I recently came into the possession of a revolver that would change the way I thought about carrying a concealed weapon. I had previously thought of flat semi-automatic handguns to fulfill inside the waist carry. But as the semi-autos got thicker and thicker -at least in the DAO styles that I prefer- the difference between them and revolvers grew less apparent. The revolver that changed my thinking is the Smith and Wesson Performance Center 327 with two-inch barrel and Scandium alloy frame, in .357 Magnum. At twenty ounces, this is the lightest eight shot revolver ever built by Smith and Wesson. It is an odd but good-looking handgun with its contrast of gray and black, set off by the Eagle Secret Service boot grips.
The two-inch barrel is a stainless steel Lothar-Walther match grade barrel with polished button rifling, housed in an aluminum barrel shroud with a bright orange combat-type ramp front sight. The 327 PC has a Wolff mainspring and a smooth. Performance Center tuned action. It is built on the Smith and Wesson N-Frame and holds eight rounds. These eight rounds can be loaded singly, or by using the Smith and Wesson "Full Moon Clips" as they are known. This ingenious device allows a rapid reload and three are provided with the pistol. They are more compact than a semi-auto’s magazine and it is easy to carry a couple of extra for a twenty-four round insurance policy.
The blaze orange front sight is drift adjustable for windage. I am happy to report that no adjustment was needed either for windage or -remarkably- for elevation. All the loads I tested proved to shoot to point of aim at twenty-five yards and accuracy with most was good enough for head shots at that range; firing double action from a strong Weaver stance. Of course, a revolver’s double action pull is better than any semi-autos, especially when it is a smooth eight pounds. The Single action trigger stroke weighed in at 3.5 pounds. (See results at the end of the article).
The frangible loads, like the Glaser Silver and the Magsafe Defender, are my choice to carry, at least for the first couple of shots. They are the kings of the Strasbourg Tests for stopping power and are less prone to ricochet or over-penetrate than a conventional hollow point. Liability is always a concern in any shooting situation. The energy figures for all the loads are pretty potent for such a short barrel. Combined with the wheel gun’s legendary reliability, the eight-shot firepower, and "always with you" weight, the 327 PC represents a CCW carrier’s dream. Even the N-Frame cylinder disappears under the right conditions.
I found that there was a definite lack of holsters for this model. Smith and Wesson offers a proprietary rig built by DeSantis that is a strong side Outside-the-waist holster. While very comfortable, it is really too big for concealment and the draw is not particularly fast using it. I have found a solution: the Clip Draw. The Clip Draw features some space-age, two-sided tape that attaches to the right side of the gun (sorry lefties) and allows a steel bar with a couple of screw holes to stick to it. Attached via the screws is a clip that holds the gun perfectly secure at your waist. It allows infinite adjustment, and is completely un-obtrusive. The grip is clear enough to get a good grip on it, and it slides right off the belt for good speed. The result is a system as good as or better than any holster on the market; for this gun at least.
Range work was done using realistic tactics. First and foremost, to my mind at least, is firing one-handed from the hip. This is a valuable technique at very close (contact) range. Using this technique, I could make hits in a five or six inch group out to about nine feet. Moving back a little further, out to twenty feet or so, I could do the same thing using a Weaver stance and firing very quickly. Beyond that, while still firing double action, I had to slow down a tad to get all my hits in the vital zone of my target.
All in all, the 327 PC has advantages over most semi-autos as well as most revolvers for concealed carry: no feeding jams or magazine tension to worry over on the one hand, no reduced firepower and slow reloading on the other. With eight rounds of .357 magnum ammo in the gun, you will probably never need a fast reload, but it is there if you do. The Smith and Wesson Performance Center 327 is a unique firearm that is well suited for concealed carry into almost any situation.
Thanks to our friends at the United States Concealed Carry Association for this article. To get your free concealed carry newsletter click here.