This week’s Thursday Day at the Range features something new to the series, a Ruger SP101 revolver. However, there’s a familiar twist; it’s chambered in “9mm Parabellum.” Yep, another 9x19mm handgun, but this time a wheelgun.
The SP101 was introduced in 1989 by Ruger to fill out their product line with a J-Frame class snubby, albeit with Ruger rugged reliability. If memory serves, the initial version of the SP101 had a cylinder frame that limited the .357 Magnum version to an overall length that permitted cartridges only with 125-grain bullets or lighter. Skeeter Skelton and/or Massad Ayoob prevailed on Bill Ruger to lengthen the frame so that a cylinder suited for any .357 Mag cartridge could be admitted. This proved to be a wise decision, permitting the SP101 to be chambered in a wide variety of cartridges from .22LR to the aforementioned .357 Magnum without limitations.
This example, from 1991, is chambered in 9mm Parabellum/Luger, using moon clips. I’m fond of revolvers with moon clips; they are in effect circular magazines, allowing quick loading and unloading. Yes, I know there are such things as speedloaders for revolvers, but I’ve never gotten very comfortable with them.
The revolver was fired in double-action mode. The fixed sights are quite useable in their simplicity. The trigger can be staged or stroked through in DA. I’ll be running this gun again in the future, in single-action mode to examine if I can actually get better results in SA compared to DA.
Recoil is quite manageable for such a small revolver. Of course, the Ruger’s road-hugging weight helps absorb the recoil impulse. It will be interesting to compare this 9x19mm variant with the .357 Magnum version.
The usual protocol applies, seven yards, standing unsupported Weaver, 125-grain FMJ, best of five, five-shot targets.
NOTE: the grip inserts are by Chig’s Grips.
Update and clarification from Daniel Watters:
“The original SP-101 was designed only as a .38 Special. Mas Ayoob helped popularize the custom modification of their cylinders for .357 Magnum. With Ayoob’s prompting, Ruger decided to take that market for himself, introducing the short-cylinder .357 Mag in 1991. By 1992, a slightly lengthened variant of the SP-101 was completed that could accept all standard .357 Mag cartridges. Ruger’s remaining supply of the early short frames was then dedicated for use with cartridges that didn’t require the longer cylinder: .22 LR, .32 H&R Magnum, 9×19, and the original .38 Special.”
BY WALTER JULIUS KULECK