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"Bad Joke Friday" Dan (moderator emeritus)
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Discussion Starter #1
I shot a blued S&W 8 3/8" barrel 32 H&R magnum to day. I didn't even know they had made one. The cartridges were approximately 85/95gr. bullets with H110 and were chronographed at 1200 fps. A small piffff and little more than 22 rimfire recoil. Pretty neat shooter.

I checked S&W web site and the only 32 H&R listed is for two short barreled, light weight concealment type revolvers.

Ruger has released a 32-20, but it only has fixed sights. I suppose another consideration would be Ruger's 30 carbine.

We seem to dwell on the big bores to the point that I'm really not very familiar with what else is out there, standard or custom.

Dan
 

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DOK,
You are right on! Good things do come in small packages.
The .32 H&R is one of my favorite calibers. I have a Ruger Single Six chambered for it.Very easy to load for.Very accurate. AA#7 works good for me with jacketed bullets.W 231 for cast loads. Ruger still offers 1 revolver in this caliber, the Vaquero. At one time they chambered the Bisley for it as well. I'm sorry that i never bought a Bisley in that caliber.If you want to have a lot of fun, pick "one up" if you happen across one in a shop, show etc.You could do much worse.
Scott
 

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DOK,
I'm not sure about the 32 H&R, but I agree that the small and quite useful chamberings seem to get lost in mix.  I love to shoot the 38 special loads and enjoy that much more than touching off the 500 Linebaugh.  Also, of all the rifles I have, the one that gets shot the most and is most used hunting is the 7x57 Ruger No. 1.  I use that little Ruger for deer, sheep, goats and caribou and it does an outstanding job.  Just because it doesn't make you cross your eyes doesn't mean it's not effective.  I've contemplated building a 12 or 14 caliber rifle as I think it would be a great project and much more fun to shoot that the bigger bores.
 

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"Bad Joke Friday" Dan (moderator emeritus)
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Discussion Starter #4
Scott,

You said, "I have a Ruger Single Six chambered for it." I'm assuming it's a custom? The new Hamilton Bowen book highly recommends using the Single Six for either 32-20 or 32 H&R.

If memeory serves me correctly (too old to get up and check), Bowen indicated the 32-20 was loaded to 1600 fps or better. The gentleman whose 32 H&R I shot, said the reference book's 32 H&R max. loads were significantly understated because of the older guns still around.  His reference for the 32 H&R was about 1000 max, but the loads I shot today were bumped up to 1200, which he considered max.?

I've just edited this comment because I no sooner hit the "submit" button when it dawned on me that I'm right back in that old rut of maximum loads. Darn hard habit to break.

Alyeska,

Each summer, when I need a break from the .44/.45/.454 stuff, I get the 14" .223 Contender out. Very little recoil, 50gr. at 2970 fps and maximum of 1 MOA. Last summer I could frequently get 1/2 MOA for three shot groups. I take all the benchrest brass preparations (trimming necks, checking concentricity, etc), so I end up taking what seems like an hour per cartridge, but it seems to pay off when I want accuracy. The best I ever did was three consecutive three shot groups at less than one inch at 200yds. I know it was three groups, because I neatly folded up the target, packed up my stuff and went home at that point. About that time, I ask myself, "why do I shoot the 25yd. 2.5" performance Ruger?" The way I'm physically built, I'm never going to sneak up within 25yds. of anything that's not dead aready.

Dan



<!--EDIT|DOK|May 10 2002,21:06-->
 

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3 different three shot groups less than an inch at 200 yards.  WOW!!!  Amazing.  I couldn't even dream of doing that.  I doubt very seriously I would own something bigger than a 357 if I didn't live in Alaska and enjoy going into the bear's den all summer long.  I have a strong dislike of taking the 500 to the range.  I know it is going to be painful.  I usually start my day with the 357 and shoot till I'm satisfied with my work with it.  Then step up to the 45 LC loaded fairly warm.  I shoot it till I'm satisified with my work.  Then I put on my work gloves that have extra strips of leather in the palm and along the index finger and thumb.  And then I start touching off that 500.  I load the cyclinder at random, only three cartridges in the 5 shot.  And I work at my accuracy and recovery.  It is the only time that shooting is more work than WORK (I borrowed that phrase from IDShooter).  I work with the 500 a lot, because of its purpose.  The light loads in the 357 is a real joy to shoot in the Python.  It is scary accurate.  The 500 is very accurate, and I'm afraid it is more accurate than I can shoot it.  I practice different shooting positions both double handed and single.  Single handed that rascal nearly picks me up off the ground with full horse loads.  I'm glad I have it given the circumstances, but it is not pleasureable to shoot.  Don't let anyone lie to you.  I do have to admit though, I shot both the 500 and 475 Linebaughs with full horsepower loads before deciding which one to buy.  The 475 was in a Ruger Bisley and was one of the most unpleasant experiences in my shot out life.  I'm not a big guy and that 475 ate me up.  I have and continue to shoot and practice and work with the 500 as much as possible.  If there is a handgun that I need to be proficient and satisfied with my results, it's that one.  I stared down a bluff charging brownie at about 30 feet over the sights of that revolver last year and all that work and pain was well worth it when push came to shove.  I was nervous as a cat, but knew where that bullet would strike and what my time and next move was.  I have full confidence, but I work at it and it is work.

I cannot get my mind around why anybody would want to put themselves through the 475's and 500's if they didn't expect to encounter a very very large bear.  Anything else the 44's and 45's, 357's and such are plenty.



<!--EDIT|alyeska338|May 10 2002,20:50-->
 

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"Bad Joke Friday" Dan (moderator emeritus)
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Discussion Starter #6
Alyeska,

Appreciating your circumstances aside, practicing with the .500 sounds a lot like the old "hitting yourself over the head with a hammer because it feels so good when you quit" philosophy. The bear confrontation reminds me of my motorcycle trips, they were a failure unless you had one or two near misses that made you shake your head. The key to both situations is the "near miss" criteria.

I noticed that the .454 Casull doesn't fit in your agenda. I can handle that one O.K., but don't particularly enjoy it either. Is the .475/.500 that much better for your purpose than the .454 (sounds a lot like the African DG thread)?  On one hand I appreciate the bullet size/weight advantage, but on the other hand I keep seeing the 260/1800 .454 combination ft/lbs identified as even higher than the .475/500.

By the way, what cartridge component combination do you use in the .500 when loaded for business?

Before I close, let me say I really enjoyed your input on the "work" aspect. So often, the .475/.500 shooters present a different picture that never sounded very realistic to me. Not saying there aren't bigger, tougher shooters than me, but those tools operate at a level than would have to have a negative impact on the human body.

Dan
 

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"Bad Joke Friday" Dan (moderator emeritus)
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Discussion Starter #7
Alyeska,

While searching for more information on the 32 H&R, I found this post that suggests you are making it hard on yourself with the .500 for bears.

"Congratulations on your purchase. If you use it for what it was designed for I think you will be happy with it. I remember reading in rec.guns a guy who claimed he killed a bear with a .32 Magnum. He shot it in the *** and it stumbled around biting at it until it fell over a cliff and died. Too bad it did not take the shooter with it."

So it seems that all you have to do is get the bear near a cliff and then place your 32 H&R pellet in the correct spot. Would I be incorrect to assume that bears have a big ***?  I can just see it now, Alyeska is practicing the old trick of pointing to the bear and saying, "Look out behind you" and then shooting the poor unsuspecting bear in the behind!

Dan



<!--EDIT|DOK|May 11 2002,08:59-->
 

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DOK,
Untill a few? years ago, Ruger chambered the "Super Single Six" in .32H&R as a standard chambering.That model has since been dropped.The Bisley model hung on for a little longer. The Vaquero in .32 H&R is a new offering, having just appeared. Occassionally, a Buckeye Ruger turns up in shops around here, although very infrequently.It is my opinion that Ruger made a mistake by dropping the caliber in the above guns, but sales must not have been there. Maybe someday, if the Vaquero offering "takes hold" it (.32H&R) will be re-introduced.I know that i will pick another one up if it again becomes available in the Bisley.Ruger and Harrington&Richardson were the first to produce guns for it when it was developed in, i beleive, the '80's
Scott
 

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"Bad Joke Friday" Dan (moderator emeritus)
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Discussion Starter #9
Scott,

Appreciate the update and I'll keep my eyes open at the next gun shows. I have several dealers that participate in gun shows that I can also have keep their eyes open.

I really prefer adjustable sights, so the new Vaquero 32-20s don't interest me. Since getting the Hamilton Bowen "Custom Handguns" book, I've been thinking seriously about sending him my Single Six for upgrade to either 32-20 or 30 H&R. Based on what I'm hearing about reloading ease, I think I'll stick with the straight wall case.

Thanks again,

Dan
 

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DOK,
I'll start trying to answer your question by explaining that I have don't have a good answer, at least not vast experience.  I've seen a couple of bears hit with handguns and have not been real impressed.  Now, that does not mean anything and I am no expert by any stretch of the imagination.  I have seen a bear hit with a 454 that was loaded really stout.  I wasn't my gun and it was  a few years ago but remember the guy calling them "proof" loads.  His primers were really starting to flatten out.  I can't remember exactly but think he was using 350 grain hardcast bullets.  He did turn the bear (it had already been hit by a 44 with no visible effect) and after the bear was killed with a 375 H&H, we found that it did break bone and penetrate pretty good.  Not quite the result the user was hoping to see, but then again turning a charging bear and escaping a mauling is a good thing on any given day as long as the bear is dispatched.  The only bear I've seen hit with the 475 was a tad bit smaller and results were impressive.  The bear still had to be finished but the 475 did stop it.  But the bear was smaller to fair about it, still not small, but nearly an 8 footer.  I have not seen a bear hit with the 500 and hope I never do (because if that happens, it will likely be because I had to pull the trigger).  I am comforted in the extra weight of the bullet and penetration tests I've seen so far though.  With the test medium being equal (a waterlogged spruce log), I've seen the 500 penetrate as well as the 454 and 475 and do it with a bigger bullet.  These were informal tests and nothing that I've seen published.  I don't have any conclusive results and don't recommend one over the other as I had no part in the loads or anything else.  I may be wrong all the way around and the next post by a 44 user may prove just that.  Just seemed to me the 500 was more destructive and powerful.  There are just so many different variables that may make them equal, maybe if you slow the 454 or 475 down a little or used a different bullet design the results might change.  The numbers may not show this, I don't know.  I don't trust KE or Taylor KO's, or Keith's formulas.  Shooting a wet spruce log with the heaviest loads we had available the 500 did more damage.  That was what made me the most comfortable.  That does not mean the 454, 45 LC, 475, 44 isn't good enough for bear.  I don't mean to imply anything.  I just feel more comfortable with the 500.  That is my personal feeling, nothing more, nothing less.  I know Bowen and Linebaugh both recommend the 475, I know several folks have taken the biggest bears with 44's and Keith probably killed a whole passle of big animals with 45 LC and 44 Special with remarkable results.  I know also that all of these have been used in Africa with great results.  My choice without taking anything away from any other cartridge was the 500.  I don't have any real data to back up my choice, but it is truly terrifying to face a charging bear and I want what I'm most comfortable with.  I may be and could very well be wrong.  My loads for the 500 are really close to Buffalo Bore's loads.  Not as hot as some folks I know that shoot the 500's but using the wet spruce log test, I get better penetration.  I'm really new at loading the 500 and am not all together comfortable with my recipes and have no way of knowing what kind of pressures I'm generating, so I prefer to keep that to myself.  However Buffalo loads do nearly the same thing, but that gets expensive when you shoot a lot.

I think it is also important to point out that there is not a bear behind every tree.  Of all the time that I spend in the really remote backcountry up here I've had very very few encounters with aggressive bears.  Probability will work out to be nil.  If you used that for your null hypothesis, it would be rejected with full confidence.  I know folks up here that have spent their entire life in the back of the beyond and never even carry a gun unless they are meat hunting.

Shooting big bore handguns to me is just not fun when you compare to shooting 38's or 22's.  It's painful and I'm not as accurate.  They are a part of my personal field gear for work and recreation, but that's because those activities take me to places I probably shouldn't be (as referenced by the fact that I never see anyone else when I'm there).  If I lived in anywhere but here or enjoyed doing other things, I'd be perfectly content not to carry a sidearm or to carry a 357, a 22 or a 38.  That 32 H&R in a Ruger single six or Vaquero (Bowen can put adjustable sights on the vaquero, by the way) sounds like the most interesting, fun and pleasant handgun I've heard of in a long long time.  I really hope we can get more discussion about these class of handguns.  The big bores are a specialized tool that is not much fun for recreational handgunning in my opinion.  Hooray for the 32.  I might just have to grab one of these myself when I save enough pennies.  For shooting at the range, a pot gun or just a knocking around in the woods gun, it really sounds ideal.
 

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"Bad Joke Friday" Dan (moderator emeritus)
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Discussion Starter #11
Alyeska,

As indicated, my experience with the 32 H&R is restricted to one afternoon. The owner wanted to see what off-hand accuracy I could generate, so the first shots were at 25yds. The S&W 8 3/8" revolver was very easy to shoot and sure appeared to me to be noticeably lighter than my model 29s or 629s. And when I mean it went pifffffff, that was about all that happened. It shot exactly point of aim at 25yds and my 6 shot groups were no more than 1.5" -- as good as I do off-hand. Too lazy to move the target out, I simply shot at the 100yd. back stop that always has some clay targets laying around. I suggested 4" high and he agreed. First shot was about 6" high. So the rest of the shooting was right at the orange clay pigeons. I sure didn't set any records, but the little son-of-a-gun hit where I aimed and appeared to have 25yd/100yd point of aim settings. I don't know what mid-range would be, but the little 95gr. pill seemed to shoot fairly flat at 1150 & 1200.  I looked up the load data this afternoon and what I could find indicated the 1150 fps to be the max. load. I really like my Rugers (qty 12), including a linebored 5 shot 45LC that shoots well. But my best shooting performance is with the S&Ws. So I'm going to ask my sources to keep their eyes open for a S&W 32 H&R. But another consideration is to send the little Single Six to Bowen for conversion to the 32. I'll have to think about it.  If I find something, I'll let you know the results.

The only twinge I have about the .32 is deciding if it fits a need that the .38/357 doesn't.  The .38 goes pifffff also, but to get the .32 distance performance takes the .357, and then we are in out of the pifffff area. So the .32 may fill a need.


Dan
 

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DOK,
That sounds great.  That 32 sounds like a great addition to any handgunner's collection.  I'm a little gun poor right now, having a 1895 Winchester customized, but will definitely make some room in my gun account for saving for one of these.  Granted that account is pretty thin and has a couple of subaccounts in it for little customizing features on guns I already own, but a little extra never hurt anything.  What's the comparison to the 32-20?

Is the 32 H&R adequate for say Southeast whitetail deer, pronghorn size game?  Or should it be restricted to varmints and pests such as coyotes?  I bet it would be a humdinger turkey pistol (where legal of course).
 

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"Bad Joke Friday" Dan (moderator emeritus)
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Discussion Starter #13
Alyeska,

The literature I've read says pest only, definitely not deer. One account liked it for rabbit and squirrel and ground hog.

The 32-20/32 H&R comparison sounds pretty equal. The Hodgdon loading literature indicated that the 32-20 would do anything the 32 H&R would do if allowed the same pressure. But I could swear that the Hamilton Bowen "Custom Handguns" indicated the 32-20 was good for 1600 and not the 1100 or so I'm seeing in the loading manuals. I'll check that out.

I've got a grand-son sleeping in my computer room now and if I wake him up I have to take care of him. I'm right in the middle of 3 1/2hrs. of "Apocalypse Now Redux" on ShowTime and the Americans serisouly need my moral support, so I'll recheck Bowen tomorrow.

Dan

Dan
 

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Fascinating stuff...

At one time, fueled by glossy magazine stories, I had all the ambition in the world to make a custom 5-shot .45 Colt (basically a .454 Casull by another name - that ought to stir things up).

Then I got a Ruger Blackhawk and loaded up some 300gr. jacketed bullets from Sierra, Hornady, and Speer, with a whopping 19 grains of 296.  This is a VERY light load in a modern .45 Colt, folks, we're talking barely over 1,000fps.  You really shouldn't start with less than 20 grains but I am including this information because it's what I did.

Well... that sure cured my desire for anything more!  Part of the problem is that the standard Blackhawk is a pretty light gun, and the grips aren't big enough for the heavy loads.  Once I moved to a Bisley, 335's and 340's at 1100-1150fps are no problem, even barehanded.  I can't shoot the same loads in the other gun without a glove and they still hurt.  So I've apparently reached my limit and am comfortable to stay there, at least for the stuff we have in Texas.

So... your post about the .500 brought back some memories, and got me to thinking.  If it's a 'work' gun, why not make it a bit easier on yourself to shoot.  I personally don't care for ported guns but what about getting it Magna-ported or something like that?  Yeah, it'd be louder, but in the circumstances that you might shoot it, so what.   My only ported gun is a Taurus Titanium .357.  It would be really, really painful to shoot full .357 loads if it wasn't ported.  It is about the loudest thing that I have ever shot, but consider that it is for self-defense, so what.  I load it with the meanest ammo I can find, rather than +p .38's as many people suggest.

If the .500 was a little easier to shoot, then you might not dread it, and might be more comfortable with it, and that confidence could really help you out in any unpleasant circumstances.  By the way, if it's already ported, I guess I missed that somewhere along the line.
 

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Mike,
Point well taken about the ports.  I've been considering that for some time now, just haven't done it.  I know it would help.  The reason I brought the stories of the 500 is that seems no matter where handgun talk is presented, it seems to always turns to big bores.  I'm not sure why.  It's painful, loud, expensive and not a wholly pleasureable experience.  Sure it's great the first 50 or so times you shoot and knock great big holes and cause massive amounts of destruction, but after the novelty wears off few people tend to put the work in required to really control these guns and become proficient with them.  Gun racks are littered with 475's and 50 A&E's.  Lots of 454's too.  All used, but not much.  I feel the handguns that are more amicable are little more interesting.  The 32 H&R's, 32-20's, 38-40's, 44 specials and 38/357 are an absolute joy to shoot, tend to very accurate and don't empty your wallet or make your eyes cross everytime the trigger is pulled.  If you truly need a big bore, by all means get one.  But you owe it to yourself and to the reason you need it to commit yourself to becoming proficient with it.  I don't know the exact heritage of the 475 I shot, I do know it was a Ruger Bisley, but it seemed awfully light (maybe it was because I got a good look at the cartridge I was stuffing it with).  Before I touched it off, the owner told me to decide which shoulder I wanted it to recoil over and help it in that direction.  I asked why and he said if you don't commit yourself it'll crack your forehead.  The gun did rise and come backward quite a bit, but felt he was just making sure I had a firm grip.
 

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Oh Goody,
.32 H&R talk!
I'll add my 2 cents:
Today at the local club range I put a couple hundred assorted rounds through my baby Vaquero.
The best groups were Federal 85 grn JHP, but Federal .32 S&W Long wadcutters were almost as good.
Remington .32 S&W long SWC, and Remington .32 H&R mag 95 grn SWC were OK, but shot right of point of aim, and the groups were twice as big.
Surprizingly, Remington .32 S&W (short) shot very well too!
This Ruger was used (hardly) for $490. Pretty tight loading window after being used to .41 mag NMBH!
My wife likes this gun quite a lot (she won't shoot my .41 even with "very light" loads).

I've shot a friend's .454 Casull in a Super Redhawk.
Can't even imagine Linebaugh!
'Course we're all wimps here in California.
 

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Elrod,
Sounds like to me you've got good sense, nothing wimpy about being smart.  I'm going to have to search around with a little more earnest for one of these 32's.  Be it a 32 H&R Mag or a 32/20, sounds like a handful of fun to me.
 

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There's another discussion I saw on these (maybe here somewhere at Beartooth) where the guys were finding limited production convertables, or having the first issue .32 Single Sixes bored out to the hotter .32-20.
Too bad the .32 H&R mag isn't full length, like .357/.41/.44 mags.
They're not proven yet in Police work, though a little snubby gets a six round cylinder vs five.
I haven't gotten Lee dies for it yet, but don't intend to load it too high anyway. It's mostly a plinker, though might be effective on rabid Teddy bears.
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"Bad Joke Friday" Dan (moderator emeritus)
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Discussion Starter #19
Gentlemen,

Since I knew next to nothing about the 32 H&R until I shot it this past week, I've spent a little time searching the literature and other web sites. It appears to me that this level of gun, as Alyeska has done a good job in pointing out, does address a spot or level in a shooters arsenal.

My premature summary would be that the choice boils down to the 32-20 (which Bowen really praises), the 32 H&R, and the 30 Carbine cartridges. I suspect many would argue that the 38/357 fits in this category also.

Because there has to be a number of shooters out there that have experience with the mid-range cartrides, I think I'll start a topic on mid-range cartridge preference and see if we can get more experienced folks to help us out. I'll stick it in the "Handgun Cartridge" section.

Dan



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I was at a gun show today. Saw two Dan Wesson revolvers in stainless steel. One was in 32H&R the other was a 32-20. Both came with two barrels. One 6inch and the other an 8inch. $400 was the price of each gun.
 
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