Proof Positive This Gun Is Rock Solid by Lyndon Combs
From the time I was thirteen and shot my first .44 magnum a Ruger Red hawk with a 5″ barrel, I have been an avid Ruger enthusiast. So when I decided I needed a smaller gun than my Beretta 92 to pack, I naturally turned my attention to the Ruger SP101 and started shopping around for one in .357 Magnum. The first time I saw one of these pistols on the cover of a gun magazine I knew I would eventually own one. The search was slow and took me several months to find one in my hometown. I couldn’t just ask them to order one for me because I knew I would have to put it in layaway. Finally a local gun shop got one in stock. It was over priced, but having looked for so long I decided to slap my money down, and it went into layaway.
At the time I was working at the local water plant, and I wasn’t making much money so it took me a month to finally get to take the gun home. It has always been one of my most memorable gun purchases. You see at the time, the work I was doing was very hard, and I was constantly handling chemicals, so using my hard earned money to treat myself to a new gun was a very big event. It had been a couple of years since I had been able to buy a gun. The last one being my Beretta, I had bought when money was flowing a little more.
I took my new Ruger home, and put it in my nightstand. I had to wait for my next paycheck to be able to afford some shells, but in two weeks I had the money. Remember I was on a budget so I picked up two boxes of Winchester 110 grain hollow points at Wally World. They were cheap, and 50 to a box. I couldn’t wait to get to the range to try my gun out. It was a Saturday, so I headed straight to the range to blast. It felt like it took me minutes to load the gun once I got to the firing line, but I got it done, and took aim at a target 20 yards down range, and squeezed the trigger. Bam, and OUCH!!!!!!!!
The first shot from the gun told me one thing, I would need to change the grips, they just didn’t cut the mustard. So I stopped after firing only 5 rounds through the gun, packed up my stuff and headed to the house to start researching grips for the SP 101. I quickly came to the conclusion that there was only one good choice for replacement grips, Hogue Grippers. I had to wait another month until I had to be in Lexington Kentucky (an hour and half from my hometown) for a doctor appointment to get a set, but I got my grips. I slapped them on in the gun shop parking lot. They fit my hand perfectly. I could tell a big difference in the feel of the gun. Now to see if the ouch was gone.
I got back to my hometown at about 5:30 in the evening, and headed straight to a spot to try the gun out. I had the boxes of shells, and all I needed was an old can or something of that nature as a target. I found a bunch of old beer cans on the old dirt road going the strip job where I was going to shoot. Once I was at the spot I was going to shoot. I took aim, squeezed the trigger, and bam!!!!!! No ouch. I then finished off the box of shells, all forty-five rounds. It shot great, no problems. The gun from then on was my main side arm. I carried the gun in the woods, in the car, on the street; everywhere I went I packed this gun.
When my father became Constable in the late 90’s I let him pack it as his service revolver. When that time was over it went back to being my main source of protection. It never failed me, a great gun, but the next step on this guns journey would prove it was tougher than I had ever thought possible.
In the summer of 2003 my family and I opened a Tobacco shop in a part of town known as Christopher Road. The area we soon found was full of thieves and drug addicts so I kept the gun in my pocket, or under the counter as protection from the drug taking thieves that would fall through the door. After doing this for about five months the gun was stolen from under that counter and I was crazy with worry. I called the State Police first thing, and they got the serial number into the system, and I went home to get my old Beretta to pack. I soon started packing two more guns to work.
The only other two small guns I had in the house were a Taurus .32 Magnum, and a Beretta .22LR pocket gun to take up the slack, but they were no comparison for my Ruger SP 101. We eventually had to use the two guns to defend our shop, and our lives against a robber, and his car. The Beretta was a bit more to pack in my pocket so I left it under the counter in a concealed drawer. That left me with only the .22, and the .32. After this incident I missed my Ruger SP 101 even more, it was what I needed to keep in my pocket. The SP101 was perfect for me it was small, compact, and delivered a lot of punch. I wouldn’t have to wait too much longer to be reunited with my Ruger.
Late one night I got a call from the Manchester Sheriffs office (a small town about 45 miles from my hometown) they had recovered my Ruger, and said I could come and pick it up anytime at the Sheriffs office. I asked them how they had recovered the gun, and was told it was found at the site of a car accident that was still under investigation. I got up the next morning and made the trip to the Manchester Sheriffs office to finally get my gun back. After proving who I was I was handed my Ruger, and it was a sad site. It had been shot repeatedly without being cleaned, and was scratched badly. I sat down with the deputy who worked the wreck where the gun had been found, and was amazed at the story.
On the previous night a car chase on highway 80 that runs through Manchester resulted in a horrendous crash. The car going in excess of 100 mph flipped end over end approximately six times, and on the last flip the gun was actually seen flying out of the window where it came to rest on the highway where the deputy picked it up, and took charge of the weapon. The driver of the car did live. He stated his son gave the gun to him for Christmas, and that his son bought it from a guy he worked with at a coal company strip job. The gun was only scratched up, and needed cleaned after being thrown around in the car, and then out of it in the crash now that’s tough.
I thanked the deputy, and left with my gun. On the way home I thought about what I would do with the damaged gun. I knew by the time I got home that I was absolutely going to keep the gun. I had done a great deal of thinking on the way home, and I decided the best place to start was looking the gun over inside and out then make a list of any problems. The action would barely move, you really had to strain to get the gun to cock. The finish of the gun was scratched everywhere. The front site was caked in mud. I dreaded what I would find inside the gun after I took it apart. I decided after looking the gun over that I would call Ruger with the information, and see what they recommended. I sat at a table covered with a newspaper and I started to disassemble the gun. It was a mess inside, the guy had to have taken it into the mines with him. I could think of no other way to get so much coal dust down in the action of a revolver. I cleaned for two days on the gun, and then I used steel wool to re-brush the stainless finish of the gun.
Surprisingly the gun was not in bad shape after I cleaned it up, I discovered that the action worked properly, and the finish looked close to the way it looked when it was stolen. I put the gun back together, grabbed a box of cartridges and headed to the range. It was nice to feel the familiar weight of the gun again. I shot a whole box of cartridges that day and the gun functioned perfectly, I couldn’t believe that all it needed was a good cleaning. When I picked the gun up at the sheriff’s office I just knew I would have to send the gun back to Ruger for a full re-furbish. That has been three years ago, and the gun has had a good many rounds shot through it since then, and it has never failed to function properly. The Ruger SP101 is a nearly indestructible firearm.