The new Ruger SP101 4.2″ with adjustable sights after a hard day at the range. This has been a really successful line of revolvers from Ruger because of the slim construction, lighter weight, and impeccable reliability of the SP101.
Like most revolvers meant for concealed carry, the SP101 has a five round cylinder in the .38 Special and .357 Magnum models. The .22LR version carries eight, and the .327 Federal Magnum carries six.
There is no reason to not carry a gun with adjustable sights unless you need to clear clothing with it. The sights on this SP101 would be snaggy under a shirt, but in a holster under a vest or jacket they would not present a challenge. The glowing fiber front sight is evident in the picture, and glows even in low light conditions.
Just over two inches is about the best I can do with open handgun sights at 10 yards, and this test gun shot right to point of aim out of the box with this 125 grain Hornady Critical Defense. The chrongraph measured the velocity at only 75 feet per second under the 1500 test velocity on the box measured with an eight inch barrel.
Ruger Firearms SP101
The Ruger SP101 series of revolvers has been a huge success since it’s introduction in 1989. It has a five round cylinder, smaller and lighter than the GP-100 line from Ruger that holds six rounds. Five rounds in the cylinder makes for a thinner profile, and as a pocket revolver and concealed in a belt rig, that extra thin profile makes the gun “print” less on clothing. A lot of people love the SP101 for its ergonomics and shootability, and because it is a thin profiled .357 Magnum great for concealment, the SP101 has won the hearts and holsters of hundreds of thousands of Americans. It has become over the years a gun that really needs no introduction.
This new .357 Magnum with adjustable sights, MSRP $689, is an interesting version of the SP101. It has a 4.2 inch barrel and adjustable sights, making what is usually thought of as a concealed carry gun into a gun more suited for the target range or nightstand drawer. But The more I thought about this new SP101, the more I realized that it is kind of a do it all gun. It is ten ounces lighter than a similar GP-100 with the same 4.2 inch barrel and full 6 round cylinder, making it ideally suited for all day holster wear as a ranch gun, or as a pack or truck gun. With the right ammo, the 4.2 inch barrel will give you nearly the top end of .357 Magnum ballistics, so it is also suited as a backup gun for most dangerous game in the lower 48.
At first this SP101 may seem like something of an oddball, but when you really think about the practical uses for the gun, it makes a lot of sense. Sure, there may be some cases in your travels where that sixth round in a revolver is mission critical, but probably not, and if you can’t get the job done with 5 rounds of .357 Magnum, the chances of a sixth round making a difference are most likely pretty slim. The success of the SP101 series has proven this over the years, and the gun is currently available in .38 Special, .22LR (8 shot cylinder), and .327 Federal Magnum (6 shot cylinder).
When it comes to guns, preference counts for everything. Over the years a lot of people develop a preference for revolvers because of reliability. It is one thing if you regularly practice shooting your main carry or nightstand gun. Then you can probably get by with a full frame semi-automatic, because over time you’ll pick up quirks with the gun and figure out how to work around them. But a lot of people aren’t able to shoot a lot and only get out with a gun a few times per year if that.
I’ve neglected to shoot regularly many of my carry guns over the years, and without fail the semi-autos eventually fail. Gunk from my pocket gets in the slide, or the mag release starts to pop the mag out unexpectedly, those kinds of things. I have never had a semi-auto stand the ultimate test of prolonged carry with no maintenance and go bang every time when I decide to actually test it. Even the guns I thought most tried and true (like my AMT Backup), eventually failed to fire either the first or the second shot.
No doubt many of you will comment at how one should regularly shoot and fully clean and lubricate a gun that you trust your life to, but in a busy world I can assure you that I’m not alone in failing to do this regularly. If you ask most lifetime shooters with decades of concealed carry to their credit, they will nearly always tell you that they have developed a preference for the revolver. The reason is that they always go bang, no matter what, and you don’t have to do anything with them to guarantee reliability.
This new SP101 has adjustable sights, with a a fiber optic front, and I think they are a big selling point for this gun. Rarely does a fixed sight revolver shoot to exactly point of aim out of the box. You either have to bring it to a gunsmith to work on for you, or you just learn to adjust your sight picture to where the shoots. If you are not carrying a gun under clothing that adjustable sights could snag on, as I said, like a ranch gun or a hunting backup, there is no reason to not have adjustable sights. Shooting exactly to point of aim is always the best case. And for low light, like a nightstand gun, the fiber front picks up as much available light as possible, without having to rely on a coating that has to “charge” from a light source, or that is an expensive glowing element. Many devotees of the SP101 platform will welcome this new addition.
Our test gun you see in the pictures is almost hard to write about because it was so boringly good. The trigger pull is smooth and doesn’t stack up. The accuracy was for me about the best I can shoot from a bag at 10 yards, just over an inch, and of course, in several hundred round of .357 Magnum and .38 Special, I didn’t experience a failure. It locks up sure and tight, and even with full power Hornady Critical Defense carry rounds I found the ergonomics and grip of the SP101 to be easy, manageable, and not punishing at all. The 4.2 inch barrel produced 1425 feet per second with the125 grain Hornady Critical Defense, close to the 1500 on the box produced by Hornady with an 8 inch test barrel.
Ruger revolvers are known to be affordable and dependable, and this SP101 line has now served an entire generation with from what I have seen an unblemished record. I’ve never heard a bad word about one. Preference is everything, and a lot of people prefer the SP101 to the other small .357 Magnum revolvers out there. Stop by your local gunshop and check out this new slightly oddball SP101 with a long barrel and adjustable sights. You may find that you prefer it.
Ruger Firearms SP101