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Reviews : Arsenal

Smith & Wesson 327 TRR8 Revolver

S&W's eight-shot Tactical Rail Revolver is perfect for SWAT use, no kidding.

May 01, 2008  |  by Nick Jacobellis - Also by this author


Editor's Note: View our photo gallery featuring, "Smith & Wesson's Tactical Rail Revolver."

As someone who served in law enforcement when revolvers reigned supreme, I come from the generation that routinely went into harm's way while armed with nothing more powerful than a five- or six-shot Smith & Wesson or Colt wheel gun. Today, semi-automatic pistols are the personal defense weapons of choice for law enforcement officers, military personnel, and legally armed citizens. The question this article poses is whether the eight-shot Smith & Wesson 327 TRR8 .357 Magnum revolver is fit to serve alongside popular semi-automatic pistols. I believe it is.

The first time I saw a Smith & Wesson 327 TRR8 revolver with a five-inch barrel I experienced a flashback to the old days when I worked as a uniformed police officer and I carried a Smith & Wesson Model 10 and a Model 64 with a four-inch barrel. Even though many people who carry pistols will think I am crazy for saying so, I never felt that I lacked adequate firepower or that I was poorly armed when I carried one or two revolvers on duty. In fact, I am firmly convinced that if you are properly trained you can use one or two revolvers and a pocket full of speed loaders to accomplish anything that you can do with a semi-automatic pistol.

Although it seems hard to believe, there was a time in this country when law enforcement officers conducted raids while armed with nothing more powerful than a .38 or .357 Magnum revolver and maybe a shotgun or a lever-action rifle. Whether you like wheel guns or not, the truth is revolvers have a proven track record for being a more than adequate sidearm to carry on or off duty. Keep in mind that even in the real old days plenty of cops armed with revolvers that were loaded with rather anemic ammunition engaged plenty of bad guys who were armed with all sorts of firearms including 1911s and other pistols.

The Perfect SWAT Revolver

The worst thing that can happen to any law enforcement officer is to have your pistol jam when you need to use it to protect life and property. As the story goes, a police SWAT team reportedly contacted Smith & Wesson to discuss the need to arm the lead penetrator who carries the ballistic shield during tactical operations with a revolver instead of a semi-automatic pistol. The rationale behind this request was to provide a handgun to certain SWAT personnel that would not jam or malfunction, especially if the firearm made contact with the ballistic shield or any other obstruction when it was fired. In response, the Smith & Wesson Performance Center developed the Model 327 Tactical Rail Revolver in .357 Magnum with an eight-shot capacity.

In my opinion, the S&W 327 TRR8 is the premier tactical (SWAT) revolver for the 21st Century. Even though any armed professional or legally armed citizen can use a Smith & Wesson TRR8 for personal protection or home defense, this revolver is the ideal sidearm for certain law enforcement officers who participate in tactical operations. In particular, the S&W 327 Tactical Rail Revolver is best suited to be used by the lead penetrator of a SWAT team, especially since this revolver carries as many rounds of ammunition as the average .45 ACP 1911.

When a SWAT team enters a location to search and secure, the lead penetrator is assigned the job of holding the ballistic shield that the team funnels in behind. When this shield is carried the lead penetrator only has one hand free to hold a weapon for personal protection. This means that the tactical officer in the number one position on a SWAT team is generally restricted to using a handgun as a primary weapon.

When it is necessary to use deadly force, the lead penetrator has to hunker down behind his or her ballistic shield while returning fire with a service handgun. Due to the mechanics of a semi-automatic pistol it is possible to have the slide of any service pistol strike the edge of the ballistic shield during firing. Again, this was the rationale behind the original request that was reportedly presented to Smith & Wesson that resulted in the creation of the 327 Tactical Rail Revolver.

Even if the odds of having the slide on your service pistol impact the ballistic shield or the leading edge of a wooden door are incredibly low, it is possible that your pistol could malfunction for any number of reasons. In contrast, revolvers are notoriously reliable. This means that anyone who carries a Smith & Wesson 327 TRR8 is virtually guaranteed to always be able to fire eight rounds of .38 Special or .357 Magnum ammunition without any malfunctions or interruptions in operation.

Since many SWAT teams carry eight-shot 1911s, there is also no loss of firepower to be concerned with when using an eight-shot .357 Magnum revolver. The use of well-made "full moon" ammunition clips enables anyone who operates the S&W 327 TRR8 to execute a combat reload almost as fast as anyone can reload a semi-automatic pistol. As far as recoil is concerned, the S&W 327 TRR8 is surprisingly comfortable to shoot with factory manufactured +P .38 Special or .357 Magnum ammunition. The TRR8 is also amazingly accurate, even when fired with one hand.

Tags: Smith & Wesson, Firearms Reviews, Revolvers, Tactical Gear

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Comments (11)

Displaying 1 - 11 of 11

Jim SGTCZP @ 2/15/2011 6:16 AM

Enjoyed your article very much Nick. When I retired from the former Canal Zone Police, I had been carrying a Model 66 stainless .357 and became very proficient at our range. I have eyed the TRR8 for a year now, and may spring for one if taxes are not bad this year.

The CZP was the best job I ever had, but Carter's Treaty ended our organization March 31, 1982.

Karl @ 3/8/2011 6:47 PM

A very good article. I am from the wheel gun era, I agree trained ofcrs with wheel guns can do as well if not better the the smi auto. I was qualifying with a swat ofcr next to me he had a 1911 I had a s&w model 36, I out shot him and loaded faster.

George Edmonds @ 9/9/2011 2:20 PM

My time with this revolver was not like the article states. The TRR8 was my dream gun. As soon as I purchased the gun I went straight up the Smith&Wesson Shooting Sports Center to try it out. Man! every other round misfired,I tried reloads as well as factory ammo,no luck.as far as I can tell the firing pin did not strike the round hard enough.I sent it back to Smith,and got it back with a hard trigger pull and the same problem.I got so fed up with the gun I traded it in for a colt 1911,that never misfires.

Costos S. @ 11/11/2011 12:50 PM

Nice read; as I am thinking about the purchase of this firearm for Pers Def. Doesn't a German special police unit use this in an 8in version?
1st point of confusion; wouldn't a "Full Moon Clip" be used to load 8 each 9mm (para, luger, x19) rounds into the cylinder; rather than .357 Mag rounds? One should use a "Speed Loader" designed for this weapon to quickly load 8 rounds of .357/38 spec. (Or of course, a 8 rnd plastic speed strip).

2. Would like to know more about firing this weapon in double tap using double action method, and how quickly the sights/ barrel come back on target for the 2nd shot. Might also be nice to read about the laser dot waivering around during the firing cycle, and see where it lands, as the 2nd round in squeezed off. ( of course this is also a training issue).

Thank you, CJS

Brian @ 11/13/2011 8:37 PM

I have just purchased a Model 327 TRR8. Even before I read your article. I have always used a Model 28 Highway Patrolman for shooting and protection. And I thought it was time to pass it down to my son who is studing/training to become a policeman. It has been a fine sidearm. Now I am looking forward to trying out my new Model 327. Thanks for writing down your thoughts and supplying me with some ideas for optical sites and laser grips.

drjim @ 1/8/2012 11:28 AM

I bought one of these for my wife ( ! ) when they first came out. She'd tried about a dozen guns, and when she picked this one up in the store, she remarked how good the grips fit her hand, and how nicely balanced it was. Since she liked it, and could control it well, I knew she'd shoot it, so I bought it.
She's "9-ring or better" shooting full-power loads at 25'.

Theron Patrick @ 4/16/2012 7:18 PM

Thank you for write up. I will be purchasing one tomorrow.

TPS @ 5/23/2012 11:51 AM

I'm not in law enforcement but I've been shooting for decades. If I could only have one gun it would be a revolver. I can't say at this point that it would be my 327 TRR .357, I would probably pick my 44 mag Dan Wesson. With that said if I was in law enforcement I would pick my S&W 327 over my Sig for a carry gun. The S&W is quick to sight, has great balance, gives me eight shots and will never jam. The 357 mag is a great round.

omar @ 5/5/2014 10:53 AM

Got a 357
327 trr8 for sale asking for 420 brand new conditionss
Bell Gardens CA 90201 email me for picturess

kalami @ 6/29/2014 9:06 AM

I want to carry a TRR8 for duty however I cannot find a retention duty holster for it. Can anyone help me in finding a minimum level 2 retention holster?

Tim @ 7/21/2014 5:49 AM

Omar do you still have that revolver for sale?

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