A Hi-Cap, Magnum Snubbie? The S&W Performance Center 327

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The Performance Center Model 327 from Smith & Wesson packs eight rounds of .357 Mag power into a very compact package.

It seems like every year we hear that revolvers are dead, and then every year some magic happens with the wheel guns. The Performance Center Model 327 is no exception to this. The 327 is everything you could ever want in a personal protection gun if you are a wheel gun fan.

I remember the first Smith and Wesson eight-shot .357 magnum revolver I laid eyes on, with a youthful sense of wonder. Eight rounds of the legendary man killer, housed in one cylinder? What bargain with the Devil himself must have been struck to make this so? And it is still amazing. The Model 327 takes this into a carry-sized gun, and does it exceedingly well. To fit the cylinder, the 327 still requires an N-sized frame. The N frame in Smith and Wesson speak means “Large.” That’s the price of freedom if you want eight rounds. In order to make this gun carry friendly, the 327 features a titanium cylinder and barrel shroud. When you are talking about a cylinder that large, the weight reduction by switching to Titanium is massive. The frame is also not steel, it is Scandium. Smith has been using this in revolver frames for years, and it has proven to be sturdy and light. The barrel itself is only 2 inches long, which probably isn’t going to win you any metallic silhouette contests. It does help in concealment though, and there is no way I would call this an inaccurate gun. In fact, it is rather amazing how well it shoots with such a small barrel.

SPECS

  • Type:
  • Cartridge: .357 Mag; .38 Spl.
  • Capacity: 8 rds.
  • Weight: 23.1 oz.
  • Barrel Length: 2 in.
  • Overall Length: 7 in.
  • Sights: Orange ramp (front); integral u-notch (rear)
  • Grips:  Wood
  • Frame Finish: Matte black
  • MSRP: $1,309
  • Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson

The 327 packs a lot of punch on a very small package. Image courtesy of the manufacturer.

The heart of the 327 is the eight-shot, titanium cylinder.

In keeping with its purpose of CCW, the 327 has had all of its sharp edges rounded off. This is not only useful, but it makes for a very sharp looking gun. (Pun intended.) As I expect for a revolver at this price point, the grips are a very handsomely grained wood. The finger grooves and backstrap parts are smooth as glass, with texture provided in the palm swells. The grip is very pleasing to the hand, and for lack of a better term, it feels expensive. I am not sure you will see that in the Smith and Wesson brochure, but it is a selling point to me. If I am carrying a refined gentleman’s hand cannon, I damn well think it should feel like one. The sights are an orange ramp with an integral U-notch rear. Unlike many smaller revolver sights milled into the top of the frame, these are actually big enough to be useful instead of a suggestion.

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The 327 is beautiful on the outside, but the internals is how you know it came from the performance center. The trigger job on this one is nothing short of amazing. Trigger pull weights from revolvers don’t really translate well if you are used to shooting only automatics. The 327 is a double action/ single action, which means that the first part of the trigger pull is used to manually cock the hammer. The DA pull weight is 11.8 pounds, and the single action is 4.5 pounds. The trigger feels like greased ball bearing though. The take-up is smooth, with a crisp finish in DA. I am not even much of a wheel gunner, and I was able to shoot this gun reasonably well. The SA trigger has zero movement in it, and breaks like a glass rod. If you are in the least interested in revolvers, I suggest you drop by your local gun shop and dry fire this one. But only if you have $1,300 already allocated to your gun habit.

The author found the 327 to be pleasant to shoot, yet powerful defensive revolver.

Performance

This gun was a lot of fun to shoot. As mentioned, I don’t have a lot of trigger time on wheel guns, but this one was a joy to blaze with. The trigger was extremely smooth, but still takes a little getting used to if you are normally an automatic guy. I don’t think Jerry Mikulek needs to worry about me taking his job after my performance time on the steel targets, but it was still good enough by most standards. At CCW ranges on paper targets, it will be as fast for most people as an auto. And you will be throwing 158-grain ash trays at close to 1,200 feet per second.

The stubby little barrel of the 327 measures out to 2 inches in length.

The wooden grips have integrated finger grooves and an attractive finish.

This gun is ideally suited for CCW, or as a lightweight back country gun. 357 is not .44 Magnum, but it is pretty vicious for a pistol. The real strength I see in this gun is exactly its versatility. It is very light weight, which makes a long training day with full power .357 not much fun. Full of .38 Special, however, it is extremely comfortable to shoot. .357 magnum runs the gamut from 180-grain Buffalo Bore Hardcast down to Hornady 90 grain Critical Defense LITE. Just being able to shoot two chamberings (.38 Special and .357 Magnum) from one gun adds to its uses. For bears or bipeds, there is a plethora of suitable rounds. If I woke up tomorrow and could only have one pistol for the rest of time, this would be a top contender.

The author tested the 327 with a range of bullet types, shown here.

The 327 has an exposed hammer for traditional double-action/single-action operation.

P.S.- I had often heard that .357 Magnum out of a short barrel was so close to .38 special in performance, that you might as well never buy a .357 snubbie. Not even close to true. In my chronograph test, Aguila and Black Hills 158 grains both outmatched .38 special by 300 fps.

To learn more, visit https://www.smith-wesson.com/firearms/performance-center-model-327.

To purchase one on Guns America, visit https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=327%20Performance%20Center.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • ro September 18, 2017, 5:09 pm

    why name an overpriced .357 after the .327 (federal mag)?

  • Russ September 18, 2017, 1:55 pm

    Really an msrp of $1,309.00. You have to be kidding. I will stick with my Glock 23 or 27 in .40 cal. I got both of them for less and still had hundreds to spare over that overpriced snub nose.

  • Mark N. September 17, 2017, 1:44 am

    Just like the .357, the .327 needs some barrel for it to achieve its potential, and 2″ just isn’t going to do it. Eight shots is nice, but give me 3 or 4″ please.

    • David M September 18, 2017, 1:42 am

      Then you’re looking for Smith’s M&P R8. It has a 5″ barrel with the same 8-round .357 capacity.

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