SP101, 2" or 3" barrel?


January 5, 2003, 12:51 PM
Carry and shooting... Does it really make a big difference in either? What's the best compromise? I am only going to get one of those...

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Neal Bloom
January 5, 2003, 01:04 PM
I have the SP101 3". I wanted a slightly longer barrel to handle the full power 357 loads. Full power loads in any snubby are a handful even the SP101. I also felt the 3" had better balance than the 2" in a heavy snubby. Carry holsters are a little hard to find for the 3" in my neck of the woods but ordering on the internet solves that problem.

Either 2" or 3" the SP101 is a great gun. Very durable and well built.

January 5, 2003, 01:10 PM
I think this is really one of personal preference.

In a good belt holster, there is no clear advantage to either the 2" or 3"; I cannot tell which one I have holstered by feel alone. If you use an IWB holster, each carries extremely well. I do have a pancake holster for the SP-101 but only carry the 2" in the pancake holster. My preferred holster is a Kramer IWB#2.

The 3" has a longer sight radius which can help with increased accuracy, and the longer barrel seems to balance a bit better. It seems that velocity should be higher out of the 3" versions, but I have never chronographed to verify.

The 3" versions seem to be a bit harder to find.

My personal preference (if I could only have one) is a 3" because I carry on the belt. However, I have 3 of the 2" versions, and they are fine revolvers.

January 5, 2003, 01:15 PM
The 3" tube will get you substantially more benefit out of the magnum loads, and not even a 2" tube is going to make the SP handy for pocket carry a la a j-frame. I would go for the 3" and take advantage of what the SP can offer, a small .357 magnum platform that's probably stronger than Smith's larger k-frame.

But whichever you choose, the SP is a nice gun. Do lots of dry-firing (as recommended by Ruger in the manual) to smooth out and lighten the trigger somewhat - the trigger pull is definitely the Achilles heel of the SP and Jack Weigand (the go-to guy for SPs) isn't accepting any gunsmithing work right now . . . .

January 5, 2003, 10:49 PM
I have both barrel lengths of the is gun. I opted for the DAO version of the 2+ inch version because I figured its spruless hammer combined with the shorter barrel would allow it to be a little more concealabe than the longer one with a spured hammer. This is true for some forms of conceal carry (large pockets, fanny packs, camera bags, etc) but if you are going to carry IWB there would be little difference. I would think the best compromise would be the 3+ inch version. This the one I carry when wandering the mountains and it is still fairly conceable.


January 5, 2003, 11:41 PM
Erich, for an excellent SP or GP trigger job, try Clark Custom Guns (http://www.clarkcustomguns.com/). I've got two done by them (both .357's, one 2" and one 3"), with excellent results.

January 6, 2003, 12:34 AM
Get the 3.25" one for all the above reasons. I also like the 3" j frames but I like the 2" Colts, go figure (hint: the Colts are .38 spec).:D

January 6, 2003, 01:00 AM
Ditto all of the above.:cool:

Kahr carrier
January 6, 2003, 05:06 AM
Jack Weigard also does nice work on Sp101s.:evil:

January 6, 2003, 05:28 AM
"Jack Weigard also does nice work on Sp101s"
Not any more. There was a notice on his website that he doesn't do any custom work anymore - apparently had so many requests that he couldn't get them out in a timely manner.
I couldn't find the notice on the site now but he does have some custom SP's for sale.

January 6, 2003, 06:50 AM
Another vote for the 3". It has a few advantages as mention and no real disadvantages over the 2".

Jim March
January 6, 2003, 09:03 AM
Amen to the above - get a 3" unless you have some unusual carry method in mind that needs a 2", such as a small fanny pack built for that barrel or you're gonna do front-pocket carry (not recommended, at least not by me).

With most carry methods including IWB, Shoulder, fanny pack, even ankle, there's no downside to the 3". The upsides are greater recoil control, and if you want to carry 38+P hollowpoints of any sort for defense they are more likely to open up.

January 6, 2003, 09:44 AM
I have a 2.25" for carry. Feel perfectly fine with it.

January 6, 2003, 12:49 PM
I have both and I think that even the 2 in is to be for pocket carry so I mainly carry the 3in in a galco holster. It is the oppisite of my preferred carry method as it has an exposed trigger guard but and a thumb break. But works well when I am doing something active in the woods or skiing.

January 7, 2003, 05:32 AM
The 3 " is more practical in 357 mag. SD loads are fierce.
It has great balance and points beautifully in the dark. You may need that last trait.

January 8, 2003, 12:09 AM
For my needs, the 3" is just 1" too much. Just enough to stick out from a short jacket with a "pancake" holster. Just enough to "print" around the back pocket area with an IWB holster & untucked shirt. Just enough to be a bother in a brief case or glove box. In other words, enough of a bother where I would be less inclined to lug it around.

The SP is on the heavy side for a small frame .357 - but as light as you would want to go in that caliber. If you are willing to put up with a little extra weight and length, why not go with a 3" GP100, a S&W M-13/65 or any number of other medium frame, short barrel .357's. You'd get one more round and a generally better handling gun.

So, the long way around to answer the question - I prefer the 2.25" barrel.

January 8, 2003, 02:58 AM
I prefer the 2". It is more versatile in concealed carry, will handle full power loads just fine, and is accurate enough to plink at jugs and cans at the 50 yard berm. What more do you want? Put it in your pocket, on your belt, in a belly band, whatever. It fits well and does the job.

January 8, 2003, 09:36 AM
I had a 2" and ended up selling it because I longed for the 3." I am still looking for a 3"..... :) SP101's are great no-nonsense little guns.

Tony Z
January 8, 2003, 10:23 AM
Myself I like that extra 1" and it doesn't make concelment any harder. I would suggest the SP101 KSP-321X its the 357 mag with the 3 & 1/16 " barrel, with the full shroud.

Tony Z

January 8, 2003, 02:48 PM

January 9, 2003, 01:18 AM
I say if you are going to get a snub, get a snub. Get the 2",

January 9, 2003, 12:29 PM
I tend to prefer my snubbies to be stubby:D . I've never shot a 3" SP101 but I love my 2.25". You probably couldn't go wrong with either one. You may want to smooth the action a bit. About 500 rounds downrange should do the trick ;) .


January 10, 2003, 10:29 PM
I own both and have for years.

My personal preference is for the 2" with a Hogue Monogrip in black rubber. It handles nicely for me and shoots just as well as the 3".

I put a set of Wolfe springs in both of mine and love the resulting DA pull, which is smooth, light and crisp at the let off.

In fact, I pack the 2" now more than I pack my 1911. And that's saying something.

Fish Springs
January 11, 2003, 06:40 PM
Ruger DAO 101, 2" BBL and Remington 125 Grain JHP. This goes just over 1200 fps and is nicely carryable. If anything more is needed the it is back to the Security Six, Heavy Barrel, 4 5/8 bbl.

The DAO with 158 Grain Corelokts is excellently accurate at 15 yards--high hit probability.

January 11, 2003, 10:14 PM
Regarding the SP101, I would go with the 3 inch barrel. It is really too heavy to be compared with the lightweight snubbies, so to conceal carry you already have to compromise to the belt or shoulder harness. The SP101 is not a practical pocket gun, so you might as well go with the longer barrel.

The SP101 3 inch barrel makes an outstanding night stand gun.

January 12, 2003, 12:21 PM
Have had both 2" and 3" 101s. Kept the 3" and installed (bigger) aftermarket grips. Got J-frames for "snub" gun carry needs.

June 20, 2004, 04:01 PM
had the 2" then went full autopistol 1911a1 then glock 19 , g17 ,g26 then the g30. now all i have is the single six and a" 3" SP101 and a GP100 on lawaway. And I feel the Sp101 is what i should have kept and used all these years instead of listening to all the experts. the 3" is more controlable than the 2" sp101. and i like belt guns that can be just put in the waistband if need be.

June 20, 2004, 08:51 PM
The only thing missing on my 5-shot 357 2" snub is a 3" barrel. I have often wished that it had one. A little more sight radius, as others have said, a little less muzzle lift with 357 loads, a little less blast, a little more velocity, ...

Best to ya,

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