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Revisiting the Sp101

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Vonderek, Feb 4, 2017.

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  1. Vonderek

    Vonderek Member

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    When I reached age 21 my first handgun I purchased was a $40 Raven .25 as that was all I could afford on $5/hour. Years later my first serious handgun was a Ruger SP101 in .357. I carried it for a while and put a Hogue monogrip on it to make it more controllable. However, it was no longer "pocket-able" and eschewing the fanny-pack of the day the Sp101 entered the safe where it remained for many years. I figured that there were far more many options for a belt-carry handgun than a 5-shot snubnose.

    Recently I swapped out the factory mainspring for a 10-lb Wolff spring and lightly broke the rough edges on the hammer strut with a fine grit Arkansas stone. I replaced the Hogue Monogrip with the factory Ruger grip. The result is a revolver that is a delight to shoot and once again fits in the pocket. It is reliable with whatever ammo fodder it is fed. Now the J-Frame is in the safe. At least for now. SP101.jpg
     
  2. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    if you put it away when fanny packs were all the rage, I think .357 was more than just a 9mm+p with a rim, so factory ammo is probably a little nicer with that factory grip too. I really wish Ruger would make a prettier version of that gun.
     
  3. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

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    The SP101 is a great carry gun. It's one of the only snub .357s that I find pleasant to shoot.

    That said, my lcr 9mm took over the role of my light carry piece and the extra firepower and recoil soaking weight of the 3" GP eclipsed the SP for a heavy duty carry.

    So when it came time to prune a few, the SP went to a loving home who would appreciate it more.

    Still, I plan on picking up another one day just because it was such a well built back up gun.
     
  4. Legionnaire
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    Legionnaire Member

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    I love my SP. I've carried it on my belt IWB and OWB off and on for years. Right now it serves as my car gun. I picked mine up second-hand years ago for $250. Put some Wolff springs in it, polished it here and there, stuck a night sight on the front, and it is a sweet, sweet shooter. Can't see myself parting with it until I'm too old to shoot; it's just too handy to give up.

    sp101.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
  5. gun_with_a_view

    gun_with_a_view Member

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    The five shot SP101 is easily out done these days for concealed carry by the Ruger LCR snub chambered in 327 Federal Mag. Lighter, six rounds in lieu of five, better trigger, better ballistics than a 38 Special. As a utility carry piece, it's the most bang for the buck right now in snubby revolvers. However, I would rather carry an SP101 short barrel chambered for 327 any day of the week if it came with the LCR trigger. But we're not sure that gun will ever see production again by Ruger.
     
  6. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    The SP101 can give light strikes with a spring that light. I have found the 12 pound to be more reliable. The spurless hammer on yours lacking the complete hammer mass could be a problem too for driving through the transfer bar. The 327 Federal Magnum 4" came with 14 lb and a terrible trigger pull. Works fine with 12. The 357 Mag, 32 H&R and 327 Federal Magnum 3" guns I have are all 12 pound, I believe. With that single spring design, you cannot get a trigger exactly as you might like without upsetting the whole system. I am not a gunsmith nor armorer, but this is my understanding of my own guns.
     
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  7. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    My 327 Federal Magnum SP101s, 3 inch and 4 inch, are both 6 shot, which is kind of the point with 32 cal.
     
  8. Jonesy814

    Jonesy814 Member

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    I put a 10# spring in my SP101 and polished up a few spots and it now has a pretty sweet trigger. I've had no problems with light strikes and have probably run close to 500 rounds through it since the spring swap. I covered the plastic grip inserts with some of the Traction/Talon grip rubberized material and really like the additional traction when firing magnums.
    0115161320.jpg
     
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  9. Drail

    Drail Member

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    I bought one of the first SP 101s to hit the market (marked 125 gr. only) as a carry gun for my wife to replace her Model 36. She still won't carry the SP because "it's too heavy...". But I do believe the SP is probably one of the finest carry revolvers ever made - especially for the price. It is built like a miniature tank and very pleasant to shoot. With a moderate 140-158 gr. .38 SPl. load it can be fired fairly rapidly. I can't quite bring myself to call it a "pocket gun" though. It deserves a belt and a holster. If you reduce the mainspring be sure to thoroughly test it with your carry load, I have seen cases where light strikes were a problem with some brands of ammo/primers when someone chose a very light mainspring in an attempt to bring the trigger pull down. I think the stock mainspring is fine once you build a little strength in your hand.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
  10. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    I was curious and found the Smith & Wesson Model 60, 3" stainless spec'd at more than 10% lighter than the comparable SP101. I don't like to shoot it, a prelock SS as well as a 60 Pro, without my own 357 reloads that are toned down a notch. The SP101 I don't find a lot better but would pick it if I had to shoot commercial boxed ammo.
     
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  11. 200Apples
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    200Apples Member

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    I hear you. I have a recently-made Model 60-15 "J-Magnum-frame" and prefer to use Remington UMC 38 Special +P in it.

    I sometimes practice with it loaded 3 rounds .38 +P and 2 rounds .357...

    Regardless, it is nice to have such a diminutive piece capable of firing .357 Magnum. I have to remember Clint Smith's quote, "A handgun is meant to be comforting, not necessarily comfortable." (in a time of need, that is).
     
  12. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    I am carrying a prelock 60-10 today loaded with Speer Short Barrel. I use a special reload for range use.
     
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  13. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    2013-08-15_19-24-36_380.jpg My sp101 served me well as my first carry gun. I was all about .357s for a long time. I finally fell out of love with them after some experiences that I had deer hunting with that caliber.
    My wife shoots it well and she considers it hers now. I need to get her some new grip inserts because these are mine.
    20170119_211119.jpg
    20170130_084540.jpg
     
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  14. stoky

    stoky Member

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    I don't recall the exact weight spring(s) I put in, IIRC they were Wolff's. With some minor polishing, it now breaks at 9lbs. DA, 3lbs. cocked and is absolutely reliable
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    In my experience in doing a lot of action work for Ruger DA's, this is only true when there's something else wrong with fitment or engagement the internals. I've sold a lot of SP101's through my basic handgun and concealed carry courses over the years, and have done action work on the vast majority of those; I've yet to find one which wouldn't function with a 9lb mainspring and 8lb trigger reset spring. The trigger plunger (not the part most folks think of) is a common culprit for reset issues, and but I've never found light strikes to EVER be an issue if there isn't a lot of other drag on the hammer, or a poorly fit hammer dog (some DO leave the factory with insufficient travel). A few hours of polishing and fitting, and $30 worth of shims and springs, and it's a completely different animal.
     
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  16. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator Staff Member

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    I tried real hard to like the sp101.
    Didn't have any of the issues mentioned above but rather found it too heavy compared to my Smith 649. I sold it to a guy who uses it as his EDC as loves it.
    Different strokes I guess.
     
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  17. Drail

    Drail Member

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    It definitely ain't no little flyweight revolver.
     
  18. Tacoma

    Tacoma Member

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    I always liked the Sp101s for playing at the range. I think I've had 4 to date. I just wish they made it in a lighter weight version. I just find that it's too heavy for pocket carry and heavy/bulkie enough to be begged to be replaced by a modern semi auto when holster carried. When I do carry a snubbie, it's an 11 oz J frame 360PD.
     
  19. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    Another Ruger work in progress. Lots of mechanical gadgets overcome parts interference with spring force, and a gun with minimal hand fitting is no exception.
     
  20. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    The only issue I have had with my sp101 was when my firing pin stuck forward. It was stuck good too. I popped it back in place and lubed and it has been fine since...but I'm always sure to lube firing pins in all my guns now.
     
  21. stoky

    stoky Member

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    I've no use for anything lighter (or shorter in .357).
    That's what .38s, 9mm's and .380 are for.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
  22. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    I gather he was referring to its use of 38 Special like was probably the case with the 649, which at just over 22 ounces is too light and small for serious 357 ammo in the hands of a mere mortal.
     
  23. RugRev

    RugRev Member

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    I have a tuned SP101 with the 9 lb mainspring and 8 lb trigger return and it works a 100% for me with all different ammo but the internals do need to be cleaned up and polished.
     
  24. Dirty Bob

    Dirty Bob Member

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    I love the SP101. In a belt holster with a good belt, it's not a burden to carry. Ruger triggers aren't bad. I chose the 3-inch barrel and Hogue grips.

    One of the big advantages to me is the design that lets me field strip it easily for cleaning. I think it is one of the best carry revolvers ever.

    Regards,
    Dirty Bob
     
  25. Haywood

    Haywood Member

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    IMG_0340.JPG Mine is stock on the inside. It had LOTS of dry fires so it's nice and smooth. The outside got a XS Standard Dot, trimmed down trigger, and Hogue Grips. Then I shined it up with Flitz.
     
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