ruger SP101
Courtesy TH from Iowa
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TH from Iowa writes . . .

I’m carrying a Ruger SP101 3-inch .357 Magnum loaded with PDX1 Defender .38 +p.

I carry Federal 158 grain .357 soft point in a Tuff speed strip.

The gun rides in a Simply Rugged IWB pancake holster. I also carry a Streamlight Stylus Pro flashlight and a Gerber Air Ranger pocket knife.


[This post is part of our series, What I’m Carrying Now. If you’d like to submit a photo and description of the gun, holster and gear you’re carrying in the new world in which we live, send it to us at [email protected] with WICN in the subject field.]

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        • Weight’s not a big deal to me in a belt holster.

          I prefer the LCR for ergonomics. The SP101 has more speedloader options.

          If i was going to carry an SP, it would be the Wiley Clapp model…with 357 125s.

          Talo also has a 3″ barrel with adjustable sights and no underlug. If they made it in stainless, I would buy one.

    • This gun was made for .327.

      You get an extra shot and the weight can handle the increased ooomph.
      Or carry .32 H&R Magnums for minimal recoil.

  1. Good carry. But. Revolver is heavy for its size. In my opinion. No speed strip, thanks. Speed loader. Got several Portland built Gerbers. Always looking for another. The new Japanese built stuff? I don’t think so. Just me.

    • “Good carry. But. Revolver is heavy for its size. In my opinion.”

      A full-house .357 round fucking *hurts* in a featherweight snubbie.

      That mass does wonders in taming the vicious bite of magnum loads.

      And the elderly and-or infirm have been known to appreciate that attribute…

      • The article says that he carries .38+P rounds in this gun (not .357 rounds).

        That being the case, a J-frame AirWeight or Ruger LCR makes sense.

        A 3″ SP101 should be rocking .357 rounds unless there is a good reason not to.

        • Yeah, his load is +P , then he carries 357 on a speed strip. It is a strange combination.

      • Geoff, I know weight keeps recoil down. That’s true regardless of caliber or platform. But, why would anyone shoot full house magnums in a three inch or shorter barrel. I have a pair of 3″ round butt 65s. They’re loaded with the FBI load. Back in the day they used to say a 4″ .357 is a loud .38. Not exactly true, but you get the point. If I’m going to carry all steal it will be one of my 1911s. Eric, I appreciate how tough Rugers are. One of my favorites was 4″ HB stainless Security Six. Tough comes from the solid frame. Not the weight.

        • the heaviest lcr 3″ is 17oz. the sp is another ten. more than half a pound will tip the boat for some.
          the lcr feels like a mattel toy (it is not) to me.
          the sp feels right, substantial. like a scot terrier or a lilliput toy car.
          ever flip a twenty dollar gold piece?

        • The FBI carried the 158 38 +P because the agents didnt score as well with 357s (read that as didnt qualify).

          It certainly wasnt because the model 13 with 125s was impotent.

          Bureaucrats and the lowest common denominator in officers often dictates caliber and load selection.

    • I have the gun and enjoy shooting it but it is a little heavy for a 5-shot with a shortish barrel. Guess it depends on what kind of gun you’re looking for.

      The fact that Rugers are heavy seems to imbue them with a mythical reputation for being ‘tough’ or reliable. I doubt the weight itself makes them stronger and anecdotally have not experienced tremendous reliability with Ruger revolvers. That said, I’m not sure there’s much in the way of good statistics on the matter.

      • Concur. My experience with Ruger DA revolvers‘ reliability has been disappointing (except for one outstanding Match Champion). That said, if it works every time it’s good to go. Sure looks nice.

        • I suppose the good thing I have to say about them is that the ones that failed, failed fast. Usually a timing or tolerance issue that would end up with a stuck cylinder on DA. If one is good to go for a few hundred rounds I’ve not had it go bad after that.

  2. Well done TH…simple, tasteful and effective!

    (In my experience a good leather IWB / OWB is hard to beat…plastic is a distant second…YMMV)

  3. Beautiful gun.
    It’s a shame such pretty guns have Read Instruction Manual on the barrel.. Is that some kind of legal requirement?

    • Considering that foreign made guns don’t have such markings I would guess that it’s not a legal requirement but rather a CYA that lawyers advise American companies to use.

      Seems to only be on handguns. My 2004 MKII has that warning but neither my 1990 Mini-14 nor my 2013 Scout has it.

      • A note here, it varies with foreign guns too.

        A quick partial inventory finds such warnings in various places, present on my HKs but not on the FN, Glock, CZ or Taurus firearms.

        One of my HKs also has mags stamped “Government Use Only” because the gun was made in ’95, but even the ones as new as 2016 have a warning on the bottom of the trigger guard too.

    • Neither of my SP101s have “Read Instruction Manual on the barrel”. Nor do the SP101s illustrated on Ruger’s website. I got my .357 4.2″ in 2017 and my Wiley Clapp snub nose in 2019. So I suspect this must be something Ruger did a number of years ago.

      • I’ve got a 2019 Wiley Clapp. “Read Instruction Manual” is still there, but they’ve moved it to the underside of the barrel where it’s less visible.

  4. Gotta carry a light knife to make up for the iron in a 3 inch SP. 😉

    I’m guessing the slow strip is carried in a back pocket.

    Kudos on the Stylus Pro…..I am a fan of it as well.

  5. I think I would carry hollow points in the speed strip, myself. And a beefy gun like the Ruger deserves a full magnum loadout.

    • I agree about carrying Magnums in an SP101, if you can handle them. One of the beauties of a gun like this is that you can shoot .38 Specials equivalent to .380acp all the way up to .357 Magnums equivalent to hot 10mms in the same gun.

      • Versatility is a great thing, isn’t it? I load .38+p in town where a DGU is likely to be indoors or in/around vehicles.
        Outdoors loads are .357, either 125 jhp or 158 jsp – sometimes both depending on the likelihood of black bears.

    • Why? 🤔

      Dont understand why you would load with 38s and have magnum pills as backup.

      If you believe magnums are the better stopper (I do), seems like you would them to be first string.

      • You start out going for repeat accuracy under pressure. If you need to reload then, Eff it, go for the power.

        • Yeah. Not buying it.

          Use the “good stuff” first or you may not get the chance.

          I tend to think folks carry some 357 because “it’s a 357”.

          If you had a 38 special, you tend to get better velocity than firing them in a 357.

          Can be 50 fps or more.

      • I carry 38’s in the SP101 because that is what I generally train with. The .357’s in a speed strip rather than speed loader is because my “Bedside” long gun is a Win. 1892 (Japan produced) .357 lever action. I keep the tube loaded with an empty chamber. The rifle gets hung up on some. 38’s. Keeping. 357 in a speed strip gives me a relatively quick but more importantly, reliable reload.

        I know I could switch out speed strips but I like to keep it simple and consistent.

    • I also wonder why? Sure, .38 makes sense if you can’t handle the recoil, but then why carry .357 for the reload?

      Personally, I carry a .38sp (S&W 642), but if I had a 3″ SP101, I’d load it with .357.

  6. My wife is just starting to consider carrying her 4.2″ in 327Fed. I did one of the Youtube trigger jobs and it worked great. The gun seems about perfect for her, or me.

      • Here is it’s exact title cause I am not sure a URL wouldn’t be held for moderation. Ruger SP 101 Detailed Trigger Job. He has three different levels of trigger job for it. I think this most detailed one has everything. If not you can find the earlier steps easily in his videos.

  7. I really liked my sp101. The only reason I changed to the model 60 was the adjustable sights, I shoot predominantly right handed but am left eye dominant and I had trouble regulating the sp101 yet making it acceptable for left handed shooting also.

    I carry my model 60 3 inch loaded with357s but carry 38breloads which are compatible with my wife’s 637.

  8. I’ve carried one in 357 as my everyday carry gun for over 15 years now. Milt Sparks summer special IWB holster. Don’t even notice the weight and makes it easy shooting with 125gr jhps.

  9. Were a person to own only one handgun, a Ruger SP-101 with 4.2″ barrel and target sights, would be as close to universal and versatile as possible. For the triple purpose of “self defense/house protection/concealed carry”, including as a kit and trail gun for the *outdoors man and sportsman, and likewise for urban metro vs. wilderness rural applications. At 30 oz. unloaded lightweight enough on a belt holster not to be burdensome (for the backpacker), trapper, yet heavy enough to handle the .357 Magnum. Loaded with .38 Special 148 grain lead target wad-cutter ammo (next to a .22 or .32) practical for hunting small game: rabbit, squirrel, and grouse, for dispatching vermin such as raccoon, skunk, possum, etc., butchering livestock such as cattle with a head shot. loaded with CCI’s classic .38 Special shot or snake load of No. 9 shot highly effective in killing a rattlesnake up close. Readily and instantly accessible in reach via a nightstand, dresser or bureau drawer, or next to a sleeping bag inside a tent very comforting armed security to have, especially at night! This handgun would also be great for a long haul trucker, or hay hauler, to carry, provided of course, they are permitted to do so. Even for the motorist traveling on a road trip. Yes bear in mind being broken down and having to spend the night alone in your vehicle. This .38/.357 revolver combination along with an Atomic Beam Flashlight, survival knife, fresh drinking water, food, toilet paper, shovel, matches, wool blanket, etc. could certainly take back the night. Even for a woman it’s smaller frame and size would still fit her smaller hands. And firing .38 Special ammo in this .357 Magnum could still be handled by a female.

    James A. “Jim” Farmer
    Merrill, Oregon (Klamath County): Long Live The State of Jefferson!

    *The Gearhart Mountain Wilderness Area on the Fremont Winema National Forest which straddles the Klamath/Lake County Line between Paisley (Lake County) and Bly (Klamath County) naturally comes to mind.

  10. I remember reading a magazine article written by a police detective who carried a snub nosed K frame instead of a J frame or a Colt D frame. He stated that the slightly larger, heavier K frame felt more substantial than the smaller guns. When confronting a criminal, he felt more comfortable with a “handful of gun”. That’s how I think about my SP (2.5”). It’s a little larger and heavier than my J frames and LCRs and just feels more like a “handful of gun”. I just wish I’d bought the 3” barrel instead.

    • Not too late. You can still find them.

      Heavy loads in 38 will see around 100 fps jump in velocity between 2 inch and 3 inch.

  11. SP101 is a hammer, love mine, especially with the Hogue rubber grips. With the 3″ i go with .357 Hornady 125g JHPs. The shorter versions go with heavier loads like the BB 158g JHPs . They are not for the timid, or inexperienced, a 2″ becomes a fire breathing dragon, if i miss i figure i will still melt their eyeballs at bad breath distance.

    Good setup, thanks for sharing.

  12. Solid carry. The SP101 in the 3 inch has worked out perfectly for me for many, many years. I’ve never felt undergunned with it ready to deploy any modern 125 grain class full power .357 rounds. I’m a bigger guy with hands that could hide a decent sized watemelon, so recoil is not a great concern for me . One of my favorite concealed carry pistols evah!!! I like your holster too. I’ll have to check them out. I like how you kept the classic factory grips and how nice they look!
    In my opinion- Excellent rig!


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