Is the .327 Federal Magnum the Ultimate Pandemic Cartridge?

posted on September 16, 2020

If you would like to purchase some handgun ammunition right now, good luck. Shelves are bare at local retailers and if go online to order ammo, you’d think the entire ammo industry was on strike. The truth is, the exact opposite is true; ammunition manufacturers are working three-shifts around the clock trying to meet demand. Given the coast-to-coast social unrest we’re seeing, you could say its panic buying that has eliminated inventories. Of course, there's always the fear of an anti-Second-Amendment president leading up to an election that contributes to the panic as well.

What’s a fellow to do if he needs ammo? Well, if you’ve waited this long, there’s probably very little you can do. The key to not running out of ammunition is not waiting until you’re out of ammunition before trying to buy it. In other words, don’t wait until you’re dying of thirst to try and buy a bottle of water. You should maintain a sizeable stock of ammunition at all times. You should also avoid limiting yourself to just the most popular cartridges. When ammo buying frenzies hit—and we’ve seen them before—.380, 9 mm, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP ammunition disappear first.

Back in June, shortly after the ammunition shortage began, I saw a post on social media showing the ammunition shelves at a local big box store. The only handgun ammunition there was a dozen boxes of .327 Federal Magnum ammunition. Had the guy taking the photo had a .327 Federal Magnum, he could have left the store with 600 rounds of ammo. Funny thing; I’ve heard many make the comment they’re not interested in the .327 because ammunition—even in normal times—is hard to find. I don’t understand that; during normal times, with an Internet connection you can order .327 Federal Magnum ammo from many sources.

One fact about .327 Federal Magnum revolvers that is often overlooked is that they can also fire four other cartridges. If you have a .327 revolver you can shoot .32 ACP, .32 Short, .32 Long, and .32 H&R Magnum ammunition. Granted, none of these cartridges are all that popular, but during times of panic or pandemic buying, they will be the last cartridges off the shelf. This versatility allows a .327 Federal Magnum revolver to operate over a wide power band.

A .327 Federal Magnum revolver can chamber and fire five cartridges: (Left to right) .32 Short, .32 ACP, .32 Long, .32 H&R Magnum, .327 Federal Magnum.

Another fact that’s overlooked is that the best .327 Federal Magnum loads can compete with the .357 Magnum. How? Well, it has a lot to do with power. You see, with all metallic cartridges pressure is what pushes the bullet out the barrel. Generally speaking, the more pressure, the higher the velocity. A perfect example of this can be seen by comparing .38 Special ammunition to .357 Magnum ammunition. .38 Special ammo is loaded to a maximum average pressure (MAP) of 17,000 psi. .357 Magnum ammunition is loaded to a MAP of 35,000 psi. .327 Federal Magnum ammunition is loaded to 45,000 psi!

I’ve been using a .327 Federal Magnum revolver of some sort since the cartridge was introduced in 2008. Part of my fascination with it stems from my affinity for the .32 H&R Magnum; I’ve owned a .32 H&R Magnum revolver since that cartridge was introduced in 1982. When I’m riding my motorcycle, a Ruger LCR in .327 rides with me. When I’m knocking about the farm, a Ruger Single Seven is the gun that’s most frequently on my hip. And, when hunting season arrives, I have that Single Seven with me at all times. I’ll also have some homemade snake-shot loads with me too. As with any cartridge, having the right ammo, for the right job, is key.

With the Buffalo Bore 130-grain hardcast load, the .32 H&R and .327 will work exceptionally well for deer and hogs; I know this because I’ve taken several of both, with both cartridges. With the excellent 100-grain Speer Gold Dot load, the .327 Federal Magnum delivers a level of terminal performance in excess of the best 9 mm loads, as good as most .45 Auto loads, and rivaling many .357 Magnum loads. A bullet that penetrates 15 inches and expands to 1.7 times its original diameter, while delivering more than 500 foot-pounds of energy, is serious business.

In peace time or during periods of trouble, having a rifle and revolver that share the same ammunition is never a bad idea.

When ammunition is hard to find, it’s a good idea to have a gun that shoots the ammunition everyone is not buying. Sure, you can always do the smart thing and keep a good store of ammunition on hand for that one cartridge you really like. However, the savvy thing to do is have an alternate, or, for lack of a better description, a back-up cartridge. A revolver chambered for the .327 Federal Magnum is just too good and too versatile not to be a part of your arsenal. That applies to your everyday peacetime, and your panic-driven pandemic arsenal. Henry even makes a .327 Federal Magnum lever-action rifle. It’s never a bad idea to have a rifle and revolver that share the same ammunition—any cowboy can tell you that. 

I have mine, and lots of ammunition to go with them.


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