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  #1  
Old 03-14-2011, 08:45 PM
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Mystery gun


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I have a 32 winchester special that was handed down to me. Before my grandfather died he told me it was his grandfathers' and he said it was a Winchester in a 38-55, but later converted into a 32 special. This gun is in great shape yet, used it a few years ago hunting. I don't see any factory marking anywhere on the gun. It has a LONG octagon barrel. I was curious if there was a way to figure out what model it maybe for sure?

Last edited by paydro13; 03-14-2011 at 08:50 PM.
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  #2  
Old 03-15-2011, 03:25 AM
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The caliber would be stamped into the barrel, just forward of the breech end. The model designation will be on the upper tang. (the metal sandwiched between the buttstock grip)
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  #3  
Old 03-15-2011, 04:05 AM
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Post a picture of it and do a careful inspection...I bet you'll be able to figure out what it is. Most likely a Model '94.
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  #4  
Old 03-15-2011, 05:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paydro13 View Post
I have a 32 winchester special that was handed down to me. Before my grandfather died he told me it was his grandfathers' and he said it was a Winchester in a 38-55, but later converted into a 32 special. This gun is in great shape yet, used it a few years ago hunting. I don't see any factory marking anywhere on the gun. It has a LONG octagon barrel. I was curious if there was a way to figure out what model it maybe for sure?
I agree that it is more than likely a M1894. It may well have been originally chambered in 38-55 and later re-sleeved to .32 WinSpcl, after the bore became ate up. Perhaps the "smith" who did that also ground off the original chambering markings as well(?)
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  #5  
Old 03-15-2011, 07:00 AM
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Perhaps the "smith" who did that also ground off the original chambering markings as well

I think my great grandpa maybe the culprit in grinding the markings. He added 4" on the stock (did a good job too) and hand carved a wolf, a rabbit, and a beaver on the stock. He added a flip up peep and that peep is almost at the end of the stock. Long sight radius.. The only markings on the gun are on the barrel saying the caliber. I believe it says 32WS. Like I said I used it one year and it sure is accurate. I am curious if it is possible to chamber it for a 44mag? The gun sits around (I just keep cleaning it) and don't use it, but I reload for my sbh in a 44 mag. I'd like to buy a lever gun in a 44 mag, but if it's possible to rebarrel it I'd like to use that gun.
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  #6  
Old 03-15-2011, 07:38 AM
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The difference in cartridge OAL between the 32SP and 44RM would make the project a lot more complicated than just putting a new barrel on. Have you tried any of the LeverEvolution loads in the 32? Might make a good 200 yard deer gun out of it.
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  #7  
Old 03-15-2011, 07:58 AM
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These days I try to keep my ammo budget down by reloading. Thats why that gun has sat. The one year I used that rifle I was on a deer drive (hate deer drives) and the standers were unloading on a bunch of running deer. They had all missed. I was 250yds out and took a pot shot aiming in front and well high of the deer. It spun around and went down. Exit hole opposite side of me just behind the front shoulder, the standers were shooting from the other side of the deer. It's a good gun, if it's very expensive to do a rechambering a may just let it sit and clean twice a year.
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  #8  
Old 03-15-2011, 09:24 AM
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It's quite possible that the barrel was just shot out, or pitted from black powder or corrosive primer fouling, back in the day. Winchester could have put a new barrel on or anyone else could have too. If you really had the desire to figure out the history, I believe there are sources that can look up what's left of the original factory records. Haven't done it myself so that that for what it's worth.

The .32 Winchester Special should be a straighforward reloading proposition. There is data in several manuals. Brass is easily formed from standard .30-30 if you can't find .32 cases.

You are a set of dies and a box of bullets away from getting the old gal shooting again. That's what I'd do. Have fun.
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  #9  
Old 03-15-2011, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
It's quite possible that the barrel was just shot out, or pitted from black powder or corrosive primer fouling, back in the day. Winchester could have put a new barrel on or anyone else could have too. If you really had the desire to figure out the history, I believe there are sources that can look up what's left of the original factory records. Haven't done it myself so that that for what it's worth.

The .32 Winchester Special should be a straighforward reloading proposition. There is data in several manuals. Brass is easily formed from standard .30-30 if you can't find .32 cases.

You are a set of dies and a box of bullets away from getting the old gal shooting again. That's what I'd do. Have fun.

Not only that, you can buy the LVR powder and FTX bullets for the 32 Special, working up your own LeverEvolution loads for half the cost. I love seeing old guns that still shoot!

Last edited by broom_jm; 03-15-2011 at 12:44 PM.
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  #10  
Old 03-28-2011, 07:28 AM
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You rifle will be a Winchester Model 94, The only model lever action Winchester chambered in those calibers. The model is stamped on the upper tang under the tang sight. An aftermarket barrel would not have markings other than caliber.
If you want a 44 mag rifle, buy one. Trying to convert that one to 44 mag is not practical, too many modifications would be required and thus costly. Buying another gun in 44 would be cheaper by far.
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  #11  
Old 04-01-2011, 10:35 AM
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I would NOT create .32 Winchester Special ammo from .30-30 brass. No need to, and it's something of a dangerous practice.
Oh, the brass is fine. And properly crafted cartridges will shoot fine in the .32 WS, but it's that darned .30-30 headstamp on the case.
Well-worn or sloppily chambered .30-30s may accept a .32 WS cartridge bearing a .30-30 headstamp, if the shooter doesn't care or notice the extra effort required to close the lever.
Firing a .32-caliber bullet down a .30-caliber is not conducive to the longevity of the shooter or rifle. It doesn't even have to be fired to cause problems.
Witness the August 1942 (p. 24) issue of the American Rifleman, in an article by C. H. Bronson:
A bandito was firing at a Border Patrol agent, who was returning fire. The bandito suddenly struggled with his Winchester, and the Border Patrolman dropped him with a well-placed shot.
It was later determined that the bandito had loaded a .32 WS cartridge in his .30-30 rifle, causing it to jam when the cartridge was shoved in the chamber.
Death loves little details.
For many years, various reloading manuals and articles have warned against using .30-30 brass to make .32 WS ammo because of misidentification.
Winchester still makes .32 WS brass. If you can't find it at your local gun store, it's easily ordered online.
I've reloaded the .32 WS since 1971, for an early 1940s Winchester carbine. It's a very good cartridge, certainliy not worthy of all the myths it generates about inaccuracy.
One thing I've learned, and some reloading manuals back me up on this: new, factory cases are often found that are longer than the specified case length of 2.030 inch. It is best to full-length resize all new brass, then trim to this length if needed. Failure to do this may result in cases that are too long, get their brass crimped into the bullet when seated in the shorter chamber, and a healthy rise in pressure.
The Speer or Hornady 170 gr. jacketed softpoint bullet of .321 inch is made for the .32 WS. A can of IMR3031 powder is almost traditional with the .32, though some newer powders nip at its heels. Still, hard to go wrong with a sane dose of IMR3031.
Use the same shellholder as the .30-30.
Interestingly, the 8mm Nambu cartridge for the Japanese pistol uses 85 gr. bullets of .320 to .321 diameter (sources vary). You can find full metal jacket or lead cast bullets for this cartridge online. I've long toyed with the idea of creating a light, plinking or small game load with such bullets in my .32 WS, but never seem to get to it.
Might be something you could explore with a little judicious reloading. I should think that a light charge of Unique powder would work okay. I don't believe I'd use any powder as fast as Bullseye or W231 in such a comparatively large case.
You'll have to figure that out for yourself.
An 85-grain lead or jacketed bullet at an estimated 1,200 fps would make a dandy rabbit or grouse load. I wouldn't go any slower than that with a jacketed bullet, for fear of getting a bullet stuck in the bore.
However, you could get slower velocities, if you wished, with a cast lead bullet. The lead has much less friction than the copper jacket.
I don't believe such light loads would generate enough recoil to ignite the primer of the cartridge ahead of it, while in the tubular magazine, but why take a chance? When hunting small game, put one cartridge in the magazine and one in the chamber. Knowing you have only two shots will also force you to take more careful aim.
Enjoy that .32 Winchester Special. It's a fine, old cartridge with a long history.
It will set you apart from the others who absolutely MUST have the latest .349 Super Ultra Ridiculously Short Magnum ZX Turbo 9000 cartridge to take a 150-pound deer at 75 yards.
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  #12  
Old 04-01-2011, 12:25 PM
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Not sure if the OP is still around or watching this thread, but another very good option for a shot-out 30/30 or 32 Special barrel is to have it reamed out to 35 caliber by this gentleman:

http://35caliber.com/index.html

You might confuse a 30/30 shell for a 32, but stick a 35 caliber bullet in that case and I bet it grabs your attention! The 35-30/30 is one of the oldest wildcats in existence and will give you 35 Remington performance from a beat up old gun.
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  #13  
Old 05-11-2011, 07:53 PM
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I like GATOs comment....I am amused that so many people go for the latest ultra fat extremely expensive synthetic gumba gun and believe that they must have that to kill animals these days. Beware of the ole guy with something like that .32 especially if he has a Williams 5D or Lyman peep sight on it.
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