is not to screw yourself." I don't get involved in debates about boycotts or betrayals although I have personally made decisions in the past based upon my personal reaction to some event or action by some maker or other. That's the marketplace at work. However, the above comment by Gila Jorge is possibly the most sane and logical observation on why we purchase or don't purchase a particular weapon I have yet seen posted on the web.

January 5, 2003, 01:02 PM
Take a look at the Smith & Wesson Mod 64 two inch, with Uncle Mike Boot Grips. It's a strong K frame. S&W triger action is consistant out of the box.

January 5, 2003, 03:14 PM
I just bought a S&W model 66 in 357 mag with a 2 1/2" barrel and at the range it shot just will be my carry handgun just as soon as we get the Concealed Carry in my state.....

January 7, 2003, 12:29 AM
Can't go wrong with the SP101 3" .357 :cool:

January 8, 2003, 03:14 AM
I prefer the SP-101 with 2" barrel in 357. I changed the grips to Uncle Mike's boot grips and use a Galco pocket holster - it fits in the front pocket of my jeans. The weight doesn't bother me, and it helps with recoil management as I shoot full power 125gr and 158gr loads throught it. It is quite accurate and very reliable. I also carry it on my belt in holsters of my own design and it is very concealable.

January 8, 2003, 09:48 AM
I prefered my Kahr K9 over my 2" SP101 (I have since foolishly sold the SP). THe K9 is an all stainless 7+1 pmm while the SP101 was a 5 rd .357. Now I am not into spraying rounds or advocating that revolvers are not good carry guns (quite the contrary). However, IMO, the K9 is an unusually outstanding DAO auto that is worth of carry in place of a snub .357. Think of it as a all steel mini-Glock...

That being said, I am currently looking for a 3" SP101 or j-frame... To me, the extra inch of barrel brings out the "magnum" of the .357 and allows this little wheelgun to eclipse the firepower and perhaps even the (outstanding) accuracy of the K9. - *sniff* I really miss my SP... :)

***oh yeah, I highly reccommend getting a set of hogue grips for your SP101 is you choose it...

Brad Johnson
January 8, 2003, 01:09 PM
I have a 3" 101. As stated above, factory trigger pull and feel leave much to be desired. Wolff makes a great spring kit that only costs about $12 and is like a "trigger job in a box". Use the 10# mainspring and reduced power trigger return spring (9# mainspring resulted in several light-strike failures in my 101).

You will need to do a light polish of all mating surfaces to esure a positive trigger reset with the lighter return spring. If you are not comfortable digging into the innards of your Ruger, a good gunsmith can have it ready for you in no time.


January 9, 2003, 07:00 PM
Get a dedicated snubby in 38, for me 357 in a compactframe is ...weird. Still prefer compact 357? Speed Six.

January 9, 2003, 07:51 PM
In most cases, a compact +P 9mm will provide more energy/rd. than a comperable .38 spec. IMHO, you need to go .357 if you want more power than a 9mm (or just to maximize what can be had in a package of this size). That being said, 90% of the training rounds that go through my .357 snubbies are .38 spec. ...saves on wear & tear (to both me & the gun).

- my .02

January 9, 2003, 11:28 PM
Looks like I'm the only one but I prefer a Taurus 605 over a Ruger 101.

I'd get a .357 instead of a .38.

January 10, 2003, 09:01 AM
Ditto the votes for the Ruger SP-101. Can shoot stouter loads than you would find comfortable in the lighter guns.

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