Thursday, October 13, 2011

I've been busy getting set up again here in the US of A, and kinda busy. But I did go get my carry permit renewed and I've picked up another carry piece that I'm pretty proud of. Yep, I'm carrying a five-shooter again. This time it's a Ruger SP-101 3" .357 Magnum, and I'm really liking what I see so far. Hopefully I will get in some good range time this weekend, so for now I'm doing a "first impressions" kind of look at it.

The DA trigger is VERY heavy but pretty smooth, though it isn't classic S&W smooth. The single action is really great, so I probably won't be doing any spring-swapping but will break it down and polish all the guts once I get my tools out of storage.

Size wise, it is almost the same as my M&P9c, but packs nicer because of the grip and barrel geometry. I've done some test-runs carrying it in a Bulldog bellyband around my new apartment, both in the 4-o'clock and 11 o'clock crossdraw position. It is much more comfortable to wear than the M&P9c, though going from 13 rounds on deck to just five may be too much of a trade for some folks.

The sights are a familiar and extremely rugged groove down the top strap and simple pinned blade front. Nothing special, but far from inadequate. I dig that arrangement, though I wouldn't fault someone for replacing the front blade with a tritium night sight. There are many inexpensive options from quality names out there. Grips, however, are harder to find. I am already thinking of going to some very handsome wood grips from Badger Custom Grips. They're expensive, but worth it to accommodate my larger mitts, though the factory grip is adequate.

Now, why did I pick this model of this gun to add to my stable? Well, this is a great all-arounder. It's small enough to pack, but large and sturdy enough to digest a steady diet of magnum loads, though I will probably stay away from the super hot 125gr variations that were linked (correctly or not) to flame cutting and damaging the forcing cones on earlier .357 mags. I plan on using a 158gr Hornady XTP powered by a stout dose of Hodgdon Lil'Gun as my hiking load, and a factory load from Winchester as my carry ammo. I chose the 3" model because I've read a number of blogs and reports with chrono data which leads me to believe I can get 90%-95% of the velocity offered by a 4" barrel. That means my little five shooter could drop a 700ft/lb bomb on an aggressor of either two or four-legged variety. To me, that is more compelling than 13 rounds of any 9mm +P on the market. I'm not a "bigger is always better" guy, but stoutly loaded factory ammo in the 500-700ft/lb range is pretty appealing to me.

I'm also a revolver lover of epic proportions. Yeah, I only have five shots, but those five shots should deliver twice the kinetic energy of any concealable auto-loader . There are a number of subjective reasons why I like wheelguns, but the biggest reason I can justify spending the cash on this gun is that it can do double duty as a kit gun and a carry piece. Now, most folks think of a smallish .22LR as a real "kit gun", but since the state ecologists have decided that we need mountain lions where previously there were none, I like the idea of reaching for a .357 better than a .22LR. Also, the cost of reloading for .357 magnum is fairly low, providing you can find components.

That's it for now. Hopefully I can put up some pics of the genuine article and some holes in targets by Monday.

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