Armslist fails: “RUGER 4.20″ SP101 GREAT COONDITION [CUSTOM]”

So PDB sent me this early in the morning, and it almost made me hit the tequila at 0800. I love Armlist fails, but this one? This may be the new world record. Let’s begin with the first photo, shall we?

armslist fail ruger SP101-1

I’m honestly sure whether this is a photo of a gun for sale, or a modern art piece. In fact, I don’t even know where to start with this one. I mean sure, there’s a partially consumed box of ammo, a set of car keys, and it’s nice to see that someone is taking my advice about carrying a hammer for self-defense seriously, I really have two questions about this photo. First, why does the guy appear to only have 4 toes, and second what in the actual f*** is going on with the grip of that poor SP101?

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Cowboys vs. Zombies

Henry Big Boy with Ruger Blackhawk and Ka-Bar

I’m not saying that I’m prepping to survive an 1800s zombie apocalypse, but the thought did occur to me. In the photo: Henry Big Boy .45 Colt, Ruger Blackhawk .45 Colt, Ka-Bar, Hornady 255gr LRN, and Winchester 225gr PDX. Click more for a couple more photos.

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.327 Federal: the little cartridge that should have made it

Very briefly in yesterday’s post on the Ruger SP101, I mentioned the .327 Federal, what is now a boutique revolver cartridge. I loved the idea of the .327 Federal when it was introduced as a joint venture between Ruger and Federal, and I’ve always nursed a bit of disappointment that it never really caught on.


These days, the only company still making .327 is Federal/ATK, and you can have it in whatever flavor you like, so long as you like either Speer JHP, Hydra-Shok JHPs, or American Eagle soft points. New manufactured guns are almost all Rugers, on their small frame single action package with a seventh shot thrown in. The Single Seven, as it’s called, is available as a distributor exclusive through Lipseys and comes with either a 4.63 inch barrel, a 5.5 inch barrel, or a 7.5 inch barrel.

Ruger Single Seven 7.5 inch barrel

It seems that the .327 has settled down into a niche as a solid small game cartridge, even through the preponderance of available loads are catered towards self-defense. Today I want to look at why the .327 never really caught on – in many ways it’s the .357 Sig of revolver rounds. A modern invention with a lot of potential that never really went anywhere. To understand the .327 Federal, you have to look at its parent cartridge, the .32 H&R Magnum, which was itself a stretched and upgraded version of .32 S&W Long. In fact, you can shoot any of those cartridges in a .327 Federal revolver, although with the .32 S&W you’re going to be jumping so much freebore your rounds will think they’re Tony Hawk.

Back to the cartridge itself, it was originally launched with a Ruger SP101 that held six shots, and a GP100 that held seven. The .327 Federal actually did offer a ballistic upgrade over .38 Special as well; while my memory of 8 years ago is a little hazy, I seem to recall ballistic tests showing that it outperformed most .38 Special loads out of the SP101, but not quite up to the snuff of a full house .357 Magnum. It was easy to shoot as well, it was accurate, and as I’ve mentioned repeatedly you could hold one more round in the gun. More ammo is better, right? So why didn’t it catch on?

We actually have a long history with .32 caliber cartridges that don’t quite get there. The .32-20, the .32 Magnum itself, and then the .327 Federal are all great examples. The Federal, in my opinion, suffered from being an answer to a question people didn’t know they should be asking. Like the .32 Magnum before it, most people who carried revolvers looked at the .327 and said “what does this do that my .38 doesn’t?” Because the cost of getting into a new cartridge, buying expensive new ammo/reloading supplies, and searching for important defensive accessories like speedloaders or speed strips wasn’t really worth it just to get one more round in the gun. And really, that makes economic sense. A 10 or 15% increase in terminal performance doesn’t really justify getting into a boutique cartridge.

So the .327 quietly became a small-market round mostly used for hunting. It’s legal for deer in some states, and Buffalo Bore produces pretty hot ammo for it. I do think that if Ruger wanted to try for a comeback on the little round, they should chamber an LCR for it. The .327 Federal and the super-light, super compact LCR would be a pretty good match. It would also be pretty neat to be packaged with a rotary magazine and the Ruger American rifle, but that crosses into the land of “things Caleb likes to imagine.”

Revolver Tour #15: Ruger SP101 Wiley Clapp

Ruger SP101 Wiley Clapp

True statement: the Ruger SP101 is the only small frame revolver that I’ll voluntarily shoot any volume of heavy magnum ammo out of. Like all Ruger revolvers, it embraces over-engineering as a good thing, and while I wouldn’t call it “pleasant” to shoot with hot ammo, it’s certainly more fun to shoot than anything else in its size class.

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Revolver Tour #10: Ruger Vaquero .45 Colt

Ruger Vaquero with Winchester PDX

I’ve only had this gun for a couple of days, and I already love it. There’s something deeply satisfying, something good and right about a big steel revolver chambered in .45 Colt. It looks nice. It feels good in the hand. It provides those wonderful clicking noises as you slowly thumb the hammer back, and you feel a connection with the cowboys of old as the gun thumps and rolls in your hand as you send 250 grains of lead downrange.

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A revolver tour: Ruger GP100 4.2

Ruger GP100 4.2 Hogue stocks

During this week, I’m going to be taking you guys through a tour of some of the various wheelguns I own. This started from a photo I posted on my fan page, which turned into a short post here on Gun Nuts simply titled “I like wheelguns.” We’ll start this series of posts with one of the guns that I’m most often associated with, the Ruger GP100.

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2014 IDPA BUG Nationals

Apparently if you don’t practice at all, you shoot like crap.

Okay, let me back that one up a bit. I shot the 2014 IDPA BUG Nationals this past weekend in Springfield, MA. As usual, the NE crew put on a great match, making the most that they could with the stage limitations for Back-Up Guns. BUG stages are limited to a max of five rounds per string, no reloads (which I do think is dumb), no drawing, etc. It’s hard to come up with multiple fun stages with those limitations, but the crew at the S&W matches do a great job.

small revolvers for big things

To rewind a little further, prior to shooting this match my preparation consisted of sighting in my gun and making sure it was hitting where I wanted it to with my match ammo, the excellent Federal 148 grain full wadcutter. There are a lot of reasons I could offer as to why I didn’t prep for the match, but the truth is usually the best choice: I didn’t take this match seriously. Not because I dislike the match or anything like that, I just…didn’t really care how I shot. I knew that Jerry, Josh, and Joe would all be there in the revo category, and the odds of me beating all three of those guys to take the win even if I trained like a maniac are slim and none. Plus, I had sales meetings in the region which are actually important to me, so I wanted to focus on prepping for those.

As a result, I shot exactly like I trained: crappily. Oh sure, my base skill level is good enough to not get completely blown off the ball, but overall my shooting was pretty terrible. I dropped a ton of points, made stupid errors, didn’t trust my own vision, had procedurals, and even straight up drilled a couple of rounds into the hardcover of a target and didn’t bother to take a make-up shot when I had one available.


I could list my litany of mistakes, but the one thing I’m really not proud of is when I lost my cool for a second and barked at an SO. We were on our 3rd from the last stage, and I made a mistake that earned me a procedural and a couple of other penalties. I knew it the second I did it, and having already been on the range for 10 hours (more on that later) I just didn’t care to hear the explanation of my penalties, so when the SO started to explain in detail how I’d f***ed up, I just snapped and said “I know, I don’t care, just write ’em on my sheet and let’s get going.” It was rude, and I genuinely feel bad about that. I hope he reads this, because I don’t remember his name to formally apologize via email, but if you’re the SO I snapped at on Stage 5, I really am sorry. That was a dick thing to do.

My terrible performance had an interesting side effect on me. I had planned on BUG Nationals being my last major match before going on hiatus from majors for 2015, but I shot so bad that I don’t want my last major to be that. I just don’t. I’d rather go train hard for Indoor Nationals in Feb and shoot as best as I can, even if I get beat, than go out in a match where I half-assed it and didn’t care. Turns out what I needed to re-ignite the competitive spark was to get my ass kicked. Go figure.

One last thought on the match itself – this year had major stage flow issues. Two squads that were positioned well never encountered major backups, however the remaining squads ran into serious bottlenecking issues that were caused by having two pretty lengthy and involved bays running back-to-back. In fact, there were too many stages this year. 14 stages with an average of three stings per stage of 5 rounds takes too long; and the match could have been just as good if two of those stages had been deleted entirely. Yes, that would have lowered the round count to around 150, but who shows up to a BUG match expecting to blaze 300 rounds anyway?

At the end though, it was still a fun match. In a way, I’m glad I shot like garbage, because it reminded me that I do care about my performance at these things. I enjoyed shooting the stages, and thought that they were generally pretty creative and decent, I just could have used two or so fewer stages to get us off the range a little bit quicker.

BUG Nationals this week

One of my favorite matches on the calendar is this weekend, the IDPA BUG (Back-Up Gun) Nationals. I really like the BUG match because generally speaking, it’s the one place where people shoot their actual carry guns. Yes, some folks game it out and shoot with 3-inch K-frames or other guns designed to push the limits of IDPA’s BUG category, but that’s fine. Last year’s match had lots of shooters running actual j-frames, LCPs, and the sort of small guns that people actually carry.

idpa bug nats screencap

I’m bringing two guns with me this year, and I haven’t yet decided which one to shoot. On the one hand, I have my Ruger SP101 WC, which is probably the best option for a cheater-gun without being too much of a cheater. It’s heavy, has a steel frame, and is easy to shoot well. On the other hand, I have a Colt Cobra, which is a Colt Cobra, and would cause me to win the Style Points Division (this is not a real division). So I’m torn. I actually did an old vs. new comparison of the two guns in this month’s issue of GunUp the Magazine, which you should totally download and subscribe to on your iPad.

The Colt has a slightly better trigger than the SP101, but the Ruger has better sights; that’s important especially in the conditions that we usually see at S&W Indoor matches. There are going to be low-light and no-light stages, and the brass bead on the SP101 will pick up contrast from my flashlight a lot better than the gutter sights and black post on the Colt. But the Colt has a pony on the side of it, and says “Colt” on it. So there’s that.

What I’m really trying to do here is justify shooting the Colt because it’s awesome in every conceivable way, but the part of me that wants to do well at the match says “no, shoot the Ruger, it maximizes your chances of winning.” That’s furthered by the fact that this is my last major match until at least October of next year, and I want to go out with a bang. I want to do well, and I want to go into my planned hiatus with a good feeling about my performance. But also, I have a Colt…and that’s awesome.

Screw it, I’m going to shoot the Colt. I’ll bring the SP101 in case the Colt goes down, but come on. How many times in my life will I get the chance to rock a legitimate Colt revolver at a National Championship level match? Probably not that many, so I should do it when it counts.

Little revolvers for big things

small revolvers for big things

“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? And well you should not.” From top to bottom: Ruger LCR-22 with Crimson Trace grips, used mostly for NPE and as a kit gun; Smith & Wesson 640 Pro Series .357 Magnum with Ergo Deltagrip, used as EDC pretty regularly; Smith & Wesson 638 Airweight .38 Special, just purchased and will likely be used as a BUG and for NPE; Ruger SP101 .357 Magnum Wiley Clapp, EDC; and last but not least a genuine Colt Cobra .38 Special, used for when I want to feel like Bud White.

Carrying a full size gun isn’t hard

There is a huge market for small guns, and it makes sense. There are entire sections of the internet dedicated to telling people how difficult it is to carry a full size gun. A few weeks ago, I decided to conduct a science experiment by carrying a full size Ruger GP100 with a four inch barrel in an OWB leather concealment holster.

ruger gp100 with galco

The holster I chose is a Galco Fletch, which normally has a thumb break, but has been…”customized” by removing the thumb break and snap with a pair of kitchen shears. Classy, I know. I’ve had that holster for a long time, and I figured it would be a perfect choice for my experiment. After selecting the gun and the holster, it was time to select various concealment garments. Over the course of the experiment I used the following: t-shirts over the gun, zip-up hoodies over the gun, and my beloved (and now discontinued) Woolrich fleece tactical vest. All of these worked just fine. I was initially concerned with printing when concealing the whole holster under an untucked shirt, but after wearing that rig in the summer for a while, I remembered that NO ONE IS PAYING ATTENTION.

It was interesting, because to me, to the people in my office, the lumpy bulge under my shirt was Obviously a Gun. But to people walking down the street? I was just a dude in an ill-fitting t-shirt. Plus, I do live in a pretty permissive state when it comes to guns, so if the tip of my holster peeks out in the grocery store, no one is going to bat an eye.

One of the difficult things about carrying a full size gun was that it made dressing like an adult a little bit more difficult. Owning a business, I get to wear whatever I want, but I don’t always want to wear an untucked t-shirt. An un-tucked polo is a good choice, especially if it’s fitted correctly so that it’s tighter across the chest and shoulders and then baggier near the waist. I used that method to conceal a gun in an OWB holster. Probably the best concealment garment I’ve seen so far is a zip-up hooded sweatshirt. Zip-ups, for whatever reason, look nicer than regular hoodies, and don’t seem to scream “I’m going to the gym/I hate laundry” as much. For me they’re a great choice, especially with fall weather hitting us now in DTSF.

This week, I switched holsters. After carrying in a full size OWB holster, I’ve moved to an IWB. Also a Galco, this time a Summer Comfort which was featured on the blog yesterday. It’s even easier to conceal. The but of the gun rides high enough that with my arms hanging naturally at my sides it hides the gun effectively, and the bulge is even less pronounced than it was with the OWB. The biggest problem with the OWB rig is that the bottom of the holster would pop out pretty frequently. The IWB obviously solves that.

So, the moral of the story? You can carry a full size gun. People won’t notice. Of course, if you’re in an NPE or somewhere where people noticing would have big time negative consequences, make sure your concealment is on lock-down. No untucked t-shirts for NPEs.