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Great Grandpa's rifle Winchester model 1892 32-20 with a 26 inch octagon barrel and a marbles buckhorn sight is still in the familiy.  I am thinking of playing around and seeing what this old rifle can do, looking for an accuracy/coyote load.  I shot a coyote a few years ago in the chest, the bullet transversed the legnth of him and pushed up the skin under the back leg.  This was with a factory winchester load of 100 grains exposed lead.  I think this load is only good for about 1100 fps  

I have heard that the 32-20 can be loaded up a bit, what is safe in this family heirloom?        
 

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There was a high velocity, carbine-only load for the .32-20 from Winchester around World War I. The catalog specification said 1640 fps with a 115-grain softnose from 24" barrels. There was a later 80-grain JHP around 2000-2100 fps as well.

IF your rifle is in good working order, checked by a fully trained gunsmith for headspace and tight bolt lock-up, then you can use handloads with similar or even better ballistics. The Speer No. 13 loading manual shows 100-grain loads up to 1881 fps from a 22" Marlin. But I would again caution you to have the rifle thoroughly examined by someone who knows what they're about before starting handload experimentation.
 

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I too love the .32-20 cartridge.   It kills all out of proportion to its paper ballistics.   In the south, these guns were the standard "hog rifle" of yesteryear, the gun that went everywhere and did everything!   Imagine shooting 350 lb razorbacks with that little 100 grain pill at 1200-1300 fps!   Yep, that's what they did with them.  

As mentioned, have your rifle go through a thorough checkup, then if it passes with flying colors, have fun with it!   I have a load that I like that takes our 115g FN bullet to about 1700 fps out of rifles like yours... it is mean all out of proportion to what it sounds like!

Like all guns of vintage age, you will find some considerable differences in groove diameter of these fine guns.  Most run about .313", but I've seen them as large as .315" as well... best to slug the bore to be sure.  Fit a bullet to the gun and they usually shoot very well.   Also, use just one manufacturer's brass for handloading, as the brass length is different for Remington and Winchester, either will work, but you'll not be able to interchange loads because the C.O.L. will be different for them due to crimping the bullet in the case mouth.  Also, stay away from the Starline brass in this cartridge... I do like Starline's quality, but the dimensions of their brass make it quite short, and most dies won't even crimp it becuase of its excessively short length.   (A lesson learned the hard way)

Enjoy that old hog rifle!

God Bless,

Marshall
 
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