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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Meprolite's Front Sight on the Ruger SP101

For some time now I have had the urge to try a Meprolite front sight on my little Ruger SP101. This is a dandy little .357 but was cursed with a factory front sight that was both too short, and hard to see in all but the best light. The gun shot high which required a LOW 6 o'clock sight pic for 25 yard shooting. Per Brownells tech desk the Meprolite would be a few thousandths taller than my stock sight, thereby solving both problems.

I finally ordered one and the install is pretty straightforward if you're handy with tools- and follow the instructions. The scariest part is drilling the new sight, using the pinhole in your barrel rib as a drill guide. It can however be done with patience and perfectly straight drill feed. A word to the wise here- drills & pins vary just a tad so be sure your sight pin will pass through the hole you just drilled in the new sight, BEFORE you try to pin it in the barrel rib. I bent my pin a little on the first attempt and had to remove the sight and 'hog' the hole out before proceeding. Luckily the Loctite Red hadn't set yet.

Here is a very un-glamorous shot of the little gun with the sight installed.. hey, this is a working gun that gets carried in a cheap holster:

...and here's what you see if you throw the gun up in a first-class hurry-

It's a given that the Meprolite was easier to see in any light and being a night sight, the gun is now entirely usable in 'low to no' light as well. It'll do just fine in close encounters of the worst kind. Still, I am one of those old dinosaurs who thinks that even belly guns should be able to engage miscreant's noggins at 25+ yards. I hold this opinion because few of the gunsmoke picnics I have studied or attended followed any of those 'statistics' you read so much about. I wouldn't rest until I knew that the new sight would regulate for the longer distances.

Early shooting with the Meprolite indicated we were just a shade low at 25 yards. A good deal of this is because this old dog has been blocking the sights square for about 35 years. Finally it occurred to me that in a pinch I would use the dot/groove just like a shotgun bead, so I started planting the dot and just blazing away. I also shaved a few thousandths off the top of the sight, taking great care not to thin it out too much over the light tube.

Then I shot it again, DA at 25 yards, using this 'shotgun bead' method and firing as quickly as the dot aligned and realigned in the bull. I used reloads loosely approximating the .38 'FBI Load' and a full-snort 125 grain magnum. The results looked like this:

Hmmm... I think we might be onto something here. I'd claim those for 25 yard DA groups even if I was using a K38, instead of a fixed-sight .357 snub;)

Finally, I tacked up an old Diet Coke 12-pack box on it's end; this presents a target just under 5" wide and 16" tall. This loosely translates to between the "8's" vertically and well within the "9's" horizontally, on a B27 target. I walked off and when I passed to 50 yard stake I turned and rolled off five rounds of the 158 grain reload, double action, at the upright box. When I returned to it I was amazed to find that four rounds had hit it.

My confidence level with this little gun has shot up considerably.