Lethal Combination: The .327 Federal Magnum & Ruger SP101

Lethal Combination: The .327 Federal Magnum & Ruger SP101

Federal Ammunition and Ruger Firearms introduce the .327 Federal Magnum & Ruger SP101.


From the late 19th Century well into the middle of the 20th, the.32-caliber revolver was a mainstay of personal protection and law-enforcement plainclothes carry. Then it was eclipsed by larger-diameter loadings such as the .38 Special, the 9mm, and the .357 Magnum. Efforts to resurrect the .32, such as the introduction of the .32 H&R Magnum in 1984, were largely failures.


But today, with 48 of our 50 states allowing some form of citizen concealed handgun carry, with more people than ever before looking for a ballistically effective, compact, and easy-to-carry defense handgun, Federal Premium ammunition and Ruger Firearms have pulled out all the stops with the joint introduction of a completely new high-performance .32 caliber revolver cartridge, utilizing the best that modern bullet and propellant technology can offer.


The new .327 Federal Magnum offers muzzle energy twice that of .38 Special +P loads, and velocities comparable to a 125-grain .357 Magnum, with 20 percent less recoil in its hottest version. Designed specifically for use in lightweight small-frame revolvers, the .327 Federal Magnum allows a six-round cylinder compared to five-round capacity for similar-sized .38 Special and .357 Magnum guns, with the added benefit of chambering .32 S&W, .32 Special, and .32 H&R Magnum loads as well.


Based on a higher-pressure loading in a 1/8-inch longer .32 H&R case, the .327 Federal Magnum will initially be available in three versions: a Federal Premium 85-grain Hydra-Shok Low Recoil Personal Defense loading, an American Eagle 100-grain Jacketed Soft Point, and a Speer 115-grain Gold Dot.

From a 3 1/16-inch revolver, the 100-grain Soft Point .327 Magnum load develops 100 fps more velocity than a 125-grain .357 Magnum from a four-inch revolver, and delivers only 35 ft/lbs less energy. The recoil of the .327 Magnum 85-grain Personal Defense load is less than half the recoil of a 125-grain .357 Magnum.


Subjected to the standard FBI protocol tests for effectiveness through barriers, the 115-grain .327 Magnum load reaches 15 inches in bare gelatin, 16 inches through heavy clothing, 16 inches through plywood, 14.5 inches through wallboard, 13 inches through auto glass, and 20 inches through single-layer vehicle body steel--all with substantial bullet upset ranging from .40 caliber (steel) to .60 caliber (auto glass).

As announced at the 2007 NASGW Show in Reno, NV, on November 7, 2007, Ruger is offering the .327 Federal Magnum in its time-proven all-steel SP101 revolver, which offers compact size for concealed carry plus a pleasing 28-ounce weight (the same as the polymer-frame Ruger SR9 9mm pistol) for firing this potent little load--which for the first time elevates the .32 caliber to a level of authority for effective use in a life-protection situation.

The SP101's sideplate-free, solid-frame design is uniquely suited for the .327 Magnum, with a well-balanced full-lug barrel, strong six-round cylinder with offset locking notches for extra strength, an integral cylinder/frame latch that duplicates the design of Ruger's bigger GP100 .357 Magnum and Super Redhawk .454 Casull revolvers. It also features Ruger's signature safe transfer-bar firing mechanism, and wraparound cushion-rubber grips. A version will also be available with Crimson Trace LaserGrips.

I had the recent opportunity to shoot this newest version of the Ruger SP101 in Federal's ballistic lab with all three of Federal's new .327 Magnum loads, and to witness its impact and penetration.

There is nothing "small" about the performance of this deceptively diminutive-looking round. Hard-hitting and entirely comfortable to fire, the .327 Magnum should be very appealing to anyone seeking high effectiveness and moderate recoil in a compact defense arm--especially those who want a handgun all responsible members of a family can readily learn to use effectively. And, should Ruger decide also to chamber it in sporting-configuration revolvers such as the Single-Six, it will also be a fine recreational shooter and small-game hunting tool. Hint, hint . . .

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