The idea is this: to break open the segment of the back-up gun/self defense market that is currently occupied by the five-shot .38/.357 revolvers. How do they expect to make inroads into this lucrative market niche? By developing a more powerful cartridge than a .38 Special, and make room for six rounds in the cylinder.
This is how they have done it: they have married the venerable .32 caliber handgun bullet with the higher pressures allowable due to the strength of modern metallurgy. The end result? How about a 115 grain Gold Dot running at 1300 fps out of a 3″ barrel? Oh, and that is with a 20% reduction in recoil as compared to a .357 Magnum.
That isn’t too shabby.
Compare that to what Speer (a sister company of Federal) advertises for its 115 grain 9mm +P+ round. The 9mm is generally considered to be more powerful than a .38 Special. However, out of a 4″ barrel, the 9mm +P+ round of the same weight only matches the velocity of the .327 Magnum. Out of a 3″ barrel, I suspect the velocity would be about 50-75 fps slower.
Federal has also announced two other loadings for the initial release: an 85 grain Hydra-Shok round at 1330 fps and a 100 grain softpoint at 1400 fps.
Ruger’s initial revolver offering is on the well-respected SP101 platform. The gun will initially feature a 3 1/16″ barrel, an adjustable rear sight, and a satin stainless finish. I suspect we will see something even more compact, say along the lines of a Smith and Wesson 642, in the not-so-distant future.
Don’t worry about having to pay for expensive ammo just to practice with. This revolver will also chamber the following .32 caliber handgun rounds: .32 S&W, .32 S&W long, and .32 H&R Magnum.
Federal’s press release states the gun and ammo will be on shelves by January. The Ruger VP on Gun Talk said much sooner: maybe even by Thanksgiving. List price on the Ruger is $572. I look forward to seeing this handgun.
Since the writing of this article, the SP101 has been discontinued (and then brought back again – see below…) and is no longer available from Ruger. However, the company is making the larger framed GP-100 revolver for the .327 Federal Magnum. This revolver holds seven rounds in the cylinder, but at the cost of being larger and heavier. It is unfortunate the SP 101 is no longer a cataloged item for Ruger. Many people who like the 327 Magnum feel it was one of the best revolvers chambered for the cartridge.
Jeff Quinn at GunBlast posted this video of the GP-100 and Blackhawk revolvers on the range:
Update – October 2014
Ruger is now making the Single-Six revolver chambered for the .327 cartridge. The guns are part of a special run for Lipsey’s, a firearms distributor based in the United States.
There are three models being offered in this caliber, each having a different barrel length. The barrel length choices are 4.63″, 5″ and 7.5″ long. All of these new guns hold seven rounds in the cylinder, have a stainless steel finish and have a ramp front sight. The rear sights are adjustable.
Grips are a finely grained hardwood. Weights range from 34 ounces to 43 ounces. Considering these are most likely intended for handgun hunting, those weights are very reasonable.
Here is another video from GunBlast on these revolvers:
Update – March 2015
In the “I’m not dead yet” category, it looks like Ruger is trying to revive the .327 Federal Magnum cartridge with the reintroduction of the SP101. Here are some of the details on the new gun.
|caliber||.327 Federal Magnum|
|capacity 6 rounds|
|weight (unloaded)||29.5 oz|
|grips||rubber with wood inserts|
|sights||fiber optic front, adjustable rear|
According to Ruger, the barrel length was increased slightly to 4.2″ to maximize velocity from the load. Previous SP101 revolvers chambered in 327 had a 3″ barrel. This allowed for a little easier concealment, but also bled speed.