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Old May 13, 2013, 10:36 PM   #1
Singlesix1954
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32-1 S&W "Terrier"

I read the old thread from 2010 but was wondering if any more info is known. you know like a book to buy that may have ref. to the model? A friend of mine just got one from her dad. It is 95 plus % condition. Not looking to sell just wants to learn about what she has.
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Old May 14, 2013, 06:45 AM   #2
Webleymkv
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The Model 32 Terrier is a small frame revolver in .38 S&W that was manufactured from 1936 to 1974. They bear a very striking resemblance to the more common Model 36 Chief's Special but the primary difference is that the M32 is chambered for the older .38 S&W cartridge rather than the more common and more powerful .38 Special chambering of the M36. The Terrier was originally built on the I-Frame but later models were built on the J-Frame after S&W discontinued the I-Frame.

The .38 S&W cartridge is obsolescent and considered underpowered by today's standards. It differs from the .38 Special in that it is substantially lower pressure (14,500 psi vs. 17,000 psi), shorter (1.24" OAL vs. 1.55" OAL), and uses a slightly larger diameter bullet (.361" vs. .357"). While no new guns have been chambered in .38 S&W in decades, ammunition is still available from Winchester, Remington, Fiocchi, Magtech, Ten-X, Buffalo Bore and Prvi Partizan. Most commercial loadings for this cartridge feature a 145-146gr LRN bullet at just under 700fps though Fiocchi offers a FMJ loading of similar weight and velocity and Buffalo Bore makes a 125gr LSWC loading at 1,000fps. While it is unlikely to even chamber, it is unsafe to attempt to fire a .38 Special cartridge in a revolver chambered for .38 S&W due to the difference in pressure.
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Old May 14, 2013, 09:19 AM   #3
carguychris
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Quote:
The Terrier was originally built on the I-Frame but later models were built on the J-Frame after S&W discontinued the I-Frame.
FWIW the -1 model number nominally indicates that the OP's friend's gun is a J frame. An I frame gun should not have the -1 suffix.

The M32 was normally offered with a 2" tapered barrel, a fixed rear sight, and a round-butt grip, i.e. without the sharper and straightened corner at the rear of the butt. IIRC blued and nickel finish were offered but nickel is uncommon. Guns built before the mid-60s normally had the so-called "flat" (non-scalloped) cylinder latch, and pre-1968 guns will have diamond-shaped escutcheons around the grip screws; examples with these features carry slightly higher value. Other than the finish and the grip and cylinder latch changes, I am not aware of any other options or unusual M32 variants, although this is subject to a mandatory disclaimer: the only hard-and-fast rule about old S&W's is that there are few hard-and-fast rules.

FWIW the Model 33 ".38 Regulation Police" was similar to the Terrier, but was normally built with a 4" barrel and a square-butt frame. IIRC both guns were discontinued in the mid to late 1970s.
Quote:
While it is unlikely to even chamber, it is unsafe to attempt to fire a .38 Special cartridge in a revolver chambered for .38 S&W due to the difference in pressure.
FWIW every J frame M32 (and M33) I've ever examined had a physically shorter cylinder and correspondingly wider front cylinder-to-frame gap than a contemporary .38Spl J frame. They also had shoulders in the chambers that appeared to be cut at the correct depth for a .38 S&W case, which will cause a .38Spl case to project from the cylinder by ~1/4", rendering it impossible to close.

Also, one word of caution...
Quote:
...Fiocchi offers a FMJ loading...
Past information on the S&W forum indicates that some later .38S&W J frames were built with 0.357"-caliber rather than 0.361"-caliber barrels*, thereby allowing the .38S&W and .38Spl guns to use the same barrels, which simplified parts inventories. However, there is some concern that firing a 0.361"-caliber FMJ bullet through a 0.357"-caliber barrel at low .38S&W pressures may result in squibs- i.e. stuck bullets- which can damage the barrel, particularly if follow-up shots collide with the first stuck bullet. Until you can verify the barrel size, I would recommend using lead bullets rather than FMJ; OTOH there is little concern that the typically very soft lead used for .38S&W bullets will cause squibs. (Yes, firing oversize bullets will typically cause pressure spikes, but this is generally inconsequential when using a very low-pressure cartridge in conjunction with a relatively strong modern revolver.)

*Mandatory disclaimer: I have NOT been able to independently verify this information.
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Last edited by carguychris; May 14, 2013 at 09:51 AM. Reason: minor reword...
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Old May 14, 2013, 10:41 AM   #4
Webleymkv
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Quote:
Quote:
The Terrier was originally built on the I-Frame but later models were built on the J-Frame after S&W discontinued the I-Frame.

FWIW the -1 model number nominally indicates that the OP's friend's gun is a J frame. An I frame gun should not have the -1 suffix.
I suspected this, but the information that I found did not specify the differences between dash numbers for that particular model so I stopped short of posting such.

Quote:
Quote:
While it is unlikely to even chamber, it is unsafe to attempt to fire a .38 Special cartridge in a revolver chambered for .38 S&W due to the difference in pressure.

FWIW every J frame M32 (and M33) I've ever examined had a physically shorter cylinder and correspondingly wider front cylinder-to-frame gap than a contemporary .38Spl J frame. They also had shoulders in the chambers that appeared to be cut at the correct depth for a .38 S&W case, which will cause a .38Spl case to project from the cylinder by ~1/4", rendering it impossible to close.
I wasn't really referring specifically to S&W J-Frames. In particular, I was thinking of the S&W K-Frames in .38 S&W which were made for the British during WWII that, upon reimportation, had their cylinders reamed to .38 Special. While these revolvers will chamber and fire a .38 Special, their oversize chambers will usually cause bulged or split brass and they're typically only considered safe to fire with either .38 S&W ammo or, at most, very lightly loaded .38 Special ammo. Likewise, .38 S&W has been a popular chambering for a variety of revolvers over the years some of which are of, shall we say, "questionable" quality. I could see one of the no-name Spanish S&W copies chambering and firing a .38 Special even if it were originally chambered for .38 S&W.

Quote:
Quote:
...Fiocchi offers a FMJ loading...

Past information on the S&W forum indicates that some later .38S&W J frames were built with 0.357"-caliber rather than 0.361"-caliber barrels*, thereby allowing the .38S&W and .38Spl guns to use the same barrels, which simplified parts inventories. However, there is some concern that firing a 0.361"-caliber FMJ bullet through a 0.357"-caliber barrel at low .38S&W pressures may result in squibs- i.e. stuck bullets- which can damage the barrel, particularly if follow-up shots collide with the first stuck bullet. Until you can verify the barrel size, I would recommend using lead bullets rather than FMJ; OTOH there is little concern that the typically very soft lead used for .38S&W bullets will cause squibs. (Yes, firing oversize bullets will typically cause pressure spikes, but this is generally inconsequential when using a very low-pressure cartridge in conjunction with a relatively strong modern revolver.)

*Mandatory disclaimer: I have NOT been able to independently verify this information.
If I can ever get my hands on a box of the Fiocchi FMJ loading, I'll pull one of the bullets and measure it. Other manufacturers have been known to load undersize bullets in their .38 S&W ammo due to the very issue you mention (I believe some Colts in this caliber are also known to have rather tight bores and cylinder throats). In the loadings with LRN bullets, they typically use a concave base bullet in the hopes that it will obturate to the larger bored guns.

I suspect that Remington may do this because their factory 145gr LRN loading will chamber just fine in every .38 Special and .357 Magnum revolver I've tried it with though the cases will no longer do so after being fired in my Webley Mk. IV and reloaded with Lee dies and 200gr .360" hardcast LRN bullets. I also suspect that the bullets were undersize because the Remington factory load was horridly innaccurate in my Webley (even handloads with 158gr .358" hardcast SWC bullets, which are also undersize, shot considerably better albeit with a low POI).

I would not be surprised to learn that Fiocchi's FMJ loading uses a bullet of .358" or smaller. However, until their bullet diameter can be verified, I agree that the OP would do well to stick with lead bullets unless he can verify that his gun doesn't have a tight bore.
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