SP101.....2" vs 3" (in .357 mag)


May 7, 2007, 11:50 AM
So, I rencently got a S&W 642. I have a feeling that it will replace my SP101 as my CCW. After reading the [SP101 3" vs K frame 3"] thread I got to thinking. The SP101 would make the ideal trail gun. But, would gain that much by upgrading to a three inch? Does the extra inch add that much velocity? What says you? :)

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Ben Shepherd
May 7, 2007, 11:59 AM
Velocity? Not really.

Sight radius? Big difference in the average shooters abilty to shoot accurately. (Nothing to do with the mechanical accuracy of the gun)

May 7, 2007, 07:15 PM
I picked a 3" SP101 for a trail gun. I feel it is too heavy to carry comfortably for me for CC, but perfect for hiking.

May 7, 2007, 07:39 PM
I don't know you if gain a significant amount of velocity, but the extra sight radius helps me.


May 8, 2007, 01:37 PM
Others have said it. Probably not much increase in velocity, but the extra inch of sight radius could help. If only having one, I prefer the two-inch model, though. And for a trail gun I'd carry a four-inch GP100 with the fixed-sight (smaller) grip.

May 8, 2007, 01:51 PM
I bought the 3"Sp101 SPECIFICALLY for use as a trail gun, and also for CC. I find that the extra weight up front helps a ton with recoil where I like to carry stout loads in the woods. It's a fantastic gun, and really worth picking up, especially for the purpose you mention. I think the 3" will give a slight boost in velocity (but not much), but it is definitely helpful for sight radius, and recoil. Go get it. NOW!

May 8, 2007, 02:07 PM
A slightly different perspective;

I have three SP101s, one with the 3 1/16" barrel, the other two with 2 1/4" barrels.

I actually "point-shoot" better with the shorter barrel guns, and don't notice any difference in sighted shooting precision between the different barrel lengths, though all my shooting is short range (7 yards and less), so I'm not prepared to swear there couldn't be a difference at longer distances.

IMNSHO, these are self-defense, short-range-use CCW guns, and it's notably easier to carry the shorter barrel SP101 in "appendix" position than the longer one, though if you carry behind the hip (harder to conceal and/or less comfortable), the barrel length won't matter as much.

The major benefit of the SP101 compared to the S&W J-frames is the SP101's ability to readily and comfortably handle .357 loads. How much .357 Magnum bullet velocity is lost with a 2" vs. 3" barrel is less important to me than the loss compared with a 7.5" barrel (which is what the .357 Magnum round was designed around, circa 1935), since only the long barrels really give the full advantage of the velocity of which the .357 Magnum is capable. Still, a .357 round from a "snubby" will meaningfully outperform a .38 Special round from the same gun.
OTOH, if I intended to carry and shoot only .38 Special loads, I would (and do sometimes) carry a J-frame pre-lock Smith. The SP101 is bigger and heavier than it needs to be for handling the .38 Special.

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