12-01-2011, 12:08 PM
Will pick up a Ruger Sp 101 w/ 2 1/4 in barrel tomorrow as the 48 hr waiting period ends at 10:30. This little devil shoots .357 mags or 38's. Gun will be used as a CCW and home protection. My question is what loads should I use for fun and what loads should I use for defense. Plan on shooting this weapon a lot just for fun so I'd prefer to keep it a little tame with those loads. I don't reload anymore so all my ammo will be purchased.
12-01-2011, 01:23 PM
I carried a SP 101 for years. A good little handgun. Very easy to conceal. Mine had a 3 1/8 inch barrel. Problem was in shooting any kind of .357 load I found the accuracy was terrible. The recoil was also poor and with my large hands the trigger guard would gouge my fingers. I almost gave up on it, but then switched to .38 special ammo which it also handled. The accuracy tightened up surprisingly well for a 3 1/8 inch barrel. The recoil all but disappeared. In talking with a gunsmith he told me that with the higher velocity of .357 ammo the bullets did not stabilize in the short barrel (3 1/8"). The best ammo I used was Remington Golden Sabre's in .38 Special +P 125 Grain. Granted, in very close encounters one might argue horsepower over accuracy is the way to go. Based on my experience however, I would take a balanced approach with accuracy first, then reliability and third acceptable power. The other negative I found with any type of .357 ammo I tested was when shooting at night. Firing .357 ammo in the SP101 at night caused such a muzzle flash that you were rendered all most blind leaving you unable to see where your target was for for a second shot. The first time I did fire my SP101 at night? I thought the gun and my hand blew up. With 38 Special ammo that flash effect is much more manageable. My gunsmith told me that the excessive flash was from the powder not burning completely within the short barrel. Which also meant you were losing velocity anyway with the hotter .357 loads. Another downside to the .357? If you have ever fired a .357 in a small room you probably have hearing damage. The retort of a .38 special is bad enough. I would have recommended the 3 1/8" SP 101. It carries, conceals well and the almost 1" longer barrel does improve accuracy. In fact I brought back the very same length barrel SP101 you bought for that reason and went to the 3 1/8" model. First and foremost with your new hand gun, learn to handle it safely. Then practice, practice, practice and then practice some more. When you can quickly put 5 shots inside a 12" circle at 25 feet without hardly thinking about it you will be getting part way there. Concealed carry is far different than hunting. You take on an even more serious responsibility. Not that handling any firearm is not a serious responsibility. Just hope you never have to use your weapon. Keep your head clear always and be prepared if you do.
For target practice or plinking? .38 special target loads with 158 grain semi wad cutters are very reasonable in price.
12-01-2011, 01:37 PM
38 loads for practice. it will save you money.. i would also recommend 38 +p defense loads like Hornady, Speer or Winchester PDX-1 for self defense. Most will say 357, but a 357 is very loud, has a fair amount of recoil and the muzzle flash is quite bright especially if you are in your home in the dark. A 357 load will also tend to penetrate walls and can endanger others in your house. A 38 load is no where NEAR a 357 load as far as power, but the new defense loads in 38 make it a much better option. I would save the 357 loads for walking in the woods for protection against creatures.
Not sure how sensitive you are to recoil, but lets say your wife has to use the gun and you are loaded with some strong XTX 357 defense loads. I will say that it can be intimitating for a smaller framed women. I have a 2" snubby in 357/38. i shoot 357 at the range once in a while but its quite snappy.
12-01-2011, 02:41 PM
I use .38 Special 130 grain FMJ loads for practice. Lately, I've been buying Remingtons because they are the least expensive.
For carry, I use the Federal .38 Special 125 grain Nyclad load. It's a soft lead hollow point with a nylon coating so it doesn't cause barrel leading. Slug is close in weight to the practice load. The alternative is the .38 Special 158 grain semi-wadcutter hollow point +P round (a.k.a, FBI load, available from Remington, Winchester and Federal. The retired cops I know favor these loads for the .38 Special S&W snubnose revolvers they carry.
People I know who shoot the Ruger SP101 really like it.
12-02-2011, 06:38 AM
Not sure I know many, either male or female that after shooting a box of hot .357 loads though these smaller guns wants to go another box, hot loads/light gun is a great way to develop a flinch..:)
I run the 38 special Winchester white box loads though my smaller/lighter guns, and .38+p's for defense, I'm running Hornady loads right now but they change from time to time, and I think any of the major self defense loads will work for defense.
Like said, not the most accurate set up, but pleanty good for self defense and plinking, biggest thing is to shoot the gun enough to become familiar with it.
They tell me you don't get to think when the back door gets kicked in, you get to react, and knowing your firearm very well is a start to doing that succesfully..imho
12-04-2011, 07:49 AM
Most self defense is up close and personal. I'm talking 10 feet or less. If you want to have a measure of your longest practical shot, measure the longest space in your home from a firing position to a would be target. Most homes, even down a long hallway, or from one room into another won't go beyond 15 yards/30 feet. That's the distance to practice at. Practice in dim light and from different shooting angles, and stances as well.
12-04-2011, 12:18 PM
I committed a "stupider" . 15 yards is 45 feet - not 30. Hopefully the overall point was made.