I like to read... old stuff, mostly. Anything and
everything that piques the imagination, including Mickey Spillane. It's
interesting how a good writer can construct an entire universe in
a reader's mind by drawing upon, and arranging for effect, things that
are universally familiar. If the author sets a date in the 1940s and
uses terms like "Down and out gumshoe" and "Working out of a seedy
office", you've probably already jumped ahead to his quick quipping and
underpaid secretary and the mysterious, distressed and leggy blonde
client in search of her missing, presumed dead, husband.
Ruger SP 101 is in that office, in a shoulder
holster, or maybe in the jacket pocket of a threadbare suit. Not one of
today's Hollywood caricatures or exaggerations of a gun, but rather the
kind of gun that would appear in movies when directors knew an
audience would be too gun savvy to buy into anything other than the
RIGHT gun. The Ruger SP101 357 Magnum is an easily
concealable, small frame, big cartridge revolver that Sam Spade, Mike
Hammer or any non-fictional person in need of serious self-defense would
do well to consider.
The case for the 357 Magnum
There was a time, not too long ago, when it seemed
eminent that the revolver was headed toward extinction. High capacity
9mm autoloaders were everywhere, pushing revolvers and standard capacity
1911 types off of dealers shelves and out of the minds of firearm
enthusiasts. Then came the waves of 10mm, 357 SIG and 40 S&W guns and,
just when it looked as though the end was near, the autoloader tides of
change began to ebb. I think the Righteous Brothers said that better.
|Muzzle Velocity FPS
Personal Defense with noted exceptions, which
are Hornady Custom.
Nominal Barrel Length 4"
The reality is that, we are a horsepower driven society...
except for those electric car guys with a "Euro first" bent. We know that a handgun's
lethality is not determined by the kinetic energy of one round,
multiplied by the number of rounds the gun holds, unless we are shooting
an old simultaneous discharge pepper box. The indisputable fact that revolvers are more powerful than autoloaders began
to once again get our attention. Other elements contributing to the revolver's
resurgence - the 357 Magnum
revolver's 125 grain JHP loads hold the documented lead for one shot stops at 96%1. A
high performance, high capacity autoloader is a lump and one half and takes up more space than a
high performance revolver. A Glock placed next to an SP101
does a great job of illustrating how "ugly" has infiltrated our gun
loving psyche and how far removed many modern autoloaders have become
from a revolver's good looks and precise assembly. OK, maybe not ALL
More compact than the GP100
autoloader I've owned has eventually burped and sputtered and parked a stove
pipe in the slide, or needed to be racked to clear a misfire or failed
to strip a round from its magazine and left me listening to the sound of
a hammer falling on an empty chamber. No, none of the aforementioned
happened often, particularly when the gun was slicked up a bit
and ammunition was held consistent. However, zero tolerance for failure is
probably a good place to begin, and end, when it comes to life or death
applications. I also began to think about how many times I had to
familiarize myself with the actuation of a newly purchased autoloader's safety, its loaded chamber indicator, its
decocking routine, and its single and double action operation. I don't
want to think about that stuff while trying to analyze a threatening situation.
All double action revolvers, regardless the model gun or manufacturer,
work the same; find the target, pull the trigger.
Far left, the
SP101 Model 5771. Ruger's double action, small frame, all
steel revolver. The other, a GP100 Model 1705 medium frame. GP100s serve
our house and shop guns. The GP100 was selected for home and shop because
concealed and open carry convenience were not factors. Subsequently, a
bit of heft and bulk were a fair tradeoff for soft grips and a sixth
round. For concealment and open carry, the more
compact and lighter SP101 357 Magnum has been the choice. Since the
barrel length for both guns is the same, ballistic performance remains
the same. For applications where an even smaller envelope is required,
the SP101 357 Magnum is also available with 2.25" and 3.06" barrel
lengths with fixed sights.
SP101 357 Magnum
GP100 357 Magnum
|Sights - Rear
|Sights - Front
|Trigger Pull Double
lbs 2 oz
|Trigger Pull Single
weights and measures
A little bit less compact than
the SP101 327 Federal Magnum
SP101 327 Federal Magnum top,
SP101 357 Magnum bottom. The SP101 357 Magnum differs from the SP101
327 Federal Magnum in numerous areas. The 357 Magnum version's
barrel is 4.20", the 327 Federal Magnum barrel is 3.06". The 357
Magnum gets a micro adjustable rear sight, windage and elevation,
the 327 Magnum adjusts for windage only. The 327 Federal Magnum
is a pretty stiff round for self defense, but the 357 Magnum offers
I would rate the SP101 327 Federal Magnum's recoil as...
brisk and the SP101 357 Magnum, a substantial step up in power, brisk+,
but certainly not 44 Magnum "Good Grief" or 454 Casull "Holy Smokes!!."
The SP101 is easy to hold on target and to bring
back on target after a shot. There is actually very little muzzle rise
with most of the transfer of energy coming straight back. Choking up on
the grip seemed to produce the most comfortable shooting arrangement.
Great sights. I really like the combination of adjustable
black rear and the high contrast, small diameter fiber optic front sight.
The front sight is small enough for any reasonable shooting distances
and they stand out against virtually any background. The ribbed and
beaded barrel ramp kills any glare that might result from reflected
As a result of snow
storms, snow drifts, a lack of snow shoes, and my general lack of
willingness to give up the comforts of a heated indoors, I didn't have a great deal of range time. However, I did
set up some seven yard targets and shot from an anti-shiver rest, while
my wife hosed me down with antifreeze and dried me off with a flare
tipped propane torch. She seemed a little too eager to help.
|Hornady Critical Defense
Velocity was very good, all equating
to impact velocity that would reliably expand bullets. There are
lots of types of factory ammo that would yield higher velocity, but
I don't think that is necessary for a small frame gun with a 4"
barrel. Accuracy I could comfortably produce with the gun was very
I've covered this generation of this design type of Ruger
many times, so I left out some of the detail in descriptions. So I'll
note that the design is very modular which means the gun disassembles
for cleaning and maintenance easily. Anyone who has ever disassembled a
S&W J Frame would appreciate this simplification and absence of piles of
springs, pins and tiny parts. The Ruger is a coil spring type mainspring
gun for longevity and reliable ignition. The SP101 has a triple lock
system that really anchors the cylinder in the frame and can hold up to
a lot of use. The SP101 has a peg frame which allows easy fit of custom
grips. In fact, the Ruger store offers a $28 soft, finger grooved Monogrip for this gun that I'd like to try.
SP101 357 Magnum is as billed; a compact, powerful
revolver that could easily serve as a primary carry gun. It does a great
job of tying firearm tradition to the most modern design touches,
materials and manufacturing processes. The yield is high performance,
excellent aesthetics and lots of long term reliability. Nice gun.
1 Stopping Power - Marshall & Sanow