Should I have bought a 3" Ruger SP 101 Instead?


August 17, 2006, 04:00 PM
I recently got the 2 1/4" Ruger SP 101 in .357 Mag. I'm having a tinge of "buyers' remorse". Maybe I should have gotten the 3" model instead. I know 3/4" makes a difference in some situations but does it really apply in this case? What's the advantage,in your opinion, of 3" over 2 1/4" and visa versa?
Thank you for your views on the subject.

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August 17, 2006, 04:03 PM
Did you get the DAO model? I just picked one up as a CCW gun and love it. I pocket carry mine; a 3in model would have been too big. I Guess it all depends what you are going to use it for.

August 17, 2006, 04:12 PM
In that gun I much prefer the 3". Not only does it get more out of the .357 performance, the longer sight radius, in my experience, with three inch guns is much easier to be precise with and quicker to the eye. I consider any gun of that weight an IWB only. I prefer 15 ounces or less unloaded for pocket carry which limits revolvers to .38 special. Definitely anything over 20 ounces in my experience gets heavy after a while. I don't even notice a light revolver in my pocket during the day.

But, there's nothing wrong with the shorter tube SP101. It'll serve well as a self defense gun. I wouldn't sweat the difference. If I get one, though, it'll have the longer tube.

August 17, 2006, 05:50 PM

You did fine. The 2" model is faster on the draw. Really, though, you can't go wrong with either model. Enjoy what you bought, shoot it alot. If you're un-satisfied after several months, then think about something else.

August 17, 2006, 10:26 PM
I bought the same gun you did with 2 1/4" barrell. I struggled with which barrel length to get and decided on the shorter one. My justification was that this isn't a target gun. I'm going to use it for home defense or eventually CCW. The additional 3/4" isn't going to come into play in either situation. It will be easier to conceal, and besides, it looks better!

August 17, 2006, 10:48 PM
IMO, you're fine. Just get yourself some practice ammo and dedicate some time to get use to it. Be patient and enjoy it.

Jim March
August 18, 2006, 12:25 AM
A year ago I would have said the 3" was the better gun. Reason being, 38+P in a 2" barrel with 357 chambers is "iffy" - you're right on the lower edge of the velocity range needed to make the best 38+P loads work.

Since then we've seen some very nice low-end 357 loads optimized for short barrels that bridge the gap between 38+P and "real" 357.

A year ago the Remington Golden Saber 357 was already out, and it remains a good choice for that gun. But now we've also got the Speer 357 "lite" 135gr "short barrel speciality load" that may be a better overall slug. It will be very controllable in an SP101 of either barrel length and will perform just fine from a 2". The ones I've tried have been very accurate and felt just a bit more stout than the Speer 135gr 38+P I compared them to in the same session. The projectile is the same. As a 38+P it's expanding pretty well but clearly isn't "bottomed out" other words there's little risk that the extra 150fps-200fps the 357 variant does will "overcook it" and cause the nosecone to fall off. Gold Dots in general resist "nosecone failure" at speed very well and the post-expansion pictures I've seen of the 38+P tell me that it's right at the bottom area of it's performance envelope at around 850fps. Gold Dots usually work across a "spectrum" of at least 250-300fps.

The 357 version will put you at the upper part of the slug's performance range, a very nice place to be.

Another good choice is the Buffalo Bore 158gr lead hollowpoint doing 1,000fps. It's a 38+P but a very friggin' potent 38! It too is worthy of consideration as a carry load in a 2" SP101.

With good loads available for the 2" you're better off having the concealability vs. the 3".

On edit: the Cor-Bon DPX in 357 is also "somewhat downloaded" and is worthy of consideration.

Pistol Toter
August 18, 2006, 07:57 AM
The 2 1/4" is better than the 3 1/16" for CCW. Like Jim said the new short barrel ammo is out now even though I load my little pig with the mid range velocity Remington Golden Sabre 125 gr.

August 18, 2006, 10:03 AM
Use and enjoy your short one. I've had both and MUCH prefer the 3". For me it is much easier to shoot well. It makes no difference in concealed carry.
It would never occur to me to carry something as heavy as an SP101 in my pocket. I'd have to rub my waist down with Superglue, and then put my pants on quickly!
As I said, enjoy what you bought,it's a great revolver.


August 18, 2006, 01:42 PM
I've had both and I prefer the 2 1/4 " to the 3". Everyones opinion is going to be different and it also depends on what you bought it for. Just now that either one is a great pistol and will last a lifetime!

August 18, 2006, 01:43 PM
ronto, I think you made a mistake. You definitely need the 3" model. You can send the 2.25" one to me ... :D

Just kidding, of course, though I am looking for a 2.25" (

bulboy, what grips do you have on your 101?

Essex County
August 18, 2006, 02:07 PM
21/4 ! You done good....Essex

Charles S
August 18, 2006, 02:38 PM
I love my 2 1/4 inch barrel Ruger.

You did not go wrong. The shorter barrel just gives you an excuse for more practice.


August 18, 2006, 03:02 PM
3" would make my sp-101 more difficult to carry.

.45 Cal
August 18, 2006, 03:46 PM
I've never fired the 3", but I fell in love with the snubbie the first time I fired it. For me it goes where I point it. So, practice and enjoy!:)

August 18, 2006, 05:04 PM
A 3" gun is no more difficult to conceal or carry IWB than the shorter barrel gun. I don't get how it's any easier to carry the shorter gun. Either is too heavy for a pocket. The shorter barrel gun is just fine as a defense revolver, I just fail to see how it's any easier to tote.

August 18, 2006, 06:45 PM
Six to one, half a dozen to the other ...

I've carried a 3" J-frame. I carried it mostly as a belt gun. In that particular instance I achieved similar accuracy with that 3" revolver as with my issued 4" revolver when qualifying with it on our 1-25 yard qualification course of fire at the time.

My older 649 made for a better 'pocket carry' revolver than the 3" J-frame, though.

I originally wanted one of the 3+" SP-101's, but had to settle for a DAO 2.25" model because of availability. I don't regret the choice. It's been a fine revolver. I originally tried occasionally carrying it as a 'pocket' revolver (w/holster) when I wore an insulated vest in cooler weather. It was still a bit too heavy for my tastes. It became mostly a belt gun back then. As such, I'd prefer it had the 3+" barrel, given my druthers. I sort of look at it from the perspective that if I'm going to carry it as a belt gun, I might as well have the slightly longer barrel for the slight advantage it offers my eyes.;)

I think if I were going to limit myself to only a heavier, short-barreled, small-frame Magnum-capable revolver, I'd choose the 3" model. DAO versus traditional DA doesn't really matter to me when it comes to a dedicated off-duty defensive revolver, but then I've spent a fair number of years acquiring revolver skills and practicing them. Other folks might easily feel otherwise.

I won't willingly part with my 2.25" SP-101 ... I just don't find it filling a role as a frequently carried off-duty weapon because my Airweights better fill that role, especially for 'pocket-carry' use, as well as a couple of other carry methods.

I think the improvements offered in the medium-bore (.38 Spl/.357 Mag) defensive ammunition in recent years has blurred the lines a bit when it comes to 'performance', in some instances, but that's only a personal opinion influenced by my needs.

If I desired to maximize the potential performance of a .357 Magnum revolver carried for defensive use, I'd go back to carrying a 4+" 'full-size' revolver ... which for me means 4-5" ...

However, the shorter-barreled models, combined with much of the quality defensive ammunition being produced nowadays, still serves my anticipated, perceived needs well enough ...

I suppose it really depends on how you feel about your revolver as you spend more range time with it.

A longer sight radius is preferred by some folks ... but then the approx 1" difference you're talking about might not be much of an issue for many folks.

August 18, 2006, 11:38 PM
I have both barrel lengths and love them both. The difference is really insignificant and comes down to personal preference. The performance is so close to equal to be a wash. Buy the other when you can afford it and then decide on your favorite, but I doubt you'll want to give up the losing version.

August 18, 2006, 11:42 PM
You got a great gun. Don't sweat it. Carry it with pride.

August 19, 2006, 12:28 PM
They are both hefty for compact revolvers. I have the shorter one and I don't think the 3/4" bbl diff is any improvement on velocity or sight radius. It's difference is .75" or 19mm. Looking down the bbl you won't know which is which. I like the heft, as it is small but can fire full flaming .357s and does all .38s very nice. It is a compact drawer gun, or hiking gun, or mace.
All things said and done, I prefer the 2.75" Speed-Six because it is about the same size and has 1 more shot.

August 19, 2006, 06:50 PM
I ccw my 2 1/4" dao .357. I like to carry .357 mag over .38 for self defense. I am looking for a pre-lock airweight .38 for shorts/pocket carry however. but I'd prefer the .357 in the event I should need it. The sp101 shoots the .357 mag cartridge very well and accurately with practice. I like the 2" barrel for carry over the 3". I have a gp100 in 3" which I love but this is not a summer carry peice, the longer barrel does not matter here however. I prefer the dao model over the spurred model sp101 for ccw as well. The trigger pull on mine is quite well though not as smooth as the gp's

August 19, 2006, 06:55 PM
The 2" model is fine for CCW. I have the 3" model and consider it more of a kit type handgun than concealed carry type.

August 19, 2006, 08:16 PM
I think they'd sell a 4" adjustable sight version of the SP101 rather rapidly if they'd build one. I know I'd want one really, really bad. :D

August 19, 2006, 08:55 PM
I want one, though.

August 19, 2006, 11:32 PM
They do, but it's only available in 22lr.

And up until recently available in .32 H&R MAG.

Just had the urge to be a nit picker! :neener:


August 19, 2006, 11:46 PM
I have TWO Ruger SP101s with 2.25" barrels and NO Ruger SP101s with 3" barrels.

The 2.25" barrel models are FAR superior for all-day every-day "appendix" CCW.

Slvr Surfr
August 20, 2006, 03:10 AM
Ive got my GF in to my hobby of shooting. Ive been looking pretty hard core at the Sp101 for her as a birthday gift. I think Ill go with the 3" just because it will serve as a house/purse gun. I like the fact that its a bit heavier than the other snubbies out there, and I think that it will shoot the .38+p rather well.

My only question for the forum is why are the trigger assemblies so tight, and heavy. I have a GP100 that is as smooth as butter when it comes to DA pulls and setting the hammer back for SA shots. Ive handled about three different Sp101s and they all seem tight from the factory. Do they require a break in period ? Do they just require some range time to loosen up? My fear is that I will need to have a local smith "smooth" the internals a bit. I dont want to do that. The Sp101 seems to be a very popular revolver here with a rather large fan base. I appreciate any feedback you guys can give.


August 20, 2006, 03:37 AM
My only question for the forum is why are the trigger assemblies so tight, and heavy. I have a GP100 that is as smooth as butter when it comes to DA pulls and setting the hammer back for SA shots. Ive handled about three different Sp101s and they all seem tight from the factory. Do they require a break in period ? Do they just require some range time to loosen up? My fear is that I will need to have a local smith "smooth" the internals a bit. I dont want to do that. The Sp101 seems to be a very popular revolver here with a rather large fan base. I appreciate any feedback you guys can give.

Most say lots of dry fire will help. I chose to replace the factory mainspring with the 10lb Wolff spring and polish all contact points in the trigger assembly. Now my trigger is fantastic and probably the best DA trigger I have fingered.

August 20, 2006, 03:47 AM
Use and/or a polish job will help but it is a lawyer trigger. I have not changed out any springs yet but many like the Wolff spring kits. Also Gemini Customs has some nice front sights for the 357 mag version.

August 20, 2006, 09:24 PM
My dad bought a 3" SP101, and i told him many times i would have bought the 2 1/4. His is custom tuned, and it is super slick. What an awesome shooter!!
Hey, this is my first post on The High Road!!

August 20, 2006, 10:02 PM
I told my mom to get the 3" GP-100, which I think is the very best all-around revolver, and she went and got the SP101 instead. Can't say she did too bad.

August 21, 2006, 02:10 AM
I agree with everyone else - you blew it.

August 21, 2006, 09:40 AM
I have a 2" DAO and a 3". Each have their strengths and weaknesses. I prefer the 3" because I carry IWB anyway and it is just as easy to carry the longer barrel with the longer sight radius....especially for my aging eyesight. Prior to that I did carry the DAO 2" in an Uncle Mikes pocket holster, mainly as a backup gun. It shot fine and was accurate. I personally prefer the 3".

My two along with their big brother Redhawks.

August 21, 2006, 09:51 AM
They do, but it's only available in 22lr.


I want one, though.

Yeah, but it's only windage adjustable. On my fictional desire, I'd have a fully adjustable for windage and elevation sight on a 4" SP101 in .357. Oh, heck, lets get really out there and say it's a .41 mag. :D

But, the .357 for field carry (why I'd like this thing, light, but Ruger strong) needs an elevation adjustable sight so you can regulate it for .38 spl light loads or full power magnums depending on what you're carrying. I like to shoot the .38 wadcutters if I'm lookin' to jump a rabbit or just plinkin' tin cans.

August 21, 2006, 08:53 PM
Hey Ronto- if you got and you like it, you should be a happy camper. If you second guess youself enough, you'll never find the right one.

August 22, 2006, 01:40 AM
I have the 2 1/4" barrell SP101 and I love it! It shoots very well and I can carry it concealed in my pocket Nemesis or Galco belly band.

When I debated buying it, I figured that if I was going to use my .357 Magnum for self-defense purposes, it would be within 25' of the bad guy and so practice shooting at 50', 75' or more was not a criteria that factored into my decision. But make no mistake, it IS accurate.

At the range, I use mostly .38 Special to practice and get in the zone but I then shift my focus onto shooting it accurately, rapidly, off-hand, up from a crouch, one hand, etc. with the full .357 Magnum rounds loaded into it. I believe that I must get fully accustomed to using this revolver real world as if I were suddenly put in a self-defense situation.

August 22, 2006, 03:37 AM
I find it to big for a pants pocket and to heavy.

It fits my coats pockets well, but it to heavy for coat pocket carry (coats hangs funny).

However it carrys IWB ver well. The 3" barrel is just about perfect for IWB and I like to carry very low for better concealment. I think a 2.75" would be absolutely ideal for the low IWB carry I prefer, but they don't make that. So if I must choose between 2.25" and 3", I'll take the 3".

However, I'm sure your gun is a dandy.

I have an all new appreciation for my SP101 after a recent failure to fire incident with my Firestorm (Bersa) at the range. After that I started carrying the SP101 again.

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