The Ruger LCR is a true 21st-century revolver. The frame assembly is a combination of a proprietary polymer fire control housing and a stainless steel (or aluminum) frame that holds its stainless steel barrel and cylinder. The six-chamber fluted cylinder is also machined from stainless steel and given a matte-black PVD coating. The LCR is lightweight due to the design and the materials used, has a smooth trigger pull that doesn’t stack toward the end and has a replaceable pinned ramp front sight with white bar.
The LCRs chambered in .22LR, .22 Winchester Magnum and .38 S&W Special (which is rated for +P) are built on an aluminum upper frame; those chambered in .357 S&W Magnum, 9mm and .327 Federal Magnum are assembled on stainless steel frames. Regardless of what the upper receiver is made of, the LCR has a stainless steel barrel that’s threaded into the upper from the front and torqued to stay put through a lifetime of shooting.
The subject of this evaluation is the LCR chambered in .327 Fed. Mag., and the cylinder, despite its compact size, holds six rounds, which is the same capacity as the majority of compact single-stack 9mm pistols.
Introduced in 2008 by Ruger and Federal, the .327 Fed. Mag. hits like a bigger cartridge but makes room for an additional round in the chamber. When chambered in .38 Spl., 9mm or .357 Mag., for example, there’s only enough room for five shots.
The history of .32 revolvers is a long one, starting with the Colt Single Action Army. The third most popular chambering of that iconic handgun was .32-20 Winchester. However, when the various .38 chamberings were upgraded — starting with the .38 Spl. and later the .357 Mag. — the .32s did not receive similar treatment. It was not until 1984 that the .32 H&R Magnum came to us by way of Harrington & Richardson and Federal Cartridge, and it was (at best) a halfway measure. Meant to fit in and be contained by the H&R line of top-break revolvers, it was limited to a 21,000 pounds per square inch (psi) pressure limit. (That’s paltry even by 1984 standards.) This meant that it couldn’t even equal the .38 Spl. in that cartridge’s more pedestrian offerings.
Compared to .38s, the .32 H&R, and revolvers chambered for it, lacked the advantages in power and capacity. It never sold well.
By 2008, compact carry revolvers for everyday carry (EDC) were common, and an improved .32 that offered six shots to a .38’s five is an advantage. Thus, the .327.
The .327 Fed. Mag. has a maximum operating pressure of 45,000 psi. That is not a typo! It is more than twice that of the .32 H&R and 10,000 psi higher than 9mm loads. That means that the .327 can carry a bullet at the bottom end of the 9mm bullet’s weight range, travel at faster-than-9mm velocities, and it’s in a wheelgun. Or, to put another way, that’s also like having .357 Mag. velocities with a bullet that treads on the heels of the lighter .357 Mag. weights.
The LCR cylinder is turned from a bar of stainless steel alloy and extensively fluted. It has also been given a matte-black PVD finish, adding to its corrosion protection. All this and it only weighs an ounce over a pound.
The LCR uses Ruger’s patented cam design for the action, which reduces friction and gives the LCR a smoother and lighter double-action (DA) trigger pull than other compact carry revolvers. The hammer is completely enclosed by the polymer shroud, so there is no worrying about the risk of snagging a hammer spur on clothing during the draw.
The grip is a single piece that slides onto the frame peg and is held in place by a single screw. The grip peg design allows for a wide variety of grip options, but Ruger teamed up with Hogue for a great soft-rubber grip.
The combination of the polymer housing for the lower half and the soft rubber grip minimizes felt recoil, which is is another advantage to the LCR chambered in .327 Mag.
To be clear, this is not the revolver you should offer as a defensive choice to a new shooter or to someone who is shy about recoil.
When fed full-house .327 Mag. ammunition, the LCR turns into a bucking bronco. Some might even say that it’s too much of a good thing.
The apex load here is the Speer Gold Dot hollowpoint. It carries a .32-caliber bullet of 115 grains that exits the LCR’s muzzle faster than most 9mm 115-grain loads — even from barrels longer than 1.87 inches in length. This means top-end felt recoil, and even a seasoned shooter might practice themselves into a flinch.
However, for introducing a new shooter to the sport and getting them over the hump of “this is going to hurt,” there’s nothing like the .32 S&W Long or the Black Hills Cowboy load in .32 H&R. A lightweight bullet with a sedate velocity can be fun to shoot, while still being a serious (not a .22) firearm. It comes in at a price that’s reasonable and will last several generations.