Smith & Wesson’s Performance Center Model 327 has been around for years. However, I only recently had the opportunity to handle one. And this concealed carry revolver offers owners plenty of unique features. The Model 327’s specialized aspects maximize defensive potential for those who favor the simplicity and reliability of a revolver.
About Smith & Wesson’s Model 327
The Model 327 is admittedly a large and clumsy-looking revolver. It lacks the distinguished gracefulness of its progenitor, the six-shot Model 27 .357 Magnum revolver, which was introduced in 1935. The S&W Model 27 ushered in the .357 Magnum cartridge as well as the larger N revolver frame that later chambered in .44 and .41 Magnum.
The Model 27 revolutionized the revolver world and was a major success as a hunting and law enforcement arm. Original barrel lengths ran from 3 ½ to 10 5/8 inches depending on its intended use. The Model 27 is still produced by Smith & Wesson in a blued 4-inch version for those who appreciate classic firearms.
Today’s Model 327 would be billed as a “space age” gun had it been introduced in the 1960s, despite being a revolver. It would be called so because it is constructed from materials developed for the aerospace industry. Materials that also give it advantages over conventional revolver designs.
Model 327 Advantages
- Extremely lightweight construction
The Model 327 — a chopped N-Frame revolver — weighs only 22.6 ounces, while the current Classic Model 27 weighs 42.1 ounces. S&W made use of the rare element scandium in combination with titanium to construct the frame, accounting for its light weight. Despite a large-sized frame, the Model 327 is truly an all-day carry gun. The cylinder and barrel shroud are both constructed from titanium and are left in a natural dull grey color, creating a distinctive appearance.
- Eight-shot capacity
An eight-shot cylinder capacity makes the Performance Center 327 the equal of a standard capacity 1911 .45 ACP, especially when loaded with full-power .357 Magnum loads.
The cylinder is relieved for full-moon clip use. Using a full-moon clip removes two steps from the traditional six-step speedloading process in revolvers with cylinders cut to handle them.
- Moon clips not needed
Moon clips prevent a revolver phenomenon known as extractor star override where weak ejection effort by the operator results in the cylinder extractor overriding the rim of the cartridge, which temporarily prevents being reloading. It also allows all the empties to be ejected en masse with the clip instead of falling individually. The Model 327 can fully function without moon clips. Some 9mm revolvers can’t.
- .38 Special is an option
The Model 327, like all .357 Magnum revolvers, can also fire .38 Special ammunition. In a revolver this light, the ability to use .38s greatly reduces recoil for practice and self-defense.
- Shorter barrel
Although I would have aesthetically preferred a 2 ½-inch barrel, the short 2-inch barrel makes it more difficult for criminals to grab the gun. The shorter barrel is also ideal for close-quarter, one-handed defensive firearm use.
S&W Performance Center Model 327 Specifications
Action: Traditional double-action/single-action
Barrel/shroud: Stainless steel/titanium shroud/2 inches
Sights: Low profile red insert ramp front/integral u-shaped top strap trough
Grips: Wood/stippled sides and finger groove front
Overall length: 7 inches
Frame finish: Matte black
Capacity: Eight rounds; three moon clips included
Is the Model 327 a Good Concealed Carry Gun?
Galco supplied me with the aptly named Model CM134 “Combat Master” open-top, outside-the-waistband holster to get a feel for carrying the Model 327 concealed. The CM134 carried the 327 firmly in place but kept it riding above the belt line. It kept the 327 easily concealed under a vest or sweatshirt and well positioned for a smooth draw during several eight-hour test days. There is no doubt as to its carry comfort with a well-designed holster like the Combat Master.
The Performance Center Model 327 excels as an extreme close-quarter handgun (21 feet and closer). While Smith & Wesson has made it a fine revolver for that mission, it is not one that I would carry concealed as part of my church’s protection team. Due to its light weight, I could not shoot groups using full-power .357 Magnum ammo that would be as tight as shooting with .38 Special. But by any measure, those are a lot of great characteristics for any concealed carry or defensive handgun to have.