Our team loves to shoot any time we can get to the range, and this time was no exception. We are getting lots of calls and e-mails asking what CCW gun should people get. Today we were looking at the 5 round .357 Magnum from Ruger called the SP101 KSP-331X.
One of our normal responses is to carry the largest caliber handgun that you can safely control and feel comfortable shooting. This Ruger handgun is well made and has the potential to be an excellent CCW handgun. The .357 handguns have the flexibility of shooting .38 defense rounds and up to the .357 magnum rounds. This flexibility while having the ability to shoot the lower cost .38 FMJ target rounds adds a flavor of flexibility that most shooters enjoy. The SP101 is approved for factory loads of .357 Magnum, .38 Special, and .38 +P ammunition. The manual also says that the SP101 can be carried with all chambers loaded. This is due to the patented transfer-bar is lowered out of its firing position and the hammer rest directly on the frame. This technology also allows this revolver to be "Dry Fired". Make sure the gun is empty and pointed in a safe direction. The "Dry Fire" exercises help with getting trigger pull and sight alignment practice. We recommend doing these at a range if at all possible. I still have a little problem with keeping a round under the hammer, as I have always been told not to, and also to never trust a mechanical safety. Our law enforcement contributors and Rugers’s product manual have said that it is ok to carry with all 5 rounds in the cylinder. I will let you make up your own opinion.
Because of the weight of the SP101 the recoil was manageable and we could get tight groups at the 25-yard indoor range. Scott, pictured on the right during one of the tests, said that this handled a lot like one of his older service revolvers and felt like an old friend.
The model tested included the following:
Caliber: .357 Magnum
Capacity: 5 Rounds
Finish: Satin Stainless
Grip: Rubber w/ Synthetic Insert
Barrel Length: 3 1/16" Groove: 5 Twist: 1:18 3/4" RH
Overall Length: 8"
Weight: 27 oz
California Approved: Yes
Massachusetts Approved: Yes
Front Sight(s): Fixed
Rear Sight(s): Fixed
Transfer Bar Operating Mechanism with Cylinder Interlock
Suggested Retail Price: $ 550.00
The SP101 has the visible hammer and I personally prefer this in a wheel gun. By pulling the hammer back the trigger has a lighter pull and helps with more accurate shots. This would allow the gun to be fired like a single action. Law enforcement folks have warned us that you need to be careful when being interviewed for a CCW shooting incident. If the District Attorney feels that you had the hammer back and were trying to "get a better shot" that you will need to demonstrate that you did everything you could do to get out of the situation with out shooting and that your life was in "Imminent Danger".
We tested the pistol with the standard pistol that ships with the SP101. We have ordered the upgrade from Ruger for this model. The SP101 Rubber grips are shown on the left. This looks like it will be a great upgrade for this gun especially at $22.95.
The bottom line: As a team we rated this at 4 out of 5 Stars as a CCW handgun for several reasons. First Ruger has made a quality product, and second the .357 has flexibility for use in many different situations. This got lower scores only due to the handgun's weight. I personally do not mind the weight and this is one that I would not mind packing while in the woods or around town. Clark - Carryconcealed.net
Up Date - we received some very good informative comments from one of our readers. I think that they were on track and they needed to be posted for folks to see in this review. We need feed back both good and bad to help make this a better site. Glen, thanks for shareing. Clark
"I just read your review of the Ruger SP-101 as a CCW. I have been carrying this very revolver for many years so I can testify to it's appropriateness as a carry weapon.
I was surprised however to read about the issue of leaving one of the chambers empty. That issue was pretty much solved many years ago and is no longer an issue. I was surprised that you were still holding on to that. Just operating the weapon empty will convince you of the safety of its design.
As a good demo, cock the hammer and drop a wooden dowel or a pen into the uplifted barrel. Pull the trigger and the dowel will pop out as the firing pin makes contact.
Now do the same thing but rather than pull the trigger, just trip it with something like a screwdriver handle. As the hammer drops, the trigger returns forward and the dowel never moves. This demonstrates that the trigger MUST be in the rearward position in order for the weapon to fire.
Do the same with a S&W or a Taurus and you will see the same thing. The firing stays blocked unless the trigger is kept to the rear.
Ruger had a major recall of it's single action Blackhawk revolvers a long time ago to fix this very problem.
Anyone who carries an empty chamber in their revolver does not have a good understanding of the mechanics of their weapon. I am not trying to offend anyone but I believe that all handlers of weaponry should fully understand how they operate.
Besides, they are no different from autos in the respect that there is a firing pin sitting just behind the chambered round.
I enjoy your site. Glen"
Posted on Fri, June 27, 2008
by Clark -Carryconcealed.net