The Ruger Mark III and Browning Buckmark target pistols have launched a million new shooters. As well they might; they’re .22s. Putting anything more than a .22 caliber firearm in a newbie’s hands is like putting a learner driver behind the wheel of a Ferrari F40. At a race track. In the rain. But I reckon the steadfast semis are too damn complicated for newbies. Load the what how? Put the what in where? Pull the what back? I release the what how? Hand a new shooter a Ruger SP101 .22LR revolver, show them how to access the cylinder, tell them the bullets face forward, instruct them to close the cylinder, point, aim and shoot. Fffffft times eight. What could be easier? Well . . .
The SP101 .22LR. It could be easier. To assure ammo ignition, Ruger ships their .22 cal wheel gun with a trigger pull that’s heavier than a Liebherr T 282B. More scientifically, the SP101 .22LR’s trigger pull is literally off the scale. Thirteen pounds? Fifteen? A billion? If the trigger was any heavier—no, I don’t think it’s possible. Not even Chiappa could make this gun any harder to operate. In fact . . .
The first newbie who ponied-up to the firing line with the SP101 .22LR couldn’t pull the trigger (the range master thought she had the DTs). A beginning shooter who wants to hit a target with a bullet fired from a box-fresh SP101 .22LR has only one recourse: single action. Provided they can cock the hammer—which is a bit like saying “provided they can run an eight-minute mile”—the SP101 .22 LR’s five-pound trigger pull will see them right.
Arthritic shooters need not apply. If you have the grip strength of ten Texas politicians, sure, double action is doable. As you might expect, accuracy suffers. As in doesn’t exist. Well d’uh. How can you hope to shoot a small group with a gun that’s fighting you like a five hundred pound marlin? Did I mention that the SP101 .22LR has a heavy trigger pull?
There is but one solution: a trigger job. At his first attempt, ace gunsmith Dave Santurri lowered the trigger pull to the point where six out of eight shots went click (shooting American Eagle). Second time ’round, he found a balance between reliable ignition and operational accuracy. Which means that SP101 .22LR buyers face a stark choice: shell-out another $50 or so for a modded go-pedal or use the $689 gun as a 30-ounce paperweight.
But oh what a paperweight! I don’t know of a single semi that looks better than a revolver and I don’t know of many wheel guns that are as drop-dead gorgeous as the SP101 .22LR’s just-right blend of frame size and barrel length (4.2″) in stainless steel. The SP101 isn’t as oxymoronic as the stupendous K-framed Smith & Wesson 617 (that big for a .22?) nor as “toy like” (if exponentially more useful) as Smith & Wesson’s flyweight J-framed Model 317 Kit Gun.
Like the Smiths, the SP101 .22LR is built like a brick shit house. You know the old joke about unreliable handguns, “you can always throw it at them”? Like that. Yes, well— If you have access to a blunt object or a firearm that doesn’t require two hands to pull the trigger who needs a handgun that’s built like a brick shit house? OK, assume the trigger job. That still leaves . . .
A grip that’s as ergonomic as a two-liter bottle of Diet Coke. Made of wood. Like its higher caliber cousins, the SP101 .22LR’s square-shaped peg fits your round hand like something distinctly non-glove-like (if it doesn’t fit you must not quit). Traditionalists may scoff, but the two-fingered SP101 .22LR’s grip reminds us of an important truth: there’s a reason the Three Stooges made fun of people who drink tea with a raised pinkie.
Luckily, the SP101 .22LR’s blockystuntedgripitis can be cured immediately and completely with a simple swap to a Hogue Monogrip (as above). That small but vital contribution to the cause raises our SP101 .22LR’s total retail price by fifteen clams, to $754. If you’re still reading, remember there’s a big the difference in price between .22LR and, say, 9mm ammo (.05 vs .24 per round). Ruger’s revolver pays for itself after only 3,968 rounds!
Also on the positive side, the SP101 .22LR has brilliant sights. The fiber optic front is a big bounteous beacon between the gun’s drift adjustable rears; it looks like a green version of one of those “follow-the-bouncing-ball” orbs resting between two fence posts. Ruger offers the same set-up on the .38/.357 SP101, so you can use the smaller caliber wheelgun as a cheap-firing trainer for your other $754 Ruger revolver.
Once you’ve sorted the Ruger’s ununoctium-infused trigger pull and Dr. Smith grip (i.e. Lost in Space) the SP101 .22LR is a big ‘ole pussycat. But not too big. Unlike the aforementioned 44.2-ounce Model 617 the eight-shot SP101 doesn’t make the fairer sex wish they had Linda Hamilton’s arms.
The modified SP101’s accuracy is everything it should be—and I’m not. As a self-defense shooter (i.e. a marksman with eyes so bad they make Texas salamanders seem like hawks) I’m not the guy to attest to the SP101 .22LR’s ability to thread a needle. Suffice it to say, until you get that trigger job, the odds of creating ballistic needlepoint is lottery ticket tiny. Afterwards, you can stack rounds on top of each other like a pile of dimes.
And then, by God, you will have an expensive gun that’s cheap to fire that hits what it’s aimed at at silly distances. How great is that? Wikkid pissa (as we Rhode Islanders are wont to say). I’ve added the SP101 .22LR to my regular range sessions and noticed a marked improvement in my trigger control and a significant reduction in out-of-pocket ammo outlay.
The modified SP101 .22LR also makes an excellent bedside gun for recoil sensitive souls. Say what you will about the .22 caliber round’s effectiveness against two-legged targets, but it’s a lot better than a baseball bat (or cowering in fear). Eight shots of well-placed ant-fart recoil .22 full metal jacket lead has sufficient penetration—and a likable tendency to tumble—to make any bad guy think twice about his lack of career choices.
All of which makes a modified SP101 .22LR a gregarious gateway to the gun world and a “use the gun you have” self-defense firearm. Is it worth the hassle of trigger tweakage and the steep price of entry? You tell me. I prefer Smith’s Model 317. It costs $5 more than a modded Ruger SP101 .22LR (less than what I spent on gas gunsmithing around) and works right out of the box. What you lose in potential accuracy (i.e. the shorter barrel) you gain in concealability.
It’s a shame really. The SP101 .22LR is an heirloom quality piece with the ideal caliber, barrel length and size for a lifetime of target practice—ruined by a lousy trigger and an ergonomically challenged grip. To paraphrase Obi, this is not the gun newbies are looking for.
Material: Stainless Steel
Finish: Satin Stainless
Front Sight: Fiber Optic
Rear Sight: Adjustable
Weight: 30 oz.
Grips: Black Rubber, Engraved Wood
Twist: 1:16″RH Grooves: 6
Suggested Retail: $689.00
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Style * * * *
A “just right” sized wheelgun with perfect proportions and superb attention to detail (they even put the safety warning under the barrel). The walnut grips are my only gripe.
Ergonomics * *
Lovely balance and user-friendly weight. But what’s with that square-butt two-finger fandango they call a grip?
Reliability * * * * *
Given the SP101 .22LR’s one billion pound trigger pull, it better be reliable.
Customizable * * * * *
And customize it you must. Lighter trigger pull and Hogue grip essential for utility, accuracy and justification for its existence.
You could but a Smith & Wesson Model 17 is the correct answer to a question best asked by recoil-averse gun owners.
Overall Rating * *
If you leave the Ruger SP101 .22LR as is, leave it. Mod the go-pedal and Hogue the grip and you can transform the revolver into an excellent cheap-to-fire trigger trainer. There are, however, better choices.
Good review but am saddened I cant find a good .22 revolver by Ruger 🙁
Ruger makes a wider variety of .22 revolvers than any other manufacturer. 4 different frame sizes.
SP 101, LCR, Single Six, Bearcat. Endless variations over the years on the Single Six, and at least 3 variations of the SP 101.
If you can’t find a good one then you really aren’t trying 🙂
Purchased sp101 .22 today,
#1. 6 misfires due to no primer impact 25% of single action fired rounds.(3 different brands ammunition
#2. Fired rounds had to be pried out with a knife
Going back to factory tomorrow! What a disappointment after buying Ruger firearms for 40 years.
you can find a good and versatile 22 revolver from ruger. the single six. s,l,lr and magnum rounds from the same package. i don’t recommend a single action revolver for beginners though.
and thats my problem, had a new shooter on a beretta m9 doing 2 and 3 rounds in a magazine at a time, warmed up with a .22 rifle, but rifle to pistol is a tough exchange.
The LCR comes in .22 and the trigger is actually good but the short sight radius does present a challenge with accuracy.
I want DA and SA though, and I dont wanna spring $700 on a smith and wesson for a plinker.
Check out the LCRx 22 LR, 3″ barrel, 8 rds. MSRP is $200 less than the SP-101, but it does have a weighty DA trigger pull (which should lighten a bit with use).
Check out the LCRx 22 LR, 3″ barrel, 8 rds. MSRP is $200 less than the SP-101, but it does have a weighty DA trigger pull (which should lighten a bit with use).
“Open the gate?” What gate?
No friend of the vernacular I see. The cylinder. Sigh. Text amended.
$689? We didn’t even pay that for my granddad’s SP101 .357 with the fiber-optic front and adjustable rear sights. $529 was the going price around here back in March. I agree the grip is way to small though, especially for a .357’s. Easy enough to handle with .38’s though.
At $760, after you fix the trigger and grip, the ruger is about the same price as my Springfield MILSPEC. 22lr chambered guns are supposed to be inexpensive. My SiG/GSG 1911-22, which has 80% compatibility with a real 1911 was less than $400. I don’t care how good it looks, feels or shoots. It it is way too expensive for the caliber.
The SP101 .22 heavy trigger pull is unacceptable and needs replacement by oneself or a gunsmith. Woopie a whole @$50 or much less. How much do you spend on ammo shooting your other guns?
Under ‘ergonomics’ you gave it a 2-star rating while describing the SP101 as “Lovely balance and user-friendly weight”. The factory grips, as you earlier stated, can be replaced with Hogue for $15. That’s an unfair 2-star rating just because of the grips.
‘Carry’: this is not about your S&W. This is about the SP101 4″ barrel in .22 caliber. You gave it 1-star rating for carry? That seems too low evaluating the gun by itself. The Ruger might be difficult or uncomfortable for a small man to carry yet many men with larger frames would not have an issue with it. Sure, there are smaller .22s out there and even smaller easier carry ones than your S&W.
MSRP. You wail on about that number when you should know by now that the street price is far less. My guess is that the street price is in the lower $500 range, maybe a bit more.
Many people own the larger caliber SP101s in 357 or 38. The SP101 in .22 is possibly a very good semi-matching gun for them.
Looks like maybe the Taurus model 992 is a better choice with a list price of $572, and a 9 shot capacity, although I have not shot either.
I shot the selfsame Ruger before the gunsmith fix, and I could feel my tendons popping with every trigger press. The revolver didn’t recoil much, but my ligaments sure did. A .22 should be fun to shoot, but in DA mode this one was more like torture, and I’m talking the full Guantanamo Bay. It was a shame, since the build quality was absolutely first-rate.
On a lighter note, who’s this Robert Farago guy? Is he a new reviewer? ‘Cause he’s pretty damn good.
Like most Ruger revolvers, just replacing the hammer spring and trigger return spring can lighten the trigger but, you do have to find the balance between light and reliability. Spring kits are about $10.
For beginner shooters I still think the Mark III is a better choice. Shooting double action without pulling the gun off target is not easy and can frustrate shooters.
The benefit of the Mark III is you can throw a red dot on it and give a new shooter even more enjoyment.
The Smith & Wesson Model 617 is a much better choice. Ruger can go pound sand.
$700 with a trigger job? For that kind of money, haunt your local gun stores and gun shows until you find a nice-condition, 40-50 year old S&W Model 34 (aka the 22/32 Kit Gun), blued steel, 4″ barrel, no trigger job needed. Don’t like the grips? There are only about 50,000 different replacement grips for S&W revolvers out there. Go ahead – spend the money on a classic, pass it on to your ungrateful grandkids.
I can’t see spending that much for a .22 revolver. I’d take the same money, go to Bud’s and find a nice used S & W Model 64, and have plenty left over for ammo, grips, sights or any other mods/accessories.
H&R 929 revolvers are a better bet for newbies. $75 at a gun store, hard trigger pull (but not as bad as this).
Great review as always. So sad about the trigger pull. Rugers are usually pretty darn good.
But, I have found a few problems starting a newbie on a revolver vs. a semi:
Bigger ones are nose-heavy, which can be harder on beginner’s unconditioned muscles. Also, revolvers aren’t terribly natural for a good solid two-handed grip (and they get afraid of drifting a finger into cylinder-gap-blast). And there’s a certain sharpness to the kick (assuming .38 and above) that can be a turn-off, like getting your hand slapped.
Mechanics are not necessarily better: I’ve seen struggles opening cylinders and trying to eject stubborn cases that lead to lasering the neighbors. And those double-action trigger pulls can be discouraging. So, defaulting to SA, I’ve seen newbies rush to cock as soon as they pick the thing up, and either forget they did or have a mishap while adjusting their grip. Hopefully they only blow an embarrassing hole in the range ceiling and not something living or expensive.
Most newbies I’ve initiated actually seem more at home with a semi-auto in safe-action DAO or an SA with a good manual safety. Not perfect by any means: I’ve seen lots turn the gun sideways trying to reach the mag-release, disturb their grip kicking off the safety and get surprised settling back in, or fire prematurely while the gun is still settling from recoil. (Anyone have stats on accidents by gun types? I do expect I’m wrong here, that my sample isn’t representative. I’m also confident the semi is by far the most likely to AD because some fool’s playing with it off-range, so what about mishaps during trigger-time?) And then, of course, there’s limp-wristing, the bane of the poly-gun. So a revolver should be a better choice. But: Most newbies I’ve shot with like the semi’s feel better (though a few prefer revolvers naturally). The trick seems to be finding the gun the newbie feels most comfortable and confident with, and do a LOT of practice with snap-caps. (For my daughter it was a Beretta 92; my son prefers a SIG or my Ruger 22/45. Both hate revolvers–minor parental fail on my part. )
very valid points, darth mikey. when i show a newbie how to shoot i include cleaning and light maintanence on the weapon. i want them to get the fever and buy their own. especially with newbies some 22 autos can be a handfull to strip and clean. ruger and walther p22 comes to mind. generally speaking the newbies i have taught seem to master the overall functions of a revolver over auto. for some odd reason,ymmv, this holds true for all my handguns except the makarov, then everybody falls in love with it and wants it. even a girl from germany,an exchange student, who had never touched a gun before, wanted that mak after her first trip to the range with us. go figure.
I am in the marke for a da 22. You mentioned there are better choices in your overall rating, could you list these? Model 617, 317, etc?
The S&W Model 617 in .22LR is reviewed on this site. Check the gun reviews section for more information.
I have this gun and concur with RF’s review. It’s a great gun but out of the box, the trigger sucks and the grip is too small.
I knew about these issues from various gun forums before I purchased it. So I also bought a set of Wolff springs and Hogue wood grips right after I purchased the gun. Changing the springs yourself is not difficult and makes it a cheap (but necessary) upgrade vs taking it to a gunsmith. I didn’t polish up my internals but found the spring change alone to be satisfactory. The wood grips were pricier but a Hogue rubber monogrip is fairly cheap.
The gun isn’t cheap but it’s built like a tank. It’s too bad that Ruger’s lawyers have so much say in the product design. You shouldn’t have to mod something out of the box to get it to an acceptable level, but I willingly did so with this gun and I have no buyer’s remorse. It might be a different story if I didn’t go into this purchase with my eyes open.
I was looking for a nice d/a wheel gun in .22lr and picked up my sp101 for $525. I love this gun and I’m planning on polishing the internal parts. I want the wolf springs too but wolf website says not for newer sp101’s made after 2011…can anyone give any advice on this? I’m also looking into adding trigger and hammer shims for a smoother feel. Any feedback is appreciated. Thanks.
Did the cylinder lock up tight? I shot one at a local range and the cylinder was very loose on the rental gun. The new SP101 in the shop also had a loose cylinder. I passed on this model due to this point.
does ruger plan to make a 22mag double action 2 inch pocket revolver
Author, you worked way too hard to fill your review with simile, imagery and general snark. Students of literature describe this as “flowery language.” In the future, you would do better to avoid it. If you know your topic, your review should speak for itself.
i just purchased the .22lr sp101 double action 6 shot revolver and i was wondering if i could fire.22lr magnum rounds through it if someone could answer that i would appreciate it
What did you find out about Wolff springs in a new SP101 .22LR?
I recently purchased one of these, for about $575. I’ve been shooting it several times a week for a month or so, and really enjoying it so far. As others have said, it’s built like a tank, accurate and I like the weight and feel of it. I did switch out the grips for Hogues. I’m not crazy about the look of the stock Ruger grips, and the Hogues have a better feel (IMO). As far as the trigger pull is concerned, this may be one of those “your mileage may vary” situations. Maybe the grip switch helps…I dunno. It’s a pretty stout pull, for sure, but manageable. My other revolvers are a S&W model 19, and an LCR (.38). I honestly can’t tell a lot of difference in the DA pull between the model 19 and SP101. Anyway, as far as I’m concerned it’s great little gun…my first .22 handgun…no regrets.
I have owned both DAO and DA/SA SP101s in .357 and liked them both. I still own the DA/SA. I changed the grips to Hogues, polished the internals, and put in Wolff springs, making certain that the pistols could reliably ignite hard primers. I have owned and worked on Tuarus revolvers, including a .22 model. My .22 Taurus had problems right out of the box, which Taurus never really addressed properly. I managed to get the thing working reasonably well, but eventually traded it off. I have found that compared to Ruger and S&W Taurus revolvers are internally of poor design and quality. My current .22 revolver is a vintage S&W J-frame of excellent quality and still in very good condition. Note that the .22 rim fire cartridge requires a hard strike to reliably fire and .22 revolvers consequently all have rather hard double action trigger pulls if reliability is desired. On the Ruger SP101s, simply polish the internals and change out the trigger return spring, for sure, and the hammer spring to no lighter than will ensure reliable strikes. If like me, you don’t like the Ruger grips, put on Hogues or whatever you like. The basic platform is well designed and made.
I bought an LCR22 for a new shooter for all the same reasons listed above. The trigger was so stiff that I could barely control the gun and I do have a grip like a Texas politician. I complained to Ruger, always a class act, and they offered me another model in exchange. I ended up with a BlackHawk convertible .357/9mm for my collection and got her an SR22 which she loved. I feel the same way about autos being too complicated for a newbie who is not going to become a serious shooter and only wants a SD weapon, but having her like and enjoy the gun counts for a lot.
I recently bought the sp102 I. 22lr and I plan to replace the springs. Anybody know how light the springs can be while still keeping reasonable reliability?
I wish there were an aftermarket light-weight hammer for this gun. A titanium hammer would be awesome. With a lighter hammer you can use a slightly lighter hammer spring for the same reliability. (Cutting coils off to achieve intermediate weights between the off the shelf options.) With this gun every little bit of trigger pull weight reduction helps.
I own an SP101 and a Taurus Model 94. At least the Ruger is fixable. Reduce the “billion pound” trigger pull on the Taurus, and reliability with any ammo is zilch. And I only paid $435 for my SP101.
This is all very strange about the heavy trigger pull. I’m not sure what ruger did with the new eight-shot, but the internals are obviously a little different than the previously six-shot versions from the 1990s. I have one of those in 2-1/4″ barrel. They were also made with 4″ barrels in half- or full-shroud. The gun weights were listed in the catalog as 32 oz, 33 oz, and 34 oz respectively. Unlike the newer versions, the rear sight was a simple blade, screw-adjustable for windage only. I believe most parts are still available from Ruger.
I just measured the trigger pulls on my six-shot 22LR SP101 (stock springs, no tuning) with a good calibrated spring trigger pull gage and they are 11.5 pounds in double action (steady and fairly smooth) and 4 pounds single action. In comparison, my 357 Magnum SP101 of the same vintage has a slightly lighter 10 pound double action pull and the same 4 pounds single action. I haven’t had ignition problems any more than expected with USA-made 22LR ammo in many hundreds of rounds – maybe once or twice in shooting several hundred rounds. Some off-brand ammo had several failures once, but it was junk. If the new DA pulls on these 8-shot guns are over 13 pounds, something went wrong with this new design.
You can obviously still find these six-shot SP101 guns for sale used because they never wear out unless abused somehow.
I owned the previous 1990s similar six-shot versions of this gun — 4-inch barrel with the short shroud and windage-only adjustble rear sight, Ruger Model number KSP-240. It is exactly the same size, and just an ounce or two heavier at the cylinder due to this one being eight-shot. People should know that for new shooters and those without very strong wrists, the gun is quite muzzle-heavy, or “nose-heavy ” as a previous commenter said. Technically you can say the center of gravity of the gun is forward of your hand, putting torque on your wrist. I don’t think it would be appropriate for a beginner because of this.
The 2-1/4″- and 3-1/16″ inch SP101s balance nicely in the hand, but not this one. What Ruger should have done was make this a short-shroud 3-1/4″ barrel. That still would have a decent sight radius for target shooting and make it feel a whole lot better in the hand. That would be obvious to most designers in the firearms business, so it is quite strange that they didn’t do it. So that means the 4-inch barrel was another weird Ruger marketing decision. Which will probably cause this gun to be discontinued, like so many other previous Ruger models that didn’t sell well.
The muzzle-heaviness, along with the heavy trigger pull means you are going to see a lot of used ones on sale soon. You used to see many of the full-shroud 4-inch 6-shot versions on sale at the gun shows at very low prices.
When you go up to a medium- or large-framed revolver like the 4″ GP100, the extra weight of the frame is enough to put the center of gravity well back, and the gun balances much better. But if you go up to a full-shroud 6-inch barrel with that gun, you get the same muzzle-heavy effect. And it’s not just an issue for those with weak wrists, a weight-lifter will still feel the forward center of gravity, and poor balance in the hand. Unfortunately, Ruger has discontinued the short-shroud versions of the 4″ GP100 (except for the new Match Champion), because those balanced even better.
One more thing. On this topic of gun balance, you can compare this SP101 22LR 4.2″ barrel to the Smith & Wesson Model 63.
The specs from the S&W website:
Caliber: .22 LR
Capacity: 8 Rounds
===>>Barrel Length: 3″ / 7.6 cm
Front Sight: HI-VIZ® Fiber Optic Red
Rear Sight: Adjustable
Overall Length: 7.25″ / 18.4 cm
Action: Single/Double Action
Frame Size: Small – Exposed Hammer
Weight: 26 oz / 737.1 g
Material: Stainless Steel Frame
Stainless Steel Cylinder
Finish: Satin Stainless
Like I wrote, a 3-inch barrel would balance much better in a small frame steel revolver. That’s exactly what the S&W Model 63 designers thought (though they’ve also made longer 22LR barrels). It looks like the Model 63 would be an ideal gun for a beginning shooter, and anyone else for target shooting and plinking. With the better balance of the shorter 3″ barrel, the sights align more naturally with the target as the arm is extended and it is much easier also for a young or small person with less wrist strength.
Regarding the nose heaviness, and the heavy trigger pull found in the review:
Yes, the old six shot model with full shroud on the four inch barrel was nose heavy. There wasn’t any reason for Ruger to have a full shroud barrel on that 22 gun other than looks, which is why people probably bought it. There was a fancy for full shroud 357 revolvers that started in the 1980s in cop movies and TV shows, and for those who stuck with revolvers, it lasted until the last few years. And then there are certain shooters who can’t get enough of maximum-power 357 reloads, and so just want more weight in the gun. However, for better balance and “pointability,” many people have been urging Ruger to bring back into the product lineup the fixed sight, half shroud revolvers that they discontinued over the years in the GP100 line.
In an odd response, Ruger instead came out with the half shroud GP100 Match Champioin, which people say is a way-too-expensive stainless Security Six from 30 years ago. And then a couple of years ago they did a noncataloged large run of of half-shroud stainless fixed sight GP100s (Model number KGPF-340) that were available through Davidson’s and the other distributors. They sold out very quickly. But Ruger didn’t get the message that an adjustable sight, half shroud, lighter weight, slimmed down “regular” GP100 would sell like hotcakes. Many people won’t buy the full shroud GP100s, which all they make now, because they are just too nose heavy. But Ruger won’t get the message. To make matters worse, they came out with a full shroud four inch SP101 in 357 Magnum which is of course is —- nose heavy.
I think that this new half shroud 22LR version of the SP101 reviewed above, and the older short shroud six shot four inch verssion, are not too nose heavy – IF you have the right grips on the gun. The stock grips only work for kids and small people. It’s such a waste of the nice wood insert engraving because people swap them for the ugly Hogue grips. Ruger should simply offer a larger grip with the nice inserts like they used to on the GP100s – which now also wear the ugly Hogues.
The Hogue rubber or hard nylon grips do cover the back of the trigger guard and so they take pressure off your index finger from the forward weight of the gun. Ruger of course should re-design their grip to add this feature, which also prevents injury to the knuckles with high powered loads. (But why do the smart thing now, after so many years?)
Just like the stock grips, the Hogues are lightweight – weighing only a couple of ounces – so they do nothing to move the center of gravity back for better balance. A better choice is the Pachmayr grips for the SP101 which weigh about four ounces and help to balance the gun better. (Unfortunately, the Paymayrs often have small gaps in the fit of the grip to the frame at the top. No big deal, but it just looks bad.) The Hogue checkered wood grips (with or without finger grooves) may be better (I don’t know), but they are about $60 and up -although they sometimes have some factory seconds with minor defects available in a section of their website. Just think of all the Ruger factory SP101 grips that are sitting around in boxes when all Ruger need’s to do is an easy redesign.
Yes, I the Smith & Wesson Model 63 would obviously have somewhat better balance in the hand, but you give up one inch of sight radius, which makes target shooting easier. The real problem with this new SP101 compared to the Smith is the silly heavy trigger, so the Smith wins. Ruger could easily correct this, since any gunsmith can smooth the pull out for about $50 with a reduced power spring and some polishing. Ruger has made people go through that same nonsense with overly heavy triggers for 40 years in their revolvers. Maybe Smith & Wesson sent spies into Ruger’s engineering department in the 1970s and convinced them that for all time revolvers need to have double action trigger pulls of 13 pounds.
Ruger makes very strong guns with great designs, but they also do a lot of stupid things – they are like a a wild-haired genius professor who can’t keep his shoes tied. Which is why for the last 25 years they’ve been constantly adding and simultaneously discontinuing gun models.
Vincent Hill said:
>> But Ruger didn’t get the message that an adjustable sight, half shroud, lighter weight, slimmed down “regular” GP100 would sell like hotcakes.
Cylinder & Slide Gunsmithing produced exactly such a gun from the stock 4″ GP100. It’s only been 11 years since the following article appeared and Ruger still hasn’t caught on:
“C&S GP100 .357MAG”
By Denis Prisbrey
Originally Printed in Combat Handguns December 2004
The article with photos of the gun is available to read in the “articles” section of the of the C&S website at cylinder-slide dot com. Basically what they did is mill off the full lug, tune the action, and install better sights. Easy, peasy. More weight could be taken off, just like the Match Champion by slab siding the barrel and fluting the cylinder. The sights they put on in the article are much better than the silly Match Champion dovetailed sights (which are worse than the stock GP100 sights).
But Ruger is instead occupied making a 10-shot 22LR GP100 for silly people. I’m seriouis. They’ve already presented the concept gun to the press.
There have been lots of posts elsewhere about the heavy double action pull on this gun, at least until it gets “broken in” by a lot of firing with live rounds or snap caps. I read another post that said that Ruger had at some time changed the trigger spring on this gun – not sure if it was to a stiffer one because of light primer strike problems or a lighter one because of the DA pull complaints.
More speculation: one problem may be that a heavier spring is required in an 8 round cylinder compared to the previous 6 shot they made. Again not sure about this, but it makes sense. The hammer may have a shorter backward travel than on the 6 shot. If that is true, the spring has to be of a higher compression tension for reliable stikes.
If Ruger wanted to significantly increase their double action revolver market share, the solutions are easy. And, people have been saying this for a long time in gun reviews and on the Internet.
1. Lighten up the double action trigger pull, just like they did on the Match Champion. It’s an easy fix. I can do it with a hammer spring, some cheap trigger/hammer shims (again like in the Match Champion), and about a half hour of very light polishing on certain surfaces. Every decent gunsmith can do this for about $60. In the factory it would probably only add $20 to Ruger’s cost.
2. Yes, take some weight off the GP100 with the same thing they did to Match Champion and maybe a little more. It would still be heavier than the Security Six and so still be fine for shooting 357 Magnum. Right now even the 4″ is hard to wear on the hip all day without a really good (expensive) holster.
3. Put on some better sights. The GP100 front sight is great and easily replaceable just by pushing in a pin. But the rear sight is flimsly and doesn’t adjust well. Lots of people replace them with aftermarket sights, which are an unecessary added cost. All Ruger needs to do is put in a heavy duty all steel sight, just like the overpriced $99 aftermarket one that a lot of people wind up buying. I don’t think this a patented design, because the same screw design is used on battle rifles. I’d do the same thing on the versions of the SP101 that have adjustable sights, including making the front sight easily replaceable – it’s now roll pinned in place.
4. Put on some better grips. Yes the Hogues are ugly as sin. Go back to the older wood insert GP100 grips and put some checkering on the wood. Also make the SP101 grips larger and more comfortable, again with a decent checkered wood insert that is on the two four inch SP101s like the one reviewed here. If people want to put on an ugly rubber monster grip, they can do it themselves. A lot of people want the gun to look nice, and the old grips on the GP100s did that.
5. Improve the statistical process quality control at the Ruger factory. Every engineer and tech knows about this, but some management dorks at Ruger are pushing the assembly line too fast to crank out the guns without enough quality control. Two may Rugers have minor defects and have to be returned for repair. They usually take care of things, but this is just annoying to cutomers. It’s no where near as bad as some gun companies these days, but it is a problem.
They could really put a hurt on S& W if they did these things. One can wish.
I have shot the sp101 server times and have to say I like it a lot. I did not mind the single action trigger pull and double action was a bit stiff but doable, if you are target shooting you would be cocking the hammer back so see no problem w that. If you had to use it for self defense (God forbid) adrenalin would get you extra strength for extreamly week handed people, but probably not gun for you. The big bonus is it is a acurret I mean I have not missed w this ever and I m no target shooter. it also seems like the sp101 will last a lifetime or two. In conclusion is it perfect, no but find me a fire arm that is.
Around here $559 I don’t know of a store that charges MSRP for any gun. Replaced the springs with a Wolffe set trigger is a little better but mine was not bad to begin with. Not as accurate as I had hoped for 2 1/2 to 3″ groups at 10 yards.
thank you for somebody finally telling the truth about this gun. the gun overall is a decent piece but the D/A trigger pull is ridiculously higher couldn’t use the LCR system in the SP101 is beyond me. I ended up with an LCR22 solely because my daughter needed a trigger she could easily manipulate.
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Simple mods make any SP101 a much nicer gun. I installed Wolff springs in my .22LR SP. The factory hammer spring is 16 pounds, and the trigger return spring is 10. Using a Wolff 14 pound on the hammer, with a Wolff 8 pound on the trigger, makes a huge difference reducing both trigger pull and cocking effort. Add a Hogue grip, either the overmold or the solid nylon, to finish the job. Follow the directions carefully, and you’re done in under an hour. I also have a snub .357 SP101, and love both.
boy, there are some real weenies out there complaining about trigger pull… have run several hundred rounds through a used SP101 .22 (old style: dovetailed front sight, slotted cylinder takedown screw) i just picked up… don’t find the trigger pull any worse than other revolvers… i’ll look into a new hammer spring, but only for giggles…
I just purchased a new SP 101 .22lr of Friday, brought to range on Sunday. I loaded the brand new gun and pulled 8 times only one round was fired, all the other rounds were rim fired but never set off. I did this 4 times and each time the gun did not fire more than 2 rounds. I then proceeded to use four other boxes or 22’s, and the gun did the same thing. I sent the gun back to Ruger (not sure what they will do) but I have no confidence in this pistol. Once they fix (if they can) I will probably trade to a more reliable Gun, (even though it’s bran new). The Gun has a name with my friends they call it the “Ruger Hammer” kinda fits doesn’t it.
Like Robert F, I too had misfires due to the firing pin striking the rim of the case on the very edge. After waiting way too long to contact Ruger, I finally did so. They called me two days after they received my gun and said they were going to replace it, which they have. I just received it yesterday and have not fired it.
I purchased the SP101=.22LR a few years back when they first came out. I knew it had a heavy trigger so I took it immediately to my gun smith and had him play with it, we first reduced it to about 5 lbs. pull but it would only fire 3-4 out of 8 rounds, so we set it back up to about 10 Lbs. and it fires every one almost all the time using everyday ammo. If I use CCI Mini Mag it works 95%of the time plus. I’m okay with it at 10 Lbs. trigger pull. I really like the gun and it is a beauty.
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