A limited edition, the Lipsey’s Special Ruger Single Seven aims to be among the most versatile .327 Federal Magnums you can slip into a holster.
How Does Lipsey's Special Ruger Single Seven Measure Up:
- 1/10 inch in diameter XS Big front sight
- 4 5/8-inch barrel
- Black Micarta grips
- Aluminum grip frame
It was July 2, 2014. I was staying at a bed and breakfast in Dundee, South Africa, and it was the first Internet service I’d had in weeks. While checking e-mails, I saw an announcement that Ruger had partnered with Lipsey’s to offer the Single Seven, a stainless, seven-shot version of the Single Six chambered for the .327 Federal Magnum.
I immediately sent off an e-mail to my contact at Ruger asking for one. I never expected that just a few years later, I’d be working with Lipsey’s to create my ideal version of that handgun.
I’ve always had an affinity for the Rugers chambered for .32-caliber cartridges. I remember the first one I ever saw but not the exact date I saw it. In 1986, just home from basic training, I was prowling around a local sporting goods store and spied a Single Six with a 4 5/8-inch barrel. Because I’d just turned 21, it was the first handgun my parents did not have to buy for me.
I was enamored with how I could fire .32 ACP, .32 Short, .32 Long and .32 H&R Magnum ammunition out of one revolver—without changing cylinders. Those familiar with the Ruger Single Six know that the interchangeable cylinders for .22 LR and .22 Magnum were features that made it famous. But with this revolver, you had the option of extra or reduced power and needed only one cylinder.
Falling in Love Again
I’ve had a .32 H&R Magnum Ruger close at hand ever since. However, in 2007, I fell just a little bit out of love with that cartridge.
Late that year, Federal announced the .327 Federal Magnum. It is essentially a lengthened version of the .32 H&R Magnum case but loaded to 45,000 psi, as opposed to 21,000 psi. Yeah, that’s magnum performance for sure: Out of a short-barreled Ruger SP 101, the .327 Federal Magnum can push a 115-grain bullet to more than 1,300 fps. The SP 101 replaced my beloved Single Six—well, at least until Ruger brought out the GP 100 and Blackhawk in .327 Federal Magnum.
I spent a lot of time with all three of those handguns. I often carried the SP 101 for protection, the GP 100 was in my nightstand, and I hunted with the Blackhawk.
Ruger’s Single Seven changed all that. It weighed about the same as the SP 101 and was only slightly larger, but it was much easier to tote around than the GP 100 or the Blackhawk. I fitted a small-dot version of XS Sights’ Big Dot sights to the front and installed a Bowen Classic Arms Rough Country V-Notch rear sight on the rear. I’ve carried that little Ruger for protection and used it to kill snakes, squirrel and several deer. It was one of my favorite guns.
But something else happened. I was wandering through the isles at the 2018 SHOT Show in Las Vegas when a man stepped out of a booth, grabbed my arm and introduced himself as Jason Cloessner. Jason works at Lipsey’s, and Lipsey’s continually works with Ruger to offer limited-edition firearms; firearms such as the Single Seven I’d been carrying for four years.
We visited for a bit, and Jason, knowing my affinity for the Single Seven, suggested we collaborate on a special-edition version. Excited, I suggested the small version of the XS Big Dot front sight and a 4 5/8-inch barrel. Jason liked the idea of the lightweight frame and black Micarta grips. We were in agreement on all the details, so I waited impatiently for the next step.
A couple of months later, an engineer from Ruger called, asking if I could help him sort out the proper front sight height. I shared my experiences with the XS Sight on the Single Seven I had, and we discussed loads, points of impact and revolvers in general. After we hung up, I wondered if Ruger would be able to, or still had an interest in, sorting this revolver out. I didn’t have to wait long: In October 2018, I got mine.
As soon as I opened the box, I knew this revolver was destined to be one of my all-time favorite handguns.
Limited-Edition Dream Revolver
The revolver is listed on the Lipsey’s website as the Single Seven 327 FED 4-5/8” BL 8165 XS SGTS/BLK Micarta Grips version. The model number, in case you want to order, is #8165, and the suggested retail price is (as of this printing) $629.
This revolver is fitted with the aluminum grip frame, which cuts about 5 ounces off the weight. It is all metal with a satin-blue finish, and it contrasts very nicely with the rugged—and bulletproof—black Micarta grips.
The front sight is made by XS Sights and features a white bead that measures 1/10 inch in diameter. But what most folks will notice is that the front sight is much higher than the normal Single Six sight. This is because of the way the XS sights are to be used: For close range—zero to about 15 yards—you use the center of the dot as your point of aim. Essentially, you just cover the target with the front sight. At extended range, you aim with the top of the dot. This is all made very easy by placing the dot in the V-notch rear sight, right on top of the center white line in the V.
As you might guess, I’ve spent a lot of time shooting this revolver, and I’ve gotten pretty good with it. I figured that it would be cool to establish the ballistic performance for just about every load that could be fired from this versatile handgun.
So, after amassing 22 different loads for five different cartridges—.32 ACP, .32 S&W, .32 S&W Long, .32 H&R Magnum and .327 Federal—I got on the bench with some sandbags and started shooting.
I fired a single five-shot group with each load at 15 yards and noted the group size, point of impact and velocity of each one (see the chart directly above). You probably won’t find a more comprehensive collection of data on the ammunition you can fire out of a Ruger Single Seven. This little gun can generate a lot of power, but by virtue of all the cartridges it can digest, it has a very wide window of performance.
Handloading for the Single Seven can be fun. However, with so many loads to choose from, why bother (other than saving a little bit of cash)? I worked up a single handload for general purpose use using a 90-grain Sierra JHC bullet, but I did so with the .32 H&R Magnum cases. The load is a little hot for the .32 H&R Magnum cartridge and should only be fired in .327 Federal Magnum revolvers, but I’ve used it a good bit. It’ll do better than 1,100 fps from just about any .327 and will work on paper and steel; and I’ve used it on small game such as groundhogs with great success.
Snake Shot Handloads
The only real handloading I do for my Single Seven is to create snake shot. If there is a weakness in the versatility of any of the .32-caliber cartridges, it is the lack of a shotshell load. Because the Single Seven is my primary trail gun, I had to do something about that, so I just created my own.
I start with .327 Federal Magnum brass. After sizing and priming, I drop in 5.0 grains of Ramshot True Blue (6.0 grains is a safe load too, but it does not provide much velocity increase). I then sharpen the mouth of a .32 Long case by chamfering and then use it to cut out discs of thin cardboard (as is used for heavy-duty business cards). A cardboard disc is then dropped into the case and pushed down on top of the powder with the eraser end of a pencil. Next, 60 grains of #12 shot is inserted into the case; and, on top of that, I seat a 60-grain Hornady XTP bullet. Finally, a little bit of colored fingernail polish on the bullets helps me keep these loads separated.
What I end up with is a devilishly effective duplex snake load that’ll deliver about a 7-inch pattern at 6 feet—with a single .32-caliber hole dead center. It works like a charm on snakes. When I’m out and about with the Single Seven during snake season, the first two chambers of the cylinder are filled with this load. And, with that 60-grain bullet up front, I’m good to go for small game or self-defense if necessary.
So, that is my 32-year love story—how I fell for 0.32-caliber revolvers and ultimately ended up helping create one to perfectly suit my needs.
It’s a fine general purpose trail gun. With the wide assortment of ammunition it can digest, anyone in my house (or yours) who is old enough to shoot can handle it.
Best get one soon: This is a limited-edition revolver, and I won’t be letting go of mine. (Hell, I might even be buried with it.)
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The article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.