Ever since Ruger and Federal introduced the .327 Federal Magnum in November of 2007, I have been intrigued by the potential of this caliber. Granted, any new firearm caliber has a serious uphill battle to be accepted by the general shooting public. But, the .32 has been around and used for self-defense since the 1800s. Let’s be honest…the .32 has never been known as a “man-stopper,” but is has had a small portion of the firearms market. Could the .327 Federal Magnum make the .32 a serious self-defense caliber?
After Ruger’s introduction of the SP101 chambered for the new cartridge, Charter Arms released the Patriot series of revolvers chambered for the .327 Federal Magnum. In the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of American Handgunner, John Taffin tested the Patriot and gave his opinions on the gun and caliber. Out of the 2.2″ barrel on the Patriot, the 115 grain Speer Gold Dot was smoking along at about 1230 fps for more than 385 foot-pounds of energy. The milder-recoiling 85 grain Federal JHP was in the 1220s with more than 280 ft-lbs of energy.
Those are respectable numbers for a self-defense firearm, especially when you consider they are coming out of a 2.2″ barrel. In a short carbine, I imagine the .327 could be a fantastic small game gun.
To my knowledge, no one has been forced to use a .327 Federal Magnum in a self-defense shooting. Without a stack of positive results from “the street,” I’m hesitant to recommend this caliber. However, if you prefer a .32 caliber firearm, the .327 is a vast improvement over the .32 H&R Magnum and its predecessors. With speeds in the 1200’s, the bullet will expand after striking, unlike the bullets out of the weaker .32’s.
Update – Speer added another Gold Dot load for this cartridge. The new load uses a 100-grain bullet that is rated at a blistering 1,500 fps. This is exceptionally fast. I would imagine that this load in a lever-action rifle would be incredible. It should be more than adequate to provide for home defense and could even be a decent combination for taking small to medium size game.
Another Update – Ruger no longer makes the SP101 with a 3″ barrel for this cartridge. They do make the gun with a 4.2″ barrel for it now. While you get the benefit of additional velocity, I wonder how much harder it is to conceal the gun. In an IWB, it should not be a problem. However, in an outside the waistband rig, the extra barrel length may be visible from under a short jacket.