When Ruger first introduced the 38 Special
SP101 double-action revolver back in 1989, I immediately had
high hopes for a 22 Long Rifle version for use as a trail gun,
plinker, and general fun gun. Being basically a scaled-down
GP-100, the SP101 was rugged and reliable, but still compact,
and built like a Ruger. When Ruger did introduce the 22 Long
Rifle version, I was disappointed. A 22 Kit Gun (generic term
for a handy little trail, backpacking, woods-bumming gun) needs
good sights. I like mine fully adjustable, to set the sight
perfectly for a particular load, as sometimes the Kit Gun is
called upon to make an accurate shot to put meat in the camp
pot, or for other precision shooting chores. The rear sight on
the 22 LR SP101 was an afterthought. It was a thin blade set
into the top of the frame, adjustable for windage correction
only. The SP101 deserved a better rear sight, and with the
reintroduction of the 22 Long Rifle SP101, it has one.
The Ruger SP101 now has a sturdy, yet
fully-adjustable rear sight. The sight is matte black, as it
should be, and the blade is large and easy to see. The sight
notch has ample width, measuring .14 inch, allowing plenty of
light to be seen on either side of the front sight. The front
sight is a squared-profile matte black post, with a green fiber
optic rod insert. Both front and rear sights are, thankfully,
made of steel. The balance of the SP101 is made primarily of
stainless steel, and is finished to a satin sheen. The barrel
measures 4.195 inches in length on my sample gun, and .68 inch
diameter. Integral with the barrel is an underlug in which the
ejector rod is housed for protection. The eight-shot cylinder
locks at the rear with a steel pin into the frame, and also at
the front, with a retractable pivoting blade on the crane
locking into the frame beneath the barrel underlug. The cylinder
is released to swing out to the left side by pushing in on the
cylinder release, located on the frame at the rear of the
cylinder, on the left side. Ejection of spent cartridges is
accomplished by pushing rearward on the ejector rod, which has
an ample stroke of over three-quarters of an inch, ejecting
cases cleanly from the cylinder. The cylinder on the SP101
measures 1.585 inches in length, and is plenty long to
accommodate the 22 Magnum cartridge, should Ruger decide to
produce such a version. I hope that they choose to do so.
Hopefully soon. I am usually a patient man, but I have got to
have one of these in 22 Magnum! That is the way I am wired. I
keep thinking, “Just one more gun will be all I will ever need”,
and then something like this SP101 comes along. I am happy to
have this one here, chambered for the most versatile cartridge
ever invented, but then, it leaves me wanting to also add a 22
Magnum version. My appetite for firearms is never quenched, and
I am doomed to wander the Earth in search of another, until my
time here in this world is over! Anyway, enough about my human
weaknesses, and back to the dandy little revolver at hand.
Specifications are listed in the chart below.
Weight is listed in ounces. Trigger pull is listed as pounds of
pressure. Linear measurements are listed in inches. The cylinder
length does not include the ratchet nor the cylinder bushing.
Height includes the sights, with the rear set at its medium
adjustment. DA is the double-action trigger pull. SA is the
single-action trigger pull.
|Trigger Pull DA
||11 pounds, 4 ounces
|Trigger Pull SA
||4 pounds, 14 ounces
For accuracy testing, I placed the SP101 into
my Ransom Rest, with the target
set at twenty-five yards. Accuracy was very good with most loads
tested. Velocities were checked for each type of ammunition at a
distance of ten feet from the muzzle. HP is a hollowpoint
bullet. Solid is a roundnose bullet. Velocity readings were
taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air
temperature of ninety-one degrees Fahrenheit, with high
humidity. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (FPS).
Accuracy was tested by firing eight-shot groups, with the
average of the groups tested with each load listed in inches.
Groups were measured center-to-center of the two farthest-apart
holes in each group.
|Federal Bulk HP
|Winchester DynaPoint HP
|PMC Match Solid
|Wolf Match Solid
|CCI Mini-Mag HP
|CCI Mini-Mag Solid
|CCI Velocitor HP
The little Ruger proved to be very reliable,
with everything feeding, firing, and ejecting perfectly, with
the exception of the Wolf match ammo. It functioned very well,
and was plenty accurate, but had sticky extraction. The Wolf was
the only ammo that caused an extraction problem in this
revolver. Everything else ejected with ease. I was really
pleased with the performance of the Winchester DynaPoint ammo.
It is one of my favorite 22 LR loads, and exhibited the best
accuracy in this particular SP101 of any ammunition tested. The
DynaPoint leaves the barrel of the SP101 at a decent speed, and
is effective on small game without ruining a lot of meat.
The trigger pull is necessarily heavy on
double-action rimfire revolvers. It takes a pretty good hit to
set off the 22 LR priming mixture, but even at over eleven
pounds, the double-action pull on the SP101 is butter-smooth,
and the single-action pull very crisp.
The grip on the SP101 fits my hand perfectly.
The synthetic rubber grip is compact, but amply big enough for
even a large hand, offering shooting comfort and excellent
control, even with wet hands. The checkered wood grip inserts
are both functional and beautiful, really dressing up the little
I heard of this SP101 over a year and a half
ago, when Mike Fifer of Ruger sent a computer rendering of the
proposed new SP101 to me, and I have been wanting, somewhat
patiently, to get my hands on one ever since. Over that period
of time, I have had the chance to handle and shoot a prototype,
but did not receive this production version until just a few
weeks ago. Since receiving that first sketch in early January of
2010, I have spent a lot of time looking at it, and it has been
residing above my desk ever since. Then back in April of 2010, I
received a picture of Mike holding the first prototype of the
new gun. It seems that Mike was as anxious as me to have the
perfect 22 Long Rifle revolver for a trail gun. The difference
is that he has a foundry and two whole factories at his disposal
to build such things, and I do not! However, Mike knew how much
I wanted to see this happen, and I am thankful to him for
keeping me up to date as the project progressed.
Gunsite a few months ago, a half-dozen or so writers were
allowed to handle a pre-production version of this SP101, but as
with the early sketches and photos, we were all sworn to
secrecy, and most of us honored our word on that. It has been a
hard secret to keep, but the folks at Ruger wanted to make sure
that everything was ready before letting the word out on this
new revolver. The production gun that I have here is pretty darn
close to that original drawing, except for the use of a
square-notch rear sight blade instead of the originally-proposed
V-notch, and much better-looking grip inserts. I like the square
notch sight better, and it was a good decision to go with that.
The front sight still works well with the rear notch, as the
front is a square profile blade, which is excellent for target
work. In addition, the green fiber optic insert works very well
in low-light conditions, and can be seen much easier than a
plain black blade in the woods.
The little SP101 fit snugly but worked very
well in a couple of different J-frame size holsters. One of my
favorites for a Kit Gun is this cross draw shown here, given to
me by my good friend and Yooper, Al Anderson of Michigan. I was
in the U.P visiting with Al a couple of years ago, and admired
the trim little cross draw on his belt, so he had one made for
me. It was built by Dennis Peterson of Gwinn, Michigan, and it
carries the little SP101 very well. It has a long strap to
retain the revolver, and is very well-crafted. The little
holster carries the SP101 handily. I especially like a cross
draw such as this when seated on an ATV, Rhino, tractor, or in a
car or pickup. It places the weapon within easy reach, and does
not dig into the ribcage when seated.
After seeing the first drawings and handling
a prototype many months ago, I had high hopes for the 22 Long
Rifle SP101, and my expectations were exceeded. The new little
Ruger is a dandy trail gun. It is light enough that it rides
easily on the belt, but has enough heft for accurate shot
placement in the field. This new Ruger 22 SP101 is exactly what
a good Kit Gun should be, and it is what the 22 SP101 should
have been years ago. Ruger has upgraded the original SP101 with
much better sights, better balance, and by putting two more
chambers in the cylinder, added a 33 1/3 percent increase in
firepower. I am glad to see that Ruger has chosen to reintroduce
and greatly improve the 22 Long Rifle SP101, and I highly
Check out the SP101 and other Ruger firearms
and accessories online at www.ruger.com.
To locate a Ruger dealer near you, click on
the DEALER LOCATOR at www.lipseys.com.
To order the SP101 online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.
To order quality 22 Long Rifle ammunition, go
To order a Dennis Peterson holster, call
906-346-9396 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.