Custom Ruger New Bearcat from Single Action Service Chambered for the 327 Federal Magnum Cartridge

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

March 21st, 2013


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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.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Buffalo Bore LWSC 130 1287
Buffalo Bore JHP 100 1355
American Eagle JSP 100 1442
Speer JHP 115 1457

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

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

Jeff Quinn

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Harton 327 Bearcat, compared to an unmodified stainless steel Ruger New Bearcat.





22 Long Rifle cartridge (left) compared to 327 Federal Magnum cartridge (right).