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Old February 23, 2010, 04:49 AM   #1
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.38 Special SP101 Question

In 1991 I purchased a Ruger SP101 chambered for .38 Special instead of the standard .357 magnum. It was priced to sell and I had gun show fever! Attached is a picture of this revolver showing off my fake ivory inserts from Lett's.

Uh, anyway here's my question. The revolver obviously will not chamber a .357 cartridge but can this revolver safely contain .357 Mag pressures? I don't plan on testing to find out but it's something I've wondered about for years. The SP101 is one stout little weapon, even in .38, so I'm curious. Does anyone know?

BTW, I don't regret the purchase but I do recognize that the .357 model would have made more sense.

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Last edited by Rastus; February 25, 2010 at 11:51 AM.
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Old February 23, 2010, 05:36 AM   #2
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My buddy back in the late 80's or early 90's had his 38 Sp101
smithed to take 357's and it worked out well
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Old February 23, 2010, 08:44 AM   #3
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For me, .38+p is plenty out of a snubby for anything I care to do.

Material strength aside, is the cylinder long enough for .357mag?
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Old February 23, 2010, 10:06 AM   #4
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There are two frames sizes for the SP-101. Originally, it shipped as a .38 Special gun. I have one. The version I have is the SPNY. It was a special run for the NYPD. DA only, frosted finish.

Ruger then determined that the gun was strong enough for .357 Magnum. They bored out the cylinder a little and it was marketed as a .357 Magnum, with warning that it could only shoot (I think) 125 grain bullets. Not because of any weakness in the gun, but, the cylinder was too short to accept any heavier bullets.

Ruger then stretched the frame and put in a longer cylinder to accept any commercial .357 Magnum load. The current version is the longer frame/cylinder model in all the available calibers.

So, whatever model you have will pretty much take a steady diet of the hottest .38 Specials you can possibly shove in there for as long as you can stand to shoot it.

Smith did the same thing with the J frame and, the current J Magnum frame.

Last edited by Sgt127; February 23, 2010 at 10:07 AM. Reason: typo
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Old February 23, 2010, 11:57 AM   #5
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I've shot .357 in the 3" SP101 and it hurts....your better off with 38 spcl.
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Old February 23, 2010, 12:17 PM   #6
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You're great with the 38spcl. Go +P and call it a day. I got the 3" 357 as I carry mine in the woods and we have critters that make me want a 357. But, at home and when cc'd it is +p.
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Old February 23, 2010, 02:42 PM   #7
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A Ruger .38 special will probably take .357 pressures BUT .38 SPECIAL BRASS WILL NOT!

"The more law-abiding people that have guns, the better off we are," Hamilton County [Cincinnati] Prosecutor Joe Deters said. "Because the bad guys always have guns, You look at these school shootings or church shootings, the ones that have been stopped, it was because someone there had a gun."
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Old February 23, 2010, 08:40 PM   #8
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Rastus -

IMHO, you done good with the .38 Special.

I wanted a .38 Special SP101 but went with the .357 Mag simply because I wanted a 3" barrel. I finally found a used 3" .357 Mag and by the log I keep for each gun, I've put 626 rounds through it since I found it last fall.

All ammo that I have fired has been reloaded .357 Mag cases with cast bullets at .38 Special velocities.

I don't intend to ever shoot a factory-loaded .357 Mag in a 27 oz. gun.

I have GP100's for shooting .357 Mag ammo.
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Old February 23, 2010, 09:36 PM   #9
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I know what you mean about the bite with magnums in a 3" sp101. I put Hogue monogrips on mine and no more triggerguard bitting into the knuckle and recoil is more maintainable.
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Old February 24, 2010, 03:10 PM   #10
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I've shot .357 in the 3" SP101 and it hurts....your better off with 38 spcl.
Hogwash.... It's not bad at all (and I have the 2" bbl and stock grips). I see no reason why anyone would be better off with the version that has less versatility.

Of course, that's not to say the .38 version is not a great gun (any SP101 is awesome in my book), but I'd rather have the option of shooting both .38 and .357.

It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a time.
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