The Small Miracle of the .327 Federal Magnum

From Gun Digest:

By Steve Gash
June 12, 2017

Fired from snappy revolvers and with velocity to spare, the .327 Federal Magnum is redefining the often-maligned caliber for the better.

Handgun design and usage have been strongly influenced by .32-caliber cartridges for well over a century. The majority of the .32-caliber cartridges of the past were pretty anemic, but still, most of them were quite popular for personal defense. Nowadays, if you go out armed with a .32, folks think you’re demented.

Bad guys seem to have gotten a lot tougher in the past few decades, too. Back in the 1920s and 1930s, folks thought it was perfectly logical to arm themselves with a slim, hammerless automatic pistol or a small revolver chambered for one of the many .32-caliber cartridges available.

Back then, good guys didn’t worry too much about shooting a bad guy, and if you shot a crook, they’d probably give you a medal rather than throw you in the juzgado. There were no powerful antibiotics then, so anyone whacked in the gizzard with a .32 (or any) slug, was probably going to get an infection, and be headed to the last roundup.

Evolution works with cartridges, too, and today we have what is perhaps the quintessential expression of the .32-caliber in the .327 Federal Magnum. Introduced in 2008, the new .327 is one of the most powerful .32-caliber rounds to ever be chambered in a handgun. Federal currently offers three factory loads for the .327 and their performance is impressive. This ammo includes tough, jacketed hollowpoint and soft-point bullets at velocities unheard of only a few years ago.

The .327 fires 85-grain bullets at 1,500 fps and 100-grain bullets at about 1,450 fps. Muzzle energy of the latter round is about 467 ft-lbs. By comparison, the .357 Magnum generates 540 ft-lbs and the .44 Magnum, 860 ft-lbs.

The early .32s were low powered and designed to fit in small semi-autos or revolvers. The first attempt at a high-powered .32 was in 1984 with the introduction of the .32 H&R Magnum. This was a joint development of the Harrington & Richardson Company and Federal Cartridge. While a big improvement over the old-timers, it was still of modest power.

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