Handloading The Federal .327 Magnum.
By John Taffin
“Arguably the most important cartridge development for mainstream sport revolver handgunners since the .44 Magnum, the .327 is a welcome addition to the .32 family. With the addition of 0.125-inch of case length (compared to the .32 H&R Magnum) and a SAAMI upper pressure limit of 45,000 psi, the .327 is truly a magnum cartridge and capable of true magnum performance. It is no small trick to send 110- to 115-grain bullets flying along at 1,500 to 1,600 fps, depending on barrel length.
“For those of us who abused our precious .32-20 cases for years with such performance, these tough little cases are the best thing since cold beer. As an added bonus, they are both smaller and shorter than the .32-20 and therefore also suited to smaller guns. S&W has adapted the .327 to its tiny J-frame revolvers. Lipsey’s, a large Ruger distributor, offers the great Single-Six in a stainless 7-shot model in 4-5/8-, 5-1/2- and 7-1/2-inch lengths.”—Hamilton Bowen
“When I have the opportunity to work with a new and worthy sixgun, it gets used and carried daily while doing ranch chores, etc. In this case, the new Single-Seven accounted for several pests and muskrats; however, an extremely unlucky coyote made the mistake of crossing in front of me while checking my fall calves. He had not noticed me, so I drew the gun, slowly cocked it to keep noise to a minimum, took aim and then whistled, which stopped him nearly broadside at 72 long paces. The front sight of the 7-1/2-inch gun was quickly centered just behind the coyote’s front shoulder and the (recently lightened) trigger was carefully pulled. Instantly, the old male dropped in his tracks and hardly wiggled. That was easy! The 100-grain Hornady XTP pushed to 1,350 fps passed through the vitals and exited the off shoulder. For anyone wanting an enjoyable, accurate, low-recoiling, high-performance .32 caliber single-action for field use, this is it.”— Brian Pearce
The preceding quotes are from my forthcoming book, Small Bore Sixguns, Semi-Automatics and Single-Shots. Each of these men contributed a chapter, and you can see they both have deservedly high praise for the .327 Magnum.
The .32-20 and the .32 H&R Magnum are both excellent cartridges but they have basically now been superseded by the .327 Federal Magnum. The .327 was originally designed for lightweight self-defense revolvers; however, it is better with an adjustable-sighted, accurately shooting sixgun for varmints and small game.
Reloading the .327 is as easy as any straight-walled cartridge can be. I use RCBS .32 H&R Magnum carbide dies and Federal brass. The powders normally used with sixgun cartridges work fine with the .327, with my preference for heavy loads leaning to AA No. 9, 2400 and H110. As for bullets, any previously designed for the .32 Magnum work just fine, with my choices being Hornady’s 85- and 100-grain JHP’s, Sierra’s 90-grain JHC, and Speer’s 100-grain JHP and 115-grain Gold Dot Hollowpoint, which was specifically designed for the .327 Federal. This excellent bullet is offered by Federal and loaded in factory ammunition as well. For an every day easy shooting load, I go with cast bullets and have recently been using a 100-grain RNFP from Acme Bullets. Loaded over 3.5 grains of Red Dot, the muzzle velocity is 950 to 1,100 fps, depending upon barrel length and gives excellent accuracy.
Note the excellent accuracy with Lyman’s 311316GC .32-20 bullet
in the Lipsey’s/Ruger 4-5/8-inch .327 Single-Seven.
The Marlin .327 Magnum works well for close range varminting, as these targets
fired in the Marlin .32 Magnum converted to .327 Federal Magnum attest.
The Ruger .327 Magnum Single-Seven is about as close as possible to perfect. Using the Single-Six frame size Ruger built for Lipsey’s a stainless steel, 7-shot .327 Magnum. It is offered in the three standard barrel lengths of 4-5/8, 5-1/2—and my favorite choice—7-1/2 inches. With a small-bore cartridge like this, I want the longest barrel for maximum velocity as well as maximum sight radius. Sights consist of an adjustable Ruger rear sight matched up with a ramp front sight, both of which are black as they should be.
I have not been disappointed, as this gun shoots exceptionally well, not just the .327 Magnum but also three other cartridges, which are applicable for use in the factory cylinder, namely .32 S&W, .32 S&W Long and .32 Magnum. With the ability to accept four different .32 cartridges, the Single-Seven is remarkably versatile.
I liked the long-barreled Single-Seven so much I ordered a Perfect Packin’ Pistol version with a 4-5/8-inch barrel. And to answer complaints about loading and unloading difficulties, the factory modified this variety so the cylinder will rotate backwards slightly when the loading gate is open to help ease the cartridges into place.
Both Ruger .327 Single-Sevens have proven exceptionally accurate. In the 7-1/2-inch version, Speer’s 100-grain Gold Dot Hollow Points over 10.0 grains of 2400 delivers 1,359 fps and put six shots into 5/8-inch at 20 yards. The Speer 115 GDHP over 12.5 grains of H110 group 1-inch at 1,463 fps and the Speer 115 GDHP using 11.5 grains of AA9 traveling at 1,588 fps shoots into an incredible 1/2-inch for six shots.
The Lipsey’s/Ruger 7-1/2-inch Single-Seven in .327 F
ederal Magnum delivered excellent accuracy at 20 yards.
The versatility of the .327 Federal Magnum (right) in a handgun is the
fact it not only handles the .327 but (left to 3rd right) the .32 S&W,
.32 S&W Long, and .32 H&R Magnum.
The .327 Single-Seven, with a 4-5/8-inch barrel, also gave some excellent 6-shot, 20-yard groups. The Speer 115 GDHP/H110 load gave a velocity of 1,346 fps and a 1-1/8-inch group. This little sixgun likes lightweight bullets best. The Hornady 85-grain JHP over 14.0 grains of H110 gave 1,426 fps and a 1-1/8-inch groups, while the Sierra 90 JHC over 13.5 grains H110 clocks 1,383 fps and shoots into 1-inch.
The really stunning result comes with the old classic .32-20 bullet—Lyman 311316GC—when loaded over 10.0 grains of 2400 gave just under 1,200 fps and groups into 1/2-inch, which is even more surprising than the result with the long-barreled Single-Seven, simply because of the difference in sight radius. I can normally shoot long-barreled single-actions better than I can the shorter versions.
Marlin offered their 1894 lever-gun in .32-20 and then took the obvious step with the .32 Magnum, chambering it in their 1894 lever-gun; however, as this is written, the .327 has not been chambered in any rifles to my knowledge. Something had to be done about this, so I talked with my gunsmith, Tom, at Buckhorn about whether he thought the Marlin .32 Magnum could be re-chambered to the longer .327 Magnum.
The problem would not be the re-chambering but actually getting the longer cartridge to feed. Tom thought it could be done and asked me to let him study upon it a bit as I turned over my second .32 Magnum Marlin to him. It did not take him long to come up with a positive response, saying he thought it could be done. It was and the .327 Federal Magnum feeds easily through the .32 Magnum Marlin action.
With the .327 Federal Magnum in the Marlin 1894, I can increase the muzzle velocity of the 85-grain JHP by 400 fps over the .32 H&R. Using 10.0 grains of 2400 with the Speer 100- and 115-grain GDHP gave me muzzle velocities over 1,600 fps with the .327 Magnum in the Marlin, while 12.5 grains of H110 ups the muzzle velocities to well over 1,700 fps and 11.5 grains of AA9 increases this to over 1,800 fps. For cast bullet loads, I use two gas-checked designs, both weighing just under 120 grains. These are the RCBS 32-115 FNGC and the old standby Lyman 311316GC. With 12.5 grains of H110, these two bullets clock 1,800 fps and group in 7/8- and 5/8-inch respectively for four shots at 45 yards.
Editor’s note: If you’re interested in a Lipsey’s / Ruger bolt-action rifle in .327 Federal Magnum, drop them a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Model 77/327” in the subject line or drop a postcard to Lipsey’s, Model 77/327, P.O. Box 83280, Baton Rouge, LA 70884.
P.O. Box 83280
Baton Rouge, LA 70884
411 Sunapee St.
Newport, NH 03773
Acme Bullet Co.
P.O. Box 307
Germantown, WI 53027