Review: Another Ruger SP101, but in .22 LR! (VIDEO)

The core of Sturm Ruger’s double-action revolver catalog is built on the SP101. These small frame revolvers go from .357 Magnum down to the lowly .22 LR. They are solid, rugged, and dependable revolvers.

The .22 LR SP-101 is the newest addition to the line-up and it’s about time. Not only does the .22 LR provide an inexpensive way to practice shooting skills that neatly transfer to the other SP101’s, it is an excellent weapon in its own right. The SP101 might just be the perfect kit gun, or pack gun.

The SP-101

Did I mention that the gun is solid? I can still remember the first time I held a Ruger SP-101 revolver. I had been looking for a small frame .357 and leaning toward a Smith J frame. The Ruger was less expensive and much heavier. At the time I found that to be a turnoff.

That same feel is present in the .22 LR. It is heavy – close to two pounds. The Ruger website lists the .22 LR as the heaviest model – heavier than the .357 with the same barrel length. Typo?  Or maybe there is more steel in the cylinder because the holes are so small.

Ruger SP101 SP-101 .22 LR CylinderThe SP-101s all have rubber grips designed to eat up some of the recoil – no that that’s an issue with .22 LR. This particular gun has wooden inserts in the rubber grips, which someone must think looks good. I think it is odd, but they didn’t ask me. Regardless, it is easy to hold onto.

The cylinder holds eight shots and is emptied by the usual full cylinder plunger. This makes emptying the thing super easy. Loading requires a bit more dexterity, if only because the rounds are so small. It is cold out right now and my bumbling digits don’t do too well with the small pegs in the small holes. I’ve lost a number of live rounds in the grass that I’m sure to find with the lawnmower come spring.
Ruger SP101 SP-101 .22 LR Fiber Optic Sights
The sights on the SP101 .22 LR are nicer than the regular SP101 sights – at least the front one. The black blade has been upgraded to a nice fiber optic sight. It would take more care and caution to draw from a holster, but the .22 LR SP101 isn’t really designed for fast draw or concealed carry.

The rear sight is a flat black panel – not a full blown target sight slab, but highly functional. This gives a one-dot pattern that takes a bit to get used to. Had I not received the Ruger Single-Ten for evaluation at the same time, I wouldn’t have known about the availability of the “Williams Fiber Optic Sights.” This system has green dots on the blade and the rear sight and it is a truly exceptional setup.

But the SP-101’s sights work fine. The barrel is just over four inches, which is more than enough for a gun this size. The barrel is long enough to provide reliable accuracy but not so long as to be awkward and hard to manage. The barrel length also helps to balance this gun perfectly. It points well, sits comfortably in the hand and has the negligible recoil you would expect from such a small round.

So how does it shoot?

Like you would expect from a Ruger, the SP-101 shoots perfectly. The double-action trigger pull is solid, but, after a few shots, the break is easily gauged. The weight of the gun helps to keep it steady during the pull.

The single action pull has a touch of creep and then a crisp break. I would like a lighter trigger on the single action, but this isn’t a target gun. The SP-101s are workhorses.

Ruger SP101 SP-101 .22 LR Accuracy

I shot the gun from 50 yards, also. While I couldn’t predictably hit a bull’s-eye, I could spin the spinners about half the time.


The SP101 is a solid choice for a highly functional small caliber revolver. The ammunition is dirt cheap. The gun itself is so solid that I can’t imagine how you could mess it up. I guess if you were to shoot bulk ammo day after day without cleaning it, the guts would get fouled – eventually.

Ruger SP101 SP-101 .22 LR

I inherited a German .22 LR eight shot revolver a few years ago when my father passed away. It was a gun I didn’t know he owned. I wish I had, because I would love to have known the story behind it – how he had come by the gun and why he had wanted it. I shot it a few times, made sure it didn’t mean anything to anyone else in the family and sold it.

Because who needs a .22 revolver anyhow?

Now I feel like such an idiot. .22 LR is ideal for emergency preparedness. If you are talking bug out bags, or a gun you tuck into your pack when you are out hiking, a .22 LR can do wonders. A Ruger SP101 and a Ruger 10/22 rifle (or maybe something even more packable, like a Marlin Papoose) are, in my opinion, essential to any well-planned bug out. They are easy to come by, easy to use, damn near indestructible, and inexpensive to own and shoot. And you can carry a ton of ammo.

But there are more reasons to love the humble SP101 in .22 LR. Almost anyone can shoot one. They are great teaching tools for kids and others learning the ropes. While they look intimidating, they are certainly not. The SP-101, with low noise ammo, might be an ideal way to get that certain reluctant someone into shooting.

There are so many uses for the SP-101. Why wouldn’t you want one?

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