Ruger’s been on a tear this year introducing product after product. And they’re not just slapping diamond plate on a satin nickel gun, either, they’ve really been innovating. In addition to adding new chamberings and variants to their existing products, they’ve been introducing some altogether new ones. Following their first 1911, the SR1911, they brought to market an interesting, albeit niche revolver, their Ruger Single Ten.
The Single Ten is a ten-shot .22 Single Action Army-style revolver. Exceptionally accurate and outfitted with adjustable fiber-optic target sights, the single-action pistol makes a fine target shooter and practice gun for cowboys but not a plinker for everyone. Now they’re going a little more mainstream.
Ruger’s latest is an 8-shot small-frame double-action revolver with a service-length, 4″ barrel. Part of the SP101 line, it’s actually a lot different than the other revolvers in its category. Ruger did more than just dig through some old designs or just re-chamber the existing SP101s; in fact, they did that before and discontinued the line.
Seen here is an example of that particular venture. While it, too, had a 4″ barrel, it had Ruger’s full-on slab dehorned underlug, the new SP101 goes with a lighter and slender partial underlug. The old model also used black target sights where the new one, following the single-ten, goes with a fiber-optic front. Lastly, the old .22 was a six-shooter.
Smith & Wesson, obviously, is a competitor here. But Ruger has an ace up its sleeve, the same one that draws people to all Rugers, and that’s the price. Smith makes a great service-length .22, their 10-shot 617. Not only does it weigh 39 ounces, thirty percent more than the SP101 in .22, it also costs a hundred bucks more and doesn’t come with fiber-optic sights.
Smith also has their featherweight Scandium 317 Kit Gun, which does have a light pipe on the front, and it costs about the same, roughly $500. Also an 8-shot, the lightweight revolver is known for its heavy trigger on account of the low frame mass; it needs to be heavy to ensure solid primer strikes. That’s the tradeoff for a revolver that weighs in at practically nothing; 13 ounces.
An SP101 in .22 hits a middle ground there. Light enough to be a kit gun, heavy enough to be an all-day plinker. With an MSRP of $675/real-world price of $500, there are going to be a few people uninterested in it. But you get a lot with a Ruger. Which is to say, a gun that will last for-ev-er. So if you’re looking for a trail gun, a plinker, or a trainer, a sexy new Ruger SP101 could fit the bill nicely.