S&W’s .357 “Eightgun”
In 2005, Smith and Wesson came out with a hot rod revolver with an unfluted 8-shot cylinder, the 327sc “Jerry Miculek” edition. (Honestly, I think competition had a lot more to do with the development of the 327 series than SWAT or FBI wanting a gun for use close in to ballistic shields, despite what marketing about the TRR8 claimed). Building off the good reception of the eight shot .357 magnum platform, the next off the line was the Performance Center 327sc with 2″ and 5″ barrels. Around mid-2007, they released a pair of their most recognizable .357’s with eight shot cylinders, the 327 TRR8 and R8.
Both the TRR8 and R8 are eight shot .357 revolvers. They both have black scandium alloy N-frames with rails and two-piece barrels, but there are a few key differences. The TRR8 comes with detachable accessory rails for underneath and on top of the barrel, and has a window cut in the underlug where the guide rod sits. The R8 has an integral rail that is machined into the underlug. The R8 is the heavier of the two by a whopping ounce.
At the point that the TRR8 came into our shop, I was pretty active in competing, volunteering and RSO’ing at competitive pistol matches. The TRR8 is a nice-looking revolver, with the added novelty of having a third more firepower on board than your average .357 sixgun. Intrigued by this facet, I picked it up as a way to dabble in revolver competition.
Performance center performance
S&W’s “Performance Center” revolvers can be hit and miss. I’ve had some that have failed on me with critical parts breakage, and some that seem to be bomb-proof. The same can be said for their “tuned actions”. Some feel quite a bit smoother than their non-Performance Center analogues, and some feel just like a stock S&W. The action on my particular TRR8 came out of the box feeling like a stock .357 S&W. Even though this is primarily a range gun for me, I’ve shot several thousand rounds through it over the years. Sadly, unlike some of my other wheelguns, the action has not markedly smoothed out or improved from years of use.
Another small quibble that I have with the TRR8 is that loading the cylinder with eight shot moon clips can be a bit awkward at times, more so with the .357 loads than with .38’s. For competition or defensive use, I would highly recommend a speed loader, and there are many out there for the 327 platform.
The accuracy I am able to wring out of the TRR8 is about average for a 5″ N-frame S&W. The best performing competition load I’ve shot through it is my go-to ammo for .38 special accuracy, Black Hills’ Match 148gr HBWC. Recoil is nearly imperceptible due to the 700fps MV, and groups at 25 are around 1.5-2″ on my best days.
A pleasant surprise with the TRR8 is it has displayed excellent performance with Fiocchi 158gr .357 magnum loads, with groups rivaling the .38 special match loads. If one was to carry the TRR8 in a hunting or defensive capacity, I would recommend giving the Fiocchi ammo a try.
To Rail or not to rail the TRR8 ?
As to the detachable rails: The top rail is secured by 4 screws, the bottom by 3. I initially tried out the TRR8 with the rails. If one does not have an optic attached to the top, one can see the iron sights just fine. The bottom rail accommodated a few different lights just fine. For a while, I did have the TRR8 equipped with a pistol light as a nightstand gun for a relative of mine who preferred the use of a revolver for such a role, and they appreciated the added capability of the light.
For my purposes, however, I enjoy using the TRR8 as a range gun to hone my revolver and iron sight skills these days, so I appreciate the ability to remove and stow the rails. Holstering and unholstering the gun is far easier sans rails. Should I ever draw the handgun hunting tags for medium game I want, however, the ability to easily mount an optic on the top is always there.
My personal TRR8 has help up pretty well over the years. I don’t notice any unusual wear or cracks throughout the platform. The gas shield between the barrel and the frame has also held up well. Though there are plenty of surface scratches and dings, the only area of significant wear has been on the inside of the trigger guard where the trigger stop contacts the frame, and wear of the finish on the face of the cylinder. While the action hasn’t broken in like some of my other well-used revolvers, accuracy has not degraded at all over time.
The S&W TRR8 provides quite a lot of capability for a revolver. If one is looking at an eight shot revolver purely for competition, the 327 JM edition guns can be found out there, and are the cream of the crop in the platform. The TRR8 just holds the advantage as far as being ready to mount an optic right out of the box. For defensive use, its about as capable as a revolver gets with the ability to configure it for multiple different uses. Overall, its a reasonably well made .357 magnum, with quite a bit of flexibility to fit a few roles.
For more information, please visit Smith and Wesson.
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