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Old November 29, 2012, 04:55 AM   #1
Keepin_Jeepin
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Colt .32 W.C.F

I have another Colt curiosity here.









I was wondering if anyone could provide me with any information on this gun. What what the caliber means, about its possible age, history, etc. I don't even know what its called to try and date it. Just learning about what I have, thanks!

Sorry I dont have better pictures. I havent even seen this gun in a long time its in my safe. I am pulling pictures out of a file on my computer from my last insurance inventory.

I do have high resolution if anyone desires better pictures.
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Old November 29, 2012, 07:59 AM   #2
Mike Irwin
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.32 WCF stands for .32 Winchester Center Fire.

Today it's more commonly known as the .32-20.

It was originally a Winchester rifle round, but rather quickly became extremely popular as a revolver round.
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Old November 29, 2012, 08:01 AM   #3
2damnold4this
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A handsome, historic firearm.

wiki 32-20 link
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Old November 29, 2012, 08:40 AM   #4
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Very nice....+1 on Mike's caliber call. A serial number check will tell if it's a black powder frame or not. Rod
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Old November 29, 2012, 09:12 AM   #5
Jim Watson
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Quote:
What what the caliber means, about its possible age, history, etc. I don't even know what its called to try and date it.
This is an interesting problem.
How is it that you have had this Colt (and the .45) for some time without knowing what it is? Did you inherit them? Are you in the habit of buying a pig in a poke?

Furnish the serial number and somebody will look up the year made.

As to history, if you pay Colt Archive Services $100 they will tell you when and where it was shipped from the factory and what its configuration was when new. (I don't think the two-piece walnut grip panels are stock items.) But there is no way to know where it went after that.
http://www.coltsmfg.com/CustomerServ...eServices.aspx
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Old November 29, 2012, 12:39 PM   #6
Bob Wright
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The wood (rosewood?) grips are aftermarket. Original would have been black hard rubber.

Nice looking six-shooter. The .32-20 (.32 W.C.F.) has become somewhat of a favorite lately because of rather mild recoil and usually very good accuracy.

Bob Wright
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Old November 29, 2012, 05:10 PM   #7
Keepin_Jeepin
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Great, thanks for the info. Here is the serial number.





Jim,

Alot of what I post asking questions about are guns I got from Grandpa after he passed. I was 8 when he passed and left them all to me, before I really knew anything about guns. My parents kept them till I got older and now in the last year or so I have really gotten into guns/buying/selling/collecting and I am trying to figure out what he gave me. Anything he gave me no matter how worthless wont ever be for sale, though.

In fact some of the guns he gave me my parents stored before we had a gun safe I was about 10 and we had a water problem in our old house and some of the long guns have light rusting and stuff. No one ever cared for them so a few years back (actually like 6) when I started shooting I took care of / cleaned them all took the pictures that I am posting and stored them back away.

As always I appreciate the good info from everyone here

Last edited by Keepin_Jeepin; November 30, 2012 at 05:10 PM.
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Old November 29, 2012, 06:02 PM   #8
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Skeeter Skelton was a fan of the 32-20 and wrote a couple of articles on the SAA he bought with his mustering out money in 1946. He mentioned-and cautioned against-firing the old pre-WWII "High Velocity/Rifles Only" ammunition out of it.
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Old November 29, 2012, 08:04 PM   #9
rodfac
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That serial number, according to my Madis/Wilson book, was produced in 1927-28, and is suitable for smokeless powder. I'd say that any Winchester or Remington .32-20 ammunition produced since 1970 should be safe to use.

You may find older/vintage .32-20 high speed ammunition produced for rifle use only that may be unsafe for revolver use...if you find some older ammo, do some research on when it was made and its suitability. Current production .32-20 ammo is suitable for either rifle or handgun...again, do some research.

On this site, Mike Irwin, or Winchester 73 may have opinions on the subject.

Best Regards, Rodfac
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Old November 29, 2012, 09:29 PM   #10
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Wow, another nice, old Colt from your grandfather. It's good that you will keep and cherish them. I wonder what else is in that safe.
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Old November 29, 2012, 09:42 PM   #11
James K
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There were some 43,000 SA Colts made in .32-20, 29,000 standard guns and the rest Bisley's. Like all full size guns in small calibers, they are heavy. I saw something one time that said John Wayne owned a .32-20 that he used in several movies.

Jim
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Old November 29, 2012, 09:50 PM   #12
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Ventura Munitions is currently loading high velocity .32-20 ammunition that is only suitable in modern firearms. I would very much hesitate using it in any revolver.

You're not likely to encounter any of the old Winchester or Peters high velocity ammunition in shootable quantities, but you'll often come across a few rounds here or there.

These rounds will have a headstamp that is different from standard rounds and will include HV (for high velocity) or HS (high speed) or something similar in addition to the cartridge marking.

Never, EVER fire these cartridges in your Colt. They were designed only for the Winchester Model 1892 rifle.
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Old November 29, 2012, 10:46 PM   #13
Keepin_Jeepin
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Sounds like this might be a hard one to get ammo for. Unfortunate.
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Old November 29, 2012, 10:54 PM   #14
bubba15301
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you can buy cowboy ammofor it john wayne used a 38/40 in most of his movies
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Old November 29, 2012, 11:06 PM   #15
Jim Watson
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Ah, so you DID inherit them. Got it.

Ammunition is not hard to find if you know a few of the distributors.
I got a couple on the first try.
http://www.ammunitiontogo.com/index....-ammo-3220-win

Kind of expensive, but not as high as boutique Bullet of the Month 9mms or such. I figure a box or two would be a long term supply. A friend refers to shooting such guns "on Ceremonial Occasions."

I am surprised to see the "modern" .32-20 Mike mentions.
There are more old guns than new in the caliber and I would not want the liability. Put some of those in a Spanish knockoff and you would have a recipe for disaster.
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Old November 30, 2012, 07:49 AM   #16
Mike Irwin
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For anyone wanting to shoot .32-20 regularly it truly is a reloading proposition.

In my area, if you can find it, Winchester ammo is above $50 for a box of 50.

More potent .32-20 ammo started kicking off back in the 1990s when people were rediscovering it as a good cartridge for handgun metallic silhouette competition.

I knew a number of shooters who used hot-loaded .32-20 in T/C Contenders.

I think the only guns I'd be willing to run the Ventura ammo through would be the Winchester Model 43 (and that would be iffy) or one of the new Marlin or Winchester/Browning lever actions.
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Old November 30, 2012, 09:02 AM   #17
Hal
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Quote:
Anything he gave me no matter how worthless wont ever be for sale, though.
Good on you for that.
Somewhere, gramps is smiling...

One suggestion here though. You might want to pull the picture with the serial number.
Many consider publishing the serial number of a fiream on a public forum to be an unwise idea.
I don't agree or disagree - but - you can't be too carefull.
If it's beyond the time you can edit the post, just PM one of the staff to do it for you if you wish.

Nice guns BTW. you're a fortunate young man to have them and it's fortunate for your grandfather you intend to hang on to and take care of what he passed along.
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Old December 1, 2012, 07:06 PM   #18
bedbugbilly
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Very nice! A great looking gun!

I have a Belgium copy SAA in the same caliber that belonged to my great uncle. Based on the proof mark it has, it was probably made post 1890. He was a traveling rep. for International Harvester and traveled all over the country. I'm guessing he bought the pistol sometime between 1890 and 1900. It is no where near as nice as your Colt. Other than the proofs on mine and the same caliber marking - "32 W.C.F." there are no other markings on it. I inherited it after he passed away - just wish I had known he had it while he was still alive so I could have found out the history behind it. Mine isn't a nice Colt like yours but even though it's a cheap imitation, I treasure it.
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Old December 1, 2012, 10:34 PM   #19
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Mike, you are pretty good on the industry stuff. I seem to recall that the "rifle" loads for the .32-20 came along in the 1920's just about the time when cheap Spanish revolvers in that caliber were flooding the U.S. market. The Spanish had been making revolvers for the French is 8mm Lebel and it was an easy change to go to .32-20, but the guns wouldn't hold up to U.S. loads (S&W's and Colts apparently had no problems). So, I understand, the U.S. ammo makers got tired of being blamed when someone's nice new cast iron revolver blew up, and down loaded the standard ammo, while keeping the original pressures for "rifle" ammo marked as not for handguns.

Have you heard this or am I more off the wall than usual?

Jim
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Old December 2, 2012, 12:39 AM   #20
Mike Irwin
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It's hard to exactly say when the first High Velocity rounds came out for the .32-20 and other cartridges like the .38-40 and .44-40, as well as the .45-70.

It was in smokeless era, and they were originally intended for the Model 1892 Winchester and the Model 1886 Winchester in .45-70.

But, it was known that those rounds were serious problems in rifles like the Model 1873 Winchester, black powder Colt revolvers, and in .45-70, the Trapdoor Springfield.

The boxes had big red warning labels on them at some point, and as far as I know the ammo manufacturers never warranted the .32-20 for use in any Colt or S&W revolver, even later swing cylinder models.

Here's a picture of the warning on a box of Western ammo that was probably made in the 1920s or 1930s. Western trademarked Lubaloy in 1922.

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

But, it's not at all a case of the ammo manufacturers downloading some rounds for handguns and keeping the original loadings as "rifle" rounds.

Remember, the .32-20, and the others, were originally blackpowder rounds and on the transition to smokless the companies had kept the pressure range largely the same as the old blackpowder rounds so as not to immediately obsolete all of the Model 1873s and the like.

The rifle only ammo was definitely a step up in power and velocity that had been demanded by purchasers of the Model 1892.
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Last edited by Mike Irwin; December 2, 2012 at 12:49 AM.
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