Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 Revolver ~ Gun Review

By Josh Wayner
Josh dose some shooting range investigation to figure out what is the real purpose of the Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 Revolver.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 Revolver chambered in .357 Magnum
Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 Revolver chambered in .357 Magnum
Josh Wayner
Josh Wayner

U.S.A.-( It could be said of me, with pretty decent accuracy, that I spend a great deal of time around firearms and have a very good grasp of what makes certain guns good or, well, not so good.

When it comes to selecting things to review I occasionally like to pick guns that I see as a bit of an oxymoron.

Enter the Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 Revolver. This revolver is a somewhat odd-looking addition to the famous line of PC guns.

What drew me to the weapon was the combination of features that make it a one-of-a-kind offering in our present market.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 Revolver

The pistol is an 8-shot .357 Magnum that can be loaded with full moon clips or with individual rounds. Right from the get-go, this pistol is crammed with unique features. The business end of the pistol features a 2” stainless steel barrel shrouded in titanium. The barrel is of match quality and delivered spectacular accuracy at 25 yards from the bench.

Curiously, the sights are not target adjustable. The front sight is windage adjustable only. My example was dead on right out of the box with any load I tested.

Moving on to the 327's frame, one will notice the even black finish of the ultra-light Scandium. The black contrasts well with the dull grey of the titanium cylinder and barrel shroud. When I say ultra-light, I mean ultra-light. This pistol barely tips the scales at a feathery 23oz.

Finishing out the piece is another curious feature: a full-size set of wood grips. Why not the more compact grips common to similar snub-nose revolvers? I wondered the same thing until I began to put the puzzle together for myself.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 chambered in .357 Magnum
Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 chambered in .357 Magnum

This Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 Revolver was something of a mystery to me as I didn’t really see a real end-user in mind. The gun isn’t exactly small with its large N-Frame, but it is light. It is match-accurate, but the sights aren’t adjustable. The trigger and action are as light and crisp as those on a competition revolver and it has the same quick loading moon clips to boot. So what exactly was this gun?

My range trips gave me a clear picture of the true utility of this unique weapon. This very well may be one of the best hiking guns for the lower 48 and even into the Alaskan wilderness. The loaded pistol is nearly unnoticeable when carrying it in a chest-mounted Hill People Gear Heavy Recon Kit Bag. I logged a few miles in the woods carrying it this way and was pleasantly surprised that I nearly forgot it was there when moving. When it is time to draw, there is no long barrel to get in the way, but rest assured that when the sights are lined up and the crisp trigger is pulled, your bullet will go exactly where it is aimed.

The features that seem unnecessary are the saving grace of this gun. The ability to load quickly with full moon clips gives this pistol the same reloading speed as an automatic and all the power of eight rounds of .357 Magnum in one serving. Reloading this gun with gloves is substantially easier with moon clips and shooting it accurately in a hunting situation is fully possible thanks to the full-size grip and fine single-action pull.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 Revolver Cons

So you’re probably wondering what some of the cons of this pistol are at this point. I will say that the cons are fully outweighed by the pros given what I picture the intended use to be, but I will go over them anyways.

Recoil is a bit much. I fired two Hornady .357 Magnum loads and one Hornady .38 Special variety out of this gun and found them to be, shall we say, interesting. The Hornady Custom 158gr XTP .357 load generated an average of 1098fps from the muzzle and generated what I would describe as ‘alarming’ recoil. Eight shots in rapid succession of either .357 load weren’t exactly easy on the wrists. The Critical Duty 135gr load was a bit easier to handle and had an average of 1209fps at the muzzle.

I know that recoil is a big factor for lots of people, but the light weight of the pistol in carry far supersedes any momentary hand fatigue should you need to fire it in self-defense.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 chambered in .357 Magnum
Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 chambered in .357 Magnum
Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 Revolver
Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 Revolver

I found, not surprisingly, the .38 loads to be much easier to shoot out of the pistol. Hornady’s 110gr FTX left the muzzle at an average of 878fps. The light weight of the weapon still made firing noticeable to the hands. I came to the conclusion that this pistol was essentially a large, match-grade J-Frame in terms of general firing characteristics.

My last complaint about the pistol is the grips. The size of the grips themselves is great for a hiking gun, however the grip material is far too smooth for the power this gun can generate. I believe that it would be far better off with either a set of soft rubber grips or something with a more aggressive texture to prevent slippage in the hand under recoil.

All in all, the Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 Revolver is a fantastic weapon for the right person. The pistol demonstrated remarkable consistency over the Oehler 35P Chronograph and was truly what I’d call a match-grade weapon, easily turning in 2” groups for eight shots at 25 yards. Lockup was tight and timing was as precise as a nuclear clock. I didn’t break a sweat carrying this weapon in my hiking gear and would likely select it over a larger and heavier steel-frame pistol if I was fly-fishing in bear country or blazing trail. You lose nothing except ounces with the 327 and it certainly fills a gap for the discerning outdoorsman or adventurer.

About Josh Wayner:

Josh Wayner has been writing in the gun industry for five years. He is an active competition shooter with 14 medals from Camp Perry. In addition to firearms-related work, Josh enjoys working with animals and researching conservation projects in his home state of Michigan.

  • 11 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 Revolver ~ Gun Review

    1. Boa noite,Eu sou um conhecedor dessas armas eu já portei um Magnum 357 de 6 polegadas mais atualmente preciso de um desse de 2 polegadas eu gostaria que vocês me enviassem o link para eu ver o preço e a possibilidade de eu compra um desse sem registro.

    2. I have owned the 327 for 6 months now. Ive probably put around 500 rounds of various (mostly 38) through her. I originally bought it for one reason: a “if I could only have one gun gun” to keep handy in the safe etc (8 shots, reliable, easy to find the two types of ammo it shoots, accuracy good enough to pop small game or large game, and self defense and practical survival ranges, low maintenance / lack of rusting etc). After shooting it numerous times, and even carrying it concealed a few times, this piece is now the weapon that goes with my on all my back country/kayaking, flying fishing trips in various parts of Southern Appalachia (mainly East Tennessee, but also Western NC, Northern GA, TN/VA/KY borders). In those situations, I keep it loaded with 158gr 357 magnums and keep three 8 shot speed loaders for quick bear/bore/people defense with the alike. But I also keep it a box of 38 special 148gr wad cutters in my gear for the purpose of harvesting small game for the pot if needed (recoil feels about like a 22 mag snub or light 32 with those loads).. I know some of you may roll your eyes at that notion, but as the author stated, the gun is very accurate for what it is, and really for even what it isnt. I can consistently hit a target the size of a 50 round pistol ammo box at 20 yards. That is squirrel/rabbit/grouse hunting accuracy called upon if needed. I did change the grip to Eagle Grip Secret Service grip to save space (standard grips are HUGE and unnecessary). For those who complain about the recoil, yea, 357 is not the round to shoot for a day at the range for this gun, but 38s are effortless. I also have a s&w 360pd and Ruger lcr in 357. Now either is like a bomb going off in your hand, yet still, here I am alive….. but even still, in a personal defense or survival situation, you wont care, or maybe even notice. Again, as for the fellow who said the 3 rounds of 38 were as bad as a 44? Maybe you meant to say 357? If, not then I just dont know what to say…. Again, 38s are a pleasure in the 327. The only things I would change on this gun for the purposes I want it for would be from the factory, smaller more practical rubber grip, and a 3 inch barrel (please smith name a 3 inch in this gun!). The fit and finish on the gun are superb, accuracy is frankly crazy impressive (moon clips or not), and at 23 oz, you cant beat the weight, capacity, and readability combination for what I intended it for anyway. They make 8 round rubber speed strips for it now too which are super handy in the pocket.

    3. This looks like a nice gun but I guess I don’t see the point. It’s too bulky to be a good concealed weapon, and from that little barrel, the ballistics are on the week side. I can get better results from a compact 40 without all the recoil.

    4. I’m curious about the accuracy of the gun when fired without the full moon clips. Another review of a S&W Performance revolver capable of using full moon clips but tested without their use saw the accuracy fall off noticeably.

    5. I had the chance to shoot this little beast at the Smith And Wesson range in Springfield while I was there at the invite of S&W. 35 of the best salesmen in the country were invited to have their brains picked on what the public wanted in S&W guns. I was lucky to be one of the salesmen.I had been wanting to shoot one of these as I thought it would make a good Carry weapon. I love to shoot S&W revolvers especially in 38/357. I test fired exactly 3 rounds of .38 spl before putting this bad boy down. Yes it was accurate.Yes it was well made, but the recoil was almost as bad as some .44 mags I have shot and my hand hurt all of the rest of the day. And no I’m not a wuss I shot a S&W 640 and 638 on a regular basis. For reasons I can’t quite figure out this was quite a handful. If you want to buy one be sure you test fire one first.

      1. Have a question, what would be the second best revolver after the 327? I guess I will have to pass on this gun because recoil would be too much for me to bear. I do know this is an excellent revolver. I used to carry a 1911 and I assume magnum 327 would be an equal. So Robert any suggestions for me? Thanks in advance

      2. Yeah, the recoil is similar to a 629 full-size revolver shooting regular .44 magnum loads, but it’s easier to control because the gun is so much lighter. That doesn’t feel bad to me at all, but it’s not for everyone. A regular 1911 is equivalent protection and more pleasant to shoot extensively, but it’s also twice the weight.

    6. You can get this model with a longer barrel and you can always change the grips, but that kind of defeats what it was designed for, i would never change a thing on this gun but the looking for a shoulder holster!

    7. Good write up. I wish S&W would make this revolver with a 3″ barrel, full length ejector rod, and rubber grips.


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