Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ruger SP101 Hogue Grip Upgrade

When I first traded a cheap rifle for the fantastic Ruger SP101, my intention was to carry it concealed - and I did for awhile.  However, after a few months, the Ruger LCP joined the lineup, and over the course of the next summer, the Ruger SP101 spent most of its time in the safe.  Then, in the fall after that last summer, I had purchased a Ruger SR9c, and from then on, the little Ruger SP101 spent less and less time on my hip, and more time gathering dust in the safe.  Only on special occasions, or outdoor adventures did the lil .357 find its way onto my hip.  This is where the next chapter for this little revolver begins.

It seems to me that this little revolver lost its appeal as a concealed carry option.  With smaller and lighter pistols sporting higher capacity joining the lineup, and with the ease of magazine reloading, the snub nose revolver seemed doomed; or did it?  I began to notice a pattern for this 2.25" barreled powerhouse.  Every time I took to the mountains, the SP101 seemed to find its way back onto my hip instead of the 9mm concealed carry wonder weapons that I own.  Even my dedicated combat pistol - the Beretta M9A1 - was either left at home or found its way into a case for target shooting.  When it comes to back country wilderness carry, I've found that I enjoy the Ruger SP101 much more than any pistol I own.  Weighing in at only 28 oz, loaded, this gun doesn't seem to drag on over the course of a hiking or backpacking trip like other guns I own. 

Back in the day, when all I had was a Beretta 92 FS, I had no option.  I'd carry that pistol either in a holster or in a pack.  After a few trips out with that 33 oz (unloaded) monster, I had no desire to carry a full size pistol into the woods ever again - and didn't.

The Ruger SP101 is built to last.  It's rugged construction, stainless finish, and compact design make it ideal for carry into the woods as a camping, hiking, or backpacking companion.  However, there is one thing about the SP101 that I do not like for backwoods carry: the grip.  While the OEM grip profile is great for concealed carry, it leaves much to be desired in the handling department.  Back in the days when I carried this gun daily, I put up with the grip because it looks good, and works well for concealed carry.  For shooting, the grip is marginal at best.  After a box of of 50 .357 magnum rounds, the gun was no longer fun to shoot for the day.  The grip doesn't absorb recoil effectively, and the smallness of it made sure that I could not get my pinky finger around it, and my middle finger always contacted the rather sharp edges of the trigger.  I thought about having the trigger guard radiused to knock off the sharp edges, and still plan on doing that.  But something had to be done about the grips. 

With a total change in how I intend to carry the SP101 from here out, I decided to buy the most readily available grip option out there.  That is the Hogue Monogrip, which I bought at Sportco for less than $18.00 out the door.  While it doesn't appear to be as pretty as the stock Ruger grip, it boasts functionality that the stock grip could only dream of. 

For starters, the Hogue Monogrip allows my pinky finger to wrap around the grip, so it is a little longer than the original.  The Hogue grip has finger grooves for positive feel with my hands - and the fact that they fit my hands perfectly is simply amazing.  Another positive feature is that instead of my middle finger contacting the trigger guard, the Hogue grip extends forward and gives my finger a place to rest, which is extremely comfortable.  The rubber behind the weapon's grip frame is thicker too, which should aid in the recoil absorption department.  Another thing I like about the Hogue Monogrip is the fact that the retaining screw is at the bottom of the grip, away from my palms.  This keeps chaffing down and also helps secure the grip better.  The more you tighten down the screw (to a point, mind you), the tighter the grip fits against the weapon.  There is absolutely no give at all with this grip.  Lastly, grip has a palm swell in line with my middle finger, on both sides of the grip to give it more beef and a positive feel overall.  I really like this grip.  I haven't shot with it yet, but dry firing tells you a lot.  I can definitely tell that I'm going to like this grip better than the old one, as far as shooting goes.  I also have Hogue overmolded grips on both my Beretta's, and those grips are great.

In the photo above, you can see the new grip installed on the revolver, with the old grip shown behind it.  Notice the differences?  If you paid attention in the last paragraph, you can probably see all the differences.  And notice all the honest holster and use wear on the revolver itself?  Yeah, this gun gets used.  It makes an appearance on almost every shooting trip, so it normally gets 50-100 rounds every time we shoot, and that's normally full house loads.  So, it's not like this gun is a safe queen per se.  It's just that now I'm more selective about when I take it out. 

So that's another gun to put on the testing list. 



  1. Best comparison for the Hogue grips ive seen yet. Im gonna order some for my sp 101. Thanks

  2. I too finally had enough of the trigger guard banging my knuckle and installed the Hogue grips on my sp1 01. First time I went to the range I had to check the box of ammo I was shooting. I thought I had accidently brought a box of 38 special instead of 357. The Hogues turned my hard banging 101 into a sweet shooting pistol. All the differance in the world.