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SP101 in .22LR

548 Views 16 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Model 52

Scored a SP101 in the long discontinued 6 shot .22LR
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I had a 4” SP101.

Accuracy was mediocre at best for the first cylinder. It would start keyholing somewhere in the second cylinder.

it would also start spitting lead back at you around the same time.

Cleaning the barrel after 2 cylinders looked like this.

The forcing cone wasn’t properly cut.

I called Ruger to get an RMA. They advised they were no longer sending pre paid shipping labels but assured me they would refund my shipping cost to return it to them. I asked them if they were sure as without a business account (at the time) shipping second day air wasn’t going to be cheap. They said no problem.

I shipped it back to them along with a written description of the issue and the small number of rounds needed to get there. I noted the several brands and types of ammo used to verify it wasn’t particular to any type of ammo, including the CCI HV they use at the factory for testing. I also included pictures including those above as well as a couple test targets showing the key holed shots.

I got it back in about 3 weeks with a note saying the ejector star had been adjusted. My thought was “What the fudge. That’s not going to fix it.“. But I did my due diligence and repeated the testing with the same severe leading and key holing by the end of the second cylinder.

I called them again and got another RMA. I also asked where my reimbursement was for the $75 I spent on shipping the first time around. They said it would take about 6 weeks to process. They did agree to arrange for a paid shipping label and pickup. The person I spoke with said it would be “escalated” to one of their supervisors who were trained gunsmiths. My thought bubble was “so….the first people who ‘fix‘ it are what? Trained monkeys?”.

About three weeks later I get a call and they advise that it’s not factory repairable”. They gave me the option of refunding what I paid for it, provided I send them my original receipt for it, or they would replace the revolver with a new one.

By this time I had also followed up with their customer service folks and been advised that they were not reimbursing me for the $75 shipping as they had not received an original receipt. It had been included with the revolver when it was first sent, and apparently their line staff lost it or didn’t know they were supposed to save it or submit it. It’s understandable as Ruger had just switched to reimbursement rather than paid shipping labels and someone didn’t get the word. However, I no longer had an original receipt for the shipping and was now out $75.

Based on that “original receipt“ experience, I opted for a new revolver and they advised they would send it to my FFL, the Ruger dealer where I purchased it.

About a month later I followed up to see why the revolver had not been received by my FFL. Keep in mind we are now 10 weeks into this customer service saga. They inform me they will ship me a new one, but they can’t do that until they make another run of them - in about 5 months. I asked them to verify that that they didn’t keep any on hand at the factory for inevitable and predictable warranty replacements, and that they could not have one of their many distributors ship one to my FFL. They confirmed that was the case.

About 5 months later my new SP101 arrived. It didn’t suffer any leading issues but also wasn’t all that accurate either.

I took it into another local gun shop and traded it on a used S&W Model 17-3 3T, shown here with smoky cylinder after shooting a couple hundred rounds.

I’ve never looked back and never had any regrets dumping that SP101. Arguably, that second SP101 wasn’t a bad revolver, it just wasn’t great. And quite frankly the really poor, slow, put the burden all on me customer service left a really bad taste in my mouth. I’ve bought a lot of handguns and rifles in the years since but not one of them has been a new Ruger. In fact until I get the $75 they still owe me, I’ll never buy another new Ruger. Which means basically never.
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That’s a shame. I worry about new product too. My early issue GP-100 and NM Blackhawks are great guns. I have been considering an SP-101 in 9mm b/c I actually like moonclips and the SP has the heft I like in a snub. I would look for an older one. I no longer trust quality control at S&W or Ruger for new guns.

But that does not mean you won’t get a great one, new. I have a Taurus that has held up well over the decades. I hope that is the case for the OP’s Ruger.
I have a 3” SP101 in .357 Mag and it’s been a fine revolver. At 5oz heavier than my ” Model 60 it’s arguably the sweet spot between the J and K frames when it comes to both carrying and shooting a .357 Mag defensive handgun.

I would not mind an SP101 in 9mm but I’ve never encountered one locally and I will not buy one on line where I cannot very carefully inspect it first, and return it to the FFL if it proves to be defective.

I do have. Speed Six in 9mm as well as an Alpha Project 9mm and a Taurus 905.

An SP101 in 9mm would fill the size gap between the Alpha Proj and the 905:

I bought the defective SP101 .22LR in 2014, and the refusal of the gun shop to either exchange it or handle the return for me was another irritant in the experience. They also don’t get my business anymore. That extra level of customer service is what justifies the higher prices you pay in a brick and mortar gun shop.

To be fair to Ruger their “we will reimburse you for shipping“ policy didn’t last long. It costs customers more to arrange shipping, and then the accountants have to process the reimbursement. But still they screwed me out of $75 and have never apologized for it.

I agree that Ruger only makes a small percentage of bad ones and they are not alone in having spotty QA. For example, I when I bought the Taurus 905, the cylinder would not go back into the frame with the included moon clips as the cylinder wasn’t cut quite deep enough. The difference in my experience was that Taurus customer service was light years better than Ruger customer service. To be fair, Taurus is over represented in returns as they let more mistakes out of the factory than most, so their customer service folks probably get plenty of practice.

The 905 issue was also a little ironic as it would not work with the thick Taurus moon clips. However, they were soft and easily bent so I bought TKS moon clips for it instead. They were thinner and would have worked fine in the revolver pre-return.
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