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Review of the S&W TRR8 (8 X .357 = Wonderful)

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by barnbwt, Sep 17, 2011.

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  1. barnbwt

    barnbwt Member

    Aug 14, 2011
    "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Doesn't matter, this piece holds EIGHT!

    This revolver arrived about a week ago, and I finally had a chance to take it to the range and test it out. So far, I couldn't be more impressed.

    This is the first revolver I've owned (and first review I've written here), so if I forget to mention something, speak up, and I'll try to follow up on it to get a fairly complete review going.

    I selected this revolver based on a few criteria (no need to debate their merits, the gun is already here, after all):
    -Revolver platform - I believe a revolver to be more reliable (personal bias)
    -.357 magnum - I wanted a common round stout enough for defense while hiking
    -Aluminum frame - Weight is critical while hiking, so I was willing to pay extra
    -Full size/large frame - conflicts with weight, but fits my hand so much better. Concealment isn't as much an issue since I'll only wear this on trails where firearms are permitted, and I can rig up something fairly concealed but still accessible on the side of the pack
    -5" barrel - a compromise I prefer between sight radius and front-heaviness

    Additional reasons I liked the TRR8/R8 after discovering them:
    -Highest capacity - In case I get jumped by a whole pack of bears...Seriously, this thing holds about as much as many semis, and magnums at that
    -Accessory Rails - Not really my thing, but could be useful for mounting a light
    -Performance Center guts - why not get the best?
    -Black finish - I'm just not the flashy type :cool:
    -Takes Moon Clips - Much much faster than loading individually
    -Made by Smith & Wesson, always a good thing, right?

    And most importantly, the gun just feels balanced and fits my hand well. Thanks for reading this far, by the way...

    The pistol arrived in a plastic hardcase (it would be nice if S&W still did the aluminum box) wrapped in oiled paper, with all the accessories and manuals tucked under the egg-crate foam in the lid.

    Among the accessories were 2 internal lock keys :rolleyes:, 3 full moonclips, a casing from the test fire in an envelope, and the upper & lower rails and their mounting screws. The manuals were pretty good at covering the basics I had researched ahead of time anyway.

    The finish is a consistent dark grey over the metal surfaces that are bead-blasted to a finish I would call pearl on the barrel shroud (smoother) and a true matte on the frame proper. The flat faces will glint only somewhat. Somehow, they got the finish on the stainless steel cylinder to very closely match the aluminum frame in color and texture. The trigger and hammer look unfinished, with a petina that appears to have been left by the heat treating process. The handle is a good quality rubber boot that leaves the rear "tang" of the frame exposed. For some reason, the rivets in the frame above the trigger and cylinder release were not finished black (they always look like waterspots in the photos to me).

    The sights are an adjustable rear blade, and a changeable fixed gold dot sight on the front. I was shooting toward dusk, and I was really impressed how visible the gold dot was. Controls are pretty much the same as any double action revolver I handled (except the Chiappa Rhino, I guess).

    The cylinder gap is really tight, about half as much as other revolvers I looked at (appears to be less than .005"). In fact, the cylinder briefly contacts the very edge of the barrel as it is pushed back into place, as the button on the extractor is compressed against the back wall of the frame. From what I've read, this tight gap improves pressures and performance, but the cylinder will need cleaning more frequently to keep rotating freely. I had no issues except the tiny bit of paint wear on the outside edge of the cyclinder.

    The hammer is wonderful, and makes single action shooting easier than double action. It has a wide, flared surface with toothy knurling so it is very easy to grip and pull back. This pistol fits me well, so reaching for the hammer is very comfortable (on the some other Bisley-type grips I had to reach too far). The easy single action cocking, combined with the excellently crisp Performance Center trigger, make for very intuitive shooting. Since I've practiced cocking the hammer on recovery from a shot, single action is about as fast as double for controlled shooting. I had a couple sub 1.5" 3-shot groupings at 5 yards, which is about as good as I ever got shooting the 9mm (very) occaisionally. I can tell I will get a lot better with practice, this gun feels really natural to shoot.

    I've only shot 9mm 1911 style pistols before, so I was bracing to have my hand broken off (slight exaggeration), therefore I decided to first shoot .38sp, the .38sp +p, THEN the 125gr and 158gr magnum rounds. I was actually underwhelmed by the light recoil of the .38 specials. The +p round actually seemed to shoot more accurately (still a beginner, though) and recoil seemed more "appropriate" to the size of the gun in my hand. The 125gr magnums were very pleasant to shoot, and the 158gr were still quite manageable. I've not shot any heavier than that, though. Barrel rise wasn't terrible either, though I wasn't going for rapid follow-up shots at this point. Rise was a bit more pronounced on the 158gr magnum round, as expected. The over-pressure/noise was far more distracting than the recoil itself. I was very suprised, because I had been told over and over that a light aluminum .357 will kick and buck like a mule. I was able to fire 100 magnum rounds at a sitting without any of the tingle/numbness/soreness I'd been warned of.

    The moonclips were fantastic. With the exception of loading the clips themselves, I was changing out rounds faster than several of the semi-auto guys nearby, albeit with a bit more fiddling (you really have to point the gun straight down for the rounds to slide in easily, any diagonal and they must be jimmied into place). The clips were kinda tough to load at first, though. Unloading the clips was very difficult at first, I had to actually pry each round off with my thumbnail (ouch), but after a half dozen loads, they loosened up a little (hopefully not too much more, though).

    Since I need a way to carry this beast if I am to take it into the boonies, I looked around for a holster. I was able to obtain a decently priced Galco N-frame holster for 5" barrels that fits really well, and seems well made. Not particularly concealable, but again, that isn't my primary concern. It seems like a shoulder setup could possibly do a decent concealment job, though if I needed it. It should be noted, this holster might be able to be stretched/formed to accomodate the detachable rails, but cannot accomodate accessories on said rails. A DIY kydex job will be required if I decide to "decorate" the gun.

    There you have it; a well made, "eight-shot six-shooter" that looks as mean as can be. Smith & Wesson TRR8. You really feel like Zeus when firing this thing. Thanks everybody who read through my essay, feel free to ask me questions about the TRR8, I'll do my best to answer them. When I bought this new online, the going rate was right at 1000$ plus fees.

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  2. Cearbhall

    Cearbhall Member

    Jan 23, 2010
    I have the plain 627 version of that revolver, 4 in. barrel. Excellent gun. Sure goes through a box of ammo quick.
  3. Scipio Africanus

    Scipio Africanus Member

    Feb 20, 2011
    North by Northwest
    Very thourough review, good work. I have the 325 TR in .45 ACP. This shares many of the same attributes as your 327. You have a fantastic revolver, enjoy it! I am a die hard, "It has to start with a "4"" guy, and I want a 327 TRR8. Have fun and good shooting!
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