Wednesday, December 28, 2011

4.2" SP101 in .357

The problem with Ruger is they keep making guns I want.  When they recently offered the SP101 in a 4.2" version I got a call from my gun monger that he had one with my name on it...

The 2.25" SP101 is a frequent CCW for me, especially when something small will do.  It is a fantastic gun and even with the fixed sights hitting a sheet of paper at 50 yards is easy and most of them will be inside the 4" bullseye.  So, when I got the call that he had one available, I had no willpower at all to resist.

The 4.2" SP101 did appeal to me as a top candidate for the "Perfect Packing Pistol" (3P) and felt it was my duty to test that.  As we all know it isn't about finding the 3P, it's all about the quest.

One of the things that strikes me right off about the new Ruger is what a great package it is.  The 357 and the SP101 are a fine match.  There are a number of 357 revolvers out there that are big guns.  I owned a 357 Blackhawk for a while and it always seemed incongruent to me.  I want a big cartridge in a big gun - the 45 Colt in a Blackhawk is delightful to handle, shoot and carry.  The 32 H&R magnum in a Ruger Single Six is another perfect match of cartridge and revolver and the new SP101 has that same magic.

Another early impression I had was how much better this revolver looks in person than it does in the pictures.  It's a hansom piece.  The wood grip panels are very attractive.

The new SP101 feels light in my hand and is just big enough that touching off a 357 round still sounds like fun.  The adjustable sights are very good and I even like the green dot shrouded on the front sight post, the squared edges still very visible and easy to align for those of us accustomed to that sight picture on our Blackhawks and Single Sixes.  One click to the right and mine was shooting POA = POI with 38 spl loads and just a bit high for 357.

A cylinder's worth, offhand, single action.
At the range I was even more impressed with the 4.2" SP101.  The sights are a big improvement over the fixed sighted versions.  The extra barrel length added about 70 fps to the 38 special loads (158 grain cast WFN over enough Bullseye to get 765 fps) but only about 30 fps with the 357 loads (158 gr, pushed to 1125 fps with Bullseye).  Both loads shot very well.

With the longer barrel I will try some powders with slower burn rates and see how they perform.  Lil'gun will generally produced some impressive velocity and good accuracy when I've tried it.

I see this revolver as a near ideal for an evening stroll along the lake shore or for a scouting trip, checking the game cameras, walking the fence lines and any other outdoor venture where an easy carrying and capable revolver could come in handy.  Toss a box of 38 special rounds in your pack and take advantage of unplanned plinking opportunities or making some camp meat if legal to do so in your area.  An extra speed strip or two of 357 will handle the vast majority of heavy lifting that one might need to address.

The beauty of this revolver is that it's small and lightweight enough to come along, yet big enough to get the job done.


Drew458 said...

Nice, I'm jealous.

The one thing I don't like about my 3" SP101 is the lack of a rear sight. Even just a simple blade would be better than the shiny stainless steel groove in the top strap.

Out of the box the SP101 is a decent revolver, and with 4 easy to make shims and a new hammer spring it becomes a really nice revolver. If it's going to live in a holster than a bigger set of grips is a nice upgrade too.

Whit Spurzon said...

The grip idea... hmmm, gunna have to look into that.

I do like the grips, though they are small but a larger grip option would be nice.

drew458 said...

I put a set of the Trausch grips on. They are still fairly small, but much bigger than factory. Firm but soft, so they eat recoil quite well.