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327 Federal Magnum


Introduced in 2008, the 327 Federal finally brought the 32-caliber revolver cartridge family fully into the modern era.  Case and cartridge lengths are close to the same as the various larger-caliber magnums and working pressure is very high.

Not surprisingly, when loaded with the best components this cartridge is a serious chambering for concealed-carry guns.  In the Ruger SP101, it offers 8 shots, compared to five rounds of 38 Special in the S&W small-frame revolver.  Recoil of top loads in each is similar but the 327 can deliver significantly more energy.  The advantages in delivered energy and number of rounds available without reloading might well make the difference in a life-and-death, self-defense situation.

With a very high working pressure, when used in a short-barreled revolver, muzzle blast is obnoxious.  It is worth mentioning that the 327 Federal is ballistically interchangeable with the 30 Carbine when chambered in a handgun.  Case capacity is very similar, overall length is shorter but the 327 has a 12% higher working pressure, which makes up for the difference in capacity.

Compared to the 30 Carbine, the 327 uses bullets a few thousandths larger in diameter and has a rim, which is more convenient for use in a revolver.

As a small-game cartridge, the 327 Federal has a lot going for it.  If it were offered in a lever-action carbine, it would be a serious hunting round for smaller species of game animals and predators.

As with any revolver round, best practice is to apply a roll-crimp after seating the bullet.  A roll-crimp eases loading of rounds into the cylinder and can help limit bullet pull under recoil if only modestly.  I cannot too-strongly recommend getting a second seating-and-crimping die so you can have one adjusted to seat the bullet and the second adjusted to only crimp the case mouth.  Generally, attempting to do both operations in one step is a recipe for damaged and destroyed cases.

The text associated with the cartridge description reflects opinions and conclusions of the author, M.L. (Mic) McPherson. Lee Precision and its employees do not necessarily either agree or disagree with any of his comments. We present these with due deference to his recognized expertise in the firearms field. His acumen extends to handloading and all aspects of ballistics - internal, external, and terminal.
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