SP 101 in 32 H&R ??? First Ruger wheelgun


February 12, 2007, 03:21 PM
Hi guys,

I am about to pull the trigger on a buy.

I'm looking at the Ruger SP 101 (KSP-3241X) in a 4" in 32 H&R Mag. They have a 3" version also, I may end up with it instead after I fondle both of them.

I've been shooting and reloading 32 H&R for J frames for a hell of a long time. I plan to load for this gun and hope the reputation the SP101 has for strength is true.

I've always considered Rugers to be second tier, middle of the road quality guns since I own or have owned several 10/22's, Mark II's and III's and a couple of Mini's (horrid) over the years. Not top of the food chain, but not top of the food chain prices either. I'm OK with this, but this has contributed to my lack of first hand knowledge.

From what I read, SP101's need a little help out of the box. Not from a reliability standpoint, but the triggers are usually gritty and long and need a little smoothing up. OK great, who works on Rugers that's worth a damn ?

Also, the sights on the gun in question are (rear) adjustable for windage only. Is there another option ? I've heard tell of those who install a SW kit gun sight (fully adjustable) setup on SP101's. Is this a realistic/viable option ? Or, a kitchen table hatchet job ?

I know for sure I am going to go to a fiber optic front sight (Gemini Custom). Any other options for sights ?

As many of you know, the 32 H&R uses a .312 (nominal) bullet. The 32-20 uses the same bullet. Are additional cylinders available for the SP101 ? Sources ?

I would like to end up with a well made gun, able to sustain mid range to upper mid range loads in both the 32 H&R and 32-20, with fully adjustable fiber optic (front) sights. I would also like to find someone who can true (uniform) the throats just a tad larger than groove size.

Can any of you point me in the right direction here ? Previous *first hand* experience with an SP101 in 32 H&R/32-20 ? Options for trigger work and whatever else it needs to make it a seriously fine little play gun ?

Looks like Gemini Custom does some SP101 work, but are there other credible shops that know the SP101's ?

Thanks in advance for any help ;)


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February 12, 2007, 03:42 PM
Ruger wheelguns are different from other Ruger products. I don't think much of the plinker Mks' or the 10-22's. But their revolvers are the best currently made by anybody. They're far more rugged than S&W's current offerings, and are designed for serious use. You won't find as many nonsense add-ons. They're built like tanks. The triggers aren't gritty. But many people find them too heavy. Aftermarket springs to take off a few pounds are easy to find on Midway and elsewhere. No need to go to a smith. The triggers also get better with age.

Most fixed sight Rugers I've bought NIB require a bit of filing on the front sight to your selected POI. This allows you to decide if you want it hitting at 30, 35, 15, 10 or whatever. Obviously for kit guns you'll want it further out than for CCW pieces. There are aftermarket trijicons and fiber optics, though I don't know why you'd put bits of exposed plastic on a mighty Ruger. The trijcon sights worked great for me and are tougher. Some very minor fitting is needed which you can do with the right tools or you can have a smith do. It's mostly a matter of making sure you don't make it too loose.

If you want to really trick it out, Bowen and Reeder both work on a lot of Rugers. Most attention has been paid to the big hunting revolvers but the SP uses the same basic mechanisms as the GP and Super Redhawk.

The SP-101 is a fantastic revolver. I'd be inclined to go with the short barrel in the .32 H&R if you want to conceal, otherwise the 4" is fine. I would rank the SP as the second best CCW wheelgun around, second only to the 3" Speed Six.

February 12, 2007, 04:52 PM
The SP-101 is a great revolver for the .32Mag, although what wouldn't be as it's such a great cartridge. Glad to see someone else has interest in my favorite round.

I've got a 3" SP-101 in .32mag and it'll take anything the brass will allow in this cartridge. Obviously the 4" will give better velocity but I've got a 5.5" single six for that and it's also "Hell for stout" in .32mag.

As to the 32-20, I'm not sure it'll fit the cylinder window but I also haven't measured it. It will not fit the window on a Single-Six though. A second cylinder would be fun if it'll work, I know the gun itself is strong enough as I've put some pretty heavy .357 loads through them with no issues.

I've only used one smith for the SP and that is Gemini customs, Marc did such a great job I have no reason to look elsewhere. He's that good.

As to Ruger quality, I would take a Ruger over a current Smith product any day. The trigger is not worse than a Smith, it's different, and after settling in and smoothing up it is on par with anything Smith has done in the last 20 years or so.

Buy it and enjoy it. Spread the word on this wonderful cartridge as well, it needs our help.

February 12, 2007, 05:31 PM
One of my shooting friends has a .32 mag as his hunting sidearm that he carries up in the mountains and such when he's rifle hunting. He loves the thing, it's a SSM single action. I don't think the SSM is any stronger mechanically than the SP101 and he loads that thing hotter'n hot with some AMAZINGLY powerful handloads, we're talkin up near 400 ft lbs! But, he likes it mainly because it's so light to carry. One of his handloads is definitely a good round for defense and should be very flat shooting on jack rabbits or blue grouse or what ever he's shooting at with it when he's hunting. The .32 mag definitely has a place in on the outdoor scene even if it might not be much against bear and such. And, if you ain't hikin' bear country, why worry about that? It's a pleasant little round to shoot, too.

February 12, 2007, 07:50 PM
MCGunner- I'd say the SSM is about the same in strength and possibly less than the SP-101. That SP is overbuilt for a .357 in my estimation.

February 12, 2007, 11:10 PM
I downloaded the manual for the SP101.

Looks like the spring change is pretty straightforward.

As far as sights, I didn't even think to look to any of the night sight mfrs. I'll give them a look.

I'm hoping I can find an adjustable set since I cast and will be using a variety of handloads.

If not, i can probably live with it, but the adjustability would be great.

This will be utilized as a range gun, to shoot on the cheap, with the occasional small game hunting. Of course, if forced, it could well turn into an SD role in a pinch. But, I don't see that coming to pass.

I'm hoping to also use this to get newbies started shooting, and use as a spare for those that are recoil sensitive using a few softball loads I've worked up over the years.

A good (decent) trigger and adjustable sights would offer the best possible options for 90% of the shooting I plan to do. The 32-20 would simply be icing on the cake ;)

I get to put my hands on the 3" and 4" tomorrow afternoon. I'm sure I'll have a better understanding of the SP101 then and a few more questions.

Thanks for the feedback guys ;)


February 13, 2007, 03:11 AM
That Ruger is nice but it is very heavy. Here is something you might like from Taurus. It's a 17 oz, 2" barrel .32 Mag 6 shooter that I've been looking at.

Too bad S&W stopped making a .32 Magnum and 9mm revolver.

Revolver Ocelot
February 13, 2007, 04:17 AM
personally I send all my guns to cylinder and slide, I'm about to send my gp100 there to get some custom sights fitted.

February 13, 2007, 04:20 AM
As mentioned the gun can handle what you can put in the brass. I picked up a used 32 sp101 3" last year. It role is mainly as carry. I am very pleased with the performance. From the sounds of it you havent owned a ruger wheelgun yet. They are way over built. Keep track of the responses as there are many custom sp101 owners here that will help. Not to mention they love to show off pictures.

February 13, 2007, 02:40 PM
OK, I dropped by and handled the 32's at lunch.

Nice little guns, they certainly appear robust. the stock grips will have to go and the sights are pretty minimal as suited to a gun designed for carry.

The front is staked, so that's a no brainer, the rear is windage only, with very little room to work with on the top strap. It does appear there would be barely enough room to mill out a groove and tap the frame for a decent adjustable.

I've got a call into a couple of 'smiths referred to me over on the Ruger forums.

The tirgger is unusual, in the fact that is has a mid-point stack in the travel. Squeeze.... keep squeezing... squeeze harder...squeeze... bang. Those amongst you who can shoot accurately with a stock trigger deserve a lot of recognition, you are truly gifted ;)

The 3" is very nice. I can certainly see how it would fill the role as a carry gun quite nicely. The 4" seems to exhibit a tad better balance, maybe better for a range gun, maybe too bulky. Neither are lightweight with the 3" weighing in a 27 oz, the 4" slightly more. This is good. My 332 J frame weighs in at a hefty 13oz and can be a handful at times with some loads.

Pricing is $399 for the 3", $389 for the 4" not including sales tax.

Any suggestions/preference with these in 3" or 4" ? I already have the J frame if I need to place this in a BUG role. Strictly a range gun with occasional woods carry.

February 13, 2007, 03:26 PM
I'd go with the 4" for outdoor use. It won't be heavy on a gun belt outdoors. I'd work with loads before I worried about adjustable conversions. You might find a load you like, hot and light, that shoots to POA. Hey, it's happened to me before. Not the norm, I'll admit.

The tirgger is unusual, in the fact that is has a mid-point stack in the travel. Squeeze.... keep squeezing... squeeze harder...squeeze... bang. Those amongst you who can shoot accurately with a stock trigger deserve a lot of recognition, you are truly gifted

Yeah, I've handled and fired SP101s and know what ya mean. However, a Wolf spring set and a little work and it slicks up pretty nice. Rugers are easy to work with, come apart easy.

February 13, 2007, 04:04 PM
Just wondering,

Why would you be worried about a SP101 being able to handle a .32? That's a pretty wimpy round as handguns go. If the gun can handle a .357, the .32 should be a creampuff.

February 13, 2007, 04:19 PM
The Ruger SP101's (All calibers) come from the factory with a 14 # hammer spring in place. This is overkill on Ruger's part. I own 3 SP101's that I purchased back in the mid 1990,s: a 4" .32 H&R Mag, a 2.25" .357 Mag, and a 4" .22LR. I went with Wolff 11# hammer springs in the 2 centerfires and a Wolff 12# hammer spring in the rimfire after aproximately 200 rounds of experimenting with lighter weights in each revolver. To date, and many thousands of rounds down range in each, there have been "No light primer strikes" and trigger pull was improved noticeably. This is a plug in mod that is inexpensive and takes about 15 minutes to accomplish. The results are very noticeable and well worth the effort.


February 13, 2007, 06:44 PM
The reason I've wondered if the SP101 would handle a 32 H&R isn't for any other reason than I have no first hand experience with them.

Some of the Smith offerings can't handle a steady diet of some 32 Mag rounds.

Not a slam against the SP101's, just trying to seperate the hype from the fact.

I do plan on taking the gun out with a few loads before I do any mods other than the spring change as outlined by GaryP. I will probably add the fiber optic front also for better visability.

Man I would be in casting heaven, dancing in the streets, if my loads hit POA without any changes. It has happened to me once or twice over the years, but the bullets are wee and subject to small load variations more than a larger bullet.

Checking out leather and other such accoutremonts the next day or so. I'm jonesin' so I will probably have this safely in the stable by the weekend ;)

Brad Johnson
February 13, 2007, 06:57 PM
I have two SP-101s and a GP-100. All three have a Wolff 10# mainspring and a reduced-power trigger return spring. The return spring made the most difference, although it took a little slicking up on all three to make sure the trigger reset reliably.


February 13, 2007, 07:54 PM
I've always considered Rugers to be second tier, middle of the road quality guns....
Depends on what you mean by top quality. I've always found Ruger products to be superior in quality to most of its competitors. You said you found the triggers to be long and gritty, but I can tell you from experience that simply dry firing them can make them slick as ice. Unlike Smith & Wesson revolvers, there's no need to have them slicked up by a gunsmith. If you want a great action, settle down with a good DVD movie and your revolver and simply dry snap it over and over. If you still feel work is needed, any competent gunsmith can do the job.

...the sights on the gun in question are (rear) adjustable for windage only. Is there another option?
You might see if Millett has any adjustable sights. You can check with Clark Custom Guns (http://www.clarkcustomguns.com/revserv.htm#action), too. I believe they can add adjustable sights and do a respectable action job.

Ruger builds some of the toughest wheelguns on the planet. They will outshoot Smith & Wessons by many thousands of rounds, size for size and weight for weight. They also will take far more pounding than Colt's vaunted Python. In fact, if I were building a match gun in .357, I'd buy a GP-100 in .38 Special, then I'd have it reamed by a quality gunsmith to exact specs for .357, then have an action job done. After that, I'll bet the Ruger would not only be more accurate than a Python, have a much slicker action, and be able to digest many more thousands of rounds for much less the $$$. All this would make it more than a second tier handgun.

Even out of the box, the Ruger is far more rugged than any of its competitors.

If you like the feel of the SP-101, I don't think you'll be able to do any better.

February 14, 2007, 08:01 AM
First, the 1984 birth of the .32 H&R Magnum round was a way to update the small .32 protection round. Recall that many police departments had used the .32 S&WL/New Colt Police Positive Special rounds - and for many years. The H&RM round was an improvement, albeit not as much so as other 'Magnum' rounds were when compared to their original rounds after they became available.

I bought a closeout 4.6" SS BHG SSM just over a year ago - it was nice, but what a combo of boo boo's, QC-wise. I had been looking for a 4" SP101 in .32 for a year or more when I found a NIB trade-in at my pusher's the first week of this year... I made it OTD for <$281, inc s/t... a little cheaper than the SSM. It's trigger was like all other SP101's I've tried - miserable - 'gritty' - high in effort. I ordered a Wolff spring kit, ultimately installing the lightest springs after completing the Ruger Forum's suggested trigger tuning steps. I dry-fired it a bit as well. To be blunt, this is now the nicest Ruger DA trigger I have experienced... but it still is a bit more than a broken in only S&W. In my experience, dry-firing any of the K,L, or N-frame S&W's I have bought new will result in a better trigger than the SP101... change the springs in the S&W, and you'll have a far superior trigger.

After all of the clean-up and spring change, the 4" SP101 was tried with my two favorite loads - a 115gr LRNFP over 2.4gr Titegroup and a 96gr LRNFP over 2.8gr Titegroup, yielding 730 fps and 840 fps respectively from the 4.6" SSM. At 12-15yd, they center .5" above and .5" below the POA from the SP101, that's fine for me. Both loads drop the smaller bp steel plates quite well. To be blunt, this little beast has become a nearly constant range-bag rider, replacing my 696. In fact, Monday found me at the range - celebrating the 43rd day of the .44 Special's centennial (Tuesday was going to be nixed due to rain.) with all of my .44's and a ton of .44 Special ammo. Of course, the 4" .32 SP101 went along - and stole the 'show' - again. I only shot one .44... maybe 80 rounds - but shot-up my 150 rounds of .32's (I'll probably reload them today.). All DA and no ftf's, but I use Fed primers for my reloading. It's fun to shoot the little round - especially if you reload. I put the Hogue rubber grips on mine. If someone made a nice squared wood stock for it, I'd buy them. Sadly, the Hogue wood grips are the same size & shape as the rubber ones.

I appreciate Rugers for what they are... made to fit a price. Bill Ruger made them change the original SP101, originally designed for .38 Special, by lengthening the frame opening and cylinder, so that a .357 Magnum cylinder which would take any length .357 M cartirdges could be fitted. These newer models have an 'X' in their model #. I did see an early pre-X model .357M - probably rare - and it was for 125gr or less .357M's. I don't think a .32-20 with a 115gr LRNFP would leave any room at the end - it may even stick out slightly - the pressure of a .32-20 is traditionally far lower than .357M's, but the six-shot .32 may not have enough meat between the bores. They did make a SA .32/.32-20 variant.

The Georgia Rounds 100gr JHP .32 H&RM's are hot and nasty - producing 1,186 fps from that 4.6" SSM - that's 312 ft-lb KE. They really crud-up both the SSM and SP101, making something around 30 rounds the max you can shoot between cleanings. I have shot 200 of my reloads at a time with no operational problems. Check that SP101 trigger tune-up in the Ruger forum. Congratulations, which ever one you buy!


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