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What Makes the Ruger SP101 Revolver Perfect for Home Defense

Ruger SP101
Ruger SP101. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The Ruger SP101 has been around for a while now and is well known and respected. Sure, it does not have the sex appeal as say a Glock or Sig Sauer, but it can get the job done if you are forced to defend your life, home or property: Ruger’s SP101 is a small, durable, and elegant-looking revolver that’s great for concealed carry, personal defense, or even home defense. It’s available in a variety of calibers, including .357 Magnum, .38 Special, .327 Federal, and .22 LR. Throughout my years of owning this little revolver, I’ve never had any failures whatsoever. It’s incredibly reliable and built for years of consistent service.

The SP101 features a triple-locking cylinder, locked into the front, bottom, and rear of the frame to ensure dependability and positive alignment. There’s also a transfer bar safety, which will prevent any accidental discharges during concealed carry. The SP101 is very easy to take down for cleaning or maintenance, and requires no special tools to do so.

It comes with a sleek, brushed stainless steel finish for extra aesthetic appeal. While it’s not quite as nice as what you might find on a Smith & Wesson revolver, it’s still very high-quality. The SP101 also features a cushioned rubber grip with either a black synthetic or hardwood insert, depending on which model you choose. It feels nice in your hand, and there’s no exposed metal in the backstrap to further ensure a secure, comfortable grip. It’s great for me, but if the grip doesn’t quite meet your standards, the frame easily accommodates custom grips as well.

Most SP101 models come with a five-round capacity, apart from the .22 LR model (which comes with an eight-round capacity) and the .327 Federal (six-round capacity). You can shoot the revolver in double-action or single-action by manually cocking the hammer. I’d recommend shooting in single-action for a quick, light pull that breaks around 4 lbs, as the double-action pull can be long, gritty, and quite heavy, breaking around ten to eleven pounds.

This revolver comes in several different barrel lengths, including 2.25-inch, 3-inch, and 4.2-inch. It’s small enough to fit in your pocket and designed for ultimate concealability and easy storage. Weighing in at around twenty-five ounces, it is a bit heavy for its size. However, this heft does help to mitigate some of the recoil.

Just like the Taurus 380, it’s relatively soft shooting despite its small size. The .357 loads are much more snappy than .38 loads, but the combination of the revolver’s heavier weight, solidity, and cushioned grip make the recoil much more manageable than most snubnose revolvers.

As far as accuracy goes, you’ll have the best chance at hitting your target from short distances. Shooting in single-action helps with accuracy, as well. In fact, when I switched from double-action, I was able to cut my five-shot groups in half! My average grouping in single-action was just 1.5 inches from twenty-five yards, using various .38 Special loads. Getting small groupings from close distances (up to thirty yards) is easy, but anything further requires a bit of practice.

It comes standard with some basic sights, lowered to reduce the chances of snagging on your clothes when you draw the revolver from the concealed carry position. Both are adjustable for windage and elevation and set within the frame.

The MSRP of the Ruger SP101 is between $719–$769, depending on which model you choose, but you can usually find them online for around $550 (however, note that prices vary widely due to pandemic-related gun shortages). It is a higher-than-average price, but extremely durable, soft shooting, and an excellent choice for anyone who needs an easy-to-conceal revolver for personal or home defense.

Richard Douglas writes on firearms, defense and security issues. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, 1945, Daily Caller and other publications.

Written By

Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast, and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller, and other publications.



  1. Quartier Lebanc

    April 16, 2022 at 10:08 am

    This missive is clearly a candidate for worst review of the year.
    Anyone who suggests shooting a snub nose revolver in single action has no idea of what they’re talking about. These weapons are made to be fired in double action which maximizes their advantages, speed and small size.
    The Ruger SP 101 design is a bit dated now, heavy for its size. Despite numerous variants in multiple calibers and barrel lengths listed in the Ruger catalog, good luck in finding anything other than the standard 38/357 with the 2.25 inch barrel.
    The weapon has a mediocre at best double action trigger and has largely been supplanted by the LCR series of revolvers.
    There are simply better revolvers for home defense and the title is not more than click bait. In addition, your claims of accuracy of 1.5 inches at 25 yards puts you on par with Wilson Combat 1911 with a 5 inch barrel. Why do I have a serious problem believing this claim? Further shooting full power 357 mag loads in these weapons is not snappy, it’s down right brutal. Did I also mention the flash involved with low light.
    I’d really go back to the drawing board on this article.

  2. saltines

    April 17, 2022 at 12:54 pm

    This article is farcical. The SP-101 is a fine revolver, but why is the author recommending using single action for home defense? Also, why is the author stating that the sights are adjustable? Perhaps there is a target model with adjustable sights but most SP-101s will have a fixed front post and rear notch. Is a 5-shot revolver really suitable for home defense? I guess as a last resort if I had nothing else. All in all this article is laughable.

    • Dave C.

      May 21, 2022 at 12:23 am

      The four-inch model SP101s have adjustable sights, as well as some of the distributor exclusive models in 2-1/4″ and 3″ barrels.

      As to the other comments that were made, revolvers are still fine for those who want simplicity, such as people with limited physical abilities or those who are older – you’ll understand after age 60. That also includes people that may not have the ability to master things like stoppage clearances with semi-autos or have arthitis and can’t load magazines without pain.

      And no, the SP101 hasn’t been replaced by the LCR models – that’s why Ruger has been making them for so long. With polymer as part of the frame, the LCRs are lighter in the same calibers, with more recoil. LCRs are really only meant for lightweight carry rather than home defense. They are also cheaper to make with polymer, which is one reason Ruger added the LCR. In contrast, the all-steel SP101 is quite comfortable to shoot for most people in 38 Special, and the 22LR model has no recoil at all. There are actually several more calibers and barrel lengths avaialable used that were discontinued. However, since they do not wear out, you can often find a great bargain. For example a 38 Special only, 3″ model was available, and can be found used, and they are usually very accurate – there is a YouTube video of one of the non-pro gun reviewer hitting small metal targets every time at 50 yards with that gun.

      The trigger pull on SP101s, as with all Ruger revolvers can be easily lessened with an 11-pound spring from Wolff gunsprings for a few dollars or any gunsmith can easily tune and smooth the interals for about $50-$75, if you want to go that route.

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