SP101 in 357

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Feb 22, 2007
I have been looking for another 357. I have a 4 inch 686 that I love, but I want another. I have been looking at Blackhawks, GP100's, and then I saw the SP101 4 inch fiber optic front sight through the glass at the gun shop. I held it, love it, but it seems so small compared to the GP100.
Anyone have one that they can tell me about? How is it with full powered 357 loads? Anything would be helpful because I am about to go buy it.
In its usual configuration, it's one of the all-time great snub .357's. I'd rank it just slightly lower than my Speed Six, but only slightly. Mainly because it only holds five. Very good, solid design that can withstand a lot of pounding. Handles well, too. I would slam five after five with it without hand fatigue using the Hogue one piece grips. There is no need to shoot .38 Specials out of fear of overtaxing the frame.

The 4 inch ones are not common. Personally I'd swap out the fiber optic for the nice tritium sights or the standard iron. But that's a matter of preference.
I have the 3" version. It's a noticeable difference in recoil between my 4" 686 and the SP101. I usually shoot about 100 rounds through it when I visit the range, and I would say about 25 - 35 .357 magnums (158 gr. over 14.0 gr. of 2400) are about my limit for the day. It's not painful at that point, but I imagine it would be around 50. That's just me, of course, and your tolerance may be totally different.
The 4" fiber-optic SP101 is a strange variation, because the SP101 really shines as a concealed-carry revolver in the standard 2 or 3-inch configuration, but the longer barrel and sights on the 4-incher are obviously target-shooting enhancements. All of the other revolvers you mention - 686, GP100, Blackhawk - are full-sized revolvers for service use, target shooting or hunting, and most people wouldn't consider trying to conceal-carry one of these, and all of these have better triggers than the SP-101 will ever have.

I say the 3" SP101 with fixed sights is a great carry-gun (I have one), but I'd get a full-size revolver with target sights, full-size grips and 6-shot capacity before I'd get the 4" SP101.
Agree with the above.
My SP101 .357 Stainless w/2 1/4 barrel will never leave my hands as long as I am alive (meaning cold, dead hands?)
I'd say the 4" will be as good or better on accuracy, the 2" is no slouch, BTW.

The trigger on mine is smooth as silk after about 1000 rounds.

The only modification I made was I replaced the 13# hammer spring with a 9# Wolff spring.
I like a little barrel on my ccw revolvers so the 4.2" sp101 is a natural for me.

Its very accurate and heavy enough that full power loads are a breeze. Best of all you can get a 22lr sp101 in the exact same configuration for cheap training. (Just picked one up 20min ago)


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I have a 2 1/8 inch SP101 in .357.I've put prolly 3,000 rounds threw it and it funtions perfect.I shoot mostly cast wad cutters, 158 grain at around 1,000 f.p.s.,with minimal leading.Full power 158 grain jacketed .357's are a little brutal,stinging my hand some.Points great,accuracy is what you'd expect from a snubbie,and it will fit in my back pocket.hdbiker
Anyone have one that they can tell me about? How is it with full powered 357 loads? Anything would be helpful because I am about to go buy it.

The Ruger SP101 is a terrible design. I've owned two with 2 1/4" barrels, but didn't understand revolvers the first time around. I spent approximately six months to a year with them and shot around 1,000 rounds through them. This is long enough to determine the advantages and disadvantages of the design.

It does quite a few things wrong. First, the crane is too short for the rubber grips that come with the gun. Speed Loaders drag on it with very little margin for error when operating at speed (or worse, while moving). Ejection of the inside case is spotty due to one of the cartridges tending to hang on the grip or locking up if you do not have the crane fully open (again, this is very easy to do when going quickly). It only holds five rounds and that sixth round is statistically important for getting two rounds into each of two attackers. It is just a bit too large to fit well into the pocket. It bounces around in the pant because it is so heavy; your pants will not move naturally. Therefore, it requires a belt holster. The rear sight channel needs to be replaced with actual sights. The charge holes need to be chamfered, but this is a common problem with many revolvers. Finally, recoil is VERY sharp with common defensive loads; it's much better suited for 38 Special. Get a GP100 with 3" barrel instead. You'll need to add rear sights on the standard model. Look at the Wiley Clapp version. If you want a pocket revolver in 357 Magnum, buy a Ruger LCR or S&W Model 640. Both the LCR and 640 will have similar problems with recoil, but at least they fit in a pocket.
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I have a 2-1/4" barrel version. I recently put a Wolf spring kit in it, cost about $20.00 and took about 90 minutes including polishing all the parts that rub together in the trigger assembly. The trigger used to be very stiff, it was difficult for my wife to shoot double action. Now it's sweeeet!
The down side of the SP101 is that it's heavy, with 5 rounds it seems to weigh as much as my M&P40c with 11 rounds. the good part of that is that it's not too bad shooting .357 mag loads. When I carry I usually take the M&P40c these days, I keep the Ruger for my wife, with .38 loads it's a nice shooter for her. I still take the Ruger, loaded with .357 when hiking in the woods in No. California.
I got the SP101 3" and love it, shot a whole mess of 125gr through it.

But when I took it out this weekend and fired 158gr 357 Magnum through it, I hated it. Been almost four days now and my thumb knuckle is still bruised from the stock grip. At the advice of Deaf Smith, Got some Hogue grips on order, maybe those will help! I shot it later that same night on a qualifier course and my hand was so sore, I shot like crap (2-3x the size of my normal groups), but I still qualified just fine.

Wearing a heavy winter coat, carrying it in a inside coat pocket is no big deal. A lighter coat would probably be upset badly by it though. I haven't carried it in any other type of manner.

Pretty accurate!

If you have big hands, you will probably run in to the same problem I did, where heavy personal protection rounds will hurt. Don't know if the grips will solve that yet, will find out soon enough.

You've already got a 686 for the range, I think you'd like the slim design of the 4 inch SP 101 for woods walking and plinking. They hold up well to heavy use and don't get that end shake the Smiths tend to get, at least in my experience.

LWC or LSWC ammo and SP 101's go together like butter on popcorn...:) I say go for it and enjoy it for what it is.
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