S&W R8 (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)
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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!

S&W R8 in box (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

S&W R8 barrel (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

S&W R8 right side (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

S&W R8 grip (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

S&W R8 hillary hole (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Yes, there is a “Hillary Hole” a.k.a., trigger lock. Why? No, seriously Smith & Wesson, why?

S&W R8 screws (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

S&W R8 hamer (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

S&W R8 trigger front (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

S&W R8 scarring (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

S&W R8 rear sight (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

S&W R8 front sight (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

S&W R8 top rail (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

S&W R8 rails (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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!

S&W R8 trigger rear (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

S&W R8 in hand (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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!

S&W R8 moon clips (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

S&W R8 50 yard groups (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.


Caliber: .357 Magnum, .38 S&W SPECIAL +P
Capacity: 8
Barrel Length: 5″ / 12.7 cm
Overall Length: 10.5″
Front Sight: Interchangeable
Rear Sight: Adjustable V-Notch
Action: Single/Double Action
Grip: Synthetic
Weight: 35.2 oz
Cylinder Material: Stainless Steel
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
Frame Material: Scandium Alloy
Frame Finish: Black Matte
MSRP: $1,329

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.

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  1. I’ll stick to Ruger. The GP100 is cheaper and they have the common courtesy of polishing it.

    • Ruger Redhawk .357 Mag 5.5 is the Ruger version of this gun, not the GP100. But the Ruger is 49 oz.

        • I thought about adding a septi-chambered GP to my collection until I saw how they had stuck ‘7 shot’ on the un derlug. I think I’ll be content with my six shooters until they take that off.

    • The author of the article is so ignorant that he doesn’t realize that the hammer and trigger are color cased. as opposed to bright and shiny. Seriously, that is really funny. polishing has nothing to do with it. Also, when someone says that a 5 pound single action trigger from S&W is great, then they have no experience with good triggers and probably have zero idea what they are talking about

      • The author is simply full of himself. His tirade is more critical than constructive. “…..cigar ashtray…”. Don’t put down a first rate product second rate author.

    • I have both, GP100 in 6″ss and the 327 R8 in its only configuration
      Both are amazing revolvers, yet nothing alike

      • I am seriously thinking about getting the SW PC 327 TT8 but some of the issues of this article raising concerns with me. A PC firearm should be as Perfect as humanly possible and lockup issues is a NO GO with me because if that is happening out of the box what will it be after 1500 rds of 125gr JHPs Full power 357 Magnum goodness. I am looking at getting the revolver thru a Local Shop that uses Davidson so it comes with a Lifetime no BS Warranty and this is going to be my backup gun for Hog Hunting. Did your 327 have any or the issues the article revolver have? what sort of trigger pull did your revolver come with? how long have you had your? Thank you!

  2. Great review, jwt!

    Note the following from the “Inspection Guide For Smith & Wesson Revolvers” from Cactus Tactical. For those interested, it’s a free PDF download and IMO a must-have for S&W revolver lovers:

    “Barrel-to-cylinder gap: The ideal B/C gap is .006”. A close gap will cause the cylinder to drag when fouled from shooting residue. A wide gap will loose muzzle velocity and may spit particles. The normal usable range is from .004~.010”

    “Hold the cylinder to the rear and insert the thickest gap gauge that will fit between the cylinder face and the rear of the barrel (with friction). This will be the B/C gap.

    “Cylinder endshake: This test will measure the front to back free travel of the cylinder. It is a good indicator of wear from shooting. Anything over .002” is considered excessive.

    “Hold the cylinder forward and insert the thickest gap gauge that will fit between the cylinder face and the rear of the barrel with minimal friction. Subtract the measurement from the B/C gap. This will be the cylinder endshake.”

    FYI, S&W revolvers are designed to have looser tolerances than those wonderful Colt snakes that have become the gold standard for revolvers. This becomes very obvious when comparing a snake with a comparable S&W at full lockup.

    The magnificent Colt Python could have timing issues as the revolver “broke in.” Smiths rarely do.

    • Have signed the first link, 1 of only 136 signatures
      Come on Guys, what are waiting for? Go to the link and assert your rights.

      Send link to 2nd Ammendment supporters you know and other like minded forums

      • “assert your rights”

        Not to be crass, but no one gives a shit about petitions. They’re not a way to assert rights, they’re a way for people to do something easy (and fruitless) online to feel better about not doing anything actually useful.

        • Most of these so-called “petitions” are nothing more than tools for making lists of supporters and enemies. Especially those that end in .gov.

          Slacktivism carries no weight. It just puts you on someone’s map.

  3. How do you momentarily activate the flashlight without using a weird grip angle or burning yourself from the blast around the forcing cone? Seems like you’d have to use constant on then readjust your grip and fire.

  4. Dear Smith&Wesson,

    What you’ve created is an affront to revolvery and should be destroyed imediately for the sake of all that is pure and holy.

    Thank you, The Gov.

  5. “…as is the top of the slide above the cylinder.”

    poetic license, that. gas port?

  6. The issues you stated with the R8 should never be present in a production revolver let alone a custom shop one. You should have the hand replaced with a longer one to hold the cylinder tight when locked in place, you may need to address the bolt to ensure that the cylinder hole aligns with the barrel at lock up. The yoke is incorrectly machined to rub against the frame and should be replaced. S&W should be ashamed to have any revolver leave their factory in that condition and the Custom shop may need to address its guality control issues.

  7. This revolver was designed for the shield man on an entry team. A semiauto’s slide can hit the shield and cause a malfunction. S&W was asked to make a revolver with firepower equal to a 1911 (standard 7+1) and rails for a light and optic.

    I also think it looks awesome, not to mention the utility of rails.

    • Exactly. I was shocked, shocked I tell you, that the author did not know what he was reviewing. Apparently poking fun at ignorance is contagious given all the dog piled comments.

      Just because you don’t need or even understand a mission-specific gun doesn’t make it strange or funny. It means you need to do your homework.

  8. Not enough pressure huh ? Run 5 to 600 full power .357s through it and see what happens. Steel is not dead yet folks

  9. That’s a Model 327 TRR8 (SKU: 170269), not an M&P R8 (SKU: 170292). The M&P R8 has a bottom rail that is milled into the barrel shroud and can’t be removed and has “M&P R8” stamped on the side of the shroud.

  10. Have a Dan Wesson Model 15 with barrel length of 2”, 4” and 6” from Gunbroker. These are revolvers with the 6” barrel can shoot 357 with very little recoil or muzzle flip. Very accurate and will also take 38 Special for cheaper practice

    • Gun Gal…… My 357 security six with 6 in. barrel is a dream to shoot, shoots like a rifle. Works well with shoulder holster. Cannot figure why they quit the security six model.

      • People whined about recoil so they adapted a boat anchor to shoot 357 and called it the GP100.

        Smith did it with the Lframe.

        Not buying the BS that guns were being battered by full power loads. If a stainless J frame can shoot full zoot 357, its frame is not thicker than the old K frame.

        Most of problems i have seen with K frames are timjng issues frome wearing out the hand that advances the cylinder. Never seen a cracked forcing cone on a k frame. Seen several on these new scandium guns.

        • Gonna stick with my model 66, also. Though I do like the little inset blast shield above the forcing cone. No Hillarity hole for me

      • As S38 pointed out they added the underlug, and they also added the lock at the front of the crane as opposed to the detent ball at the end of the ejector rod for more positive lock up. There have been a few GPs made without the underlug, but they’re pretty rare.

  11. My guess is the bullet weight of the 38 load is the reason for poorer accuracy with that round.

    My experience is 38s can be very accurate in a 357 but with 158g and heavier loads.

    Even better is when the 38s are loaded to magnum velocities. The shorter case is more efficient and consistency is usually very good.

    With general loads , you will lose 50 fps shooting 38 special in a magnum cylinder over a 38 spl revolver with same barrel length.

    • Could be the fast burn “snubby” powder too. Reminds me I accidentally picked some of these up, I need to replace them with a box or two of hydrashoks for my .357.

      • Yeah. A little slower powder works better in 38 and 357.

        I still like 2400.

        145 grain projectiles can also work well. 125s just have accuracy problems when you get the velocity up at distance.

        The 357 158 hydrashoks are very accurate in my marlin carbine.

        Have not tried the 135 HS though.

  12. I have the all stainless 627PC. It is very accurate, has a terrific trigger and is all I want in a .357.
    While I have a couple of scandium revolvers, I don’t really trust aluminum for a gun frame. It works fine, but I can’t believe it won’t stretch slightly over time. Aluminum doesn’t have an elastic limit like steel.

  13. I picked one up and handled it at a gun store a while back and freaking loved it. Just cant justify dropping a grand on a gun right now unfortunately but the second I can, I will.

    My understanding was that SW created it at the request of ballistic shield users, as a way to avoid the slide smacking the shield and causing a malfunction. Ive used a shield plenty of times and I could only really see that being an issue if youve been holding it for some time and your arm gets tired.

    • Once in awhile I see ads pop up for some complicated-looking watch that states in bold lettering “THIS is the watch designed for NAVY SEALS!”

      I figure that explanation adds another 200$ to the price of the item, at least. I bet the same principle applies here.

  14. JWT I have square butt VZ tactical diamond grips on my model 28 Highway Patrolman and they are fantastically grippy but a little small for my medium large hands. They also make the for round butt models but they have finger groves just FYI.

    I’ve been eyeballing this gun for awhile. My EDC Model 28 has put me in the mood for a modern N-frame to take over day to day. Your description of the trigger is exactly how I would characterize mine. I love the 627 PC but i’m not sold on the 2 5/8 ” barrel length for 357 Magnum. The 627 Pro is a more practical option but the TRR8’s the scandium frame would make up for the extra 1″ length. Plus no denying the fight stopping power of 357 out of a 5″ barrel.

  15. You do not need a punch to change the front sight… you can push it forward and pull it out. It requires no tools.

  16. “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.”

    Answer: muzzle velocity. The longer barrel produces higher muzzle velocity with this loading versus the snubby, and that pushes the bullet through the trans-sonic barrier, where especially poor accuracy is the norm with every caliber. Shooting at a significantly further range (or much closer range) might paradoxically produce better accuracy. Try a heavier or lighter bullet load for your given or preferred test range to lower or raise the velocity, and improve accuracy.

  17. This gun was actually built for law enforcement not for competition. It works better then an automatic when firing around a bullet resistant shield. The slide on an automatic will hit the shield.

  18. I dispute this guns reliability score. I have a trr8 and I have a fair number of failure to fires, but only if not using moonclips, and especially if the gun is dirty. Examination of the cartridges that failed to fire show insufficient primer dents or impingement. The firing pin is not long enough, I had it replaced under warranty at an authorised service center, nevertheless the problem still remains.

    I was told that for proper reliability the use of moonclips is necessary, as they support the case closer to the frame. I havent been able to verify this.

    • I’ve also had light primer strike issues – mine wouldn’t get through a whole cylinder of Winchester White Box 38 Spl at first. I added an extended firing pin, but I also noticed a lot of endshake. I shimmed out 0.012″ of endshake (about as much as the extended firing pin adds), and it’s 100% now.

      Did both of those at the same time, so I’m not sure if it was the firing pin, the shims, or both that fixed the light strikes, but if you’ve still got problems, try taking a look at the endshake.

  19. Love the nod to the Ruger Blackhawk. Love mine, but never used it for pig hunting… yet 🙂

  20. There’s something inherently “off” about tricking out revolvers with tactical doodads. I’d imagine it’s the same feeling I’d get if I saw someone put a spoiler, lift kit, and low-pro rims on a vintage T-Bird.

    It is very cool, but I just picked up a 686+ Deluxe 6-inch for $680 out the door, so I’m all set.

  21. Sounds like an awesome method to pitch weapons to individuals who need to be both tactical and still dinosaurs.

  22. This gun is for special forces.

    A Semi auto can have issues with the slide under various field conditions

    This ensure you can get a round off.

    French Special Units carry a similar pistol.

  23. scandium is an alloy that adds strength similar to titanium but without the corrosion resistance this gun is aluminum like steel is chrome molly . I have one of these pistols and have several thousand rounds through it. Ive had no issues with it and I find it quite accurate with normal factory loads and hand loads.my only dislike is the grip finger grooves are a little narrow for my fingers. The gun will scratch as it is a coating. I consider this a daily shooter not a collector piece you know the one you shoot a lot not the one you polish oil and look at , I have those as well so I’m as guilty as the next guy but for me that’s not what this gun is about. last, a wheel gun under your pillow with 8 .357s point pull the trigger no safety no slide rack no way to accidentally drop the magazine or block the slide and stop it aint a bad way to go . I believe any gun under your pillow is better than no gun under your pillow and so to each his own.

  24. My TRR8 is my favorite woods/saddle gun. Its more accurate than i am and if 8 rounds of 357 mag cant kill it then i need the Army. That being said……it really needs a 4″ barrel for the lower rails to be useful.

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