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SP-101 really stronger than other revolvers?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by brockgl, Apr 7, 2010.

  1. brockgl

    brockgl Well-Known Member

    Okay, everybody knows that Ruger has a reputation for building a tank of a gun. I read somewhere, however, that the steel and type of casting Ruger uses means that, even though their guns contain more metal and look and feel like tanks, they aren't much stronger than some other revolvers out there that use harder steel and better forging techniques.

    I forget where I read this, so I can't link it. Also, I don't have an opinion one way or the other since I really know very little about the types of metals used and the construction methods, etc...

    However, it would be nice for someone who knows a lot about this to chime in. It would be even more helpful if someone with a metallurgy background would chime in.

  2. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Well-Known Member

    I don't know of anyone who has done nondestructive hardness testing to both revolvers. But investment casting can actually allow harder metal to be used because fewer machining operations are needed to bring the part to its final shape. If you've ever seen a forging fresh from the die you will see that they are quite rough. In short, don't worry about the quality of the steel.
  3. VA27

    VA27 Well-Known Member

    When's the last time you heard of an SP101 kaboom? Of the hundreds of thousands out there I remember a total of...1, IIRC it was posted on this forum, but I don't remember what it took to do it. If there was anything wrong with them they'd be popping like popcorn. Get one and live worry free.
  4. Drail

    Drail Well-Known Member

    Ruger's Pintree Castings makes parts for the aerospace industry such as landing gear components. Their investment castings should not be confused with standard cast parts. I have seen photos taken at Ruger where a Ruger, Colt, and S&W revolver all had the muzzles threaded and a plug screwed in and then the guns were fired with proof loads. The S&W and Colt both blew on the first round. The Ruger ate the proof loads until the barrel was filled end to end with bullets and it could not be loaded any more. The barrel never blew. Yeah, they really are that strong. This is not to say that you cannot blow one (it's been done by reloaders) but you have to do something REALLY stupid.
  5. Sniper X

    Sniper X Well-Known Member

    I would feel confident to fire a .50BMG in my gp100 if that helps. IFFIT would fit that is!
  6. 9x19sig

    9x19sig Well-Known Member

    Posted by Drail

    If this really happened I must say that is absolutely insane, good thing my revolver inventory only includes Ruger's, except for a S&W 642-1 no lock.
  7. Blue Brick

    Blue Brick Well-Known Member

    Read 'Ruger and his guns".
  8. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    To answer the original question - no they aren't. They are built thicker and heavier because they need to be to handle the same pressures and loads.

  9. rswartsell

    rswartsell Well-Known Member

    As with many brand loyalties, people tend to get a little carried away on both sides. i.e no one in his right mind can objectively state that .50 bmg pressures CIP max 54,000 psi is OK in ANY revolver chambered for .357 saami max 35,000 psi. That is just foolish hyperbole.

    Ruger DA revolvers began developing a well deserved reputation for FRAME strength with the advent of the frame designs for the Speed and Security Sixes due to a revolutionary new frame design that did not include a side plate that accesses the lockwork. Colt and Smith had set the previous standard for DA frame design that included such plates and the plates weaken the strength potential of the frame.

    This did not mean that the side plate frames could not be made strong, indeed there are expert opinions that the Colt Mk III revolvers of the late '60's and forward were the strongest revolvers of their time. They were contemporaries of the Ruger "Sixes".

    Ruger was an innovator and that extended to a design decision to innovate a method of investment casting that is widely respected. This was for cost reasons and not that anyone believed that the cast steel was inherently stronger than forged. It did lead the Rugers to be chunkier and more massive in certain dimensions than the forged counterparts as evidenced with the GP100, Super Redhawk, SP101.

    The cylinder is a key area for handling high pressures and strength (as opposed to simple hardness which is NOT the same) here is determined by metallurgy, heat treating and importantly whether the exterior cylinder notches are aligned with the thinnest wall of the chamber where it is closest to the cylinder outer wall. If the notches are aligned with the thinnest wall (closest to chamber) or offset from them determines cylinder strength as much any other factor. Ruger also pioneered offsetting the notches, but this is also a feature of other revolvers (i.e the S&W 686+).

    Rugers are not Superman and they don't defy physics. I HIGHLY doubt than any expert would expect a Ruger with an obstructed barrel to allow you to fill up the barrel with bullets with no adverse consequences. That expanding gas is going somewhere and Ruger barrels are not magic.

    Another source of the Ruger mystique came from the design of their Blackhawk SA revolvers, that externally seem similar to old Colt Single Action Army revolvers but are actually a much stronger design. The Colts were designed in the 1870's and have known weaknesses that were not so much an issue with the black powder cartridges of the time. With the advent of newer technologies it became possible to create loads in popular single action ammo such as .45 Colt that clearly exceeded the strength of the old Colt design but were fine in the Blackhawks. These new rounds are termed Ruger only adding to the perception of Rugers being somehow indestructible.

    The bottom line is that yes, the SP101 is plenty strong for any ammunition that it is designed for up to the maximum SAAMI pressures, but it is NOT indestructible and no gun is. It is also not true that it is the ONLY strong gun. Unfortunately, to this date any attempt I have ever heard of to crown a STRONGEST champion has lead to highly dubious claims like this thread has, I hope they do not encourage foolish tempting of fate.

    The rocking chair has probably found some cat tails here among those who cherish the mythical proportions of Ruger strength so I will get off and let them wail.:D
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2010
  10. longbeachbum

    longbeachbum Member

    Okay Mr. Ruger's aren't magic, then how come mine glows green in the presence of evil, hmm?

    Seriously I'm a big Ruger fan, probably because I like big hefty steel handguns, but everything you say sounds about right.

    My (very limited) understanding is that investment casted steel isn't necessarily weaker than forged steel so I've never quite bought the argument that Rugers are more bulky than say S&W's because you need more steel to make them equally strong.
  11. Billy Shears

    Billy Shears Well-Known Member

    How can Ruger have "pioneered" a feature which Colt revolvers had approximately seventy years earlier? I have a Colt M1917 with offset cylinder notches. The M1917 was simply the military .45ACP variant of the New Service revolver, which debuted in 1898. Ruger may have employed this feature, but they did not, by any stretch of the imagination "pioneer" it. In fact, Colt advertised this during the early 20th century as one of the features (along with better heat treatment, which they employed earlier) which made their revolvers stronger than their S&W competition.
  12. rswartsell

    rswartsell Well-Known Member

    Billy is right.

    Tip of the hat to you for the correction Billy Shears, not the first time that has happened but the offset is a factor in the Ruger strength reputation.:eek:

    P.S. There happens to be a Colt New Service thread running in this forum right now that has pictures clearly showing the offset notches.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2010
  13. 9x19sig

    9x19sig Well-Known Member

    It looks like we have contestant who has explained the ruger strength away as simple cult following that is ready to believe anything. Would you be willing to put some buffalo bore 44 ammo in your 629? I didn't think so...
  14. rswartsell

    rswartsell Well-Known Member

    o contraire mon ami,

    I do not have the 629 (or any N frames), but I regularly use Buffalo Bore in my 686 (an L frame) and would not have the slightest hesitation to use them in a 629 .44 mag. IF it had the cylinder length to handle them, it does not for the Heavy Magnum +P+ 340 gr LFN, it's the OAL of the cartridge that limits the applications rather than cylinder strength and the Taurus Raging Bull is one of the guns listed as suitable. I would use the 305 gr LFN-LBT with no problems in the 629 and I'm sure a great many people have. I have also used BB in a Colt Lawman Mk III with absolutely no ill effects.

    The Model 29 was introduced in 1955, and the 629 is the current stainless production model of that revolver. In 1955 Buffalo Bore and this cartridge did not exist and the cylinder designed for the gun did not anticipate it. 29's and stainless 629s use a special alloy steel and heat treating for the .44 mag models that are not used for the N frame .45 Colts, so if you want to pick on a Smith and Wesson it would more appropriately be the 25 or 625.

    Even lacking scientific evidence I would be pretty confident that an SP101 is stronger than a J frame or even .357 K frames. I am not near as confident that Ruger equivalents are significantly stronger than L frames (with the offset) or N frames. Wanna try some S&W 460 mag in your Redhawk?:neener:
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2010
  15. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    As one who is not a Ruger fan I can say that they are strong. Are they stronger than others? Stronger than some, not than others.

    My question is "is it strong enough?"

    Rugers are strong enough and if you like them, they are a good value for a quality weapon.
  16. snooperman

    snooperman Well-Known Member

    Rugers are stronger in my opinion... How strong???

    I can not measure it quantitively. However I have been reloading, shooting and hunting with them for the past 45 years with the hottest loads and I have had no problems with them. But, I have had several S&W go out of timing several times with the same loads. My sixes and the Blackhawk are very tough for sure. I have killed many deer and wild boar with my blackhawk on my farmland for much of the past 45 years with no problems at all with very hot loads. I also have the Sp101 and carry it IWB while working around the farm. I keep it loaded with 158gr Hollowpoints that are quite hot. and made, I believe by Federal.
  17. NMGonzo

    NMGonzo Well-Known Member

    I would fire a .50 BMG out of SniperX GP100 if i ever get it back from him.
  18. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

    All 5 and 7 shot revolvers are offset notches, Colts are a bit offset in their 6 shooters.
    I will delete any thing I think might be BS, show proof, not what you have heard on the 'net.
  19. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Well-Known Member

    I remember a thread a bit back which touched on this also. It was talking about the differences between a Model 19 Smith and an SP-101. In the body of the thread a small dispute broke out over how the K Frame smiths cannot stand up to repeated 357 rounds and the SP101 can.

    Of course this statement is uneducated but to the point more involved that the Smith K frames were physically thinner in areas of the gun in which the SP101 was thicker and thus the assumption that the SP101 must be stronger. This was not an entirely accurate statement though because the Ruger is investment cast which leaves it supposedly less strong than forged steel of which the Smith is made.

    The moral of the story is the investment cast Ruger is plenty strong and so is the forged steel K frame.

    And another thing,

    SP101s are not the strongest revolvers. I would think they are the strongest 5 shot revovler chambered in 357 but that is it.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2010
  20. Blue Brick

    Blue Brick Well-Known Member

    In “Ruger and his guns” while testing the strength of the “Old Army” revolvers, the designers completely filled the cylinders up (overload) with smokeless powder (Bulls-eye). After many repeated loads it never blew up.

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