The Smith & Wesson Performance Center TRR8 is an absolute godless abomination and, at the same time, just plain friggin’ awesome. Why is it an abomination? . . .
Because it’s a wheel gun, but with rails . . . and stuff. Why is it friggin’ awesome? Because it’s a wheel gun, BUT WITH RAILS AND STUFF!
I’m not exactly sure why this thing exists. Maybe it’s for competition. The TRR8 sure looks like some sort of competition gun. Or maybe it’s for folks who shoot a red dot optic on top of their magnum-powered revolver with a flashlight underlug. For them, the R8 is a dream come true. Both of them.
Still, I’m thrilled they kept the dream alive. The TRR8 is absolutely chock full of options: sights, grips, optics, ammo (.357 Magnum or .38SPL) lights, lasers, cigar holder, etc. All easy to add, subtract or replace.
The TRR8 is essentially a modified Model 327. Smith’s ‘smiths took the Scandium alloy framed revolver, added rails, changed the sights, worked the trigger, and fitted a 5-inch shrouded barrel.
The only option not readily available on the TRR8: your choice of barrel lengths. Looking at the shrouded barrel, I reckon it wouldn’t take much work to swap out the standard 5-inch barrel for something else.
Unfortunately, this is isn’t the old Dan Wesson pistol pack. Smith & Wesson recommends that TRR8 owners wishing to remove their barrel send their pistol to a qualified gunsmith equipped with the proper wrench.
So Smith could create several barrel lengths with their corresponding shrouds and offer those to the public. It would also take fairly little design work to cut out the middle man and make the barrel swap capable at the user level. You’re welcome.
The R8 weights just two ounces more than an empty Colt 1911 Government model, a gun I carried IWB for years. And the big Smith has the same capacity as the svelte Colt.
That said, given the power of the higher pressure .357 Magnum cartridge, the TRR8 should have served up substantially more recoil. [INSERT MANIACAL LAUGHTER HERE] But there is no recoil. This thing purrs like a kitten.
Part of that purr’s down to the gun’s rubber grip and grip angle. The Hogue Monogrip does an good job filling my size large hand. If this were my revolver, I’d fit it with a slightly larger set of hardwood handles. But for the vast majority of shooters, the soft rubber grip works well.
It’s not pretty, but it locks down the gun like with supermax certainty. Like the rest of the TRR8, it’s all business.
The balance point of the revolver is located right at the front of the cylinder. That makes the gun swift in the hand, especially for such a large framed gun.
The TRR8’s hammer is heavily textured and well-placed. It was easy to fully cock, or decock- — to the point where I don’t have to change my grip on the gun to either cock or decock the hammer with only my firing hand.
Yes, there is a “Hillary Hole” a.k.a., trigger lock. Why? No, seriously Smith & Wesson, why?
What’s not to love about the TRR8? Well, this ain’t the prettiest gal in the dance hall.
Once you remove the rails, the TRR8 almost looks like a regular revolver, and that’s a good thing. But the screws provided to replace the holes left in the barrel shroud (where the rails sat) are shiny steel. Against the Darth Vader black frame, they stick out like a sore thumb.
Also, take a look at the TRR8’s trigger and the hammer.
That’s not a dirty gun; that’s the way it arrives out of the box. It looks like the Performance Center said “It works, ship it!” without any nod to the form side of the equation.
The same can be said about the overall finish of the gun. It’s matte black on matte black. Nothing shiny, nothing polished. There are no tool marks, but the cylinder’s already scratched from normal rotations, just from the rounds I’ve put through it.
At the front of the inside of the frame, you can also see bright and shiny metal where the cylinder arm is rubbing against the frame. I suspect that’s less to do with a tight fit and more to do with a less-than-stellar lock-up.
I’m actually not that concerned with the cylinder rotating a bit while it’s in lock-up. This gun does that. I’m more concerned with the back and forth movement of the cylinder; there’s a lot more wiggle in the TRR8 than produced by my Model 29.
In the short term, this tiny bit of slop won’t have much effect on accuracy and reliability. But that wee bit of travel tends to beat a gun up over time.
If this were a .44 Magnum in the same frame, or maybe something even larger, this would be a concern. But in reality, chambered in .357 Magnum, as stout as the caliber is, it’s not enough pressure to do any real damage over the life of the gun.
Those of you who read my articles regularly know that when I really like a gun, I get picky. With this revolver, I’m getting really picky. Because I really like this gun.
The included front sight is a small, bright brass bead, way out in front of a fully adjustable target-style rear sight. That rear sight is also serrated at the back, as is the top of the slide above the cylinder.
As is, it’s a great set up, exactly how I’d leave it. If you would like to put in a different front sight, a simple punch is all you need to git ‘er done.
Attach the included full rail on the top of the TRR8 and you can mount all sorts of optics. The most obvious: a red dot. If you want to reach out and touch something a ways away, you can also mount a long eye relief telescopic sight.
What if something goes wrong and the optic breaks? What if its batteries die? Simply take the optic off. The rail’s center is cut from the top rail; you can still use the factory irons.
The entire rear sight assembly can be removed with two screws. And/or use the bottom rail to mount a light, laser or both.
Of course, being a God-fearing American I would never consider mounting a flashlight, laser or red dot on top of my revolver. Until, well . . . until I had to admit I’d thought of doing it about fifty ‘leven times.
Not because I want to compete with a revolver. But because I love to hunt with them.
I’ve had a thing for hunting with a revolver for some 30 years, since my first south Texas javelina hunt with my .357 Magnum Ruger Blackhawk. The freedom of movement, as well as of range and targets makes hunting with a magnum chambered revolver a genuine joy.
I still occasionally pig hunt my Model 29. But at night, when I actually do most of my pig hunting, the revolver goes away.
You can’t shoot what you can’t see. Hunting with a “normal” iron sighted revolver, you can use your flashlight to either see the target or see the sights…but not both. (You need to see both.) With the Smith & Wesson Performance Center TRR8, you can mount a red dot optic and a decent flashlight and see both your porcine prey and your dot.
Oh my, piggies, behold the R8, and despair!
Smith’s Performance Center became known for their trigger work, and this is the kind of trigger work they’re known for.
In single action, the TRR8 broke between 5 lbs. 5oz and 5 lbs. 7oz. I would have guessed it was more like 3 lbs. It’s that crisp, that clean. I closed my eyes and focused solely on my finger pulling the trigger, trying to find any kind of creep or squish in the pull. Nope. It’s a wall, followed by nothing but the snap of the hammer.
In double action, the smooth round face of the trigger eases back the hammer until it falls at 11lbs, 9oz. Again, I would have guessed much lighter. There’s a teeny tiny bit of free travel, followed by a bit of stack, and then just a slide right back to hammerfall.
Keeping the gun still, even in single-handed double action fire, was no problem at all. With a double-crush crossed thumbs grip, the trigger just wants to be pulled. Again. Faster now. Now five more times after that.
Ah, but now you’ve spent eight rounds powered by the Ghost of Elmer Keith, and who makes eight-shot moon clips for a revolver? Smith & Wesson does and they included three eight round moon clips with the TRR8. Outstanding!
Getting the rounds into the clips is no problem. Getting them out? Not easy at all. A lot easier after you shoot them, though. I have no idea why that is. It seems to me like it would be the opposite. The revolver doesn’t require the moon clips to fire, and I shot both with and without them for the review.
In fact, I shot the crap of this gun. I shot 100 rounds from Magtech, 100 rounds from Hornady, 20 rounds from Federal in .38SPL, and another 100 rounds from Freedom Munitions. Then I reloaded the cases and shot about half of them again.
I never had a single issue of any kind with loading, firing or ejecting. The TRR8 got plenty dirty, especially from my reloads. Other than an initial spray down with Rogue American Apparel’s Gun Oil, I never lubed or cleaned it in any way for the entire test. It ran like a spotted-ass ape.
Accuracy widely depended on the round type.
The Magtech 158gr jacketed soft point round scored a 1.4-inch average five-round group at 25 yards for four groups. I was pretty sure I could get better, so sighted in on the 50 yard mark.
At 50 yards, the Freedom Munitions 158gr hollow point round (use coupon code “TTAG” for 5% off everything at Freedom Munitions) gave me a solid 3-inch group, time after time. That means this revolver is accurate beyond the ballistic capability of the round. Or, to put it another way, it will put a bullet through the heart and lungs of a deer at distances beyond what I would count on the cartridge to ethically kill.
I shot several other rounds in .357 Magnum and .38SPL, and no round shot worse than 1.6-inch groups, with one exception.
I shot big groups from a little gun round. The Federal HST Micro .38SPL round, optimized for short J Frame revolvers, scored a whopping 2.8-inch group, and a 2.5-inch average group size. That is a group size grossly outside the limits of all of the .357 Magnum rounds I shot through the TRR8.
This is not the first time I’ve had this round, which seems to shoot great in my Airweight, shoot poorly in a full-sized .357 Magnum revolver. I’d love to hear some theories on why that is. I’m stumped.
The Smith & Wesson Performance Center TRR8 takes the utility and versatility of the .357 Magnum cartridge and dials it up to 11. Or more appropriately, to 8. It handles fast, shoots faster and puts powerful rounds in tiny spaces far away. If that was it, this would be a good pistol right there. But S&W raised the bar more than a few notches by facilitating a wide range of modification options this revolver.
Oh, and it holds eight rounds.
Model: PERFORMANCE CENTER® TRR8
Caliber: .357 Magnum, .38 S&W SPECIAL +P
Barrel Length: 5″ / 12.7 cm
Overall Length: 10.5″
Front Sight: Interchangeable
Rear Sight: Adjustable V-Notch
Action: Single/Double Action
Weight: 35.2 oz
Cylinder Material: Stainless Steel
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
Frame Material: Scandium Alloy
Frame Finish: Black Matte
RATINGS (out of five stars)
Style and Appearance * *
The TRR8’s got next to nothing going for it in the looks department. The unpolished trigger and hammer make the gun look not quite finished. The mix-matched replacement screws are a mistake. No wood at all.
Customization * * * * *
I never thought I’d see five stars under this category for a revolver, but there you have it. The user can radically change this gun. The gunsmith, for a little work and a little money, can do even more.
Reliability * * * * *
All the stars. This wheelie runs anything, even filthy dirty.
Accuracy * * * * ½
It didn’t break the 1-inch mark that I’d hold an automatic of this size to, but it got close, and with a magnum powered round. Very, very good.
Overall * * * * 1/2
When I first looked at it, I actually groaned. I like fancy wood and shiny metal on a six-shooter. The R8 isn’t even a six-shooter! And yet, the TRR8 is the most versatile, most fun revolver I’ve picked up in years. Local pigs won’t be pleased, but I want one.
Ammo for this review provided by Freedom Munitions. Visit www.FreedomMunitions.com and use coupon code “TTAG” for 5% off site-wide on dozens of brands of ammunition, accessories, parts, optics, and more.