Smith & Wesson® Performance Center Model 627 8-Shot 357 Magnum / 38 Special Revolver

by Boge Quinn

August 5th, 2021

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Eight-shot, unfluted cylinder.





The eight-shot cylinder is machined so that it can be loaded conventionally (top) or using moon clips (center and bottom).



To answer the inevitable question: NO, the moon clips will not allow 9mm ammo to be used. The 9mm cartridge is tapered, and is larger in diameter at its base than the 357 Magnum / 38 Special chambers.






Barrel is aggressively and attractively profiled, with a nicely-inverted crown.



Chrome Flashed hammer spur has a custom teardrop shape.



Chrome Flashed trigger features an overtravel stop.



Trigger pull is excellent in both Double-Action (top) and Single-Action (bottom) modes.







Smith & Wesson is perhaps America's (and thus, the world's) preeminent maker of Double-Action revolvers. Since Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson first joined forces in 1852, the number of innovations originating from this great brand have been beyond numbering. We as shooters, whether we own Smith & Wesson firearms or not, owe a great deal to the Company. 

The Smith & Wesson 357 Magnum was introduced on the N (large) frame size in 1935 as the legendary "Registered Magnum" sixgun, with each example being unique and ordered to the buyer's specifications, then becoming a standard catalog item in 1940, and finally acquiring the Model 27 moniker when S&W started using model numbers in 1957. After S&W began making revolvers from stainless steel, the stainless sister to the Model 27 was introduced as the Model 627 (the "6" being S&W's standard designation for stainless steel). The stainless offered some resistance to the elements, and the stainless sixguns were met with much success from the start.

Enter the Smith & Wesson Performance Center.

Since its establishment in 1990, the Smith & Wesson Performance Center has become a great way for shooters and collectors to acquire S&W products that are a cut above the already-excellent Smith & Wesson standard models. From traditional sixguns that hearken back to S&W's storied past, such as the wonderful Classic Series and Heritage Series sixguns; to modern revolvers such as the Model 442 Pro 38 Special, the Model 60 Pro 357 Magnum, the Model 629 44 Magnums, the Model 325 "Thunder Ranch" 45, the Model 327 TRR8 357 Magnum, and the Jerry Miculek Signature Model 929 9mm; to modern semi-auto pistols such as the SW1911 Pro Series 9mm, the Ported M&P Shield 45, and the Performance Center SW1911 pistols (my brother Jeff's favorite 1911 carry pistol); to modern rifles such as the T/CR22 Semi-Auto 22 Rifle and the M&P 10 in 6.5 Creedmoor, the Smith & Wesson Performance Center has become a way for shooters to obtain custom-quality firearms without paying a custom-gunsmith price.

There are several 357 Magnum / 38 Special revolvers currently available from the Performance Center, in J-Frame (small), K/L-Frame (medium), and N-Frame (large) sizes. Each model has its unique features and advantages, with a model being offered to suit nearly any shooter's or collector's taste. The Performance Center Model 627 at hand is a stainless steel, N-Frame, eight-shot, 357 Magnum / 38 S&W Special +P revolver sporting a 2-5/8" barrel and short grip. The N frame is substantially larger than the small J frame and medium K and L frames, but the short barrel and short grip make the Performance Center 627 quite easy to carry and conceal. The larger N-Frame cylinder diameter also makes the enhanced eight-round capacity possible.

This Performance Center Model 627  is very nicely finished in an attractive Glassbead Matte. This results in a non-glare finish that is both pleasing to the eye, and less reflective; the lower-polish finish throws less glare to possible assailants, and eliminates light reflection from the top of the revolver that could interfere with a proper sight picture. 

The matching-finished stainless steel eight-shot cylinder is unfluted, which both gives a pleasing and businesslike appearance, and subtly shifts the weight into the shooter's hand, especially when coupled with the short, contoured 2-5/8" barrel. This combination of slightly heavier cylinder and slightly lighter barrel allows the big revolver to balance perfectly in the hand, as a fighting revolver should; and no mistake about it, this is a fighting revolver.

As an aid in quickly reloading this Model 627, the eight-shot cylinder is machined to allow the use of moon clips. The moon clips function much like a speed loader, allowing the shooter to load all eight cartridges at once, rather than one or two at a time, as when loading in the usual manner. The Performance Center includes three quality steel moon clips with purchase, and additional clips are available from S&W if needed. As the 357 Magnum / 38 Special cartridge headspaces on the cartridge rim, the machining of the cylinder allows the revolver to also be loaded in the usual manner if preferred. Before the question comes up: NO, the moon clips do not allow for 9mm to be used; the 9mm cartridge is tapered, and is larger in diameter at its base than the 357 Magnum / 38 Special, so a 9mm cartridge will not fully chamber.

The cylinder locks-up to the frame in a most ingenious manner, which is reminiscent of the cylinder lockup used on the Smith & Wesson "New Century" 44 Hand Ejector First Model, commonly known as the Triple Lock. The Triple Lock, introduced in 1908, featured a cylinder locking mechanism at the front of the cylinder crane, in addition to those more commonly found at the rear of the cylinder and the front of the ejector rod; this "third lock" allowed for a much stronger lockup to account for the power of the then-new 44 S&W Special cartridge, but proved to add too much to the cost of production, and was dropped in 1915 after fewer than 16,000 First Models were produced. Many sixgunners, myself included, consider the Triple Lock to be among the finest revolvers ever produced by any maker, and Triple Locks typically command astronomical prices on today's collector market. The S&W Performance Center has re-engineered the front-of-crane lockup very ingeniously and effectively, using a ball detent at the front of the cylinder crane that locks into a groove machined into the rear of the barrel lug. This system results in a very tight and repeatable lockup, and the Performance Center features the ball detent system in a number of their product offerings.

The 2-5/8" barrel is aggressively profiled, as are many of the Smith & Wesson Performance Center models. Once upon a time, the Purist in me considered the Performance Center barrels to be unattractive, even downright ugly, but I have since come to really appreciate the look of the Performance Center barrels, especially when coupled with an unfluted cylinder. The barrel on this example is slab-sided, with radius cuts at each quadrant; these radius cuts serve also to lighten the barrel's weight. The barrel's rib blends very nicely with the radius cuts on the top of the barrel, and the full barrel underlug is swept back at the muzzle and milled on both sides to expose the ejector rod. The muzzle also sports a very nice inverted crown, thus protecting the rifling at the barrel's end.  The overall barrel treatment is very attractive, even beautiful. The barrel / cylinder gap measures a very nice 0.003 (three-thousandths) inch, minimizing power loss and side-spitting while aiding practical accuracy.

The hammer and trigger are finished in a Chrome Flashed finish, making a nice visual accent to the matte stainless finish of the Performance Center 627. The hammer spur is deeply checkered and has a custom teardrop shape, which is both easy to use and pleasing to the eye, lending a custom aesthetic touch to what is, after all, a custom-quality revolver. The trigger is a smooth-faced, narrow "Combat Style" unit, with the more-than-welcome addition of an overtravel stop. The price of the Performance Center Model 627 includes their Tuned Action, and the Performance Center knows how to tune an action! The trigger on this Model 627 was excellent as received, with the Double-Action trigger pull measuring a smooth 7 Pounds, 7.8 Ounces average on my Lyman Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge, while the Single-Action pull averaged an excellent 2 Pounds, 8.9 Ounces. The trigger pull was even and creep-free in both Double-Action and Single-Action modes, with the Double-Action pull allowing for very effective trigger staging as desired. The Double-Action trigger reach measures 2.88 Inches, while the Single-Action trigger reach measures 2.45 Inches; this should prove to be comfortable to nearly every shooter's hand.

The sights are, as one would expect of a revolver of this quality, excellent. The front sight consists of a dovetailed blued-steel red-insert ramp, while the rear sight is S&W's time-proven fully-adjustable blued-steel unit with white outline. As the rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation, having the front sight installed in a dovetail is not required for windage adjustment, but the dovetailed front sight does make sight replacement easy if a different front sight configuration is desired. Installation of a Tritium Night Sight (such as the superb Big Dot sight from XS Sights), or a brass bead, a gold bar, or varying heights if required, will pose no problem on this Performance Center 627. Mounting a laser grip, such as our favorite from Crimson Trace, will also be a snap, and greatly improves the revolver's usefulness in low-light conditions.

The grips used on the Performance Center Model 627 are very nice, comfortable, and easy to conceal and handle. Made from a beautiful solid hardwood that looks very much like classic Walnut, these grips feature an open backstrap for the round-butt grip frame; finger grooves at the front; two checkering panels on each side; a speed-loader cut on the port side; and a thin, tapered, palm-swell shape. These grips perfectly fit my fairly large hands, and they properly align the revolver down the axis of my arm. They are "short" grips, meaning they are the same height as the grip frame, and leave the bottom of the grip frame exposed as well as the back; the overall configuration makes the grips handle more like oversized Target grips than the familiar "Magna" design, while allowing the revolver to be more easily concealed. The grip design allows for two support fingers, while the pinky finger is free to wrap underneath, and is a wonderful compromise between shootability and concealability. Of course, any grips made for the Round-Butt N-Frame, including round to square butt conversion grips, should fit perfectly if a change is desired. I initially considered making just such a grip change, but after my first range session with this 627, I knew the grips would remain as-issued. 

Specifications - Smith & Wesson® Performance Center Model 627 8-Shot 357 Magnum / 38 S&W Special Revolver

Model # 170133
Frame Size N (Large)
Action Single / Double Action
Caliber 357 Magnum / 38 S&W Special +P
Finish Glassbead Matte
Frame Material Stainless Steel
Cylinder Material Stainless Steel
Cylinder Capacity 8
Barrel Material Stainless Steel
Barrel Length 2-5/8 Inches
Overall Length 7-5/8 Inches
Barrel / Cylinder Gap 0.003 Inch
Weight, Unloaded 37.6 ounces
Front Sight Dovetailed Red Ramp
Rear Sight Adjustable White Outline
Hammer Chrome Flashed, Custom Teardrop Shape
Trigger Chrome Flashed, Smooth Combat Style with Overtravel Stop
Trigger Pull, DA 7 Pounds, 7.8 Ounces
Trigger Pull, SA 2 Pounds, 8.9 Ounces
Trigger Reach, DA 2.88 Inches
Trigger Reach, SA 2.45 Inches
Grip Checkered Wood with Finger Grooves
Additional Performance Center Features Performance Center Tuned Action with Ball Detent Lockup
MSRP as of August 2021 $1,133.00 US

A great revolver deserves a great holster, and a revolver meant to be carried concealed for personal protection needs a holster that is up to the task of such use. As an Old Fat Guy who wears overalls almost all the time, my needs differ from those who wear "regular pants" with a belt on a daily basis, and I find Galco's shoulder holster systems to be just the ticket for shoulder carry underneath a vest or jacket. My favorite of Galco's offerings for revolvers is their VHS 4.0 (Vertical Holster System). The VHS does a great job of concealing even a large-frame revolver, and evenly distributing the weight for comfortable and worry-free carry. The VHS carries the revolver vertically (I tend to favor the horizontal-carry Miami Classic II system for semi-autos), fully and easily converts for left-hand or right-hand use, and releases the revolver quickly and easily using an index-finger snap. The VHS also allows the draw to be forward-and-up, rather than a straight-up draw, which can be quite slow and awkward from a shoulder holster. My VHS is made for a 4" N-Frame, but it works just fine for the 2-5/8" barrel. The VHS is also a modular system, allowing a variety of holsters to be attached to the harness, and allowing a number of off-side ammo carry options. Speed loader carriers are available, but I tend to favor dump-pouches as they lay flatter and conceal easier, which is just my preference; the dump pouches that I use are sized to accept six rounds of 44 or 45 ammo, which makes them able to carry a full reload of eight 357 Magnum rounds. Reversible belt tie-downs are included for each side, which further stabilizes the holster for carry under a jacket with a belt, but the VHS also works just fine without the tie-downs, and of course, that is how I use the system. The VHS 4.0 System features Premium Steerhide™ construction, is available for a wide variety of handguns, and retails for $264.00 US.

Today's shooter demands a lot from his/her revolver, and the Smith & Wesson® Performance Center® Model 627 delivers in many ways. Offering the quality and custom fitting of a custom-built revolver without the custom-built price, this model 627 packs a lot of features into a relatively small, and relatively inexpensive, package.

Check out this, and the many other Performance Center offerings, at:

Direct link to this revolver:

To find a Smith & Wesson dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at Lipsey's:

To order Smith & Wesson products Online, click on the GUN GENIE at Davidson's Gallery of Guns:

Buy Ammo Online at Lucky Gunner:

Double Tap Ammo:

XS Sights:

Crimson Trace:

Galco Holsters:

Lyman Products:

Boge Quinn

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The Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 627 comes with Performance Center branded hard plastic case, cable lock, internal lock key, manual, and three spring-steel moon clips.



Ball detent locking mechanism at front of cylinder crane.



Solid wood, checkered grip is compact and ergonomic.



S&W's internal locking mechanism is easy to use, or just as easy to ignore.



Galco VHS (Vertical Holster System) 4.0.



A favorite load for the 38 Special is Double Tap's Target 148-grain cast full-wadcutter.



For more serious applications, Double Tap's 357 Magnum 158-grain Controlled Expansion JHP is just what the doctor ordered.