have never really been a fan of Ruger firearms. They have never
struck me as being quite right in my hands, and being more of a S&W
fan, they just came across as being the second fiddle. My first
handgun was a Ruger, a .22 caliber Single Six. And I loved it. It
was a great gun that taught me many valuable lessons about firearms
ownership. I've never really cared for any Ruger arm or even really
enjoyed shooting any Ruger since then.
Until recently when we had a
little gathering of friends in Utah. One fellow, Ben, brought in a
small but impressive collection of some fine Ruger revolvers.
Usually when I thought of Ruger Revolvers, I would think of either
that little Single Six, or huge hunting hand cannons. My mental
image of Ruger wheel-guns was realized in three of the four guns.
Large and heavy hand cannons with long barrels suitable for taking
down charging rhinoceroses. At first, I had no real interest in
them... but for one of the revolvers he had. The one gun that I
really took to was Ben's little bobbed SP101 in .357 Magnum.
This example of the SP101
family sported a nice trigger job that made the pull feel much
lighter than it actually was, and soft Hogue
rubber grips. These two things made firing the little magnum a real
hoot. Even when firing off some of Ben's custom made
hand loads. Lots of power in such a small
package is generally unpleasant, but the SP101 delivered all the
power without any trouble and put it right where I wanted it. The
hammer spur was bobbed making for a perfectly snag free gun suitable
for concealed carry in just about any way one would think of packing
it. With such a hammer one can not thumb cock the gun to make your
shot single action, but the trigger being so smooth accurate
shooting wasn't effected at all.
I had always known Ruger
wheelguns for being incredibly strong.
During my police academy training, I was introduced to the Ruger
GP100 by witnessing one (unloaded) being thrown up into the air,
against a brick wall, and even it being run over with a police
Impala and parking a front tire on it and turning the steering wheel
lock to lock. The gun was scratched and dinged up and had lost the
rear sight, sure. But it still worked and fired and reloaded with no
problem. If that isn't a testimony of strength, I don't know what
is. I had never really considered them to be anything more than just
“Rugged as hell”. I was incorrect. With a little trigger work a
Ruger can become quite a fine shooter. Thank you, Ben for changing
my opinion of Ruger revolvers!
There are a lot of snub
nosed revolvers out there to choose from, but out of them all the
Ruger is unique. It is arguably one of the strongest of the breed of
small framed snubbies. Strength is
important even in a small gun. But with that strength comes a little
extra weight. Trust me, this is a good thing. Have you had the
chance to fire off one of these ultra-air-light-feather weight
pocket revolvers? Using a full house .357 Magnum load? If you
haven't, do this; put your Concealed Carry Magazine down, stand up,
walk outside to your car or truck and open the hood... and then slam
it down on your firing hand. Quite unpleasant. The SP101 is made of
good old fashioned honest to goodness stainless steel, not something
NASA mills space sprockets out of. The SP101 feels like a real gun
when you pick it up, and when you fire it, it isn't going to punish
you for doing it. You can actually enjoy going through a whole box
of ammo in one shooting session. Amazing. The SP101 isn't even what
I would call heavy. The two and a quarter inch barreled example
weighs only twenty five and a half ounces. Not enough to displace
your spine from wearing it on your hip all day, or pulling a
shoulder out of socket if you carry it in your purse; but enough to
give you courage when you hear your door being pounded on after
I've overheard “Gunshop
Commandos” say things like “Revolvers are only for Old Guys.” And
that snub nosed revolvers are “chick guns”. These statements while
I've heard at different times in different
gunshops in different states, are just not true. Sure, lots
of ladies buy them. Lots of Old Guys appreciate them and still buy
them too... but let's look at those “Old Guys” for just a second.
These are cats that have been there and done that, and with their
age, experience, and wisdom, they still select a Magnum
Snubbie? That tells me something. These
The biggest fallacy about
short barreled guns is that they are not accurate. This is not true.
It has been proven many times that barrel
length has little effect on accuracy. This is why Thompson Center
Contenders in rifle calibers are popular... because they are indeed
accurate while being a fraction of the length of a rifle in the same
caliber. Sometimes more so. Where the fallacy comes from is because
short barrels mean for a short sight radius, and this makes accurate
shooting more of a challenge.
Another bit from my police
academy training regarding short revolvers. When I was getting
geared up to go, the gun I elected to take was a short barreled S&W
Model 10, commemorative of the California Highway Patrol. Sure it
garnered some chuckles from the other police cadets in the class
when I drew it out for the first time on the firing line. All the
others were using Glocks and SIGs and
Berettas, here is a snub nosed revolver? “He's going for Detective a
little early!” The snickering turning to respect when I
outshout the entire class with it. The
snub forced me to concentrate on the basic shooting fundamentals and
focus very hard on that front sight post. That was the difference.
Thats also why so many people say these guns are inaccurate. Truth
is, if you can't shoot one of these well, you can't shoot well. Face
it. No, stop crying about it, suck it up, and go out and practice
harder. The SP101 is indeed a very accurate little gun. At about 10
yards I was able to keep all five shots almost within the same hole.
You can't tell me that isn't good enough for a snubbie... or any
The SP101 is still
relatively new to the world. Sturm Ruger rolled them out in 1993, so
in Gun Years they are still just puppies. What with guns like the
1911 out there, and the Single Action Army, and the P35 all still
very popular; the SP101 is going to be around for a very long time
to come. As long as it isn't sentenced to an early death by either
some corporate suit at Ruger or some liberal Senator finally passing
an asinine piece of garbage he/she calls legislation.
One of the reasons the SP101
is going to be around for so long is that it gives you a lot of
options. You can get your own SP101 in a number of different barrel
lengths, 2 ¼ inches out to 4. Different calibers; .22, .32H&R
Magnum, .38 Special, 9MM, and of course .357 Magnum. Fixed or
adjustable sights. These options give you guns suitable for a wide
variety of tasks. Of course with all these options you still have
two solid facts. 1. You still have a small 5 shot revolver. 2. You
don't have to dig out your old chemistry class book to look at the
periodic table to know what the gun is made out of. Uh, the .22 and
.32 guns are 6 shots, not five... oh never mind.
One of the things I like
about the Ruger double actions is the latch mechanism to unlock the
cylinder. Most double action revolvers use a push forward type latch
like what S&W uses. I've had small magnums using this type of
mechanism unlock on accident during recoil when the latch met my
firing hand's thumb. Colts use just the opposite and you pull it
backwards to unlock the cylinder. Ruger uses a push in (not forward)
latch that is easier to use in my opinion. I also like the looks of
the frame and the way the barrel and shroud is contoured to match.
Very clean lines. They give the small powerful little gun an almost
If you want serious
horsepower in your gun, Ruger has a new snubbie out now, the Super
Redhawk Alaskan in .454 Casull and .480 Ruger. Perfect for those
living in areas where they might be mugged by a polar bear. I can't
image what touching off a super powerful .454
Casull out of 2.5 inches of barrel... I think I'll go slam my
hand with the hood of my truck to see what that might feel like.
For the rest of us living in
the lower 48, I think a .357 magnum would fit the bill just fine.
.357 Magnum has held for a long time a solid reputation as being a
potent fight stopper. Some would argue that fact, but you can't
really argue against a .357 Magnum. Well, you could but you would
end up bleeding a lot. There are still a number of police who opt to
carry a magnum revolver over a “new fangled ottermatic”. Accuracy
and reliability are advantages often debated in many a gun forum and
Ammunition flexibility is
one thing that you can not debate. Just take a look at all the ammo
options that you can fire through a .357 Mag revolver. Super light
target loads, shot shells, heavy hunting loads using bullet shapes
and types of all sorts... you just can't shoot this kind of stuff
out with an automatic and have the gun actually cycle as it should.
A revolver just doesn't care about any of that. You can even fire
primer powered wax bullet loads and they wont effect reliability.
This is why revolvers remain the favorite sidearms of most serious
outdoorsmen today. Of course for the majority of Concealed Carry
Magazine readers, such specialized ammunition is not the concern.
But trusting that your defensive weapon will work at that dire
moment when you need it... that is the concern. Everything else is a
secondary consideration. You want something that is accurate,
concealable, and as rugged and reliable as possible? Then consider a
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