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

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

  • 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.

{ 42 comments… add one }
  • Tomcat September 27, 2017, 11:13 am

    why do we older gunners love revolvers ? I think you main reason is a kinship with the old west. when I’m pacing my six-shooter. I’m one with Wyatt, Roy, Wild Bill and the rest of my boyhood idols. AND, they’re six shooters, shooting irons or revolvers. I don’t own a “Wheel Gun” never will !

    • Walleye October 30, 2017, 4:05 pm

      “Why…?”
      Answer: Have you ever compared the ballistics and reliability of a .357 mag. or .44 Rem Mag. wheel gun to your little black plastic, “jams-at-the-wrong-time” under-powered .380, 9mm or .40?

  • Norm Fishler September 26, 2017, 4:05 pm

    I appreciate your openness to revolvers, but a decent focus would be nice too. I hate it when I’ve got a headache before the video clip is over.

  • FirstStateMark September 25, 2017, 10:07 pm

    I am a S&W revolver guy. I have a snubby models 10-5, 19-3, 642-2, 15-3 and a 640-1. But this 327 is gotta be the ugliest thing I’ve seen since the Chiappa Rhino. I read one of the post where the Yankee Marshal approved of the S&W 327. Yea, that
    idiot bought one as he’s in love and carries the Chiappa Rhino. UUUUUUGGGGGLLLLLLLYYYYYYY! To each his own. Buy it and enjoy! Not for me.

  • Barkus Rudis September 25, 2017, 8:42 pm

    I have heard from many other experts that it is a waste of time using a .357 magnum in a 2 inch barrel, the gun powder does not have sufficient time to completely burn by the time the bullet is propelled. Please correct me if I am wrong. Why not 3 inches? You are still in an N Frame?

  • Jeff September 25, 2017, 3:22 pm

    A gun this size chambered in 327 federal with ten shots would be interesting with less recoil and still lethal. Fortunately I bought a carry comp pro before smith discontinued it. Come on smith and Wesson bring back your guns in 327. You should call it the 357 just to screw with people’s minds.

    • Big Jim September 27, 2017, 9:47 am

      Smith already made a model 357. It was a .41 Mag. True story.

  • Dano September 25, 2017, 3:19 pm

    Under the first picture this is what it says, The Performance Center Model 327 from Smith & Wesson packs eight rounds of .357 Mag power into a very compact package. In the fist line of the specs it says 357 magnum yet someone asks if this is a 327 mag and goes of the rails. Reading comprehension is the source of many of our problems today. Then there’s the revolver haters and the semi lovers. If you don’t like revolvers don’t read the article just to make the argument that you have some great other semi, who cares. The author is describing a revolver that has been around for quite some time from the S&W performance center. As a private investigator and former NRA certified instructor, I have carried a variety of handguns for 33 years on the job. I started my career as a Deputy Sheriff and carried a Colt Python 4″ 357 mag. As a PI, I’ve carried 22 LR, 32 acp., 9 mm and 38 specials depending on the job and the circumstances . We are fortunate to have such great firearms to protect us and our families at home and at work or wherever we are. All the tough talk in print is worthless and contributes nothing. A common interest in all firearms is where we should be as well as protecting those rights that we have to keep them. There is not one #1 firearm other than the one you have when you need it. My current carry is a 5 shot M&P 357 mag but I still love my Glock, Browning hi-power, Rugers and Berettas. If I could afford this one, I’d have this one too, great article.

  • Gil T September 25, 2017, 1:04 pm

    Great review. Especially appreciated the chrono comparison between the 38 spec and 357.

  • Steve Johnson September 25, 2017, 12:33 pm

    I had one. 6 months and I sold it. Incredibly uncomfortable to shoot. Unfortunately I have a Colt Python and all wheel guns are held up to that for comparison and come away lacking. It looks great. Terrible in action. It’s like having a beautiful girlfriend with a screeching voice. Sooner or later looking good is not enough.

  • RGE September 25, 2017, 11:55 am

    Makes a long training day. To be sure. Why not just hold the bullet with your bare hands and hit the primer with a nail? Yep, one or two rounds and you’re going to be wearing orthpoedic shirts for a while.

  • Otis September 25, 2017, 11:55 am

    Bla, Bla, Bla…You Wanna Sell Revolvers? Start Manufacturing High Capacity Pocket Guns in 9mm and 45mm. The Ammo is Much Cheaper and Plentiful. I Will Never Buy Another 38 or 357 and I Stake My Life on a Slide Gun That Maybe or Maybe Not Will Fire. You Say, My Slide Gun Fires Every Time and I Say How Much Oil Is In Your Pocket Or How Much Sanding Did You Haft To Do On Your 700.00 Gun? Is Your Life Worth A Convenience? No Argument Here With Me, Save The Simi’s For Long Guns.

    • Beachhawk September 25, 2017, 4:27 pm

      I doubt you could handle the recoil from a 45mm and that ammo would be neither cheap or plentiful. And I think you meant “have,” not “Haft” and “semi,” not “simi.” Is English your second language?

      • Otis September 25, 2017, 9:36 pm

        Well, Moron 45 has been on market for years and they already make a 45 pocket revolver…and the ammo is less than 357…and because it’s a very popular round it’s available everywhere and you can buy it in bulk. Since you don’t know much about the 357 vs 45 I assume you don’t know a hell of a lot about English. If I was looking for a lesson in English, I certainly would not come here and listen to someone that bitches, gripes and criticizes every time there’s a new review. For years I’ve read the comments and wonder why GunsAmerica continues to do these reviews. For the most part the reviews are great but, assholes like you ruin it for most of us.

        So Look, your smartass remarks and criticism are something we could all do without. You’re probably the only person that enjoys reading your blabber. Amazing you knew exactly what haft was.

        • Big Jim September 27, 2017, 12:20 pm

          The common 45 is not a mm. It is denominated in inches, so it is a .45. I would assume you are talking about .45 ACP but the.45 (Long) Colt is also a possibility. In inches, the 9mm comes out to about a thirty-five-and-a-half. In millimeters, the .45 is about 11.25mm. A 45mm would throw a slug about 1.8″ in diameter and would be a hoss for recoil. Further, a 45mm would have ammo that was very expensive and difficult to find but Beachhawk didn’t have to be a dick about it.

      • Mike Holler September 26, 2017, 12:57 am

        Anyone who can shoot a 45 mm is a bad ass in any language.

        • Otis September 26, 2017, 1:18 pm

          I Agree…I wouldn’t even attempt to shoot a death threat one handed (Dirty Harry), two hands on the gun seems calming to my mind. Probably one of the reasons our Armed Forces are going to 9mm. Of course, the 9mm is proven quite a threat to the bad guys, too. Sure would love to see high capacity revolver in a 9mm and 45mm pocket gun.

  • Larry September 25, 2017, 11:09 am

    Guys, this gun is a S&W model 327 in .357 Magnum, not a .327 magnum. If it was a .327, I’d be interested. Check out the White Rhino for another neat .357 mag.

  • Tenbones September 25, 2017, 10:14 am

    I think the 327 is one fugly looking handgun! I would much prefer the stainless 627 which has a slightly longer barrel.

  • Steve September 25, 2017, 10:13 am

    So, is this a .327 Federal Magnum or a .357 Magnum? The author seems to be using the caliber terms interchangeably. 158 grain ashtray out of a .327? With a 4.62″ barrel on a Ruger Single Seven, factory Federal 100 grain JSP does 1600fps over my chronograph. Someone needs to proof read this article.

    • Sam L Bishop Jr September 25, 2017, 11:02 am

      327 is the model number of the revolver. .357 is the caliber of the cartridge.

  • Griffendad September 25, 2017, 9:11 am

    For a comparison. I have a Smith 586 L-frame, performance center, all steel, 3” top ported barrel for recoil, front night site, adjustable rear, 7-shot, 2 sets of grips (rosewood or rubber), full length steel tang which really makes a difference, all black finish, $600 two years ago. What a beautiful shooter, lives in the nightstand.
    I heard some stories about early lives for titanium barrels.

  • Mr James September 25, 2017, 8:43 am

    Can this snub revolver safely shoot 9mm loads without spitting to much or at all. I cant say I have ever done a test or in a pinch trial between the calibers and in wheelers. 8 shots is amazing this pistol is a must see in person.

  • Dr. Strangelove September 25, 2017, 8:18 am

    At first I thought that this was going to be a .327 Federal Magnum. The Ruger LCR in this caliber is a sweet little pocket revolver.

  • Jon September 25, 2017, 8:09 am

    Revolvers were my first love. I didn’t grow up in an era of where multiple choices of semi-autos were readily available. Elmer Keith was my hero and the .357 and 44 Mag were kings.
    I think the 8 round .327 is a great concept, maybe not as a primary carry, but it would make a great back-up weapon.
    The MSRP? Well if it comes from S&W’s Performance Center it’s going to cost but you will get what you pay for.
    It’ll be a botique gun, but it will sell.

  • shrugger September 25, 2017, 6:50 am

    I’m holding out hope that someone shoehorns 10 rounds into one.

    • Mike H. September 25, 2017, 3:20 pm

      How many rounds do You need? Six in my single action suits me just fine! Maybe You need a fully automatic piece.

  • Lloyd Dumas September 25, 2017, 6:26 am

    #1 It’s got to be made of a good grade of steel. #2 It’s got to have minimal 4 inch barrel. #3 It’s got to be priced close to the 500. dollar range. Either I’m too young or too old or too foolish to buy a gun.

  • Jerry September 25, 2017, 6:24 am

    I have no idea what that frame is made of but it can’t be Scandium. It has to be some alloy of aluminum and scandium. Scandium is very soft and costs between 2000 and 10000 dollars a pound, depending on market factors. Around 10 tons of scandium are produced per year. I guess there has to be – some – scandium in it but I think it’s more marketing than anything. I doubt Smith is going to let us know what’s in that frame any time soon.

    • Blasted Cap September 25, 2017, 7:35 am

      Yeah, it’s an aluminum alloy. I have a 4″ 329 44mag, they had to install a stainless insert over the cylinder gap to prevent flame cutting. Nice gun at 25oz. They are a bit large though.

    • Jake September 25, 2017, 10:40 am

      S&W “Scandium” frames are an alloy of aluminum and Scandium. Aluminum is too porous to stand up to heavy loads in a firearm. When alloyed with Scandium this metal is non porous and very strong, yet still light. It is expensive but that is the science required for strength and light weight.

  • Altoid September 25, 2017, 6:05 am

    $1300 for a revolver – when it comes down to around $450, let me know.

  • Dave Garner September 25, 2017, 5:52 am

    You can park this gun next to your $1,000.00 Cell phone.
    Are we turning into sheep or sharks?
    Wake up America,

  • Keith September 25, 2017, 4:11 am

    Yankee Marshall approved!
    Loving the in Breath audio as it bothers so many at YouTube. Breath is life. Appreciate the gift.

  • Tom Tessin September 19, 2017, 12:16 pm

    Hey, I got your stubby, right hear…

  • ro September 18, 2017, 5:09 pm

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

    • SPM September 25, 2017, 4:57 am

      What about a 10 shot .237 mag?

      • SPM September 25, 2017, 4:57 am

        ER .327

    • Jake September 25, 2017, 10:45 am

      The S&W N-frame .357 magnums have been 27’s for 50 or 60 years. 27 was blue steel. 627 is stainless. 527 is the 5″ Scandium Pro Shop 8 round. 327 is the snobby version of that, etc.

  • 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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