A few things to consider: while the SP101 is certainly a fine quality gun, it will not be as easy to shoot as the Highway Patrolman (Model 28 by S&W's model numbers) was. For one thing, the shorter 2 1/4" barrel will not give you nearly as long a sight radius as the 4" barrel did. While mechanical accuracy is not dependant upon barrel length, a gun with a longer sight radius is more forgiving and thus easier to shoot accurately. Likewise, the fixed sights of the SP101, while excellent for their intended purpose, are coarser and not as well suited to precision shooting as the adjustable target sights of the S&W. Another factor is that most small-frame revolvers, including the Ruger SP101, have heavier mainsprings and thus heavier triggers than their larger counterparts. The reason for this is that small revolvers also have smaller, lighter hammers and thus require a stiffer spring to ensure that they will reliably ignite primers. Finally, the reduced weight of the SP101 will accentuate recoil as compared to the larger, heavier S&W. In a 40+ oz gun like the Highway Patrolman, the recoil of most .38 Special loadings is very, very light (I find full power .357 Magnums to be pleasant in my own Highway Patrolman) but in a sub-30 oz gun like the SP101 it will be more noticeable.
Now, I'm not trying to necessarily dissuade you from the SP101 as it's certainly a fine revolver for its intended purpose, I just want to make sure that you know that you probably won't be able to shoot it as easily as the Highway Patrolman without a good deal of range time. You need to understand that the SP101 is intended to be a defensive revolver which is capable of quickly delivering minute-of-villain accuracy at relatively short distances (15 yards or less). If you're wanting something that will shoot and handle like the Highway Patrolman did, you might be better served to look at a larger revolver with a longer barrel. Good models to consider in .38 Special and/or .357 Magnum include the Ruger Security Six and GP100 and S&W Models 14, 15, 19, 66, 67, 586, 686, 27, 28, and 627.
Smith, and Wesson, and Me. -H. Callahan
Well waddaya know, one buwwet weft! -E. Fudd
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