You Can Shoot .32 ACP Out of a .327 Federal Revolver (But Why Would You Want To?)

I guess the answer to that is because you can. But let’s backtrack a bit here. Like many people who peruse the gun owning side of the Internet I come across a lot of theories, opinions and advice that seems suspect. And I mean suspect like arguments about using birdshot for self-defense where people start claiming they were shot with birdshot at close range and it bounced off their leathery hides like so much lead confetti. So I take things I read on the web with a grain or so of salt.

But I’m also no expert so when I saw people claiming to shoot .32 ACP out of their .327s I decided to first ascertain if it was true before shooting off my mouth about the practicality of such an endevour. I first did a little research and found that the .32 Auto is semi-rimmed so in theory it should seat fine in a .327 revolver. I was about to head out to the store and pick up a box to see what the results were when I remembered there’s a wonderful place full of people who will experiment (sometimes quite unwisely) on their guns so you don’t have to – it’s called YouTube. Here’s one of my favorite YouTubers running six .32 ACPS through his Ruger SP 101:

Seems to work fine. Now we return to the question of why you’d want to in the first place.

I’ve blogged for quite awhile and more than once I’ve shown up on those top 50 blogs about survival lists so I’ll start with the always sexy TEOTWAWKI scenario. Your lowly .327 that everyone claims is a novelty is now a revolver that can chamber five different cartridges. It’s a nice back up to have if you have to “forage” for ammo especially because the .32 ACP and the .32 H&R Mag are very easy to find thanks to the glut of small frame self-defense pistols and in the .32 Mags case the cowboy action shooting sport. And when Ferguson style riots (which I predicted a few years ago by the way) kick off in your area lots of people will be selling their .32s for something with more umph.

Then there’s the frugality factor. I can get a box of 50 .32 ACP for under $20 which isn’t bad these days. It’s not as good as a few years ago when I was getting .32 S&WL for $12-15 for 50 but still not bad if I just want to pull out the revolver to plink or take care of that damn possum that keeps wondering in my yard.

And if you’re as lazy as I am you might have found that shooting FMJ seems to make cleaning easier after a trip to the range. I have some .32 S&WL FMJs but they’re hard to find and a little pricier than ACPS.

That being said, I’ll stick with the .32 S&WL because it’s just such a nice little cartridge which is just a few bucks more. It’s nice to know I could shoot yet another round out of my little snub nose but accuracy is hard enough for the casual shooter like me to achieve with a 2 in barrel I’m not interested in working my way through a bunch of new ammo to see which .32 ACP is the most accurate out of a revolver that only incidentally chambers it.

Any .32 ACP you have is well below the safe pressure for a .327 Federal Magnum chambered firearm so that is obviously not a problem, however the .32 ACP is much more powerful than the .32 S&WL so if you’re like me and like to shoot lower recoiling rounds through your gun they seem nice – but the .32 H&R is hardly a bear to shoot and more powerful than the .32 ACP.

So my opinion – if you’re a wild eyed survivalist who likes odd caliber revolvers you just got some good news. Otherwise this is just an interesting factoid.

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4 Responses to You Can Shoot .32 ACP Out of a .327 Federal Revolver (But Why Would You Want To?)

  1. John Lea says:

    Not a case of, why, more case of having to if your ammo runs out.

  2. Dayne says:

    I realize this is an old thread, but wanted to leave my footprint for others that come along. I have a Ruger Single-Six in .327 Federal Magnum. I love this gun – as much as a human can love an inanimate object. It is a perfect weight, well balanced, and with 100 grain FMJ loads it lets you know something big just happened, but it’s firm recoil, not ferocious.

    That said, at this writing, .327 ammo has just started becoming available again in recent months, with FMJ running about $30 for a box of 50. As the article points out, you can shoot .32 S&W long and H&R .32 magnum. Pricing on these two still exceeds current costs on .32 ACP (Fiocchi) is about $12. That makes it pretty much the cheapest round except for .22 LR. Even .22 magnum is running about $22 for a box of 50. Best pricing I can find for S&W .32 long is $16 for Fiocchi Wadcutters (100 gr) or $17 for Aquila lead round nose (98 gr). Those are fair prices, but if you want to shoot a lot, or stock a few hundred rounds, that $4 or $5 per box will add up.

    After double checking several articles to assure myself that I wouldn’t jam up my lovely gun, I went to the backyard with my Single Six full of .32 ACP. The recoil was pretty much the same as if I were firing .22 LR. Accuracy was fabulous, and the casings ejected with no problem.

    As far as “why” use .32 ACP, for me it’s mostly an issue of money. I can shoot this amazing gun for practice for 40% of what .327 ammo costs. If I were carrying this out in the woods, or had it legally stored in my car while I was out, sure, I’d use something like Speer Gold Dot 115 gr JHP.

    The author is correct about FMJ making your firearm less dirty, but I take polite exception to the closing statement “this is just an interesting factoid.”

    Firearms designed for the .327 Federal Magnum round can fire five different types of ammo, and with the variant loads within those types that brings it up to ten ammo options for a single firearm. I consider this to be extremely valuable, and I’m glad Ruger introduced the LCR in .327 last year. This lightweight, six-round revolver lets the owner practice with .32 ACP and carry .327 JHP, with far less recoil than .357 and with ballistics competitive with .357.

    For self defense, I always maintain the user should have the highest caliber that they can shoot reliably and accurately; and this includes practice and training. Sure, most people can manage a compact 9mm, and we are fortunate. But some really do have issues with hand strength and pain management. Those may be able to get off one 9mm or .38 shot, but follow up shots are going to be difficult. A .327 handgun is a perfect choice for those with real problems, for they could even load .32 ACP JHP. Not as good as a .38 – but much better than a .22.

    What some would call “novelty” I call “added value.”

  3. Dread Pirate Wesley says:

    I’ve long considered a .357 as kind of the standard for hand guns. Revolver reliability and proven track record for self defense. Being poor my first hand gun was a GP100 in .357, since I could only have one, and I absolutely love it.
    Then with steady work and some trade skills I picked up a .44 mag Redhawk. I don’t get to shoot it much because it’s damn expensive. And after about 50 rounds it hurts like a son of a bitch.
    So I have my standard and my Big Brother and along comes a .327 Little Sister. I had to have it. I picked up a SP101 and with some work on the hammer spur it was a pretty good shooter. Number wise it wasn’t far off of a .357, but just a bit awkward to carry. Then I picked up an LCR in .327 and absolutely adore it. Let’s call it the Baby Sister.
    Little Sis and Baby Sis are pretty high maintenance. Almost as much as Big Brother. Despite having a lot less material to work with. Still I love them. Baby Sis is around a lot not the least bit awkward. So some lower cost feeding options for Baby Sis is pretty awesome.

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