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  #1  
Old 01-29-2003, 03:51 PM
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.32 H&R is really a magnum


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On another forum, I can't recall which, someone asked how does the .32 Magnum compare to a .41 Magnum. O.K. that was a really silly question, but the thing which got me going was how some of the answers really made fun of the .32, saying it isn't really a magnum cartridge. Well, what is a magnum cartridge?

Let's start with a working definition which seems to fit most so-called magnum cartridges.

"A magnum cartridge is one which will propel standard-for- caliber weight bullets at higher velocities than "standard" cartridges, or heavy-for-caliber bullets at standard for caliber velocities". This seems to be the basis of one of the first "Magnum" cartridges, the .300 H&H Magnum. It also pretty well defines magnum handgun cartridges with the exception that heavy-for-caliber bullets are usually driven at higher than standard velocities also.

Using our common handgun calibers, let's look at what the standard and magnum relationships are for major manufacturer factory ammunition.

.38 Spl, 158 gr. @ 850 f.p.s.
.357 Mag, 158 gr @ 1450 f.p.s.

.44 Spl, 246 gr. @ 750 f.p.s.
.44 Mag, 240 gr. @ 1450 f.p.s.

.45 Colt, 255 gr. @ 850 f.p.s.
.454 Casull, 255 gr. @ ca. 1550 f.p.s.

Since Veral Smith of LBT fame has stated in his catalog that the .32 Magnum in a Ruger Single Six (barrel length not stated) is capable of 1600 f.p.s. with 100 gr. bullets and 1450 with 115 gr., then why does everyone seem to feel that this cartridge falls in the "mouse gun" category?

In my personal experience with a 4" Ruger SP-101 I have been able to get 1400 f.p.s. with a 115 gr. cast bullet without signs of excessive pressure. This translates to 500 Foot Pounds energy at the muzzle, 1450 equals 537 f.p.e. Just for the sake of arguement, that makes this a legal deer cartridge in Utah!

Most seem to judge the .32 Mag. by available factory loads. Using this logic, then the .45 Colt isn't even the equal of the handloaded .32 Magnum since factory loads only produce 350-400 f.p.e. at best.

I'm not trying to make a case for the .32 Magnum being a big game hunting cartridge, but let's give it the respect it deserves.

Many would say it is a practical defense cartridge since factory loads are equivalent, based on energy, to .38 Spl. Since the average deer is aproximately the same weight and size as the average man, why would I want to try to defend my life with a cartridge which isn't even considered adequate for an animal which isn't trying to kill me?

IMHO
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  #2  
Old 01-29-2003, 09:51 PM
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You're preaching to the choir as far as I'm concerned on this one. The .32 provides similar energy to the 38 Special with factory available loads, making it quite powerful for a .32. I would advise you to be careful of relying wholly on standard pressure signs with this cartridge. The late, great Skeeter Skelton was developing his loads in this manner. A gunwriter, whose name escapes me, pressure tested some of the old loads from when the cartridge was new, that where advocated by Skeeter: They where in the 50K PSI range. There is a guy from a company named Alpha Precision that made up a 5 shot stainless single six for himself that you might be impressed by, not a inexpensive peice. He claims 115's at 1350 in his five shot. www.alphaprecisioninc.com if you're interested in taking a peek. Based on my loading of this cartridge for the 3 Rugers I have, your loads seem hot. Just for the sake of curiosity, what load are you using, to get that velocity out of your SP101? Brass, bullet, power, primer, if you don't mind sharing? I'm curious to see where it is in relation to what I'm doing now. The .32's I have are Single Six's and a Blackhawk convertible that mainly see's 32-20's that surpass light bullet .357's by some margin.
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  #3  
Old 01-30-2003, 05:52 AM
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My wife and I are big fans of the .32 Magnum. Most of the cartridges critics have never used it, or had very limited exposure to it.
You are correct about Skeeter Skeltons loads. He came back the next month and wrote a disclaimer on them.
We have several S&W and Ruger .32 Magnums. We have found our Ruger's stick cases a little quicker than the S&W's because the chamber walls are not as smooth.
As you stretch the cartridge brass life is shortened. If you accept that in the beggining and load appropriate to the gun you can achieve very high performance. 5.0 grains of Unique behind the Lyman 311008 comes to mind. This load will stick cases in a J frame S&W, it functions fine in a K-frame or SSX Bisley. In either gun brass life is short. The primer pockets will loosen in five shots. Reducing the load to 4.5 grains sacrifices very little velocity and extends brass life significantly. In the early days when we only had Federal brass loading for the .32 Mag. was a big problem. Starline came to our rescue with good quality brass at reasonable prices. I believe that Starline saved the .32 Magnum.
I like big bore handguns. I also like the .32 Magnum, in the Ruger Bisley it is capable of surprising accuracy, and it is easy to shoot well. The 4" S&W Kit Gun is probably the best handgun ever chambered for this round, but very few were made. The .32 mag is "a better mousetrap", our shooter's ego's have kept it from being as sucessful as it deserves.
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  #4  
Old 01-30-2003, 06:09 AM
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William,
I'm envious of the Bisley. I had one on order for a year when Ruger stopped making them and never got one, or the single six I had on order for that matter. What is the weight of the lyman bullet you mention? I have a Saeco 4 cavity in a 115 gr FN that I use in my 32-20 to good effect. I've yet to try in the smaller .32. I don't see the mould on the Saeco chart any longer, so I'm happy to have it.
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  #5  
Old 01-30-2003, 06:19 AM
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Lymans 311008 is listed at 115 grains. It is plain base and still available. This is a very good bullet in the .32-20 and the .32 Magnum.
I have NEI's #81 SWC as a plain base bullet, it weighs 100 grains. A friend has the Saeco and RCBS equivilents, they all shoot well in the .32 Magnum.
I think that Ruger is missing a good bet with the .32 Magnum Single Six. I think there are enough "middle aged" shooters like me that need the clearly defined sights, I have trouble with the fixed sights on the current .32 Mag. SSX.
I want a Dan Wesson .32 Magnum but other guns keep leaping in the way! One thing about handguns in .32 Magnum, when you see them you had better buy them. They are built in short production Runs!
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  #6  
Old 01-30-2003, 09:47 AM
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Lightbulb

So the 32-20 is the Non-mag 32. I was going to coment on this, that the 32 Mag wouldn't be considered a Mag Cart considering it didn't have a little Bro Cart. I personally have never shot one that I can remmber. As far as the Mag Monicor it's usually the Cart Co. that starts this craze form inputs by Reloaders always stretching the limits with standard rounds 38Spl, 44 Spl. 45 LC etc and same goes for the rifle side of the house. So the Cart Co. say hey we stretch the case some, call it mag and sell more ammo and guns.

Some one did and article on calibers that are out dated/obsolete- In it the 32 H&R was one as well as my favorite .45 LC. Can you believe that? Anyway obviously it still useful to you folks and I'm sure it's a fine caliber for it's intended purpose I just never had a need for one.
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  #7  
Old 01-30-2003, 11:37 AM
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Just thought I would see what kind of reaction I could get, and it worked.

I'll will try to answer all of the questions above, but forgive me if I overlook a point.

So far as the .32 Mag. not having a little brother, what do you think the .32 S&W Long is? Federal or H&R merely did exactly the same thing as was done to the .38 Spl, .44 Spl, and .45 Long Colt to create the .357, .44 M, and .454. So far as the .32-20 is concerned, that is a completely different matter. Since I have at least 7 different .32-20 guns, Gunnut is invited to stop and go shooting next time he is in the Salt Lake City area.

I am aware of the situation with some of Skeeter's loads and the subsequent retraction. Possible liability on the part of the publisher was no doubt a large part of that situation.

My history goes back to the early 1960's with .32 cal. handguns. My first, and I still have it, was a S&W Model 1902 .32-20 Hand Ejector which was one of the last made before the 1905 was introduced. Paid $15 for it. This one got me wanting one with adjustable sights, so when I found a S&W K-32 Masterpiece, NIB, in a drugstore in Missoula MT in 1966 I bought it intending to rechamber it to .32-20. Glad I never did with what they are worth these days. I've never found a .32-20 with target sights that I was willing to buy, but that .32-20 started something and over the years I have had 30 or so various .32 cal. handguns of all flavors.

Regarding the .32 Mag. revolvers which have been available over the years, I missed most and really regret it. I don't think I need to elaborate on why I never bought one of the H&R or Charter Arms guns. Passed originally on the Ruger SSX because the cylinder was too short to make a .32-20! Didn't get a S&W 631 or re-intro Model 16 because they had ugly grips, M-16 was too heavy with the full lug, and didn't know they were to be such a limited production item! When I finally got the real urge for any of these they were all out of production and the SP-101 was the only gun (Except the DW) which had a barrel over 2". I am still hoping to find a Ruger SSX or a S&W 16, but did find a S&W 631.

So far as loads are concerned, I have no idea what Veral was using or had knowledge of. I have to make a slight correction now as I have reviewed my notes, Yesterday I was writing from memory, and some of you guys my age know how dangerous that is!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What I should have said was I have been able to get NEAR 1400 fps, and with a 100 gr jacketed bullet, not a 115 cast. We are still talking over 400 fpe out of this 4" gun. If I were to set the barrel back and tighten the gap 1400 would be an easy reality. Most of what I have done with this cartridge is to see what can be done with it, not how it should be loaded for full time use. The little Ruger shoots the 311316GC like a rifle.

I havn't done any formal accuracy testing on most of these, but I do shoot clay birds at 100 yds. quite a lot and any of these loads have been very good for that.

I have several cautions. First, these loads are for the Ruger SP-101, S&W Model 16, Dan Weson, and any Ruger single action. (Really wish I could find a Buckeye .32-20/.32 Mag.) These are also to be loaded in Star Line brass only. Nothing catastrophic will happen with Federal, but it is soft and can loosen primer pockets in one load. I will elaborate if anyone wants tro ask. All primers are Win. WSP. All bullets seated to the cannelure and crimped with a heavy roll crimp. Lyman bullets are seated to the top of the top band.

100 gr. Hdy. XTP, 5.6 Universal Clays, 1378 fps
100 gr. Hdy. XTP, 13.0 H-110, 1368 fps
100 gr. Speer JHP, 7.6 Blue Dot, 1268 fps.
115 gr. Lyman 3118, 5.4 U-Clays, 1307 fps.
115 gr. Lyman 311316GC, 5.4 U-Clays, 1276 fps.

My best luck has been with Universal Clays, it also gives very good results for extreme spread and standard deviation. I have 5 pages of various load data, but these were the best for velocity. A cast GC bullet would probably give at least another 50-100 fps with these same loads, but I don't have a mould. I have found an interesting phenomenon with this cartridge, and that is that you can actually load it to the point where velocity drops off with increases in charge. I have reached this point with both H-110 and Blue Dot as well as Lil' Gun. For some reason I can't get any sort of velocity with 2400.

My experience has been that with the S&W 631 I start getting sticking at relatively low charges, and this has been the basis for determining maximum with that gun. This is in spite of polishing and burring the charge holes. It was a typical Smith in that there was a distinct burr in all of the charge holes. This little gun would probably take more, but I an unwilling to push it too hard. In addition, I use only Federal brass in the Smith and Star Line in the Ruger to avoid getting a too hot load in the Smith by accident. William Iorg mentioned 5.0 Unique/3118. My Smith sticks at 4.5 even though 5.0 should be reasonable. The Ruger takes this without a hitch. I have shot the .32 S&W Long with 4.0 Uniq/Rem 100 JFP (.32-20 bullet) extensively in my S&W K-32 and .32 Hand Ejector with no problems so I am curious why the 631 objects. I have used Unique for over 40 years, but have tried to get away from it since it is so dirty and U-Clays and 4756 will do about the same thing.

If Ruger would build a run of SSX Bisleys with 5 1/2 or 6" barrel I would be first to buy one, same for S&W and the Model 16 or even a 616. I am seriously considering a DW, but have to decide on .32 Mag. or .32-20. What a dilemma!

Please note, I am not recommending any of these loads to anyone, merely citing my experience! You are on your own and all customary warnings about working up to maximum apply.

If anyone wants more data, E-mail me your address and I will photo copy and mail my sheets and notes.
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Old 01-30-2003, 06:39 PM
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Alk,
I've got a stainless Dan from last time they went bankrupt,not the first time but the second. All I have to say about that 32-20 revolver is that you should have one. My first centerfire revolver was a Dan Wesson in .357. I would not hesitate to purchase a Dan Wesson revolver in any caliber. From what I gather, the stainless .32-20's can't be had for the $300 I paid for mine. The Buckeye convertible is a nice gun, I've got a matching 38-40/10mm and love them both, but it's a lot of gun to carry around to shoot the 32 H&R (real magnum or not). You should see what a 38-40 in a strong revolver will do! Thanks for the load data. I'll have to work up some 115 gr loads for the 32 H&R, I'd always relegated those bullets for the 32-20. I guess it's time to go fire up the Saeco sizer and lube some bullets! I wonder what kind of velocity I can get out of my long barrelled SSX, I think it's about 8". I like my 4 5/8" better, but the long one is easier to hit at long range with. I bought 3 used 32 moulds off of ebay this year and am waiting for some warmer weather to cast a variety of different bullets to see what they'll do.
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  #9  
Old 01-31-2003, 12:51 PM
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I assume you are aware of this, but just in case...


http://www.ruger.com/rvpages/newsstext.html
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  #10  
Old 01-31-2003, 04:40 PM
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Wish you hadn't posted that, now I gotta get one!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 01-31-2003, 05:05 PM
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Argghhh, why not a single six with adjustable sights?
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Old 01-31-2003, 05:24 PM
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That last is exactly what I have been asking since 1997 when Ruger discontinued it.
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Old 01-31-2003, 10:01 PM
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I can't abide a small game gun with fixed sights. Alk, are you sure it was '97? It seems to me that it was more like the early 90's when they became unavailable. If you want adjustable sight, you've got to find a used one or buy the Dan.
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Old 02-01-2003, 06:34 AM
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Guys, do a search, if I can find it I'll put a link....DOK did like a 60 response thread on just the same thing!!!

Found it!
http://shootersforum.com/showthread....&threadid=1385

It's a quite lengthy thread but ALOT of info!!!!
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Last edited by m141a; 02-01-2003 at 06:48 AM.
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Old 02-01-2003, 01:46 PM
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kciH,

It seems to me that the SSX .32 Mag. guns were discontinued earlier too, but the '97 date if from the Sturm-Ruger company website so I have to believe them. (Well sorta')

I ordered a .32-20 DW 6" blue this morning since that looks like the only adjustable sight gun I'll be able to find in that caliber. Like that and the .32 Mag, can't really afford even one.

I did pick up a 6 1/2" blue SSX convertable with an eye to converting it to .32 Mag. If I chicken out I've still have a nice .22/.22M. Don't tell those guys on the Ruger Forum, it is a 95%+ condition Bi-centennial marked gun.

Last edited by Alk8944; 02-01-2003 at 01:57 PM.
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Old 02-01-2003, 11:20 PM
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Congratulations on the purchase, I'm sure you'll be happy with the revolver. I've been think of ordering a 6 inch barrel for mine. It's got a full underlug 8" barrel because I bought it when I used to slam steel for fun. The only grip I've had about my Dan Wessons where the non S&W trigger pull. I cured mine with some springs from Wolfe, or you can pay Dan Wesson to do it for you before it leaves the factory.
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Old 02-02-2003, 06:38 AM
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I found a write-up on the new rugers for those interested:

http://www.gunsandammomag.com/dynami...tArticleID=910
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Old 05-06-2003, 02:38 PM
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There is a Dan Wesson stainless 32-20 with a 3 barrel set on GunsAmerica right now for a very reasonable price if any of you are interested. I've already got one, but I'm tempted to get it just for the extra barrels. It is item GA# 976341140. This is not SPAM, I'm not selling it and don't know who is. Just letting you have a shot at an excellent pistol for a bargain price.
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Old 05-07-2003, 07:42 AM
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I too have been interested in the 32 Mag for awhile now and have just had a Stevens 44 1/2 barreled up in it and will start working on loads soon! I currently have a single six with a 9 1/2" barrel chambered in it and shoot a hardcast 120gr TCW over 9gr's of WW296 for alittle over 1200fps. I was using 10gr's of 296 with this bullet but after losing afew cases that split length wise I decided to drop the charge 1grain and the brass seems to hold up very well now.


Best regards,
John Anderson
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Old 05-07-2003, 08:39 AM
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John,
I haave a few handguns in .32 Mag, and a 24" TC barrel. The long TC barrel shoots heavy cast bullets well and does not have a "crack" at the muzzle when firing.

I had the same problem of longitudinal split cases with Federal brass early on. Later manufacture Federal brass is better. Starline - "bless their little hearts" came out with good brass at reasonable prices and saved the cartridge! If it had not been for Starline I dont think the cartridge would have lasted. Federal wanted $9.00 a box for empty unprimed brass back in the early days, and we were glad to get it at the time! Drury's Guns Shop in San Antonio was a big booster for the cartridge from the beginning and stocked the brass for the silhouette shooters. A nice little shop.
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