View Full Version : 32sl (self loader) ??

December 27, 2009, 05:56 PM
My dad has a .32sl, it resembles the M1. Does anyone have any info on it?
What is the parent case? I would like to handload for it.

Thanks for the help.

Jim Watson
December 27, 2009, 07:22 PM
I don't think the .32 WSL has a parent case. The carbine is based on it, but not very closely. I think I'd just knuckle under and pay for some Buffalo Arms brass. Maybe they make it by turning the rims off of .32-20 or swaging the head of a .30 carbine in a hydraulic press.

December 27, 2009, 07:31 PM
Thanks for the help.

You are probably correct, but man that is spendy. :)

I found a website that sold handloads for it about ten years ago. Can't remember the name.

I will get a few fired cases and send to Redding to make me some dies.

December 27, 2009, 08:09 PM
Found this site, I am not sure if this is just a box or if brass or rounds in them.
In my old "Cartridges of the World" (2nd Ed) It refers to the .32 S-L as the #1 candidate for the title of the "World's Most Useless Centerfire Rifle Cartridge"
I believe my 10th ed. calls it the most useless;)
That in itself would make the rifle you have more of a treasure if it were mine.

In the writeup it lists it's high ammunition cost but also listed it as being not well suited for reloading.

The 32 had a sister cartridge also witch was the .35 SL introduced in 1906 and discontinued in 1920.
It say,s also that the .32 SL was (probably) the prototype of the .30 U.S. Carbine cartridge.
I have one of them in my small cartridge collection.
Load data,
Bullet ------------Powder/gr.--------- MV-------ME
165 -------------2400--12.0 -------1450-------775
165------------- 4227--12.5--------1440-------760 Dup. fact. ballistics
165------------- FL-----------------1400-------760 200 yd. MRT = 11.9"

James K
December 27, 2009, 09:24 PM
There seems little doubt that the .32 SL cartridge was the basis for the .30 Carbine round. The Army said the cartridge was to be .30, but similar to the .32 SL, and the .32 SL was repeatedly mentioned in development of the .30 carbine. In fact, the first .30 Carbine cases were made by turning down the rim of the semi-rimmed .32 SL case and sizing to a .30 bullet. Early WRA cases were marked ".30 SL", some Remington cases had the .32 SLR bunter altered to "3 SL" and Western just used their .32 SLR marking. Those cases, needless to say, are among the rarest in cartridge collecting.

FWIW, the .35 SL was not worth much, either. It was introduced with the Winchester Model 1905 but the rifle was soon discontinued and replaced with the Model 1907 in .351 SL, a somewhat better round.

The reason for being of those cartridges was Winchester's desire to compete with the Remington line of Browning-designed autoloading rifles. But the Remingtons were long recoil, locked breech guns, capable of handling some reasonably powerful rounds, where Winchester's autoloaders were straight blowback, requiring a heavy weight in the foreend. Nonetheless, Winchester used two of Remington's most popular calibers, .32 and .35, probably hoping that customers would think the Winchester rifles fired the .32 Remington and .35 Remington which, of course, they didn't.

Winchester's later .401 was reasonably poweful, but because it too was blowback, it was pretty heavy and a bit awkward. (TR reportedly liked it!)


Jim Watson
December 27, 2009, 10:12 PM
It is easy to dismiss the old WSLs but their ballistics are similar to the various pistol caliber carbines now popular.

December 27, 2009, 10:39 PM
A lot of good info, thanks!
Any idea what it would be worth?
It is in fair to good condition.

Mike Irwin
December 29, 2009, 12:18 PM
The primary reasons the .32 and .35 WSL were considered to be worthless are:

Neither cartridge was really powerful enough for medium game.

Neither rifle was really accurate enough for small game.

The cartridges were too expensive for casual shooting.

The rifles were heavy and pretty poorly balanced.

The .351 significantly increased the power of the .35, and the .401 was powerful enough that it was a decent short-range medium game rifle.

Even so, the .401 died a fairly quick death due to limited popularity, while the only reason the .351 made it (sort of) was that it was popular with police.

What I never really understood is why the US Gov't insisted on .30 cal. for the carbine round. Had they gone with a slightly souped up .351 it would have made for a FAR more effective round.

James K
December 29, 2009, 10:16 PM
I think one big drawback was the gawdawful shuffle shuffle kerthunk when they were fired. That big weight in the forend really changed the balance rapidly. It was a bit like the M3 SMG with its heavy bolt, but the WSL rifle bolts were even heavier since they didn't have the advantage of advance primer ignition to help keep the bolt weight down. I never fired the Model 1910 in .401, but it must have been something else!

The Model 1907 in .351 was pretty popular with police and prison guards for a long time, because it was semi-auto and less expensive than the Remington Model 8/81. During the anti-war riots in D.C., when "non-violent" protesters were bombing and terrorizing, I remember a GSA guard in the building where I worked carrying a double armload of those guns. I wanted to make him an offer but I didn't think he would have a sense of humor.

Mike, FWIW, the government wanted .30 for the carbine with the idea that tooling was readily available for .30 barrels, where a different caliber would require new tooling, plus experiments with rifling twist, new cleaning material, etc. They might even have had the idea of making carbine barrels out of worn/reject rifle barrels, as the Russians were known to be doing with their SMGs.


Mike Irwin
December 30, 2009, 12:58 AM
Don't get me wrong, I know exactly why the gov't mandated a .30 caliber cartridge for the carbine.

I just don't really understand the rational. In retrospect, VERY little was saved by making the caliber common with the Garand.

All available tooling was quickly taken up with production of the Garand, so new tooling had to be obtained.

Experiments with rifling twist DID have to be conducted, as the .30 Carbine and the .30 Garand do not have the same twist (1 in 20, vs 1 in 10).

But that was Winchester's issue to deal with as they designed the winning rifle and also developed the cartridge for it.

If anything, it was a case of "eh, .30's good enough for cooks and truck drivers..."

December 30, 2009, 01:46 AM
A lot of good info, thanks!
Any idea what it would be worth?
It is in fair to good condition.


Go to this site and look for closed auctions (ones that that sold to a high bidder) on that model of rifle

December 30, 2009, 01:52 AM
Mike, dont forget the Mounties used the 351 as well

Jim Watson
December 30, 2009, 10:13 AM
Didn't the Frenchies look at a .346 derivative of the .351 in or shortly before WW I? Or maybe .346" = 8.8mm was just the Continental equivalent of the .351's bore diameter.

Mike Irwin
December 30, 2009, 12:14 PM
The French married a .351 casing to an 8mm Balle D bullet for the Lebel rifle, which was .323 to .330 diameter, depending on the manufacturer.

It was called the 8mm Riboliet, or something like that.

The case ended up being slightly necked down.

Overall, a failure.

James K
December 30, 2009, 10:32 PM
Mike, you make good points and use common sense. But I doubt you have ever been in a meeting where military folks were hashing out what they wanted. If something sounds reasonable, it is likely to be put down as a "requirement" even if it turns out in retrospect to be idiocy.

Remember also, that they wanted a short, light weapon to replace the pistol for people who had other things to do than shoot the enemy. While it was less compact than a pistol, there is no question in my mind that it is a lot easier to hit something with the carbine than with a pistol.

One of my favorite "it sounded good when he briefed the generals" items was the famous "Pedersen device." In theory, it sounded great; in the real war on the Western Front, troops using it as planned would have been slaughtered. I think Pedersen must have been one helluva salesman, for later he got the army to adopt his .276 as the standard caliber, which would have made billions of rounds of ammunition worthless and saddled the U.S. with an underpowered rifle in WWII.


Mike Irwin
December 31, 2009, 10:21 AM
"But I doubt you have ever been in a meeting where military folks were hashing out what they wanted."

Think again.

"Remember also, that they wanted a short, light weapon to replace the pistol for people who had other things to do than shoot the enemy."

Yes, I alluded to that. Had the .351, or a souped up version of the .351 been adopted, the resultant carbine wouldn't have been much, if any, larger, heavier, or bulkier than what became the M1 carbine. It would only have been a bit more capable.

"which would have made billions of rounds of ammunition worthless

Which is why MacArthur put the kaibosh on the proposed caliber change.

"and saddled the U.S. with an underpowered rifle in WWII."

Far less clear. As opposed to what? It was realized even back then that the old standard military rifle rounds, .30+ caliber and firing heavy bullets at 2,500 to 2,900 fps, were really overpowered for the kind of warfare that was developing.

Would the .276 have been underpowered? Compared to the extant military rifles cartridges of the day, yes, it was quite underpowered.

But, compared to actual battlefield requirements and experiences? I don't think so. Ballistically it would have been pretty close to the 7.35 Carcano round, and from all reports the 7.35 Carcano was a quite capable round in the limited fighting that it saw before the Italians had to pull the rifles back and convert them to 6.5 due to logistics issues.

In fact, the .276 Pedersen round was on par with military loadings of the 7x57 Mauser cartridge, which had made quite an impression on US troops during the Spanish American War.

Remember that the 7.92x33 Kurz round was, compared to the rifle calibers of the day, tremendously underpowered, yet the German experience with it was so positive that it, and the Stg. 44, were eventually intended to replace the K98k in active service except for very specialized roles like long-range sniping.

Probably the proper way of looking at this is that every major combatant in WW II went into the war with a main battle rifle cartridge that was significantly more powerful than what was actually needed. In reality, a waste of critical raw materials (copper and lead) and propellant.

Jim Watson
December 31, 2009, 12:32 PM
which would have made billions of rounds of ammunition worthless

It would have just meant we would have had a rifle caliber and a machine gun caliber for a while. No different from a dozen other armies.

The only question in my mind is whether a slightly lighter rifle round like the .276 would have made the M1 carbine and ITS dedicated ammo unnecessary. Maybe we would have had a true carbine - a shorter weapon firing the rifle cartridge - and more submachine guns. Like a dozen other armies.

December 31, 2009, 04:36 PM
While I think "Cartridges of the World" is a very valuable reference work, the late author was very critical of any cartridge that he didn't think was good for hunting. But my father, who served in the infantry in Italy in WWII, and who also was a prisoner of war for a year for his trouble, had a low opinion of the M1 carbine. I've never fired one myself but I've pointed out before how so many people think it to be so underpowered, yet an equal number think the .30 Tokarev to be almost a wonder weapon, able to pierce body armor, excellent in submachine guns and smells good when being fired.

They could have tried making a carbine in .45 ACP, street legal ones actually being made for a while after the war as semi-auto versions of something, perhaps a Reising, which only outweighs an M1 carbine by about a pound. An M1 rifle outweighs an M1 carbine by four pounds.

James K
December 31, 2009, 08:25 PM
Mike, I agree with a lot of what you wrote, but remember in WWI, trenches didn't just consist of a hole in the ground. There were barricades, head logs, machinegun shields, and all the other means of protecting folks who needed to keep an eye on the enemy. And full power ammo (8mm, .30-'06) would penetrate a lot of that, where it is doubtful the .276 would have. Further, the .276 would have been badly outranged by the 8mm Mauser, never a good thing, and devastating to morale ("They can hit us, and our rifles won't shoot far enough to hurt them." We can imagine the newspaper headlines!).

The fact is that Pedersen had invented a rifle that wouldn't work, and couldn't be made to work, with the .30-'06, so rather than going back to the drawing board, and with visions of millions in royalties dancing in his head, he talked the Army into accepting a cartridge that his rifle would work with.

The .276 argument was never really about a suitable round for a future war (it never is, crystal balls being scarce), nor was the Pedersen device about a serious weapon for advancing troops; both really were about a very persuasive inventor and super salesman.


Jim Watson
December 31, 2009, 09:03 PM
But the .276 was developed after WW I. WW II was more fluid as witness the development of the assault rifle by the Germans, and all the SMGs used by various armies who lacked our auto rifles.

You could make a case that McArthur was preparing to fight the previous war.

You could also make a case that he was worried about peacetime War Department budgets, too.

January 1, 2010, 10:55 AM
"Mike, dont forget the Mounties used the 351 as well"

A lot of bad guys during the 30s loved the 351 too. Dillinger, Nelson, Van Meter, Barrow; the list goes on and on. If you look at the firearms recovered after shootouts during this era there was at least one 351 Winchester in nearly every instance and sometimes more than one. It's curious to me that these guys, with their survival at stake, selected the 351 when today we poo-poo it so? I don't agree that they selected it simply because it was "less expensive" than the competition. The 351 was one of the most expensive rifles Winchester made at the time - look at the catalogs - my 1908 Sears catalog shows the 1907 at $18.90 with the 1894 Win at $15.53 and the 1892 at $13.16. I'd have to think that if it wasn't doing the job they would have dropped it immediately.

I might also add that members of the FBI and Border Patrol (Charles Askins being the most famous) also loved their 351s - so much so that they would buy them with their own money - pretty good recommendations for any rifle.

I've got two of these rifle and they are easy to use and reliable. I've never had a FTF with the factory mags and in the historical accounts I've never read of a 351 jamming. I think the 351 cartridge and 1907 rifle is one of the most underrated combos in history.


January 1, 2010, 11:28 AM
While we might consider it useless, at the time of it's invention it was miles ahead of anything else. The most powerful semi-autos at the time where pistol based Mauser C96 and long barreled Lugers, both with inferior ballistics (7.63 and 9 mm). You can argue that a 30-30 Lever is more firepower, but if you want to get off a couple of quick rounds from 25 - 100 yards, this was it. It came 10 years before the widespread use of the submachine gun or light machine guns like the BAR, and with that 351 cartridge it obviously stayed competitive until WWII.

James K
January 2, 2010, 07:49 PM
Of course, the .276 was developed after WWI, but that was the last war in which the U.S. had experience. In that war, the U.S. used the M1906 ball cartridge, with a flat based bullet, and there were many complaints that it was outranged by the German 8mm boat tail bullet. That was, of course, mostly in machineguns, but I still fail to see why the Army would want to adopt a less powerful and shorter range cartridge. The common belief was that no semi-auto could be made that would function with the .30-'06, but in fact, Garand had already built a rifle that would do so and had been ordered to stop work on it.

We did so, of course, later, but that was almost entirely out of a perceived need for controllable full auto rifle, a goal to which both range and penetration were sacrificed. At that point, the enemy weapon was assumed to be the AK-47, so there would be no glaring discrepancies in range and power.


January 8, 2010, 01:50 PM
The common belief was that no semi-auto could be made that would function with the .30-'06, but in fact, Garand had already built a rifle that would do so and had been ordered to stop work on it.
Automatic rifles for full-power rifle cartridges were nothing new by the end of WWI, having been developed and tested extensively since the introduction of the Mondragon rifle in 1905. Browning developed and tested the BAR and got it adopted by the US Army in 1917, 5 years before Garand developed the rifle that was eventually developed into the M1. The M1918 BAR actually saw combat during WWI, replacing the Chauchat among AEF troops. M1918A1 rifles originally were semi/full auto rifles, the later WW2 M1918A2 was full auto only with the "slow/fast" selector.

The 1918 Pedersen device was indeed a good job of salesmanship, as the cartridge was low-powered and the device reportedly jammed frequently in field conditions. It is doubtful whether the Pedersen device actually saw use in combat: even though the Army adopted it in 1918, the 1903 rifles had to be modified to use it at a time when the war was in full swing and taking up most factories' capacity.

The 276 Pedersen had nothing to do with the WWI Pedersen device, it was developed after WWI in response to a perceived need for a less powerful rifle cartridge. When MacArthur vetoed it, he was privy to a lot more information than we have, and vetoed the cartridge after he had ascertained that the Garand design could be modified to use the 30-06. MacArthur was likely apprehensive remembering the logistical nightmare that accompanied the previous service cartridge changeover that took over 10 years to equip troops with new rifles. Remember, we fought the Spanish-American war in 1898 with 45-70 rifles that had supposedly been replaced by Krags several years before. Most of the Krag-Jorgensen rifles used in the Spanish-American War were in the hands of state militias, and had been provided by private funding instead of the complex US Government requisition process. Capitalism triumphs over bureaucracy!

As for the 351 Winchester round, it is likely the round's success was based on the Win 1907 rifles' reliability rather than its own merit. Kind of the same thing as the 1911/45ACP or 9mm Parabellum/Luger combination. Many successful cartridges owe their success to the firearms originally chambered for them, just as many flops were attributable to the combinations fielded.

Mike Irwin
January 8, 2010, 02:54 PM
"Mike, I agree with a lot of what you wrote, but remember in WWI, trenches didn't just consist of a hole in the ground. There were barricades, head logs, machinegun shields, and all the other means of protecting folks who needed to keep an eye on the enemy."

I don't buy that, either.

Military planning after World War I, what planning there was, focused primarily on how to prevent getting into another war like World War I.

Development of an automatic rifle was part and parcel to that, as was the development of US tank theory and application, not to mention leaps and bounds in the tactical application of artillery.

Up to World War I (and even a bit later), far too much emphasis was placed on a medieval concept of soldierly combat -- a single Doughboy, armed with his trusty and overly powerful .30-06, would lovingly raise the ladder sight on his Springfield Aught Three and pick off the Godless Baby Eating Hun with one shot at 1900 meters.

In a driving rain storm.

At night.

With his eyes closed.

And while providing "trench favors" to the comely French maiden whom he had rescued from said Baby Eating Hun.

Military officers who actually got a solid taste of warfare in the trenches realized that long range rifle fire wasn't all that it was cracked up to be -- artillery and the machine gun ruled No Man's Land. Not the rifleman.

The argument that the German boat-tailed bullet design outranged ours was also a bit specious. While it was the truth, it really wasn't a practical truth, because in the trench situations of WW I, few, if any, targets presented themselves at distances that couldn't be reached by US machine guns firing the 150-gr. flat based bullet.

Yes, the United States switched to a heavier BT bullet after WW I. Range increased to something like 5,500 meters. Which made most military firing ranges obsolete in the United States. It also got people to thinking...

Just what are we going to be shooting at at 5,500 meters?

And, if we DO have an identified target at 5,500 meters, are we going to be shooting machine gun bullets at it?

Hell no, we're going to be dropping artillery shells on it.

Just prior to World War II the US military switched BACK to the 150-gr. flat based bullet, the same design that had seen the US through World War I.

Fact is, after World War I it was recognized that ultra long distance riflery was a think of the past, and really had never been of great tactical consideration in the first place.

Even in the 1920s, many forward thinking military officers, the rising stars who would command in World War II, recognized that the .276 was more than powerful enough for the rifleman, whom they realized was RARELY going to engage targets at more than 400 meters.

Past that, machine guns would come into play, employing direct and indirect fire, along with mortars, and much past that? Well, then we're into the God of War's territory.

January 8, 2010, 03:39 PM
"As for the 351 Winchester round, it is likely the round's success was based on the Win 1907 rifles' reliability rather than its own merit."

There are historic accounts from people who actually used it in anger suggesting that the 351 round outperformed what was expected from its paper ballistics punching holes through bullet-proof vests and car bodies. My father and uncle used it successfully for deer size critters (and smaller) in the 1930s-1950s and only gave it up when they stopped hunting. Which begs the question; if it was so great then why wasn't it chambered in any other rifles? Why weren't more produced? I would hazard a WAG that non-22 caliber semis just weren't that popular with the general public and other firms like Remington had their own semi-auto with their own cartridges to market. One could argue that a cartridge with hot 357 mag ballistics is no great shakes today but back then I bet it was a hot ticket.


January 22, 2010, 01:30 AM
I have a 1977 book entitled Guns of the World, from Peterson Publishing. I believe it is a collection of magazine articles, but am not sure. In it is a chapter/article Written by a Konrad Schreier Jr on the "M1 Carbine".

It seems a well written article. One of the issues the author touches is the selection of the .30 carbine ctg. He calls it "very puzzling" and "complete mystery" the caliber "remains a puzzle". He states that the .30 carbine round was adopted "without any developmental testing, very unusual in the U.S Army"and that Edwin PUGSLEY of Winchester suggested the .30 carbine ctg, and it was developed from a "modification of the .32 SLR".

Now, that was one guys article from over 30 years ago, and who knows if he's got it right. As far as no testing, there was a war on in Europe at that point (June 1940) and the US entry was anticipated. That likely had a strong factor in expediting the "light rifle" project.

Mike Irwin
January 27, 2010, 11:35 AM
Essentially the military put out a specification for the basic rifle and the cartridge it was to fire.

At least half a dozen inventors/manufacturers proposed rifles for the competition.

What I don't know, though, is whether they also proposed cartridges, or whether Winchester had, in conjunction with the Army, already arrived at the modified .32 SL cartridge PRIOR to the specification being announced.

That seems to be one of the sticking points in the history of the carbine that I have never seen addressed -- when did Winchester propose the .30 Carbine cartridge, and how did it affect the creation of prototyes and ultimate selection of Winchester's design.