Click pictures for a larger version.
Barranti Leather crossdraw holster.
We have reviewed
custom revolvers here before from Alan
Harton of Single Action Service in Houston, Texas, but none
that I have fired have been as entirely useful as this dandy
little Bearcat that he has converted to fire the 327 Federal
Magnum cartridge. This little jewel is built upon Rugerís
New Bearcat 22 rimfire revolver, which Mr. Harton has fitted
with a longer five-shot cylinder and a trim little tapered
octagon three-inch barrel.
A compact single action revolver such as this
is the perfect revolver to chamber the 327 Federal cartridge. In
a full-sized revolver such as a Blackhawk, the 327 is an
alternative to the larger 357 magnum cartridge, but in the trim
little Bearcat, the 327 is an alternative to the 22 Long Rifle
cartridge, and compared to that little rimfire, the 327 Federal
Magnum is a real powerhouse.
The quality of the fit and finish of the
metal in this custom Bearcat, as well as the fit of the ivory
stocks to the frame, is impeccable. The timing is perfect, as is
the lockup of the cylinder. Having such a short barrel, instead
of an ejector rod, the base pin is used to remove the spent
cartridge cases from the cylinder. Case extraction, even with
the hottest loads, was very easy. The cylinder is long enough to
accommodate any commercially-loaded 327 Federal cartridge
available, even the heavy 130 grain cast lead Buffalo Bore load.
The cylinder measures 1.482 inches in length, not including the
ratchet star. The bluing is deep, finished like a black mirror.
The trigger and sides of the hammer are left in the white, and
are also well-polished. The little Bearcat weighs in at 21.6
ounces. The serrated half-moon front sight, along with the rear
notch, makes for a very good sight picture. Being based upon the
New Bearcat revolver, the gun can be safely carried with every
chamber loaded, as it has Rugerís transfer bar safety. The
trigger releases crisply with four and one-quarter pounds of
resistance, as measured on my Lyman digital gauge.
I fired four different factory loads to check
for velocity, and each load tested exceeded my expectations for
the velocities achieved from the short barrel. Velocities are
listed in the chart below, and are listed in feet-per-second
(FPS), as recorded ten feet from the muzzle of the little
Bearcat. LSWC is a hard-cast lead semi-wadcutter bullet. JHP is
a jacketed hollowpoint. JSP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet.
Bullet weights are listed in grains. Velocities were recorded at
541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of forty-six
degrees, and a humidity in the fifty-two percent range.
|Buffalo Bore LWSC
|Buffalo Bore JHP
|American Eagle JSP
As noted above, velocities were impressive
from this three-inch revolver. The barrel/cylinder gap measured
a proper and tight two one-thousandths (.002) of an inch, and a
good tight barrel cylinder gap is very important to revolver
velocities. Recoil was a bit snappy with some of the loads
tested, but not painful at all, as the shape of the grip on the
Bearcat handles recoil very well. It seems odd to even be
discussing recoil in a review of a 32 caliber revolver, but the
327 Federal is a true magnum. It is what the 32 H&R should
have been many years ago. The 327 Federal makes the little
Bearcat into a very effective and efficient trail gun. In a good
belt holster, like the Barranti Leather cross draw holster shown
here, the Bearcat can ride comfortably, day after day,
unnoticed. The little 327 carries as well as a small 22 rimfire
revolver, because it is based upon a small rimfire revolver.
This little Bearcat is also very accurate. 32
caliber revolvers have always had a good reputation for
accuracy, and this Harton custom is no different in that
respect. I think if I could hold it well enough, it would put
every shot into the same hole at twenty-five yards, and it was
really fond of the Buffalo Bore LWSC load.
If you are interested in having Alan Harton
build one of these little jewels for you, give him a call. He
can build it with various barrel lengths and configurations, and
other sight and stock options, as desired.
To contact Alan Hartonís Single Action
Service, call 713-772-8314 or 713-907-6031, or email email@example.com.
To order one of Mike Barrantiís dandy
little Bearcat holsters, or a holster to fit any gun that
deserves such a quality piece of leather, go to www.barrantileather.com.
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Click pictures for a larger version.
Harton 327 Bearcat, compared to an unmodified stainless
steel Ruger New Bearcat.
22 Long Rifle cartridge (left) compared to 327
Federal Magnum cartridge (right).