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Old October 3, 2013, 01:54 PM   #1
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Ruger SP101 versus S & W Model 60 - 3" barrel

I like the smaller frame revolvers and have wanted one in a 3" barrel. I don't want this to turn into a "Smith fan versus Ruger fan" thread. I'm basically looking for some information.

Originally, I was looking for a Smith Model 36 with a 3" barrel. Instead, I ran across a 36 with a 2" barrel - I love the J frame size and it will become one of my CCW guns. I carry on the belt and make my own holsters - the weight and size are an easy carry.

In the process, I took a look at the S & W Model 60. Looked to be what I might like. I also took a look at the Ruger SP101. Also looked to be what I might like. I own both Smiths and Rugers - both are great as far as I'm concerned and I am pleased with both makes.

I want a 3" in 357 - just for the option of shooting both 38/357. Normally, I shoot 38 but have gotten in to reloading so will probably be looking at the 357 cartridge as well as I am looking to pick up a single shot rifle in that caliber just for plinking and range fun. I cast my own slugs so that is what will be used primarily. In comparing the two . .

Barrel - S & W - 3" Ruger - 3"
Material - S & W - SS Ruger - SS
Rounds - S & W - 5 Ruger - 5
Overall Length - S & W - 7.75 Ruger - 8
Weight - S & W - 24.5 oz Ruger - 27 oz
Sight - S & W - adj rear Ruger - fixed
MSRP - S & W - $759 Ruger - $659

In comparing these specs - they are very close.

I called around and currently, I found one Model 60 - price $759 - no dickering. As I have found, supply of these is thin.
I saw a Ruger SP101 the other day - didn't look at it close as the LGS was busy but the tag was $599

If I am correct, the Smith has a barrel liner? I'm not sure on the Ruger. I read a thread a while back that said in terms of the type of rifling in the barrel, the Ruger was the better revolver to feed lead rounds through. Can someone shed some light on that?

I want a 3" for multiple use - i.e. plinking, range and carry OTB CCW when I feel like a change. Allthough it won't get a steady diet of them, I will also be loading up some shot cartridges using Speer capsule for carry when I'm in snake locations. For SD, it will be loaded with factory SD loads but the majority of the time, it will have my lead reloads going through it. The price difference between the two as well as the minimal weight and OAL is not really a factor. I just need to know which would be the better for lead?

If a pair of '51 Navies were good enough for Billy Hickok, then a single Navy on my right hip is good enough for me . . . besides . . . I'm probably only half as good as he was anyways. Hiram's Rangers Badge #63
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Old October 3, 2013, 02:01 PM   #2
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of those two guns, the S&W will usually have a nicer trigger. the Ruger will take all the magnum loads your hand can take.

if a 3" "J" frame sized .357 was my goal, the sp101 would be my target hands down.
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Old October 3, 2013, 02:19 PM   #3
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The price difference between the two as well as the minimal weight and OAL is not really a factor. I just need to know which would be the better for lead?
I have never seen any suggestion that one is better for lead than the other.
It would appear that you are just going to be stuck with choosing the one that has more visual appeal for you than the other...or you could buy both.
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Old October 3, 2013, 02:58 PM   #4
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LOL - I wish I could get both as they are both nice pistols!

I didn't bookmark the piece I am referring to in regards to the Ruger being the better one for lead rounds. I should have. If I am remembering it correctly, it had to do with the type of rifling Smith utilizes versus the one Ruger uses? If that makes any sense?

To be honest, in the beginning I was leaning towards the Smith until I took a good look at the Ruger. My Ruger revolvers are all well built and rugged (not that Smiths aren't). The one thing that I am looking at is the sights. This will be holster carry and I am used to shooting SAA style revolvers with pretty basic fixed sights. I have a feeling it's going to boil down to putting them side by side and then flipping a coin?

A little bit related to this - i have read some posts over time that some folks go on and on about they would never buy a Smith (such as the current 60) because it has a "lined barrel", "internal lock", etc. I take those things with a grain of salt. With the technology and engineering today, Smith wouldn't put it out if it wasn't tested and proven. Too many of that model have been sold without any problems cropping up. The same goes for Ruger's SP 101 in regards to their materials, processes, etc.
If a pair of '51 Navies were good enough for Billy Hickok, then a single Navy on my right hip is good enough for me . . . besides . . . I'm probably only half as good as he was anyways. Hiram's Rangers Badge #63
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Old October 3, 2013, 03:52 PM   #5
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S&W does make 2 versions of the 3" M60. The Pro Series lists for $20 more and has the laminated laser-etched woos grips, slab-sided barrel, and front night sights.

Here's the regular model, with black blade front sight, rubber grips, round barrel.
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Old October 3, 2013, 04:24 PM   #6
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I'd rather get a 3" GP100 and throw on some Lett style compact grips. Get an extra round, and more weight to soak up recoil.
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Old October 4, 2013, 06:50 AM   #7
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I owned an SP101 3" for a while. I liked it a lot and it was capable of tiny groups at 25yds...unfortunately, the groups were not to POA. It consistently shot very low and left. No, it wasn't me. My other fixed sight revolvers shoot to POA.
I sold it.
Now, I own a 3" GP fixed sight, and I couldn't be happier with it. As Dan-O suggested, I put on a set of compact Lett grips, and I'm really loving this revolver. Compact for carry, good heft for heavy magnum loads, and terrific accuracy. And my GP shoots to POA!
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Old October 4, 2013, 08:13 AM   #8
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Thankk you all for your input but again, I know the two revolvers are both good. I'm looking for information in regards to what I had read on a thread pertaining to the rifling that the mfgs. use in the barrels of the SP101 and Smith Model 60. It referred to the type of rifling in the Ruger SP101 being better than the type of rifling used in the Smith as being better for shooting lead bullets.

I am asking the in regards to these two particular models. I cast and reload my own and my question is related to that. Thank you.
If a pair of '51 Navies were good enough for Billy Hickok, then a single Navy on my right hip is good enough for me . . . besides . . . I'm probably only half as good as he was anyways. Hiram's Rangers Badge #63
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Old October 4, 2013, 11:49 AM   #9
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After doing a quick search, I found several threads around the internet describing S&W rifling in the Model 60 as deeper and more defined than the SP-101.

I doubt most anyone would see a real world difference, but deeper rifling is "better" for soft lead bullets (as opposed to jacketed, even hard cast lead is softer than a copper jacket). So, under lab conditions at 700 yards, all other things being equal, and not taking into account gravity, you might see better accuracy and slightly higher muzzle velocities with the Model 60 with hand cast lead.

But there's another issue, deeper rifling is harder to clean, and leading will be an issue since, you know, you're shooting lead. So yes, you might get slightly better performance from a Model 60 with lead bullets, but it will also be slightly more of a pain to clean. Again, shooting lead isn't going to be a spotless, clean affair with any gun, so the differences between the two would be slight.

There's only issue I can think of that might be turning warning lights on in your head and that is it's not good to shoot lead bullets in a barrel with polygonal rifling. You can google that to learn more, but neither of the SP-101 or the Model 60 have that.
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Old October 4, 2013, 07:06 PM   #10
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ckpj99 - thanks very much for the info - I appreciate it. I wish I had bookmarked the thread that I caught that on and could remember the diffrences in the rifling between the two. It may very well have been in reference to the rifling depth. From what your info is, either would work but I agree, the Smith would probably be more apt to lead up quicker.

And, like anything else on the internet . . . I don't know how slanted the writer was in terms of favoring the Ruger over the Smith.

Your information is very helpful - thanks for taking the time to post it. Now to see what I can scrounge up in terms of what I can find in my area which might have a lot to do with what I go with. Right now, I'm favoring the Ruger, if for no other reason than I think the bore would be easier to clean if/when leading occurs.

Thanks again!
If a pair of '51 Navies were good enough for Billy Hickok, then a single Navy on my right hip is good enough for me . . . besides . . . I'm probably only half as good as he was anyways. Hiram's Rangers Badge #63
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Old October 4, 2013, 08:06 PM   #11
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Good luck! I'm seeing SP101s hit the shelf lately so grab one as soon as you see it if that's what you're after. I've seen sticker prices as low as $520 (lgs) and$535 (Fleet Farm) for the SP101, which puts it at a nice savings over the smith.
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Old October 4, 2013, 08:35 PM   #12
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No problem, bedbug. Last year I was in my LGS shopping for a CC revolver. I always buy used, and I've been researching revolvers for more than 10 years. So, if I'm in the market, which is rarely, there's always half a dozen things I want.

They had a nickel Model 36 with a three inch barrel in great shape. They also had two SP-101s with slightly different specs, maybe the sights or something. The two other revolvers I own are S&W, but I really don't have a bias. Especially when it comes to a 40 year old S&W vs a relatively newish SP-101.

The price's were similar, and this old timer who works at the shop is chatting with me. He says, "you're a Smith guy, you're going with the Smith." And that's what I went with. It just gets in your blood. You like what you like.
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Old October 4, 2013, 09:31 PM   #13
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I have both. I like both. They are the same, but different. There are personal preference areas, such as trigger pull, sights and grips which you may find important to be determining factors. Both guns needed grips that fit me, and trigger jobs. I currently have a Trausch grip on the 101 and Pachmayr grip on the 60Pro. Both triggers are very good. It would be difficult to pick which is better. The 60Pro comes with very good sights. The 101 has crap sights, but it is fixable if you want. I sent mine to the Cylinder and Slide Shop for S&W J frame sights. I didn't know how accurate it was until it had good sights.

The bottom line is, look at both and pick one based on your personal preferences.
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Old October 4, 2013, 11:00 PM   #14
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Having handloaded ammunition for both S&W and Ruger revolvers (though not those specific models) I've not found one to be particularly better suited to cast bullets than the other. The only difference that I noticed was that .430" bullets caused more severe leading in my .44 Magnum loads in my Ruger Redhawk than they did in my S&W 629. While I never slugged the bore, I suspect that the Ruger's groove diameter was a bit deeper than the S&W's hence the increased leading. That doesn't mean that the Ruger was necessarily a bad gun, just that I should have been using slightly larger bullets in it (you typically want cast bullets to be a thousandth or two over groove diameter).
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Old October 5, 2013, 07:04 PM   #15
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Webleymkv - LOL. One of the problems I have is that I currently have six (3 38s and 3 357s) that I shoot. I haven't slugged any of them nor the chamber throats - 2 snubbies, 1 - 4", 1 - 5 1/2" and 2 - 6" barrels. I have cast up about a 1,000 rounds of lead slugs - some 158 gr roll lube SWC and 150 gr RN. What I'm finding is that there is a variance sometimes in the diameter of the cast rounds. I have decided to size everything to .358 to be consistent and go from there on my loads - try them out in each of my pistols and see what happens. Your comments on your experiences are interesting and I'm sure that either the 101 or the 60 would be fine - and let's face it, you can take two different revolvers of he same model and they are going to shoot different in some manner.

My first Smith was a 1920s something M & P Target (6")- it has lots of "character" in terms of finish wear but it is a sweet shooter. I also have a 1910 Colt Army Special with a 6" barrel and while it's fun to shoot - I still pick up the Smith first. I love vintage revolvers!

Tom -I think you are right! I have a feeling that it is going to be a hard decision to make as both the 101 and the 60 have little + and - but nothing that can't be adjusted to. I really wish I could afford one of each but that will be down the road a ways. Both are great looking revolves.

ckpj99 - I also usually buy used and really like vintage wheel guns. Maybe I'm just old but to me, they have more appeal. Your 36 nickel sounds nice. I was on the search for a 3" but ran across a 2" 36 - blued. From what I can find on it - made in the 80s. From the looks of it, it has never been fired and was probably a nightstand gun - just about as perfect as could be. I like the feel of it and it will be one of my primary carries. I couldn't pass it up even though it wasn't really on my "list". I've been using a LCR 357 (one of the few guns I've bought new) and while I like it - certainly light to carry and it shoots good for what it is, I have a feeling that the 36 will take over and the LCR will be delegated to a drawer. The LCR is a good revolver but I have never quite gotten used to the, how do I say this? Ugliness? and the construction of it - material wise. I just like the heft of a steel handgun. But, if I run across a 101 or a 60, I can use it for trading stock as well.

Thanks all for your help. I'll post when I find a 101 or a 60. I had a chance to get a 101 in 32 H & R Mag - 3" a short time ago and passed as I wanted a 357. I'll probably regret it but hey, the hunt is half the fun! Thanks again all!
If a pair of '51 Navies were good enough for Billy Hickok, then a single Navy on my right hip is good enough for me . . . besides . . . I'm probably only half as good as he was anyways. Hiram's Rangers Badge #63
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Old October 5, 2013, 11:05 PM   #16
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I'd buy the revolver without a built in lock.
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Old October 5, 2013, 11:14 PM   #17
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Billy, slim chance that we truly feel "alike", but I'll tell you what occurs to me when I read what you've said here.

Me, not you, but me: I love revolvers. LOVE 'EM! I'm a S&W guy, I thought L-frames were all that mattered in the world until I realized that K-frames were probably even better. I bought a Model 28 recently, and now I think a big N-frame .357 is a rolling riot and one's life would be EMPTY without one, for heavy .357 or sure, for .38, too! Bottom line, I like all from K to N.

I owned a J-frame, 3" Model 60, .357, for a short time. If found that action was -sweet- and the build felt "rock solid", it inspired confidence and it was accurate. But I didn't enjoy shooting it. I have never classified myself as "recoil sensitive." I carry a Glock 29, 10mm, with snotty, heavy stuff in it. I play with some harsh handguns, for fun. Some I like more than others. I'm not a masochist and I don't attempt to beat myself up for enjoyment, but I don't shy away from recoil. However, the Model 60 could not stay in my world because I just didn't enjoy shooting it. For me to -NOT- enjoy shooting an accurate gun that I thought was a darn good, solid, quality gun? It was the real deal.

I will go on record and sign my name to the idea that I do -NOT- like snub nosed revolvers. I think they are ugly, I think they are horribly difficult to shoot well, and I have no thoughts of carrying them for a handful of reasons. So I look at every one of them with a sneer and I have my mind "made up" before I even touch them.

My buddy snagged a 2-inch Model 10, K-frame. I love K-frames, as I said. Thing looked senseless and homely to me. I laughed at it. Actually, I still haven't had the pleasure of shooting it yet. (MAN, I need to rectify that)

But wow, was I shocked at how it felt in my hand. It felt so familiar, it felt like a K-frame, one I know and I love. It felt "right", as no snubbie has ever felt in my hand.

It's not "right" for me, I live to shoot revolvers but have no desire to carry one. For me to buy a snubbie would be like a guy with 20/20 vision sticking a knife in his eye just cause he saw a GREAT pair of glasses he thinks would look spiffy on himself.

My point? Given what you have, what you KNOW, and what you like to shoot...

Have you looked at a snubbie K-Frame?!
Maybe you should! Just to see if it "grabs" you.
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Old October 6, 2013, 02:02 AM   #18
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If you do decide to go with the SP. Get the Wolff spring kit. You will not be disappointed.

I recently installed a Wolff spring kit and it took the 10.5 DA pull down to 7.5.
When you take that much off the trigger pull it adds to the smoothness of the trigger. The rough spots receive less friction from the lighter pull. I shoot DA more than SA now.
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Old October 11, 2013, 09:01 AM   #19
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sp101 doesnt feel right to me

I have a 3" sp101 in .38, but even after changing grips it simply doesnt "feel right" in my hand (wide, with long slender fingers) and is front heavy. i like rugers otherwise and cc an lcr. i do like the 3" barrel length, it poses no hindrance to cc, and wish 3" were more common in all revolver makes.
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