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A change to firearms and away from an alien intrusions was needed. No, no probing going on, just a growth that showed up on the side of the house. On a dormer, at the bottom corner of window trim and intersecting cedar clapboard siding, a growth appeared. Happened overnight, it spread out to eight inches in diameter, several inches thick, lifting the paint from its substrate. Affixed to the siding it seemed to bubbled yellow and where affixed to the trim it seemed to blister white and it leaked some sort of dry, brown spores that left a trail down the wall and spilled onto the roof below.

From the top of an extension ladder, it looked… like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Sort of like a big ball of fine sand eating, feeding on the wood products and paint beneath. Launching an attack with a two handed paint scraper, the plan was to tear it loose, scrap off the damaged area beneath and repair as required, taking as few casualties as possible. One light touch and the entire mass burst into a mini dust cloud and then blew away. Surprisingly, there was no damage to the surface or paint where the mass was once attached. The appearance of bubbled paint was only the growth taking on the color of the surfaces below. A little shot of mold cleaner and a rise and everything was good as new.

With a little more focus…

Measuring the SP101 for handloads, cylinder length checked 1.580″. SAAMI maximum cartridge overall length specification for the 357 Magnum is 1.590″, however, the 357 Mag headspaces on its 0.060″ – 0.070″ rim, so only a maximum of 1.530″ projects into the cylinder, leaving a minimum of 0.050″ between bullet tip and cylinder face. Most of my cast bullet handloads have a cartridge overall length, still leaving a solid 0.040″ minimum clearance at the front of the cylinder. Cylinder to barrel gap on this particular revolver was a feeler gauge dragging 0.006″ and cylinder to barrel indexing passed a range rod check with flying colors.

The four bullets selected are commonly available, relatively moderate in cost and they perform within their intended application. The first two, left to right, are good defensive bullets in terms of expansion and moderate penetration. The next two hard cast are not expanding, penetrate enough to blow through 32′ of ballistic gel and are well suited for a trail gun where animals represent the potential for a threat more than humans.

Bullet Manufacturer
Remington Self Defense SJHP 125 0.564 1.575
Hunters Supply PHP Self Defense HP 11 158 0.622 1.560
Acme Hard Cast Self Defense &Hunting SWC 17 158 0.715 1.600
Hunter’s Supply – Hard Cast Hunting FP 20 190 0.756 1.600

Cast bullets were tested for Brinell Harness with resulting number as indicated above and a random sample was scaled to check for uniformity of weight. Weights were checked, five of each one hundred box, which is in no shape or form a proper sample to statistically reflect the entire population. It does, however, show an absolute example of best case weight variances that would impact handload accuracy and consistency of velocity.


Rem HS Acme HS
125 Grain 158 Grain 158 Grain 190 Grain
1 124.0 151.9 158.3 184.9
2 124.1 152.1 157.8 184.8
3 123.7 154.0 158.1 185.3
4 124.2 153.0 158.1 186.1
5 124.5 152.4 158.4 185.5
Grain Spread Within Sample 0.8 2.1 0.6 1.2
Maximum Grains Variance To Listed Weight 1.3 6.1 0.4 5.2

While Hunter’s Supply has low price in its corner, personally, I don’t care for the weight spread or the variance to listed weight as both influences the results of handload data and are greater than typical. Things that cause bullets to leave a barrel at different times diminish shot to shot precision. Bullet hardness, or lack of hardness, was an issue with the Hunters Supply 158 grain hollow point. Lead needs to be soft to expand without shattering or fragmenting and that is how these bullets are marketed, but 11 BHN is the bottom of the hard cast range. The concern is, without a gas check, bore leading would result. Without further testing and evaluation, this is all just so much conjecture.

Real men don’t care about water spots… really.

Warning: Bullet selections are specific, and loads are not valid with substitutions of different bullets of the same weight. Variations in bullet length will alter net case capacity,  pressure and velocity. Primer selection is specific and primer types are not interchangeable. These are maximum loads in my firearms and may easily be excessive in others. All loads should be reduced by 5%,  and developed following safe handloading practices as represented in established reloading manuals produced by component manufacturers. Presentation of these loads does not constitute a solicitation for their use, nor a recommendation.

Cartridge: 357 Mag

 Firearm: Ruger SP101 Match Champion  COL: 1.405″ – 1.590″
 Bullet Diameter:
0.3590″ +0.0000″/-0.0030″ (Lead)
0.3580″ +0.0000″/-0.0030″ (Jacketed)
 Primer: CCI 500
 Barrel: 4.20″  Reloading Dies: Lee Precision
 Max case length: 1.290″ +0.0000″/-0.0200″  


COL and Capacity   Load Data & Performance
Bullet Type Bullet
  Powder Charge
5 Shot
Group ”
25 Yards
Remington SJHP 125 1.575 18.5 Lil’ Gun 20.0 1382 530 1.7
Remington SJHP 125 1.575 18.5 Win 296 21.0 1369 520 1.8
Hunters Supply Cast HP 158 1.560 16.7 Lil’ Gun 17.5 1306 599 2.4
Hunters Supply Cast HP 158 1.560 16.7 Win 296 17.5 1249 547 2.7
Acme Hard Cast Lubed 158 1.600 15.3   Lil’ Gun 15.5 1280 575 1.8
Acme Hard Cast Lubed 158 1.600 15.3   Win 296 16.0 1239 539 2.0
Hunters Supply FP357 190 1.600 4.4   Lil’ Gun 14.4 1146 554 2.3
Hunters Supply FP357 190 1.600 14.4   Win 296 14.4 1135 544 1.9
Groups shot from a well supported sand bag rest.

Seen through a rearview mirror…

Even though a small revolver, the SP101 Match Champion is a very manageable 357 Magnum. The look of the grip is deceptive as it offers a lot to grab onto and it does a good job of dispersing recoil in the palm of the hand and wrist. The sights are good, quick to pick up on a target and consistent in adjustment. While scaled to concealment and with a cylinder reduced to five rounds, the design is stout throughout and not in the least rattled by stiff factory and handloaded ammunition.

I’m not a big fan of a gloss finish, but then I am old and set in my ways. Some of my distant past forecasted perspectives on the future? “This autoloader pistol trend will burn itself out”, “Blue steel and walnut will never be replaced”, “Eventually the colonies will again be part of England”… although that last may be coming to fruition. Initially, the finish seemed a bit flashy, but I’ve grown to appreciate the look, the finish held up well and it wiped clean after a range session with little effort.

My conclusion is that the Ruger SP101 Match Champion’s performance is solid and it carries well, open or concealed.

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