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Smith & Wesson 327 M&P TRR8

by Joseph von Benedikt   |  September 24th, 2010 6

If you spend much time leaning on the counter of your local gun store, you may begin to wonder about the good old revolver’s future.


If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that at least 90 percent of the handguns sold today are semiauto.

That’s not to say that revolvers don’t have their fans. They do, and those fans tend to be pretty dedicated. But the fact is, unless one likes Westerns and Dirty Harry, semiautos tend to have more appeal. They are faster in the hands of most shooters than a revolver, hold a lot more cartridges, are typically reloadable quicker and just simply have more cool factor.

I am one of the aforementioned wheelgun guys. And, yes, I like Westerns, and Clint Eastwood is one of my heroes. And as much as I realize that the semiauto will dominate the future of handgunning, I’m reluctant to believe that it is a better choice for everyone.

Recently I had a chance to test a revolver that stacks up well against any semiauto, and it’s one of the coolest guns around.

The Smith & Wesson M&P 327 TRR8 (Tactical Rail Revolver 8) is capable doing almost anything a semiauto can do and some things it can’t do. Basically a souped-up version of the 327 Performance Center revolver, the M&P TRR8 was designed for–as the name indicates–military and law enforcement use.

In order to keep weight to a carryable limit, the frame of the revolver is built of a scandium alloy. The cylinder and five-inch barrel are stainless steel, and the barrel is mounted in a shroud–a design that has many advantages, superior accuracy among them.

The cylinder holds eight rounds of .357 Magnum cartridges, which is the same number as a 1911 pistol, and is more powerful than the revered .45 ACP.

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S&W 327 M&P TRR8

Manufacturer Smith & Wesson, www.smith-wesson.com, 800-331-0852
Type double-action revolver
Caliber .357 Magnum
Capacity 8
Barrel Length 5 inches
Overall Length 10 1/2 inches
Weight 35 oz
Sights adjustable rear, dot front
Trigger single/double action
Grips Hogue rubber (standard)
Frame scandium alloy N frame
Finish black glassbead
Price $1,311

The cylinder is also cut for moon clips, so reloading is a snap, and with a little practice reloads are just as fast as with any semiauto pistol. Yet–and this is the neat part–since the .357 is a rimmed cartridge, the revolver functions just as well with loose ammo; no moon clip needed. Show me a semiauto that works without a magazine.

Optics, if desired, are easily attached through use of the provided top rail mount. The top of the barrel shroud is drilled and tapped, the mount easily attached, and best of all, the iron sights are still usable with the rail mounted, as the plane of the rail sits below that of the sights.

Attaching scopes, red dots, and so on is as simple as clamping them to the mount and can provide an added level of performance in certain areas. I really like the fact that a handgun scope in quick-detach rings can be mounted in a matter of seconds, and that provides a significant improvement in long-distance capability–an option that simply doesn’t exist in the world of semiautos.

What hotshot, self-respecting sidearm today is complete without a bottom rail for a tactical light? I must admit that at first I was mildly amused by the rail milled into the bottom of the 327 TRR8′s barrel shroud. I suppose that law enforcement officers (which of course the revolver is designed for) may need a light on occasion, but for us citizen types, I figured the rail was 110 percent cool but useless.


The cylinder face is milled for use both with and without moon clips, courtesy of the rimmed .357 cartridge.

That was before I attached SureFire’s new X300 light and a Leupold 2.5X scope at the same time. Suddenly it dawned on me that I now had the capability of making precision shots at night–out to ranges of 50 yards or more.

As soon as I had the chance, I was out prowling my friend’s back field after dark, looking for a marauding skunk that had been in his chickens. I never did find that skunk, but I was amazed at how well the combination of the powerful light and the scope worked in the dark. I could easily discern and aim at objects way out there. If the light touched it at all, I could get a clear sight picture on it.


Several different factory loads were tested in the 327 TRR8. All performed well, and some exceeded expectation.

I figured that there was only one thing missing to make the TRR8 a true jack of all trades: a set of Crimson Trace Lasergrips. The 327 TRR8 is an N-frame, and the Crimson Trace grip designed for it is as comfortable, if not more so, than the factory grip. And, of course, there is that spectacular little red dot it casts onto the target.

After an afternoon of shooting with the iron sights just to break in the handgun, I cleaned it, attached the scope, and headed back out to see what the 327 TRR8 could really do. Since I had the Leupold scope aboard, I decided to stretch the test distance to 50 yards. I fired three consecutive full-cylinder eight-shot groups with each type of ammo that I had on hand, without allowing the revolver to cool between groups.

Some of the results were simply spectacular. Others were about what I would have expected from a quality revolver. The results can be seen in the accompanying chart.

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ACCURACY RESULTS: S&W 327 M&P TRR8

.357 Ammo Type Bullet Weight (gr.) Avg. Velocity (fps) Avg. Group (in.)
Speer Gold Dot 170 1,122 4.3
Remington JSP 125 1,434 2.0
Hornady JHP/XTP 140 1,195 3.1
Winchester Partition Gold 180 1,115 2.2
Speer Gold Dot 158 1,091 2.2
CCI Blaser 158 974 4.3
Black Hills +P JHP * 158 1,091 2.2
* .38 Special load.
Notes: Velocity recorded 10 feet from the muzzle with a Shooting Chrony chronograph. Accuracy tested off a bench rest; results are the average of three eight-shot groups at 50 yards.

One tendency I did notice was that groups opened up just a bit as the handgun heated up. I’m sure that had I allowed the gun to cool between groups, averages would have been even smaller. In fact, most loads grouped under two inches for the first string, with one–the Winchester 180-grain Partition load–grouping into an amazing 1.06 inches.

If I were to hunt big game with the 327 TRR8, that would definitely be the load I’d choose. It’s a full-house high-velocity load with a premium, heavy bullet and should perform very well.

After I finished my testing, I spent some time shooting steel silhouettes at 100 yards. Ringing the ram and pig was a cinch, and I worked my way down to a three-inch square swinger. Much to my amazement, I connected about four out of five shots off the sandbags.

When I had the chance, I took the revolver along on a Wyoming prairie dog hunt. At one point my buddy and I left the bench to stretch our legs, and I brought along the 327 TRR8. We managed to get within 50 yards of several of the large rodents. After missing a couple offhand, I settled into a sitting position, got steady, and dropped one with a perfect shot. I never could have done that with an iron-sighted semiauto.


The top rail does not interfere with the iron sights, allowing easy on/off capabilities with optics. One-hundred-yard hits came easily with a scope aboard.

While breaking it in, I ran the revolver through its paces without the scope to evaluate its ergonomics as a combat handgun. Balance and pointability are superb. Operation of the cylinder latch and ejection plunger rod is smooth and solid. The single-action trigger is excellent, and the double-action, once broken in, was satisfactory, although it never did get as smooth as the other Performance Center pieces I’ve handled.

The rear sight is an adjustable, V-notch blade and was the source of the only other complaint I had. While clear and quick enough to pick up, the blade was slightly loose in its channel, and sight adjustment was slightly sticky. I also would prefer a square notch.

The interchangeable front sight, on the other hand, was great. Sturdy and nicely contoured, it sported a white dot for easy acquisition. The only way to improve it would be to replace the dot with a tritium insert for night work.


Several different factory loads were tested in the 327 TRR8. All performed well, and some exceeded expectation.

Rapid-fire capability with the gun is excellent. Double-taps with full-power .357 loads were smooth and fast, and when stoked with +P .38 Specials muzzle jump was almost nonexistent. I fired 200 rounds rapid-fire at 15 yards and managed to keep all my shots in the vitals of a torso target, until I got bored and began trying to double-tap head shots. Then it became a little tricky. Still, I managed to keep about 80 percent of my shots within the outline.

Reliability wasn’t even a question, of course. It’s a revolver. What can happen? As expected, it functioned flawlessly throughout the time I had it.

The M&P TRR8 is a handgun capable of any real-world scenario that might arise–and then some. It is a combat-ready handgun that carries eight rounds of powerful cartridges (flat-shooting enough to provide real 100-yard capability) and can be fitted with a scope or other sight in a matter of seconds.

It provides rugged durability and simplicity. It will never fail. It would be at home on a rancher’s hip in Montana or a detective’s in Miami. Action shooting, hunting or home defense are all right up its alley.

  • steveq

    How can there be no comments? This thing is like Excalibur. You Yanks and your indifference to some firearms amazes me. You don't know how lucky you are.

  • Jeff

    Wish I could get my hands on this… Anyone know the rulings of using this in IPSC? Which category would I have to compete in?

  • trr8

    Not to nit pick, but the author was actually using an R8 not a TRR8. The R8 has a fixed under barrel rail, the TRR8 has a removable under barrel rail. Markings and lettering on the models differ silightly as well.

  • KertP

    I have the TRR8 and must say it is the sweetest shooting .357 that I have ever owned. There is none of the characteristic .357 torquing when shooting magnum loads. It is easy to shoot double taps. I replaced the stock hammer and trigger return springs with Wolff springs (standard power hammer and 14 lb trigger return spring) and now have a crisp 3.5 lb single action trigger and a smooth 8 lb double action trigger pull. Making that change required me to change out the factory firing pin with a Cylinder & Slide Extended Firing Pin to correct inconsistent ignition. It is now the perfect handgun. With bottom rail and light, it functions as my home defense gun. Simply Rugged makes a holster for it, so carrying it in the field is comfortable all day long. A second holster that fits my optic when I mount the top rail allows me to carry it when I hunt blacktail deer. The TRR8 is my idea of a handgun for the one-gun-guy.

  • KertP

    One thing I forgot to mention in my comments above is that the Crimson Trace LG-314 lasergrips will not work in conjunction with the weapon light shown in the photo. The weapon light is too wide and the laser hits the back of the weapon light. Haven't found a skinny enought light, but I have been able to use an offset mount to shift the light to the left so that the CT laser doesn't get blocked by the back of the light.

  • Watcher

    Love mine! Just nee to find a IWB Holster.

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