Ruger’s LCR is proven and deserves its place as one of the top choices in a snubby revolver. It has been well documented here at RevolverGuy, and comments on Mike’s articles confirm a large and loyal following.
The LCR solves a lot of the problems that arise from carrying a small revolver as a primary fighting gun. Heavy triggers, mediocre sights, minimal capacity, and excessive recoil are common with this class of revolver. The sights on most are poorly regulated for preferred weights of carry ammunition, too.
The LCR takes care of the stout trigger pull and offers surprisingly good sights for a little gun. Additionally, the version under examination here, chambered in .327 Federal Magnum, allows the cylinder to hold six rounds, making it even less of a compromise.
The .32 Family Tree
There must be some gnarly old dudes that love snub guns working at Federal Cartridge. In the 1980’s they partnered with Harrington and Richardson, hoping to provide a new round that would equal the .38 Special’s performance with less recoil. They understood the benefit of that extra round in a J-frame-sized gun. They were successful, even if the .32 H&R Magnum didn’t take off like it should have.
They stepped up again when they saw the proliferation of five-shot .357 Magnum revolvers in the 1990’s, that got ever-lighter in the new millennium. This time Federal teamed with Ruger, introducing the .327 Federal Magnum, in 2008. Like the .32 H&R Magnum, the .327 Federal Magnum was another attempt to duplicate the terminal ballistic performance of larger cartridges with less recoil. The .327 was a legitimate Magnum, with a SAAMI pressure ceiling of 45,000 psi! By comparison, the .357 Magnum has a maximum average pressure of 35,000 psi, and the hot, .357 Sig has a maximum average pressure of 40,000 psi.
The .327 Mag LCR
Ruger launched the new Magnum cartridge in a 27-ounce SP101 that held six rounds, as opposed to the .357 version’s five. When Ruger debuted the LCR in .327, they utilized the steel upper receiver like they had on their other high pressure chamberings, the .357 and 9mm. This brought the six shot, .32 caliber LCR’s weight to 17 ounces compared to 13.5 ounces for the original .38 Special LCR.
The .327 chambering made the gun a garbage disposal for straight-walled .32 handgun rounds. It will also chamber .32 H&R Mag, .32 S&W Long (.32 Colt New Police), .32 S&W, and the semi-rimmed .32 ACP. The first three rounds are by far the most useful, but it’s nice to know you can shoot the .32 S&W and ACP in a pinch.
I bought a lightly used .327 LCR in a local shop during the height of the COVID scare last September. It surprised me to find it, but the oddball chambering helped in this case. At a time when you couldn’t find a box of .38 Special anywhere, I was able to outfit the .32 pretty well. The place I bought it had a good supply of .327 fighting ammo, and a few boxes of .32 H&R Magnum. I found 80 grain, .32 H&R Hornady Critical Defense ammo at one local shop and Federal 95 grain lead SWC at another. Two big box stores had .32 S&W Long LRN and wadcutter ammo for sale.
The level of industry support for a .32 caliber revolver was a concern, but fortunately, a few companies have stepped up. 5 Star Firearms makes a speedloader for the .327 LCR (the J2 variant, which doesn’t seem to be listed on their website yet, as of March) that works great. I had originally ordered an R6 for a J-Frame/SP101 and it was a no-go. 5 Star gets high marks for customer service, since they told me to send the R6 back and immediately shipped the J2 out to me. Compact and reliable, it works well with the LCR. SpeedBeez and Pachmayr also catalog a speedloader for the .32, but they are marketed for competition and I have no experience with them.
If you shoot a revolver in a caliber other than .38, you’re probably familiar with Tuff Products. They make loading strips for less popular rounds- including six and eight-round quick strips for .32 caliber handguns. Quick Strips have faced criticism that they are too stiff and tend to tear with use. I have experienced this with some older ones for bigger calibers. However, Tuff Products is now advertising a new, “more supple” formula. They nailed it; the new ones are great. Cartridges load into them easily and the rubber flexibility is just right. The eight-round .32 strip, loaded with six rounds, creates gaps for more positive handling, and is only about ½” longer than a six-shot .38 strip.
I typically carry a 2x2x2 pouch when carrying a revolver. My plan was to coerce a buddy into custom making one for the LCR, as I was betting nobody sold one. Checking with the big shops (Galco, DeSantis, Don Hume) produced nothing. On a lark, I visited Simply Rugged’s website, being a fan of their holsters. I confess to a most unmanly squeal of joy, upon discovering that their 2×6 pouch was available for .32 rounds. It was very reasonably priced, arrived quickly, and was well made, like everything from Rob Leahy’s shop.
The first time I shot the LCR was on an indoor range with a pile of old .32 S&W Long reloads and Hornady’s .32 H&R Mag Critical Defense load. Bullets weighing from 78-85 grains were basically impacting to point of aim from 3-15 yards. The 80 grain Critical Defense was pleasant to shoot in the LCR (not just tolerable, but truly pleasant), hit to the sights, and grouped well. It had minimal report and low flash.
To contrast the ballistic potential of this load with a .38 Special, I turned to Chris Baker’s Handgun Self-Defense Ammunition Ballistics Test over at Lucky Gunner (thanks to him, for the data). Chris fired both the .32 H&R and .38 Special Critical Defense loads into Clear Ballistics gel as part of his test, providing some useful numbers for comparison:
I calculated the kinetic energy using his measured velocities, for consistency. The numbers demonstrate that the .32 is close enough to the .38 that you actually get more “energy per cylinder” with the 6th round the .32 provides. Using the penetration and expansion values obtained in the Clear Ballistics gel for comparison, the bullets perform similarly. Of course, gel results and kinetic energy don’t guarantee incapacitation, but good hits win gunfights. A 17-ounce LCR with 80 grain .32’s is easier to shoot well than a 13.5-ounce LCR with .38 Specials, and you get one more of them. The .32 H&R Critical Defense load is controllable and delivers respectable terminal performance from the short barrel of the LCR. It also takes care of that last nagging issue we hate about snub guns, by hitting to the sights!
I ponied up for a set of Crimson Trace LG-415 Laser Grips for the LCR. The factory Hogue Tamers are great for recoil control and shooting comfort, but the lack of finger grooves on the CT grips help to get a proper grasp, rapidly. The hard polymer sides minimize the tendency for concealment garments to catch on them, while still offering a little firm cushion on the backstrap. The added length on the butt still hides adequately with a proper AIWB holster. There are lots of scenarios where that red dot can be helpful on a gun like the LCR.
Shooting .327 Federal through the LCR was interesting. I pondered swapping the laser grips back to the factory grips to better handle recoil, but in the rush to get to the range, that didn’t happen. I fired five Federal .327 Low Recoil 85 grain Hydra-Shoks across the chronograph screens. They averaged 1137 fps and were consistent, but the muzzle blast was significantly more than anything fired through the LCR to that point. The little gun bucked in my hand and I became aware of the hard polymer laser housing rapping the back knuckle of my trigger finger on about round #3. While not initially painful, it was distracting. My group was a little low and wider than I would’ve hoped.
I then fired five Speer .327 100 grain Gold Dot HP’s. After the first round, I made a conscious effort to apply more grip strength. Recoil was sharp, and the muzzle blast was harsh. It reminded me of shooting full-house 125 grain .357 Magnums out of a 4” Model 19 and wondering if your gun was slightly out of time. Each shot peppered my face with what must have been unburned powder. After those five rounds, I noticed that the skin on the web of my dominant hand had been removed. It wasn’t cut, the recoil had just pushed the skin away. This happens when firing a 4” Model 29 .44 Mag with factory grips that leave the backstrap exposed, but I wasn’t expecting it from the LCR! The Gold Dot is serious medicine in a small package, averaging 1262 fps through the short barrel. Oddly, the heavier Gold Dots hit to point of aim at 10 yards with one flyer.
I decided to conduct an informal test with the LCR. I fired an impromptu variant of the 5x5x5 drill from the low ready at five yards. On a timer’s buzzer, I acquired a sight picture and fired five rounds on a 3 ½” diameter circle, first with the Hornady .32 H&R Critical Defense, and then with the Speer .327 GDHP. My group was much tighter with the .32 H&R and I shot it 1.45 seconds faster than with the .327 load. I felt myself physically prepping for the recoil that I knew was coming with the .327–my hits suffered, and so did the speed that I could deliver them.
There is a reason the .327 was introduced in a 27-ounce steel revolver. Less recoil is a good thing, and everybody, regardless of skill level or experience, benefits from it. The LCR, loaded with .32 H&R defensive ammunition, is adequate for any reasonable task a snubby can be expected to perform.
Maybe those revolver guys at Federal in the 80’s got it right.
91 thoughts on “The .327 Federal Magnum Ruger LCR”
A handgun that can digest a variety of different loads, as does the .327 Magnum, always gets my attention.
Agreed, Spencer. Especially with the current ammunition draught.
I think I am probably not alone in the opinion that 357 magnum recoil levels are beyond what most people can handle in a pistol. 38spl doesn’t get much credit nowadays, but I really do think that it’s in the sweet spot in a lot of ways.
It sounds like the 32 cartridges are under-appreciated… I don’t know anyone that carries one, but I am definitely curious. Perhaps when my 38 cal. loading needs are fulfilled I will grab a revolver and rifle in 327…
Hey Adam, I sure agree with you. I love the .357 Magnum, but I don’t want any part of it from a gun that weighs a pound or so. Long live the .38 Special! The .32’s have a lot to offer, it would sure be nice to see other makers step up like Ruger (and Charter Arms) to provide guns for them. My credit card bill is going up if I stumble on a .327 Lever Gun, too…
Henry Arms produces a few variants in .327.
Glad to help! 🙂
Robert L., I confess I am throwing you under the bus when my wife sees the credit card statement! I have been meaning to try out a Henry anyway, might as well be a .327. Thanks.
A thought: Ruger says they’ll be shipping Marlin leverguns by the end of the year, starting with the 336 and 1894. Maybe we’ll see a day when Ruger will chamber a Marlin design for .327? That would be cool.
“+P” loads can be safely assembled in .32 S&W Long brass using a charge of 3 grains of Bullseye or 452AA, 3.5 grains of 231 or HP38 to give about 900 fps from a 3-inch revolver with the 85-grain Hornady XTP, or 850 fps with the 100-grainer. While far exceeding the SAAMI MAP for the .32 S&W Long, being excessive for older .32 S&W Long revolvers, these loads are entirely safe in strong, modern revolvers factory-chambered for the .32 H&R Magnum or .327 Federal. Velocities approximate actual chronograph results obtained firing 100-grain .32-20 Winchester factory loads from a 6-inch revolver.
That level of performance defines the original concept Ted Rowe of H&R, and Mike Bussard of Federal envisioned for the .32 H&R Magnum, its design intent being to efficiently attain .32-20 black powder velocity levels in a strong, modern case having just the right capacity to efficiently use smokeless powder at pressures approximating the .38 Special +P, which could be chambered in small, compact pocket and “kit” guns. Indeed, it does precisely that.
Ken Waters and others published heavy .32 S&W Long loads of this level which were widely used in the S&W Models 30 and 31, and strong postwar steel Colt D-frames. When the H&R Magnum was introduced it was decided to lengthen the case to preclude a heavier load being used inadvertently in weaker pre-WW2 revolvers. A wise decision.
Sir, thanks for the outstanding background on the .32 H&R and for the .32 S&W Long loading recommendations! Much appreciated! Nice to see Mr. Bussard get a mention here in these pages.
Yes sir, thank you for the info on those men and their achievements! I had my .32 Cal epiphany handloading for a S&W Model 30 trying to increase performance over available factory .32 S&W Long loadings. A lot of potential there, and its sure nice to have a .32 H&R or .327 revolver to tap it. The strength of the LCR is another welcome plus if you handload .32 Long or .32 H&R. A modern kit gun, indeed! Thanks!
Thanks for taking one for the team, Mr. McPherson!
When my local gun shop gets a .327 in, it’s mine.
Nice write up that’s much appreciated.
You’re welcome, Mr. Shailer! It was a struggle, but somebody had to do it. 🙂 Okay it wasn’t really a struggle and that LCR is occupying a lot of holster time that would have usually been served by a 442. I think you will be pleased if you pick one up. Thanks for reading it!
Oh, for a three inch barrel! I do have one of those SP101 thingies at least. Thank you, Sir, for writing up my favorite revolver caliber!
I hear you, Riley. It would be cool if Ruger made a 3″ standard LCR, or an adjustable sighted LCRx 3″ would truly be a modern kit gun. You’re welcome, its a great caliber!
Excellent article, thanks.
One takeaway I came away with, is that the .327 Federal in a lightweight snubbie like the LCR is, to put it succinctly, a bit too much.
Similar in that way to a lightweight .357 Magnum snub: do-able, but not controllable, and not pleasant to shoot.
In the LCR327, loading it with .32 H&R Magnum would seem to be the way to go: one extra round compared to the LCR38, and more in the ‘sweet spot’ in terms of power vs controllability.
After reading Mikes’s detailed and informative articles on the LCR last year, pointing out it’s many superior qualities compared to other snubs, I bought one in .38 Special. Really like it.
Not liking finger grooved grips– for some reason, the grooves never seem to fall under my fingers– I first replaced the LCR factory grips with the Hogue ‘Bantam Boot’ grip (78050), which is a tad shorter than the factory grip, and without finger grooves.
However, even in my small hands, I was not getting an adequate grip on it– my pinkie finger was left dangling– and the LCR ‘rolled’ in my hand when I shot it.
I then switched to the Hogue 78030 ‘Tamer’ grip: a much longer full size grip that gave all of my fingers purchase. It provided a much more satisfactory shooting experience, with much better control.
It’s not as concealable with that larger grip, but my use for the LCR38 is primarily as a coat pocket gun, where it’s light (13.5 oz) weight counts more than concealability.
> I wonder what the experience of shooting .327 Fed loads in the LCR would be with the larger Hogue grip?
FWIW, I just went on Ammoseek. They showed no .327 Fed ammo available. For .32 H&R Mag, they listed 9 sources for the Federal Personal Defense 85-gr JHP load, ranging from $1.12 to $3 a round.
Bill, I bought a pair of the Hogue 78050 boot grips for my own LCR, thinking I could use them for pocket carry, but my experience was like yours–I felt like I needed just a bit more purchase than they provided. I have been accustomed to boot grips on the J-Frame (OEM/Uncle Mikes, Eagle Secret Service, now the Crimson Trace LG405) and never had an issue with them, but on the LCR, the stubby grip didn’t work well for me either. Maybe it has something to do with the different shape of the grip frame?
The 78030 looks like it would be very comfortable, however. I would like to experiment with a grip length that falls between the two, and see if there’s a happy middle ground.
LittleBill, you’re welcome! I bought a pair of the 78050 Bantam boot grips the same day I picked up a .38 LCR. I changed them out before ever firing a round through it. I had to change back to the factory grips because I had the same experience as you and Mike. I never even shot it with the boot grips on because I felt like I didn’t have enough to hang on to. I have pondered scoring the Tamer grip for the .38, I think you pushed me over the edge to order get some. They look like they would be the perfect grip for shooting with .327 Magnum rounds. They appear to be a hair shorter than the CT Laser Grips, too. My local shop had two boxes of those Federals show up a few days ago, they were asking $1.45 a round. I grabbed them both with a smile on my face. Thanks for weighing in, Sir.
I had similar issues. I did dremel some scallops at the bottom of the 78050 boot grips to give me more purchase. It helped, but isn’t perfect. My solution was to turn the dremel on the standard 78020’s and remove the finger groove from them. The same could probably be done with a razor blade and a file. My hands are just small enough that I can now get 2/3 of my pinkie on the grip. I did try the large 78030’s, and they feel great but were just too large for concealment. I ended up modifying those, having my 4″ SP101 drilled and tapped, and they are now residing on that gun (though I need to get out and shoot it in that configuration).
Hey Greyson, It sounds like you’re doing good work with the dremel. Your idea for removing the finger groove on the issue grips has serious merit. I can picture your SP101 with Tamer grips on it and it looks like a good mod for a gun that size. Thanks for the suggestions!
I have no problem shooting with the boot grip on my 327 LCR, and it carries much better that way in my front pocket. To each their own I suppose.
Great article and comments , I have a Ruger SP101 4 in 327 mag and a S&W 431pd H&R mag. Both are sweet shooting but the Federal 327 is not fun to shoot, so I use 32 wad cutters and carry the 431.
Like every one always on the hunt for ammo
Thanks Dave, that’s great feedback. I had a reader who thought I was exaggerating that the .327 Fed Mag kicked that much, so I’m glad to see my evaluation of it tracks with other shooters here, like you and Kevin.
Thanks, Dave. You are well heeled. What a cool gun that 431PD is! S&W would bring much joy if they could see fit to re-release some J frame .32 H&R Mags…
I have a GP-100 in 327 Federal Magnum and it has become my favorite cartridge. I have considered both the LCR and the SP101 in this cartridge but besides being unable to find one recently, it sounds like it may be a bit too much recoil for me in those those firearms. It makes me wonder even more about the Charter Arms Professional which is a 3inch 7 shot revolver in .32H&R Magnum. If that is the caliber that makes the LCR more pleasant, why not go for one more round?
Karl, I have been very interested in the Professional since it was announced, and hoped to see one at SHOT 2021 before the show was canceled. I like the concept of a small frame .32 H&R very much! I hope I’ll get eyes on one someday. I don’t know how successful that model has been for Charter Arms–hopefully it won’t disappear too quickly from the catalog.
The full power .327 Fed Mag was a lot of cartridge in the LCR and SP101 when I shot it. I didn’t enjoy it, and I’m grateful that Kevin shared the same opinion of it, because now readers won’t think it’s just because I’m a lightweight! ; ^ )
I’m with you & Mike on the Charter Arms, Karl. I think the Professional is the neatest idea they have had since the original. 44 Bulldog. I’d love to lay hands on one and shoot it. A lot!
Kevin thank you for a great article and for your years of service. Enjoyed the article very much.
Back in 1990-91 I think it was, I read an article that said Smith was coming out with a stainless 6 shot J frame in .32 magnum.
I had recently purchased a Ruger SA in the .32 and liked it so had a friend with a Gun Shop order one of the model 631s with a short barrel for me. Little did I know how collectible they would be so I removed the hammer spur and carried it daily.
A house fire in 93 left me with one firearm, the 632.
Since the beginning of this love affair with the .32 family I can not stop searching for them. I am amazed at how many friends share the same passion for the .32s, mostly
Older folks like me.
That said have not really warmed up to the .327 out of the smaller guns. Agonizing over whither to get the cylinder on my 16-4 bored out to .327. Wish Smith would produce a 3 or 4 inch full lug K frame in the caliber. Oh ,no lock please!
Obliged Tony, I’m proud that you read it. I wish that I would have had your wisdom back then and picked one up, too. I personally applaud your hammer spur removal to make that 631 more carry friendly, even if it might end up collectible- which it certainly did! The few 631’s and 632’s I have encountered have been out of my ballpark financially- I hope at least some of the collectors that can afford them actually carry these fine guns. I’m an optimist, maybe S&W will put out a new K frame .327 and spare you the agony on boring out that 16-4…
I pocket carry an LCR (in 9mm) with the tiny Hogue Bantam grips that someone above disliked. I find them perfect for my average size hands and the gun does not “roll” when I shoot it. I can’t imagine the .327 having more recoil than 9mm 124 +P. Of course they are not target grips but for my purposes I like them.
Good to hear that, Brett! I only have about 50 rounds through my LCR 9mm with the Bantam Boots on the gun, and need to do some more shooting with that combo. I didn’t feel like I had enough purchase, but maybe I just need a little more trigger time with them on the gun. I do have big hands, with long and thin fingers, so the tiny grips really disappeared in them.
I went back through the article again, and I got thinking… what is the maximum cylinder capacity for any of these guns? Could you fit 8 shots in a K-frame? 10 in an N-frame?
Also, does the 327 play nice with powder coated boolits? If so, that makes it a much more appealing prospect.
It’s a good question, Adam. I guess we’ll have to trust the manufacturers on this. Ruger stuffs 6 into the SP and LCR cylinders and 7 into the GP cylinder. Smith & Wesson put 6 into the cylinder of the short-lived, J-Frame Model 632. I’d say that would probably equate to a max of 6-7 in a K-Frame, 7-8 in an L-Frame, and 8-9 in an N-Frame, depending on how aggressive they want to be.
Adam, I have had good luck with the Missouri Bullet Company coated 78 grain round nose (Cowboy #18) in the LCR. I have not driven them fast, I load them with Hodgdon Trail Boss in .32 H&R cases to about 800 fps for an easy shooting practice/training load that hits to the same point of impact as Hornady’s Critical Defense .32 H&R round. I have been very pleased with them for economical, clean shooting practice ammo.
Nice, I work at a gun range and spoke to a man who had just brought out his Ruger Lcr .327, after setting up the target stands I sat down for a quick break and saw this new article.
I enjoy carrying my .357 lcr and love the bantam boot grips. Sure the recoil can be stout but it’s nice to have if you need it.
Alright, Bitter- you and Brett have convinced me I need to give the boot grips another try. I am going to put them on that .327 today.
Excellent, well thought out article. Thank you so very much!
I use some bicycle inner tube around my boot grip for my LCR. Obviously, it doesn’t solve all of it’s short-comings (no pun intended) but it does give me a slightly more secure grip.
Hey, Mike (nMW)! thank you for the kindness on my article. I happen to have an inner tube or two lying around here. Since you guys have convinced me to give those boot grips another try, I will experiment with the inner tube. Thank you for the idea, Sir!
As FYI the 3-grain Bullseye load in .32 S&W Long brass with 115 grain #3118 is 20,000 psi. Within design limits for the .32 H&R nagnum
The 100 grain Hornady XTP with 9 grains of IMR4227, compressed, in .32 S&W Long brass, is 25,000 psi. Exceeds SAAMI MAP for the .32 H&R Magnum, but within design limits for the .327 revolvers, and 950 fps from a 3-inch barrel.
Hey Outpost, You have hit on one of the big advantages of owning a .327 Magnum. That 45,000 psi ceiling allows you to build very effective ammo with the .32 Long and .32 H&R Mag cartridges. It sure adds options when factory ammo is in short supply. I have some heavy loaded .32 S&W Long ammo I built a while back that I feel better about shooting through the LCR than I do through an I frame Smith! Thanks for the data, Sir.
9 grains of Hodgdon Lil Gun in .32 S&W Long with 85 Hornady XTP at 1.17″ OAL with CCI500 primer gives 960 fps from 3-inch S&W Model 30 at 20,300 psi. as measured in a T/C Contender chambered in .32 H&R Magnum, using the Oehler M43 Ballistic Test System. Many thanks to Larry Gibson of Lake Havasu, AZ 9for this shared data!
Outpost, that is excellent info, I’m especially obliged for the pressure values. I’ve also found Lil Gun to be like magic dust in .32’s for high velocity at low pressure.
One last comment (by me anyway 🤪) about the Hogue Bantam grips for the LCR. Don’t look at them from the point of view of shooting all day at the range. Look at them from the point of view of one or two cylinder expended in short order. That’s what they are for. The standard grips that come on LCR’s are too big for many concealed cary applications. Everything is a compromise. Large grips print and bad guys may realize your armed. That makes you the first target. These smaller grips print far less and gives you more opportunity to act from a point of surprise.
Understood Brett, loud and clear! Same reason why my 640 wears boot grips instead of something larger and more ergonomic. My experience with the Bantam Boots on the LCR has been disappointing so far, because I haven’t achieved the same level of control as I have with other boot grips on the J-Frames, but I’ll be trying them again and will report in these pages about my results. You’ve got Kevin spun up to do the same.
Hey Brett, I hear where you’re coming from, too. I’m working towards them being acceptable in the conditions you described. I’m having better luck this time than the first try!
Here in Brazil, the .32 H&R Magnum and .327 Federal are still virtually unknown. Taurus guns in these calibers are all exported.
Some experienced shooters, however, converted K-frame, 6-inch barrel.32 revolvers (like Taurus TA, based on S&W K-32) to chamber the .32-20 Winchester round, that gave excellent results on small game hunting. It has the same kinetic energy of 9mm Luger with right loads.
According ballistic tables, the .327 Federal Magnum is very similar in performance to Russian Tokarev 7,62mm round (Russians loved high-velocity .30/.32 handgun rounds since Nagant Gas Seal). But the absence of necked case, I believe, created some technical problems, like very high pressure peaks to obtain high velocities with short barrels.
Maybe I could be wrong, but I feel that .327 Federal Magnum will suffer the same fate that .357 Maximum.
Erick, it’s always good to get your perspective on things- thank you, Sir! I have heard of folks hot loading. 32-20’s to good effect. Your comparison to the Tokarev is accurate. I hope the .327 fairs better than the .357 Maximum, if only because there are so few .32 H&R Magnum chambered small revolvers out there. I think Charter Arms is the only American manufacturer currently producing one. Be Safe!
+1 on what Erick said. In the .32-20 a charge 5 grains AutoComp, 7.5 grains of Alliant #2400 or 10 grains of IMR4227 with the 100 – grain Hornady XTP approximate the velocity of pre-WW2 factory loads which are safe in the Colt Police Positive, Army Special and S&W Hand Ejectors. Other sources publish heavier loads, but those should be restricted to the Cimarron and Taylor Pietta and Uberti Colt clones and the Marlin 1894 and Winchester 92 rifles.
The original .32 H&R Magnum was a good idea. For a small-frame revolver, there’s an argument to be made for that extra shot. I’ve talked to some older guys who talked about carrying Colt Detective Specials for that reason.
Heck, there’s some younger guys carrying the new Cobra or K6s for the same reason!
Agreed, Axel. The guns in this size range like the Detective Special, The Kimber K6 2″, and the LCR .327 make a lot of sense. Especially when they are being carried as a primary. It never bothered me to carry a 5 shot J frame as a back up gun, but that sixth round sure gives me more peace of mind if it’s the only gun carried.
I’ll second that, Kevin. I’ve had no qualms carrying my 5-shot 642 since I started carrying back in January of 2018, but I’ve switched to my 6-shot Model 12 as my primary carry. For a variety of reasons, but one of them being that sixth shot.
As someone who shoots and carry revolvers, capacity has never been a primary concern for me in terms of carry. However, I’ve come to think that an extra shot or two can never hurt, when you can get it. I debated getting a Taurus 856 for that reason (Kimber is outside my price range), but I’m still mixed on Taurus as a brand. So I’ll just have to work with what I have.
Axel, if you have a 642 and a 12, I don’t see any notable gaps that need to be filled. Sounds like you’ve got it covered.
The allure of a sixth cartridge is strong, but after working with the new Cobra and the K6s, I found that my 640 still handled and carried better. There’s a lot of personal preference involved here, of course, but I feel better armed with my 5-shot 640 than I do with the bulkier, and less shootable, 6-shot competitors from Kimber and Colt.
As we said in the days before social media ruined communication, YMMV. 😁
What Mike said about your armament, Axel! It is hard to picture a carry gun that is really better than a 2″ Model 12 if you fancy revolvers. It’s a pure choice.
I put a lot of weight on that sixth round for a primary carry small revolver. I have great respect for S&W’s 640 and its excellent handling qualities- but I lean towards the Kimber and .327 LCR for the sights and the extra charge hole. Or a 2″ Model 12 with ammo it likes!
I have two Tauri in my revolver “arsenal;” an 856UL and a stainless 605. The six-shot Ultra Lite just happens to be the best shooter I own. Fit/finish: excellent. Trigger: smoothed out beautifully after a couple hundred rounds and some dry fire practice. Accurate right out of the box with Winchester Super Match wadcutters and now (as I can’t find Super Match) Hornady +P 110 gr FTX.
YMMV, but my experience suggests you may want to take a chance.
I have been carrying a Ruger LCR in .327 as a back up gun for several years and find it superior to the S&W J-Frame .38’s I carried previously. I practice with .32 Long and carry it loaded with .32H&R Mag’s. The key to an effective small gun in my opinion is fast accurate fire. Pundit’s are quick to say the .38 snubby is an experts gun, meaning it is low capacity and difficult to shoot quickly, all valid points. With
an LCR in .327 downloaded to .32H&R you get the same relative effectiveness as a .38 with an extremely easy to shoot gun that has six shot capacity. The key is the .32H&R mag’s, if you insist on loading the .327 with .327 mag’s you are back to a small gun with a sharp recoil impulse which is difficult to shoot quickly due to the time it takes you to recover your sights after firing.
Chris McFadden, you speak the truth. Fast, accurate fire. Viva la .32 H&R!
I believe that Portuguese shooters are the world´s most experienced with .32 H&R Magnum. This cartidge is very popular in that country for legal reasons. Condition 3 for semi-automatics is mandatory by law in Portugal (even for military and law enforcement!), and .32 diameter is the maximum allowed for CCW (or was up to some years ago).
Because we speak (almost) the same language, I have a lot of contact with shooters there.
That is fascinating about the Portuguese and the .32 H&R Magnum! I had no idea that the .32 Mag was even really known outside of the U.S.
I applaud their judgement, especially considering the limited choices they have.
Erick, is this .32 H&R Mag interest for sport shooting in Portugal (IPSC, etc.)? Or is there an active culture of citizens carrying guns for personal protection?
Sport shooters can use larger calibers. Portugal has one of lowest crime rates in the world. In 2019, there was ONLY ONE gunfight involving police officers there. Few people has a CCW license, because crime rates rarely justified it.
But all Portugal has few people than São Paulo city alone.
The .32 H&R Mag is (or was) the #1 Poruguese choice for civilians that had CCW (mostly farmers) and LE personnel as backup.
Gun culture in Portugal is much more oriented for hunting that sport shooting or combat/defense. Some hunting Portuguese magazines could be found in Brazilian newsstands in 1980 and 1990’s, specially in airports.
Thanks for the education, Erick!
One gunfight? Wow. I did not realize that about Portugal, either. Thank you for the info, Erick!
Yes! I’ve carried a dozen different primary EDC handguns over the years, pistols and revolvers, and the .327 LCR has dethroned them all. It’s perfect, for many of the reasons the article and commenters mentioned:
– Capacity. A 20% bump is significant.
– Versatility. Mild .32 S&W Long’s fill 2x chambers when mowing the lawn, hiking, or anywhere I may need to pop a rattlesnake without destroying my ears. Underwood 95gr Xtreme Defenders fill the other 4x chambers, or all 6 for EDC. H&R Mags are my primary training load, and much more pleasant when teaching others the merits of a compact DAO revolver.
– Everything about the DAO 2” LCR is perfect for pocket carry. The polymer frame surrounding the concealed hammer glides out of a pocket when drawing. The footprint melts into the contours of a pocket, minimizing any printing. The DAO action is safe to carry in a wide variety of lightweight/thin pocket holsters.
– If ammo cost is an issue (normal times), there’s no platform that benefits more from steady dry-fire than a DAO revolver. For a long-term cost-savings plan, buy a .38 Special or .357 Mag LCR as cheap as you can find it and shoot relatively cheap .38 out of it.
– My favorite grips are Hogue G10 (smooth, not piranha). They afford a full grip with finger grooves that actually make sense, anchoring the whole gun in your hand. The smooth finish lets the LCR smoothly roll up and back during harsher recoil (Fed Mag loads) but not so much as to induce trigger bite or pinching anywhere. The heavily rounded edges break up the print of the LCR in a pocket; even with full-size grips, it pocket carries well.
– My second favorite grips are the Hogue Bantam rubber grips. The sides are a harder polymer/rubber finish so they don’t grab clothing nearly as bad as the OEM Hogue grips. The Bantam turns the LCR into the most concealable footprint possible in a snubbie (except that awful Taurus model a while back, the one with the chopped grip). However, control of the LCR while firing does suffer. If the Bantams were all I had then I’d likely download to H&R mags for EDC and accept the risk of being underpowered, but knowing I was more accurate and faster. But I can conceal the Hogue G10 just fine and shoot them nearly as well as a 3-4” barreled revolver.
I was hesitant to jump into another caliber. I avoided it for years, justifying those measly 5rds of 357Mag with the quantity of training ammo I could feed it to mitigate the capacity. I finally caved, and I’m glad I did. The 327 LCR is the one gun that’s enough gun for nearly everywhere I travel, safe to carry in just about any holster or fashion, and versatile to eat lesser calibers that serve an actual purpose in my life.
If Ruger is listening, I’ll gladly sell my 357 Mag 3” revolvers (K6, SP101, King Cobra…all of them) and buy several of these: LCR, 327 Fed, 3”, DA/SA, adjustable rear sight, pinned front Truglo TFX Pro sight, Hogue G10 smooth grips from the factory.
Thanks for sharing your experience with the .327 LCR, Anner! I have came to similar conclusions, a six shot gun this size is a very good compromise for a “take anywhere” gun. I haven’t shot mine since putting the Bantam boot grips back on it, but I’m betting that you’re right about them being more suitable with .32 H&R Mag instead of .327 ammo. I’m going to check out those Hogue G10’s, and I hope Ruger is listening to you, too!
I forgot to mention: Brazilian gun laws does not allow to owner take advantage from versatility of a .327 Federal Magnum revolver. It’s not allowed to buy ammo in a different caliber that is factory marked in the gun.
If you have a .357 Magnum, for example, you can buy ONLY .357 Magnum ammo. To purchase .38 Special ammo, you need to have another gun registered in this caliber.
The only way to buy both types of ammo is if the gun was factory-marked “.357 Mag/.38 Special”, for example.
That is awful. I’m sorry you guys have to deal with that in Brazil, Erick. What a huge setback to some of the best attributes of many revolvers! I hope that you guys are permitted to purchase/own enough revolvers to get around this, and that at least some of the revolvers sold there are marked as you describe- with multiple caliber designations. We have some silly laws in the U.S., but at least we don’t have to deal with that.
This law is really stupid. My Walther PPK Interarms is marked 9mm Kurz/.380 ACP (the same caliber with European and American designations). But, in its Firearm Register Certificate, is written “9mm/.380” (the “Kurz” was omitted), as if be two distinct calibers!
Theoretically, I can buy 9mm Luger ammo using the Walther PPK license…
Excellent review of this outstanding revolver. I purchased this revolver for my wife and it’s a very fun gun to shoot. She loves this revolver and primarily shots 32 S&W long. I have also shot it using the 32 H&R Magnum, as well as, the 327 Federal Magnum load through it. After shooting the full size load I thought that I needed a bigger gun. It has a great deal of kick with the 327 Fed Mag cartridge as well as the spray of the gun powder that I can feel on my arms. While it can certainly handle the 327 Fed Mag, it does not make for a good practice session.
Thank you, Guru! My teenage daughter claims the LCR with .32 S&W Longs when she accompanies me to the range. I may have to get another one soon! I know what you mean about the .327 Federals- nice to know you can shoot them if need be, but .32 H&R Mags are just right through this gun.
Another great article, Kevin. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you, Sir! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Really, the .327 Federal Magnum is almost the ballistic twin of the .30 Carbine round. Powder capacity and pressures are similar, with the .327 actually running 5k PSI hotter. Full power .327 rounds in any revolver actually do shoot a sheet of flame from the cylinder gap that is a foot long on both sides of the gun on every shot which takes a little bit of getting used to.
I really like the round in a heavy Ruger GP-100 with a 6-inch tube, as max power rounds in that platform have no real recoil and are dead on accurate out to 100+ yards.
In a carry gun, I’d prefer a .32 ACP. Small, but gets the job done.
That’s an interesting comparison, Maz, and one that didn’t readily come to mind for me. The .30 Carbine round runs around 500 fps faster in the carbine barrel that we’re used to seeing it in, but if you were to put it in a revolver-length barrel, you would indeed be very close. The guys at Ballistics By The Inch say the .327 Fed Mag does almost 2200 fps (American Eagle 100 gr JSP) out of an 18” barrel, which puts it squarely in .30 Carbine territory.
I found the .327 Fed Mag truly deserved the Magnum label when I shot it in several Rugers. I think the marketing at the initial launch of this cartridge led lots of people astray, who were told to expect a cartridge with .357 Magnum-like performance, but without the recoil. We know you can’t get a free lunch, and the Fed Mag reminds us of that.
I think you’re absolutely right—the best home for this cartridge is in a Medium-Large frame gun like the GP100, or a carbine. I sure hope the new Ruger-Marlin lineup will include a .327 levergun option!
Further experience with this round has led me to get another revolver, this time a Taurus 327 snubbie with a 2-inch barrel. Blast is the same, recoil is snappy like a .38 +P+, and the sheet of flame is the same as a GP100. 100 grain handloads do 1300 fps from the snubbie, and 1600 from the 6-inch GP100.
That Taurus sounds like a solid choice. We keep trying to test one here, but Taurus is apparently very busy! I believe your 100 grain bullet handloads will take care of business! Keep repping the .32’s!
Thank you Kevin for an excellent review of the .327 Federal Magnum and the Ruger LCR. I picked up a Ruger LCR in .327 Federal a couple of years ago as an alternative to another J Frame Smith & Wesson and have been extremely pleased. The range of ammunition options is impressive and honestly, when loaded with Speer Gold Dot or the Buffalo Bore 130 grain Hard Cast Keith rounds, it will perform admirably for most self-defense purposes as long as you do your part.
You’re welcome, Skyraider17. Looks like we have had similar experiences with the .327 LCR. I believe the two loads you mentioned are as good as it gets in the .327 and both make the LCR hit way above its weight class. As you pointed out, as long as you do your part! Nice to have .32 H&R as an option too, makes it easier for more people to do their part. Thank you!
Santa Baby, bring me a 3 inch SP101 in 327 federal mag. I’ll also need several boxes of .327 fed and .32 H&R Mag ammo. Loved the review. Sounds like .32 H&R Mag is the way to go in the LCR. I hope these revolvers and the ammo proliferate!
From your lips to, um . . . Federal’s and Ruger’s ears!
Thanks, Alan. The .32 Mag is sure enjoyable to shoot in the LCR but still viable as a defense round. I hope for that proliferation, too- If they build em, we’ll buy em!
I have the 327 LCRx and really not fond of it. I like the 2 Taurus M327’s I owned prior, the trigger on my LCRx is terrible. The Taurus’s weren’t very accurate, and the fired cases were hard to extract, but the triggers were great.
I sold the 2 Taurus snubbies looking to get the Ruger, took me 3 years to get the lcrx version.
I also own a SP101 3″ and like it very much, better trigger, a little less recoil. But a little heavier to CCW all day. I installed tritium sights on both Rugers. Standard grips on the lcrx, Pachmyer Diamonds on the SP.
That surprises me about the trigger on your LCRx. That is a bummer to wait 3 years and then get one one with a bad trigger. I hope you reached out to Ruger on that.
The SP101 3″ in .327 is a very appealing set up. I have been keeping my eyes peeled for one around here.
I keep hearing good things about current Taurus revolvers. I’m hoping they got the bugs out like the ones that gave you trouble. My LGS has an Executive 856 .38 that is threatening to make me a bit poorer…
Thanks for weighing in, Sir!
Bruce, I echo Kevin’s thoughts on this. If your LCRx trigger is that bad, give them a call about it. They might send you a prepaid shipping label to return it under warranty, so they can fix it. The LCR triggers are usually quite good—much better than the average SP101 trigger. They should be able to fix it easily for you, so you won’t have to suffer with it.
I load a 98 gr Double Ended Hard Cast Wad Cutter, over 4.6 gr of Unique, in 327 Fed. Mag. brass.. It chronographs 940 fps out of the LCR. It’s a sweet shooter that does a number on a water jug.
Happy New Year Mr. Goldstein!
Your load makes me smile. Good medicine out of an LCR. You have motivated me to head out to the reloading bench, Sir! I have some .32 Wadcutters, but nothing particularly hard cast. I’ll be surfing the webs later for some of those, I suspect!
I bet it does, Michael! It would also be a great load for field or defense.
My initial range session with the .327 Mag LCR was last week, and the only ammo on hand was Federal’s 85gr JSP — suffice to say, it made a VERY potent first impression and I was glad to have been grasping it firmly!
After watching a friend’s expression as he fired it, we coined a term to describe it: “KaPOWerful!”
I like it!
Your description is on point! Those 85 grain Federal’s are screaming down range. They will remind you that the .327 Federal is definitely a magnum!!!