Lipsey’s Exclusive Ruger SP101 357 Magnum with 3" Half-Lug Barrel

by Matt Olivier

photography by Matt Olivier

August 12th, 2020

Click pictures for a larger version.







In 1989, a few years after the successful introduction of the GP-100 6-shot double action revolver, Ruger introduced the SP101.  It was first launched as a 5-shot, stainless steel, double action revolver with a 2-¼” barrel.  Over the years, various different models have been made in various barrel lengths, from 2 1/4” to 4”, various calibers, from 22 LR, 32 H&R, 327 Fed, 9mm to 357 Mag, and in various configurations, single/double action to double action only to spurless hammers.  The revolver has proven to be very popular and has been used around the world by civilians and law enforcement agencies alike.

A few years ago, Lipsey’s, one of the nation’s biggest firearms distributors, introduced an exclusive run of 5” barrel GP-100 revolvers chambered in 44 Special.  The guns were blued with a ½ lug, 5” barrel, a gold bead front sight, and smooth walnut stocks.  In keeping with the theme of this GP-100 exclusive, at SHOT Show 2020, Lipsey’s announced a new exclusive Ruger SP101 with a blued ½ lug, 3” barrel version, chambered in 357 Magnum. 

I had the opportunity to work with this gun and, while it is a handful with the hotter 357 magnum loads, I found it to be a great little revolver.  The gun comes from Ruger in the typical grey plastic case.  It has the standard factory one-piece rubber grips with a set of nicely carved and checkered wood inserts.  It also has a gold bead front sight and rear adjustable sights, a much appreciated option which better allows the use of both 38 special and 357 magnum ammunition without having the point of impact issues so often seen with fixed sight guns.  The rear sight allows for a large amount of adjustment to dial the point of impact to your preferred load.  For example, with the gun sighted in for 125-gr self-defense 357 mag ammo, standard 38 special 158 gr target loads shot about 8-10” high at 10 yards.  The rear adjustable sight, along with the tall gold bead front sight, allowed for adjustments to bring this point of impact down appropriately.

I tested the gun with various brands of ammunition and this little SP-101 performed flawlessly with 38 Special target loads, 38 Special self-defense loads, 357 mag target loads and 357 mag self-defense loads.  I will readily admit that 125 gr 357 magnum +P loads are a handful in this gun, even though it’s an all-steel gun.  The recoil was significantly improved when shooting 38 Specials, even the 110 gr JHP loads felt much more comfortable.

This revolver would make for a great trail gun, where it could be kept loaded with snake shot, if needed, and either 38 specials or 357 magnums, depending on its intended use.  If it were me, here in the Arizona outdoors, I’d have one round of snake shot available as my first round, followed by a couple rounds of 38 specials.  The last two rounds would be 357 magnum self-defense loads, in case they are needed for social work.  I’d carry reloads in a Quick Strip, like the ones manufactured by TUFF Products.  They are lightweight, flat, and flexible, allowing for a quick reload (I prefer 2 rounds at time), while storing flat in a pants, coat or shirt pocket.  They come in packs of two, allowing for reloads of different types of ammunition should you so desire, and come in 5-, 6-, 7- or 8-round configurations.  For outdoor use, I could easily get by with a couple of these Quick Strips.  With this SP-101 loaded with 5 rounds, a 7-round and an 8-round Quick Strip loaded with spare ammo, I’d be perfectly happy out and about and would feel more than adequately prepared for anything that may come my way.  For more “social” carry, and in self-defense situations, while I always have a couple of Quick Strips with me, I also carry one or two speed loaders, as they do allow for much quicker reloads, which could come in handy in a gunfight.

As I was reviewing this revolver, Mike “Doc” Barranti send along one of his wonderful basketweave CCR holsters.  This is an outside the belt holster that retains the revolver very securely, without being impossible to get the gun out of it, or back in it after use.  The holster has a retention screw allowing for best adjustment to the gun, and to the user.  It also has a slot in the belt loop allowing for optimal positioning of the holster on the belt, over a belt loop, for the best, tightest and most secure fit.  Doc Barranti has been making high quality leather holsters for almost 25 years.  His holsters are works of art, with strong influence from the past leather masters such as SD Myres, Milt Sparks, and Bruce Nelson.  You can’t go wrong with one of his holsters.

Along with Mike’s wonderful holster, Bobby Tyler, of Tyler Gun Works, sent along a very nice set of stag grip inserts.  These simply replace the factory wood inserts and are installed using the factory grip screw.  They add a very nice, and classy, touch to the gun, some character as well, and not to mention a little personalization.  Combined with the Barranti Holster, this makes for quite a nice carry package.

Overall, I found this revolver to be very reliable with all sorts of ammunition, whether it be mild 38 special target loads, or +P 357 magnum self-defense loads.  While it can be a handful with the latter, it is a pure joy to shoot with the former.  Stick it in a masterpiece holster from Mike, at Barranti Leather and you would be hard pressed to find a better suited all-around revolver that is packable, easy to conceal, and reliable.

As of this writing (August, 2020), this gun is available exclusively from Lipsey’s and MSRP is $719.

Check out Ruger's product line at

For a Lipsey's-affiliated dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

Visit Barranti Leather Co. online at

For a full line of custom work & products, contact Tyler Gun Works at

TUFF Products Quick Strips are available from TUFF Products at, or from a wide variety of retailers.

Order ammo online at

Matt Olivier

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Click pictures for a larger version.



Lipsey's Exclusive 3" Half-Lug SP101 with Stag grip inserts from Tyler Gun Works, Barranti Leather CCR holster, and TUFF Products Quick Strips.



Barranti Leather CCR holster.



The SP101 proved to be very effective using a wide variety of ammo.