S&W model 60 -vs- Ruger SP101 357 mag.

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Sep 12, 2011
Central New Yorkistan
I'm looking at a Smith & Wesson model 60 and a Ruger SP101. Both have 3" barrels, 5 shot cylinders and are 357 Mag. Both come with fixed sights or adjustable sights. What are the pro's and con's of each. Which would you rather have and why? They'll see limited carry use.

Thanks, NYH1.
I have both in the family. Both have fixed sights and 2 inch barrels. The Ruger, like every Ruger, is built like a tank, very well made, and shoots well, but a little on the heavy side. The S&W is a well made gun, not as heavy as the Ruger, and in my opinion has a better trigger. It also shoots well. The S&W also feels better in my hand, but that's personal obsevation. You wouldn't be disappointed in either gun. The S&W is a pre-lock model, I'm not sure how a new one would be.
My pick would be the SP101, and in fact, it has been the SP101 3" when confronted with that choice several years ago. They'll both serve you very well, with an edge in durability going in favor of the SP101.

S&Ws of yesteryear were finished a little more nicely and had better triggers than Rugers. These days, I'd say it's about even. So I'd grab the SP101 and pocket the extra $100-150 you save in cost and use it on ammo and a good holster.

There is another thing to consider. The Ruger pointed like an extension of my hand. If S&W points better for you, then that may be a deciding factor right there.
Based on your specs, the choice is easy for me. I'd go with the Ruger. With the 3" barrel, it pretty much negates pocket carry (at least my pants pockets). After that, I want the strongest gun to put on a holster as I would use it to carry in the woods.... Basically, it allows me to use a variety of loads that I might not be as comfortable with in the S&W.

Now if it were 2" barrels, I'd opt for the S&W as it'll pocket carry easier and work fine for my intended SD loads.

Best scenario: 3" SP101 AND a 2" M60
And the winner is:


Tryed them both and this is the one I still own. As close as a do everything gun you'll find. Lighter weight, better shooting and a better trigger action.

The Ruger was an ok gun but not compared to S&W model 60 IMHO.
The Ruger really perks up with a trigger job, which is easier to do on the Ruger than on the Smith.

They're both tough guns, and I'd call it a wash on which one looks better.

What I really want is a 640 Pro Series that looks like the Pro Series 60 with the adjustable sight, front night sight, and bigger wood grips.

But if I can't have that, I'm thinking an SP101 3" in the near future with a trip to Gemini Customs.
We have my dad's S&W model 60 357 mag. 3" bbl, 5 rd. with adjustable sights because he's going out of town. We'll have it for six weeks or so. I've shot it many times in the past. It's not bad even with full power 357 mag. loads. I'm a semi auto auto guy myself. I love my Glock's a G22 & G27 both 40 S&W, I also have a G31 357 Sig. and LWD 9mm conversion barrels for my G22, so it's my most versatile pistol. I also have and like my SW1911 it's fullsize 5" 45 ACP, it's my first and only 1911 so far.

However, I've always liked this little model 60. I was carrying it yesterday for a while. It carries great. Most of the time I didn't even know it was there. My wife likes revolvers over semi auto's. Although she likes the Glock G19 9mm and S&W Bodyguard 380. So my dad wants her to shoot his model 60 as much as she can while he's gone. I've never shot a Ruger SP101. That's why I asked about them. They're like &75 to $100 cheaper then the S&W model 60. Just looking for as many opinions, pro's and con's on both makes and models that I can get.

Thanks, NYH1.
It's good to hear more about why you're interested. I own a 2" SP101 in .357, and have shot both 2" and 5" Smith j-frames. The recoil is barely less noticeable with the Ruger, but the Smith conceals a little better. My experience is that the SP101 is easier to use with speed loaders than the model 60, but with my particular SP101 the empty cases will sometimes jam between the ejection star and grip. I've never heard of anyone else with this problem.

The SP101 is easier to partially disassemble than the model 60. That said, the internals don't really need cleaning often, and if you to do take it apart, don't go any further than the manual says or it will be difficult to put back the way it was. I prefer the SP101's push-button release for the cylinder to the model 60's slide button.

One of the reasons that the Smith j-frame conceals easier is because there are smaller grips available for it. Its grip frame is smaller than the SP101's. Another advantage of the model 60 is the slightly smoother trigger pull, but I found that my SP101's smoothed out a little after a few hundred rounds. It's also not hard to swap out the SP101's internal springs using a Wolff kit.

I'd say the two guns are on par with one another; to me, the price difference reflects the model 60's nicer looks. The SP101 is a slightly better range gun while the model 60 is a better carry piece, but both fill either role. As far as your wife's concerned, it might come down to grip choice, since they do feel different. Another American revolver maker to consider is Charter Arms, though they're harder to find in the gun shops.
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I've owned several SP101's, 2 1/4" and 3/16" barrels. I presently have a S&W model 60, Pro Series, 3" barrel. While .38 Special was and is the standard fare, the Rugers handled .357 recoil better than the Smith. But, the big plus for the Smith is the adjustable rear sight. This makes it a better choice for an all around gun. It's good for concealed carry and for walking the woods. In a pinch the model 60 should be a better "game getter", if necessary.
I'm a big S&W Revolver fan, but this is one instance where Ruger wins out. If it's everyday carry, I'd recommend the 340PD or 360PD. In fact, I carry a 340PD often. But as a 'limited-carry revolver', given the choice between the Model 60 and the SP101, I like the SP101 better.

Buddy of mine has a Model 60, and it is nice, but I wouldn't own one over the SP101. I believe that the SP101 feels better, deals with heavy loads better, and will last multiple lifetimes if taken care of. Hard to beat.
I think you can see by the replies here that it is a very individual decision, and one you probably cannot get wrong. Some choose the Ruger and love it. Some choose the S&W and love it.

I was faced with the same choice seven or eight years ago. I chose the Ruger because I found a great deal on one. It has been a regular carry gun since.

Interestingly enough, the fellow who sold it to me had just inherited it, and didn't need it because he had a model 60.

I enjoy shooting this 2.25" Ruger SP 101 just as much as I do my 4" S&W 586 and 686. I did the Wolff spring change, which made the trigger much better. It's not like the one on my 686, but even the 586 can't touch it.
I favor the older model S&W 60 in snubbie for 38s
but the Ruger SP101 3" for 38+p or 357
(own both, S&W better DA trigger, Ruger stouter)

I would most favor the current S&W model 60 Pro version, if looking for another, but I would be shooting near exclusively 38+P in it

tough call, but I believe you would be happy with either 3" 357
I will say I think the SP trigger (out of the box) is far from stellar. A little love and a spring kit turned my wife's into an enjoyable shootin iron which brought her groups down and her confidence up.
I went through the same decision a couple of months ago and ended up with the S&W model 60 pro. It felt better in my hand, and the flat contoured barrel and wood grips just makes it look so much nicer to me. It has become one of my favorite revolvers.
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