View Full Version : H&R "The American" in .32SW

November 10, 2009, 01:52 PM
Egads, now I've done it. Like I don't have enough projects to take care of this winter, I went and bought a first model, second variation H&R "The American" in .32SW for fifty bucks.

The gunsmith looked a little skeptical, but he's used to me showing up with old orphans. He gave it a clean bill of health, then chuckled and said "Good luck with ammo."

I hate to say it, but I think that he's right...does anybody make .32SW with a black powder load?

I suppose that I could load it myself...is this round as simple as fill the case enough to compress the powder, seat, crimp and shoot? Bear in mind that I would like to retain all of my extremities for the foreseeable future.

November 10, 2009, 03:56 PM
If it is a BP proofed gun, you pretty much are gonna be loading your own, I think. Brass and soft lead round nose bullets, or perhaps round lead balls for a sort of plinking/gallery load ought to be easy enough to find. Or they probably were, I don't imagine there was a rush to buy up all the .32 S&W loading components? You probably will not get a huge amount of BP in that case, I cannot see you blowing up the gun unless it has some notable serious flaw. I got two boxes of the smokeless version I bought before the panic. For a much later, probably, version of the H&R top break. Have not tried it yet. Might be good medicine for say, squirrels within 10-15 yards?

November 10, 2009, 04:29 PM
Well, it's a pretty solid gun - its previous owners either didn't shoot it all that much or took good care of it when they did. It was an impulse buy and probably something that will sit around waiting for an occasional trip to the range to pop balloons or something.

The smokeless S&W cartridges seem pretty tame - I'm just concerned with the difference in pressure curves between BP and smokeless. The MV and energy are about the same between the two, but it's the way that the two cartridges get there that makes me worry.

Well, I'm in no hurry to resolve this. I've already got plenty of irons in the fire, so this one may sit around until the summer. Along with cleaning the garage, restoring the truck, fitting some stocks...etc, etc...

November 11, 2009, 12:30 AM
I have heard of folks loading .32sw with bp leaving enough room to press in an 00 buck shot (just enough to compress the bp a little). Nothing fancy, and no dies needed, but a hand prime would be needed to seat primers. Recoil would be so light that you probably wouldn't need to crimp.

November 11, 2009, 02:38 PM
If you can find modern .32 S&W made by the major companies, you should be safe to shoot it in that revolver, since the cartridge is low pressure and so are the modern cartridges because of the number of old guns out there. The modern stuff is no way loaded to possible potential.

The Doc is out now. :cool:

November 16, 2009, 06:33 AM
I reload for 38 S&W. It's easy. I have an H&R Defender.
I checked gunbroker and 'once fired' 32 S&W brass has been sold in a lot of 1000 pieces, so it is available. Those cases still had a crimp after firing, leaving me to wonder if they were for starter pistol blanks or something? It wouldn't matter.
During the reloading process, second die opens the case mouth a bit to accept the bullet. the third die seats the bullet and can be set to crimp as well.
A Lee hand reloading press kit and 32 S&W dies would get you pretty close to started. I think it's handier than getting a Lee Loader in 32 S&W, if one is even available...It will, however, cost more than you paid for that gun.:rolleyes:
I just got the Lee hand press, its light and handy, you can carry all the reloading gear for a caliber in a gym bag, and reload at the kitchen table or sitting in an easy chair next to a coffee table.
(I don't have any commercial interest blah blah blah)

Fingers McGee
November 16, 2009, 11:33 AM
Remington makes a smokeless 32 S&W round with 88 grain LRN bullet. That's what I use in my 49 Pocket model with R&D cylinder. Since I use it so infrequently, I havent seen the benefit/need of trying to reload it with BP yet.

James K
November 16, 2009, 08:17 PM
Modern factory loads for the .32 S&W and .38 S&W use smokeless powder, but the pressure is kept low precisely to prevent blowing up those old guns. Black powder creates a real mess and I strongly suggest NOT experimenting with smokeless powder reloads. Those guns were not made of steel, but of cast iron and are not very strong.


November 17, 2009, 01:06 AM
The reloading manuals that still give data for 32S&W and 38S&W specifically give data for older guns.
Although the muzzle velocity and energy are quite low, I'm sure no one wants to get shot with one!
For cowboy shooting, you don't need much!

November 17, 2009, 11:19 AM
Just an update: I went through the "odds and ends" bucket at the club and found around 20 pieces of .32 S&W brass. One of the shops had some 78 grain .313 bullets.

I loaded up ten of them with enough FF black powder that the bullet would compress it a bit, then seated the bullet with a very light crimp. As it turns out, the crimp is unnecessary. The recoil wasn't a whole lot more than a short barreled .22.

Stinky, smokey and a whole lot of fun!