Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ruger SP101

I'm admitting it - I'm just not a autoloader guy.

There is a lot to like - capacity, weight, size, speed...

I've owned two Glocks, I could NOT warm up to them. The 17 in 9mm is fun to shoot but man that is one dinky little cartridge. Sure there is quality SD ammo out there and can be had for a premium. Not practical for practice. Cast bullets were not recommended and they are about as ugly as a gun can be, completely lacking any "soul."

I tried a Glock 22 in 40 S&W. Same thing with a little more thrill and a little bigger holes. Using a leather holster seemed about as natural as hair on a frog.

Conversely a Colt Single Action Army/variation/replica has soul on steroids. Beautiful, points like the finger of God, shoots a Big cartridge that is easy to handle and fun to reload. Reloaders are spared the indignity of policing brass spewed into hard to reach places (always under some bench at the end of my reach it seemed). Reactive targets fall with authority. "There is something about the muzzle end of a 45 that says, Go away." Even the report is muscular. Launching 250+ grains of lead in the direction of a target doesn't rely on technology to create damage...

The down side is you have about 2.5 pounds of bulky steel to lug around. The Mernickle high ride holsters are outstanding but concealment in summer months is a stretch. They are slow to reload and the capacity is limited. I don't buy the slower to shoot arguement. I believe that a skilled shooter can get six shots off as fast as fast, more accurately and with a bigger bullet than an auto loader guy. Slow hits trump fast misses in my book. One is not limited by bullet shape or velocity to function reliably. Wyatt Earp said the most deadly were those that were deliberate and delivered accurate shots.

Enter the Ruger SP101. It combines reliability, magnum ability and portability. The obvious shortcoming - capacity.

With the availability shortage of primers my testing has been limited. I did test the Lee 358-158-RF bullet cast with 20/1 alloy. I tried three powders and in the snubbie Bullseye outperformed the bunch in both 38 special and 357 Magnum loadings. Using the Lyman Max data for this bullet weight and Bullseye produced a mere 690 fps average. It shot POA at 5 yards and was also very accurate. In 357 the Bullseye did well too. Even at sub maximal charges velocities topped 1100 fps withe the 160 grain bullet and was still very pleasant to shoot. The loads printed about an inch and a half over Point of Aim so the fixed sights could be challenging at longer ranges. We shall see once I find some primers...


ASM826 said...

That's my carry gun. 3" SP101. Heavy enough to handle the full power .357s, easy enough to conceal. Reliable. I like it well enough that I sold a S&W 642 to help fund the purchase.

You never can tell what will happen in life and if I ever get in so much trouble that I needed a high capacity pistol and a second magazine, I suppose my last thought will be, "Damn, should have had the XD.....thud...".

One last thing, Powder Valley has Wolf primers in stock, both small pistol and small magnum pistol for $25.50 a thousand. I reload .45acp, and have used the Wolf Large pistol primers with good results.

Drew458 said...

I've got 2 of these pistols. They're great little guns.

You can make them fantastic little guns if you shim the hammer and the trigger. This takes about an hour. Use a set of stainless steel feeler gauges, the kind where all the gauges fan out from a hinge pin. The hinge pin hole in each gauge is exactly the right size for the hammer pin. Trim each shim mostly round with snips, then stone the cut edge smooth. Leave yourself .003" total clearance. Usually a .010" shim on one side and an .011" on the other is just right.

The right side trigger shim needs to be very small so that it clears the cylinder lock mechanism.

A set of shims really smooths out the trigger. You get the most improvement from the hammer shims.

You can also go with a pound or two less mainspring, but don't mess with the trigger return spring.

The "IBOK book of knowledge" on this pistol suggests you polish the edges of the mainspring rod and all the spring holes as well. On my guns this was not necessary.

Order yourself a set of Trausch grips for extended range sessions.

I did the Militec-1 treatment on mine and it helped a little too.

At this point my SP-101s are as smooth as the best K-38s ever made.

Some folks soften the edges of the trigger and trigger guard with sandpaper wrapped around the trigger finger and lots of dry firing. I guess that can't hurt, but I didn't bother.

Jeff said...

The SP 101 is a great choice. Unlike the lighter J-Frames, you can actually have a great day at the range with these revolvers.

RKL said...

I agree with the pleasure of reloading for wheel guns. I started reloading 45 ACP to say money. But it wasn't until I got my GP100 in .357 magnum that I really started enjoying reloading.

I've been thinking about getting a SP101 for concealed carry. For short trips I carry an LCP in a pocket holster but I know that if I ever need to use it, there isn't much power in the 380.