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Old January 14, 2014, 07:39 PM   #1
Clark
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Anyone know how old this brass & primer are?

I just bought this stuff mail order and cleaned it.
I paid $90 for 500 once fired 32-20 and this old 32 WCF stuff arrived.

Just curious
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Old January 14, 2014, 08:46 PM   #2
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The balloon head case and initialed primer probably date to some time prior to WW II. Hard to date ammunition specimens exactly. I bought some .45 Colt ammunition in 1954 that was mfg. in the late 'Thirties that was of balloon head construction.

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Old January 14, 2014, 10:01 PM   #3
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You are aware that 32-20 and 32 WCF (Winchester Center Fire) are the same thing, correct?
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Old January 14, 2014, 11:07 PM   #4
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I am aware they are the same.
I suppose i was disappointed in receiving balloon head cartridge cases.
And that is why I was stressing the difference.
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Old January 15, 2014, 02:35 AM   #5
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Just for my own education, what is a "balloon head case"?
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Old January 15, 2014, 07:36 AM   #6
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Clark's second picture of the sectioned case clearly shows a balloon case construction.
The primer pocket is formed by pressing the bottom (the head) of the case upward, creating a pocket for the primer and gaps on the side, between the pocket and the internal sides of the case.
A modern case has a solid bottom with the primer pocket below.
A web search on the subject will yield all the info on case construction.
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Old January 15, 2014, 09:09 AM   #7
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Quote:
I suppose i was disappointed in receiving balloon head cartridge cases.
I wouldn't be.
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Old January 15, 2014, 12:20 PM   #8
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Other than the historical accuracy of "period" ammo/brass, the one thing balloon head cases are needed for is getting full black powder load performance.

I don't have any personal experience with the .32-20, but I do with some other, larger rounds from that era, and you just cannot fit the full, original black powder charge in a modern solid head case.

For example, in the .45 Colt, the original powder charge was 40gr of black powder, in a balloon head case. Using every trick in the book, you can get about 38gr of powder in a solid head case.

The drawback to balloon head cases (other than their age, if original) is if you are looking at using modern smokeless powder, and increasing the pressure beyond original black powder specs. (example, "Ruger only" loads in .45 Colt, Ruger Blackhawk would be foolish to use balloon head cases, as the solid head brass handles pressure better).
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Old January 15, 2014, 01:39 PM   #9
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Yeah, I can get about 34 grains in a solid head .44-40 case.
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Old January 15, 2014, 02:18 PM   #10
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More precisely, that's actually a solid balloon head (SBH) case because it combines elements of the balloon head case with the much thicker brass of the solid head (or solid web) case.

They were formed using a different type of brass blank, IIRC a bar-shaped blank that was partially folded during the forming process, as opposed to the thick, coin-shaped blanks used in making today's solid head cases.

A true balloon head case has much thinner brass all around and was the next logical step from rimfire and inside primed centerfire cases.

SBH cases started to become more common in the late 1800 to early 1900s as brass drawing technology improved.

Many companies stuck with this technology well into the magnum (post 1935) era, for a number of reasons:

1. SBH cases were more than strong enough for most cartridges of the time, especially those that had their origins in the black powder era.

2. They were somewhat cheaper to produce as they used less brass than a solid head case.

3. They could be made on older machinery that had been paid for and still had life left in it, while the new, expensive machinery needed to make magnum style cases could be devoted to solid head cases.

I'm not 100% sure, but I believe that the last of the SBH cases were finally phased out after World War II. Most of the ammo companies had dramatically expanded their lines to meet military needs during the war so they could finally retire the old equipment. At the same time, production of a lot of the older cartridge types, which had been stopped for war-time production, wasn't resumed.

My guess is that those cases date from late 1930s. It's possible that they were produced after World War II, but I suspect that Remington didn't make .32-20 cases after the war.

All that said, can you reload them?

Probably. Just don't try to firewall them. They're plenty strong for the maximum pressures at which the .32-20 was designed to work.
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Old January 15, 2014, 02:23 PM   #11
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Oh, a hint in identifying a balloon-head or solid balloon head case...

They don't have an extractor groove.
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Old January 15, 2014, 02:33 PM   #12
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ckpj99 asked:

Quote:
Just for my own education, what is a "balloon head case"?
These are .45 Colt cases, the one on the left is a balloon head case:



The solid head case on the right is a much stronger case.

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Old January 15, 2014, 02:35 PM   #13
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Mike Irwin saith:
Quote:
Oh, a hint in identifying a balloon-head or solid balloon head case...

They don't have an extractor groove.
Mike, I don't think that was really intended as an extractor groove so much as a stress-relief groove.

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Old January 15, 2014, 02:40 PM   #14
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"Mike, I don't think that was really intended as an extractor groove so much as a stress-relief groove."

It's universally called an extractor groove.

It could have been intended to be a gathering place for pixie hodowns, but it would still be known as an extractor groove.

Rimless cases have had extractor grooves that literally fulfill that function since pretty much day one, literally for the extractor to grab on to.

It made sense for the companies to call it an extractor groove even if it wasn't.

And even if pixies didn't gather there.


That said, however, I just remembered one case that didn't have an extractor/stress/pixie groove from day of design...

The .225 Winchester.

And it came out in 1964...
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Old January 15, 2014, 02:53 PM   #15
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The .225 Winchester.

And it came out in 1964...
And essentially died a quiet death from lack of interest soon after...altho individual survivors are still with us, they are apparently not capable of reproducing...
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Old January 15, 2014, 04:25 PM   #16
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Quote:
It's universally called an extractor groove.
Call it what you will. It's the first time I ever heard it called that, and I will stubbornly continue to call it a relief groove unless it it actually cut for an extractor, with all due respect.

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Old January 15, 2014, 10:28 PM   #17
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" It's the first time I ever heard it called that"

Really?

The first time?

Do you have a Donnelly book of cartridge conversions?

He makes references to recutting the extractor groove on cases when forming to other cases.

I can't imagine that the groove would be necessary to relieve strain on the case head given annealing does that rather nicely.

Here's a link to an online page of Patrick Sweeney's book on gunsmithing rifles that talks about the extractor groove...

http://books.google.com/books?id=Eul...ove%22&f=false
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Old January 16, 2014, 02:20 AM   #18
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In a strong gun like a N frame S&W the 32-20 can be loaded very hot riveling the 30 carbine in a revolver or the newer 32 magnum..

In " Sixguns" by Elmer Keith ,he explains the balloon head and the differences in loads from the modern case.
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Old January 16, 2014, 08:14 AM   #19
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Except that the .32-20 was never chambered in an N frame, only the K frame.
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Old January 16, 2014, 11:45 AM   #20
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I have a 1922 Colt Army Special 32-20 with 0.11" thick chamber walls that I have not shot yet, but I know theoretically could take all kinds of pressure, if the brass does not fail.

I don't want to be doing any balloon head brass strength tests with that old revolver. The action is smooth as my Python. I did not pay much for it, but I have not been able to find any more like that.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Colt Army Special 32-20 1922 Sambar 1-16-2014.jpg (84.5 KB, 9 views)
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Old January 16, 2014, 12:06 PM   #21
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I have both a K frame and a Police Positive Special in .32-20.

I'm not going to be running hot loads through either one of them.
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Old January 16, 2014, 11:23 PM   #22
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You used to be able to get a Colt SAA in .32-20. That would probably take warmish loads...BUT

Isn't the .32-20 one of the rounds where there was specific rifle and pistol ammo (loads)?
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Old January 17, 2014, 10:45 AM   #23
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There have been a couple reproduction .32-20 SAAs on the market in the past 20 years or so.

And yes, Winchester at one time loaded a line of Hi Speed cartridges in .32-20, .38-40, .44-40, .45-70, and maybe a couple of others.

The .32, .38, and .44 were designated SOLELY for the Model 1892, and the boxes had red warnings printed on them.

The .45-70 was solely for the Model 1886.

Back then, as now, people would ignore the warnings. Such ammo would destroy an 1873 Winchester or an early Colt SAA, and wouldn't do more modern handguns any good, either.


Here we go... A link to a picture of box of Western ammo designated specifically for the Model 1892.

http://www.rtgammo.com/3220hvSX18488.jpg


That box is post 1922, which is when Western introduced the Lubaloy bullet jacket to replace cupronickel.
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Last edited by Mike Irwin; January 17, 2014 at 10:54 AM.
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