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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,

New to the forum here. The only Ruger I currently own is a 10/22 (who doesn't haha). Anyway, I am looking into getting my first wheel gun and I have my eyes set on an SP101 in 2.25". I have a quick question about manufacturing dates.

I am eyeing a LNIB SP101 2.25" for sale locally and I noticed that the gun will come with a black/yellow cardboard box.

I did some quick research and learned that the very early SP101's have a restriction on certain types of .357 ammo and these guns will have "125 gr bullet" or something stamped on the barrel.

I'm not sure exactly what year this gun was built in but generally speaking I wouldn't usually like to buy older guns (unless they are known to be collectable) because I know manufacturers typically make improvements throughout the years. I have a feeling that this SP101, being in a cardboard box, is an older model.

My question is: If this gun is not a "125gr" only SP101, are there any differences between a newer and older SP101? If not then maybe i'll still be interested in it.


Thanks,
Brandon
 

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I think that 125 gr restriction had to do with overall cartridge length the very early .357 mags were built on the .38 spl frame. Easy way to tell would be to drop a full length .357 round in the cyl, if you can close it and the cyl turns you have the later model.
 

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Hey all,

New to the forum here. The only Ruger I currently own is a 10/22 (who doesn't haha). Anyway, I am looking into getting my first wheel gun and I have my eyes set on an SP101 in 2.25". I have a quick question about manufacturing dates.

I am eyeing a LNIB SP101 2.25" for sale locally and I noticed that the gun will come with a black/yellow cardboard box.

I did some quick research and learned that the very early SP101's have a restriction on certain types of .357 ammo and these guns will have "125 gr bullet" or something stamped on the barrel.

I'm not sure exactly what year this gun was built in but generally speaking I wouldn't usually like to buy older guns (unless they are known to be collectable) because I know manufacturers typically make improvements throughout the years. I have a feeling that this SP101, being in a cardboard box, is an older model.

My question is: If this gun is not a "125gr" only SP101, are there any differences between a newer and older SP101? If not then maybe i'll still be interested in it.


Thanks,
Brandon
Brandon, First off - welcome to the forum! To your question - the SP101 with the restriction is marked "125 GR. BULLETS ONLY" on the barrel. So if you don't see that marking you have a later version that will shoot all .357 Magnum loads. If you jot down the serial number you can look it up on the link to Ruger's website already posted and get a pretty good handle on the year of manufacture. I don't know of any other differences to the SP101 beyond the one you were rightly concerned about and I wouldn't hesitate to buy an older LNIB SP101. I have one from 1994 and one from 2012 and, except for barrel length, you can't tell them apart. (And I've had them completely apart.)

The SP101 is a great revolver and I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Good luck!

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I think that 125 gr restriction had to do with overall cartridge length the very early .357 mags were built on the .38 spl frame. Easy way to tell would be to drop a full length .357 round in the cyl, if you can close it and the cyl turns you have the later model.

Not exactly: I have a very late model production SP101 and it's chambered for only 38 special. (apparently that's why they had some in stock) as opposed to its 357 brother. The one difference you'll notice is similar to what Smith and Wesson did to help their J Frames digest 357's. On the left profile view of the pistol with barrel pointing to your left, and on the frame just beneath the cylinder frame opening at the lower right corner, you'll notice a build up of metal that's about 3/4" long going up and down. That beefs up the otherwise "week" side of the frame due to internal milling and parts accommodation. A "Pre 357" older model of Smith or Ruger will be smooth sided at this point (Smith has a small button to keep the cylinder in there). The newer, beefier models of each will have the long piece of built up metal in that area. Real easy to tell and don't use the grips as a guide, because the grips did not necessarily change at the same time, and the SP still comes with the old style grips. Smithy.
 

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Thanks guys for the helpful responses. Well I made the purchase today and per CA law, I get to pick it up after a 10 day waiting period.

I managed to get the serial # and it was made in 1994. I had limited time inspecting it but it appears to be in almost like-new condition except for a light turn ring around the cylinder and this scratch across rear inside of the frame (I think from the ejection rod scratching it when closing the cylinder, also normal I assume).

The previous seller claimed to be the first owner and has never fired it except for dry firing it with the plastic disc in place (which I heard is bad for the gun).

Anyway, this is my first revolver so I have some questions.

1. I am trying to figure out how to best clean the barrel as I only have experience with pistols where the barrel can be removed. I know lots of Youtube videos feature guys using a rod from the muzzle end but I'm assuming this is a big no-no as you risk damaging the crown. I am thinking about buying the Otis pull-through kit and then basically cleaning the barrel like I do with all my other guns except just doing it with the cable instead of the rod. Is there anything else I should know as far as cleaning the barrel or the gun? can the cylinder chambers be cleaned from either direction? Also what are the lube points in this (or any) revolver? What is all this stuff I am reading about using a lead remover to clean the gun? Can't I just use CLP to clean the gun as I do with all my other guns?

2. I am also planning on changing out the grip immediately and so far after doing some review browsing it appears that the Hogue Monogrip is the favorite even though it is bigger and doesn't work as well for carry. I was wondering if anyone else has any suggestions for any other kinds of grips that may not be as big? I don't plan on carrying this gun but being a snub nose and all, I kinda want to keep the compact theme.


Thanks!
Brandon
 

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Brandon, congratulations on your new SP101! Sounds like you made a great find on a nice revolver. My 2.25" SP101 is also from 1994 - a good year! And yes, the scratches you mentioned sound normal for a revolver.

As for cleaning, that topic has been discussed here from time to time and most folks will tell you that you're not likely to do any damage to the crown through normal cleaning from the muzzle end. A typical brass cleaning rod is softer than the steel of your barrel. Moreover, until products like the Otis system came along it was the only way to clean a revolver. Just be careful not to ram into the firing pin when you push the rod through the barrel. You can place a small piece of leather or similar over the pin if want to be safe.

I suppose you can clean the cylinder from either end but I somehow got in the habit of cleaning from the aft end where the cartridges insert. If you shoot a lot of .38 Special (which is a great idea - cheaper ammo and gentler on the gun and less recoil on the shooter) you will need to be diligent to clean the residue ring that will develop in the cylinder due to the .38 Special being a bit shorter. You'll see it and can tell when it's gone.

I happen to like the Lewis Lead Remover tool that Brownell's sells:

LEWIS LEAD REMOVER - Brownells

If you shoot a lot of lead bullets you will get lead fouling in the barrel. Unjacketed lead bullets are more accurate than jacketed so don't stay away from them and some fouling will occur regardless. Not a big deal - there are chemical products to remove lead and copper deposits and mechanical products. The Lewis is a mechanical product. I like it because it not only removes lead deposits in your barrel but makes removing the deposits from the cylinder due to shooting .38 Special a snap.

You may want to check out the videos on Ruger's website if you haven't already - lots of good stuff including how to disassemble your revolver. That will probably reveal the few places a drop of oil may be needed from time to time.

Ruger Videos

And yeah - the Badger grips are great!



Congratulation on your new SP101 and enjoy!

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Thanks everyone again for all the helpful replies. I just thought I'd update this thread as I got to pick up the gun and take it home today!

The first thing I did was take it apart and cleaned it. It didn't take much as I expected and I also installed a Wolff 12# hammer spring which I ordered ahead of time after reading that the factory pull is unnecessarily heavy. This was a complete pita to install and for the longest time I was wondering what the heck that copper colored rod is for seated inside the grip. Only just now did I realize it was for capturing the spring lol. I used something else for the install anyway.

After closer inspection, I was a bit disappointed to realize that it was less than "LNIB" with some dings very close to the crown and a couple small scrapes on two corners of the frame. Still it does appear to be un-fired though as the seller claimed. I think it was just fondled with many times. I am still very happy with it and can't wait to take it to the range.

I also noticed that my ejector rod is kinda loose and will rattle when I shake the gun. Is there a fix for this?

As I mentioned eariler, this is my first revolver and I know that you can't shoot this with a thumbs forward grip without risking your finger blowing off. What's the standard way to grip this thing? thumb over thumb?

And of course I have to include a pic:




Thanks!
 

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Brandon, Congrats on the SP101! Looks great in the photo. You can usually get the scratches out with either a scotchbrite pad (keeps the brushed finish) or Flitz or Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish for a more polished finish. Dings would require a more agressive approach and you may want to just live with them.

Enjoy your SP101 and happy shooting!

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Brandon, looking back on your thread reminds me - Ruger only made 3,000 of the SP101 with the "125 GR. BULLETS ONLY" rollmark and restriction so although you were wanting to avoid buying one for practical purposes, they are actually rather rare and worth a premium to collectors.

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The ejector rod is normally loose, it's a hollow "housing", not a solid rod & there's no fix.
The transfer bar should also rattle.

Two additional differences between your old gun & current manufacture are the firing pin retention being from the rear, as opposed to the front, and the MIM hammer, trigger, and other small parts in the new ones.
Denis
 

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The ejector rod is normally loose, it's a hollow "housing", not a solid rod & there's no fix.
The transfer bar should also rattle.

Two additional differences between your old gun & current manufacture are the firing pin retention being from the rear, as opposed to the front, and the MIM hammer, trigger, and other small parts in the new ones.
Denis
Good point Denis - I recall seeing the "snake eyes" fitting on the rear of the firing pin on my 2012 3" SP101 now that you mention it. I don't get that in depth into disassembly - afraid of losing parts or messing something up! Besides not having needed to at this point.

Any opinion on the merits of MIM parts? I sometimes hear criticisms along the lines of cheaper, etc. but really, any reason for concern?

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MIMs are taking over the industry, and when the right formulation of material is used for the right application, they can be perfectly viable.

I've discussed them with Ruger & while I still have a certain emotional distrust of MIM vs forged parts, Ruger says they're using newer formulations, and they do look a hell of a lot better than S&W's MIM triggers and hammers.
Ruger also final-finishes hammers & triggers, where S&W just faux-case-hardens theirs & tosses 'em into their revolvers.

Time will tell, but I'm willing to give 'em a chance.
I have the new .22 SP with a MIM trigger, the new .357 SP with MIM hammer & trigger, and a new GP100 with a MIM trigger. I believe all three have a MIM cylinder latch, too, but I have not broken them down to look.

One upside of the MIMs in those guns is that the MIM hammers (which will not be migrating to the GP) have more rounded spurs that don't draw blood & have to be filed or stoned.
And the rear trigger edges are no longer sharp enough to scrape skin.
MIMs do not work well in certain applications, like 1911 extractors, but in other areas they can.
I don't personally think they're entirely the equal of a forged part, and I still prefer forged, but....

Denis
 

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I've noticed the rear trigger edges on a few Rugers that were quite sharp. Are MIM parts easy to spot or does it take a trained eye or a matter of knowing from the manufacturer that certain parts are MIM?

Also, did Ruger say why they chose not to use MIM hammers in the GP?

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MIM hammers & triggers are easy to spot, on Rugers, at least.

Triggers will have a hollow rear, hammers will have "cutouts" on both sides.

A general sign to look for is also a raised "sprue" circle, more visible on Smiths.

Ruger says the GP will not get a MIM hammer because they couldn't make one that wasn't "ugly" on that model. :)
Denis
 

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MIM hammers & triggers are easy to spot, on Rugers, at least.

Triggers will have a hollow rear, hammers will have "cutouts" on both sides.

A general sign to look for is also a raised "sprue" circle, more visible on Smiths.

Ruger says the GP will not get a MIM hammer because they couldn't make one that wasn't "ugly" on that model. :)
Denis
Thanks Denis - now that you mention it I do remember seeing those differences in the trigger and hammer on my 2012 SP101 vs the 1994 SP101. I'm guessing the "sprue" circle is from the point of injection?

I'm glad to hear Ruger isn't sacrificing aesthetics in pursuing manufacturing efficiency.

Wave

P.S. In order to get the thread back on track (and apologies to the OP who may have lost all interest at this piont), I still think the SP101 is great!
 
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