Smith & Wesson Model 632 .327 Federal Magnum

The descriptive terms "crisp" and "smooth" readily come to mind.

Smith & Wesson made good on a promise made at the 2009 SHOT Show. The promise? Shortly after the .327 Federal Magnum cartridge was introduced, S&W announced that it would make a double-action revolver chambered for the new small-bore round. The company has made .32-caliber revolvers since the tip-up Model 2 rimfire was introduced at the beginning of the Civil War, but as larger-caliber and more powerful S&W handguns were introduced during the 19th and 20th centuries, the .32s were relegated to a relatively underpowered status, i.e., definitely not in the "one-shot, one-kill" category. The Model 632 Carry Comp Pro helps terminate that reputation.

The little revolver traces its origins to the snubnosed, stainless Model 60 Chiefs Special introduced in the mid-1960s.

The Model 632's heavy underlug and ported barrel help tame muzzle jump and recoil.

I'm a fan of the .32 caliber. Over the years, I have loaded and fired thousands of rounds for several different factory and custom handguns. When the .327 Mag. was introduced, Hamilton Bowen fitted an extra cylinder for a .32-20 Ruger Blackhawk he'd built for me years ago so that I could develop varmint and target loads. I also bought a .327 SP101 to go along with the .32 H&R and .357 S&W Mag. models I already owned. To date, I've probably fired 1,500 rounds of factory .327 Mag. ammo and handloads, including nearly 400 for this review. Selected results are shown in the accompanying chart.

Let me convince you just why you need this new handgun.

Manufacturer:Smith & Wesson 800-331-0852
Model:632 Carry Comp Pro
Operation:Double-action revolver
Caliber:.327 Federal Magnum
Barrel Length:3 inches
Overall Length:7.5 inches
Weight, empty24.5 ounces
Sights:Pinned, serrated ramp front; fully adjustable rear
Stock:Black polymer with finger grooves
Capacity:6 rounds
Finish:Matte Black

First of all, I've never handled a "bad" Smith & Wesson revolver during the last 20 or so years. At one time, back in about the late 1980s, S&W was known as the "new-gun-a-month" maker because the company seemed to introduce another new model or variation every time you turned around. They weren't all successes, but the dozens I've tested all performed very well, and the new Model 632 meets that standard.

Also, if you've ever tried an S&W revolver trigger, you must acknowledge that it was a pleasant experience. The descriptive terms "crisp" and "smooth" readily come to mind. Single-action pull is almost always creep-free. The double-action mode is significantly more deliberate so the chance of a negligent discharge is quite improbable.

Cylinder capacity is six rounds, and that extra round could be the one that counts.

The original blued, carbon-steel Model 36 and Model 60 Chiefs Specials were chambered in .38 Special, and the small J-Frame cylinder would accommodate only five rounds. The later .357 Mag. model has the same cartridge capacity, but its ballistic performance increased to extraordinary levels. Of course, felt recoil is also significantly greater. In fact, I'll bet most of the .357 Model 60s are typically loaded with .38 Spl. +P ammo. In comparison, the Model 632 shares many features with its J-Frame cousins. It is, like the Model 60, all stainless construction. It features fully adjustable sights; a key-lock external safety; and black composite, round-butt grips. It has a 3-inch, underlugged barrel; external hammer with checkered spur; and a nonserrated trigger.

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The differences are obvious. Instead of the natural brushed satin finish, the Model 632 has a matte black coloring. It has a six-round cylinder and a

ported expansion chamber at the muzzle to help control muzzle flip. The port reduces the effective barrel length by approximately a half-inch. The discharge report is loud because all of the factory loaded bullets break the sound barrier as they exit the muzzle. Because of the smaller bore and the number and size of the chambers in the cylinder, the Model 632 also weighs a bit more — 24½ versus 24 ounces.

Muzzle energy for the .327 Mag. is more than double that of the .32 H&R. In fact, it's almost 100 percent greater than the Remington .38 Spl. +P test load. Surprisingly, it also delivered about 10 percent more muzzle energy than the .357 Mag. And my 3- to 3.5-inch groups aren't bad at all, considering the gun's short sight radius and my squinty eyesight. Relative recoil of the various handgun/cartridge combos also adds to why the Model 632 is so attractive. Bottom line, you get an extra round in the cylinder and even greater power, yet the impact on the shooter is not as punishing.

All things considered, I rank the handy and compact S&W Model 632 near the top of the list for personal defense.

LoadMuzzle Velocity (fps)Extreme Spread (fps)Standard Deviation (fps)25-yard Accuracy (inches)
Federal Premium 85-gr. Hydra-Shok Factory load 1336 108 30 2.90
American Eagle 100-gr. JSP Factory load 1457 86 24 3.40
Speer LE 115-gr. Gold Dot Factory load 1306 95 28 3.10
Hornady 85-gr. HP/XTP, 6.5 grs. Auto Comp 1229 126 38 2.70
Hornady 100-gr. HP/XTP, 13.1 grs. H110 1207 121 42 3.30
Hornady 100-gr. HP/XTP, 13.9 grs. Power Pro 300-MP 1195 121 40 2.80
Speer 100-gr. JHP, 13.1 grs. H110 1140 88 24 3.70
Magnus 116-gr. Cast SWC, 5.2 grs. SR 4756 1044 87 22 3.70
WARNING: The loads shown here are safe only in the guns for which they were developed. Neither the author nor InterMedia Outdoors, Inc. assumes any liability for accidents or injury resulting from the use or misuse of this data. NOTES: Accuracy is the average of three, five-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest. Velocity is the average of 15 rounds measured 7 feet from the gun's muzzle.

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