View Full Version : old 30 rimfire revolver... converting to 32 Colt

Magnum Wheel Man
January 6, 2010, 04:54 PM
looking at doing this conversion, & shooting apropriate size round ball... I see Midway still offers 32 short colt brass...

anyone else load for this cartridge ???

any comments on the conversion ??? my original thoughts were to have 5 chamber inserts made up for the gun for 22 lr, but my builder thought I'd need to extend the firing "rib" on the hammer... the gun is in really good condition, but the cylnder chambers are pretty rough, so he picked up some reference material, & we decided we could "clean up" the chambers enough to fit the 32 Colt cases, alter the hammer, & get the smaller sized 32 caliber black powder round balls which will fit nice into the 32 colt cases & in the barrel nicely... I figure if I need to alter the gun any ( to shoot the 22 lr cartridges ) I might as well go up to the 32 Colt to keep the gun shootable ( I have a thing about collecting guns that are not at all shootable )

OK... blast me if you must...

here is a pic... case color on the hammer is almost as new...


January 6, 2010, 06:35 PM
Actually, Winchester still makes 2 or 3 production runs/year of the .32 Short Colt loaded with a lead slug that has the proper characteristics for some of these old guns.

IIRC, I've been paying about $30 per box/50 to fire in my .32 Remington #4 solid-frame rolling block rifle, that's had it's breechblock & FP converted from RF to CF.

I buy my ammo over the counter @ the Kittery Trading Post ( www.ktp.com ), but your dealer should be able to obtain some for you.


James K
January 6, 2010, 09:21 PM
All that just to shoot an old revolver? You could probably buy a used modern gun for what the work will cost. Plus that H&A is one of the better of the type and has some collector value.

A point to note: The bullet diameter of the .32 Colt (or .32 S&W) is .312, while the bullet diameter of the .30 rimfire is .286. Even with low pressures, that is a lot of difference.


Magnum Wheel Man
January 7, 2010, 07:19 AM
thanks for the comments...

JIM... this particular revolver has extremely deep rifling we measured things yesterday while looking the gun over... & Hornady offers a lead ball that measures .310 that would actually fit the barrel measurement almost perfectly

PETAH... I was not aware that they they were still loading, too bad the 30 Rimfire is almost not available at all... I can get the brass for the 32 Colt commercially, & I'm already loading pop gun loads for 32 S&W & 38 S&W, so doing up a 100 or so 32 Colt with the same type of load ( lead ball, light Trailboss loads ) wouldn't be an issue... er... well except for finding loading dies... but my buddy has already offered to make me a set ( he's a retired tool & die guy ) & doesn't mind doing projects like this, if he finds them interesting, & he is interested... I think he actually wishes he had found this little revolver, as the action is like new

January 7, 2010, 03:02 PM
32 Colt (or .32 S&W) is .312,

Jim, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the .32 Short Colt used a hollow-based bullet like the .41 Long Colt, .38 Long/Short Colt, etc. (Assuming I'm not wrong about the .38.) At any rate, I didn't think the .32 Short Colt was the same as the .32 S&W Long or Short. I was thinking that the Colt round had an oddball bullet diameter of something like .298".

Magnum Wheel Man
January 7, 2010, 04:25 PM
according to my builders reference materials yes... the cases are smaller diameter than the 32 S& as well, so really the chambers just need to be cleaned up for them to fit...

January 7, 2010, 06:31 PM
Take care, when contemplating older cartridges, and comparing them, as what sometimes seems either similar (or different) isn't.

Think about their designs: inside-lubed bullets vs outside-bullets and heeled bullets VS non-heeled.

An inside-lubed/non-heeled .32 cal bullet requires a case of larger diameter than a .32 cal outside-lubed/heeled one does - but they're both .32 cal, and would use the same bore/barrel (sometimes ;) ).

If you're determined to both fire that beautiful H&A revolver, AND ream the chambers, why not sensibly handload .30 cal lead boolits in slightly necked-down .32 Short Colt cases ?


January 7, 2010, 07:01 PM
Magnum Wheel Man, I apologize if my assumptions are rather forthright, as I don't personally know you, your motives or your means...

but I implore you to not desecrate such a beautiful piece of history in order to make it a viable shooter again. I honestly believe in preserving firearms as part of our history (same with cars, guitars and other things of the likes). I believe that trying to turn this ".30 rimfire" into a .32 centerfire runs a foul of the history of firearms.

But, if you really believe in doing it, I believe that working with your smith will be the best course of action. .32s&w short will probably be your safest bet, loaded with custom molded bullets.

Magnum Wheel Man
January 8, 2010, 08:50 AM
guys... thanks for not beating me up too bad on wanting to do the custom work... I just have this deep down inside belief, that anything I own aught to be shootable, I don't collect for the sake of collecting... I got 2 suprises when this gun showed up ( I bought it on Gun Broker ) 1) that it was in such great shape mechanically & physically... still has bright case colors on the hammer... 2) that it was chambered in 30 rim fire, which is clearly marked on the gun, as it was listed as 32 caliber on the auction, & I assumed 32 rim fire, hoping that it was actually 32 S&W, although I realize most of these types of guns seem to have been produced in rimfire...

I've seen 32 rim fire cartridges available from time to time, so I wasn't as worried about the 32 caliber... but it's been a long time since I've seen 30 rim fire cartridges, & I don't think any manufacturer has reproduced then in modern ammo... if I'm wrong, please point me in the right direction, & I'd be happy owning a 100 rounds for the gun, & leave her as she is...

otherwise, my local builder is as much a lover of these old guns as you & I, & not a "butcher"... the gun will look unaltered & true when completed, ( if converted to 32 Colt ), or we won't do it...

...I'm kinda torn myself, between getting this pretty little gun back into service, or leave it lay in the safe gathering dust... I often wonder if the gun could talk, which type of life it would prefer to have ????

January 8, 2010, 10:15 PM
I just have this deep down inside belief, that anything I own aught to be shootable, I don't collect for the sake of collecting...

I see this all the time. Its such a prevalent concept today, that I won't judge you right or wrong. Its your opinion. But there are some things that I myself do not understand about this whole scenario. I am not trying to state the obvious so forgive me if these are things you already have considered:

1) Whats the reasoning behind getting this gun to fire? Once it fires, is this going to be for.....CC? target shooting? I know it cannot be used for hunting or bullseye competition just to name a few things.

2) Cost vs Benefit vs Value - If you got it for a good price or even fair, considering the market, current value, demand, etc, why alter it to lower the value? Most people do not realize that guns do not always beat inflation. Depending on what you paid, I could see a H&A appreciating in value, esp one in the condition of yours. So if you paid say $300 for the gun (for example) and the alteration cost about another $150 or so, you would have $450 in a gun that a collector would not want because its altered and a shooter would not want since the gun was intended to be a CCW and would probably be inaccurate past 10 yds. If money is no object to you, rock on, but I'm not sure that the enjoyment of shooting a gun in such a caliber would outweigh the total cost since once you alter it, there really is no turning back.

3) CCW - If you are thinking about that, just once in a while maybe, 32 short colt or 32 S&W or whichever are not great SD calibers. Of course at the time they were fairly popular but now there are much better things. Could you really ever carry it? But why trust such an old gun for CC? If you do this alteration, will this gun be the "BBQ gun" that you had a thread about before?

4) Informal shooting - Doesn't the concern of breaking a part or wearing out something bother you? These guns do not necessarily have the stamina of revolvers made in the last 50 or even 100 yrs. So what if you spent all this time and money altering it and after approx 100 rds something broke, because HEY it could happen...

5) Here's what I always wonder about people who alter guns so that they can be shot: doesn't anyone love the history of the gun? I can look past a gun not being able to fire (either broke, ammo rare/unavailable, too fragile, etc) and think of it being new and used back in the day and who had it and why and when etc. I can forgive such an old gun if it never attends a range trip or volunteers to save my life from a BG. Getting such an old gun in shooting order by altering it is almost like taking an old man from an old folks home and replacing his joints to get him to work 5 or 10 more years. I say let him rest, hes done enough and he should be appreciated for what he is now instead of what he could have been or could be or even used to be.

I myself buy some guns to shoot, some to collect/invest, etc. I'd be proud to have such a gun even though I would never bother seeking out .30 rimfires to shoot in it. Its almost effortless if you think about it: if you can buy guns and realize they do not have to be shot or even serve a purpose. You then realize you don't need the extra reloading supplies, to look for ammo, to replace parts if it happens, to find a smith who would work on it - if you retire it, there isn't a worry in the world.

Btw, I'm not bashing you at all, I'm just being my inquisitive self. I really liked your thread about the taurus/DW hybrid 22 hornet. The alteration there made a lot of sense. But this one? Hmmmm. Seems a lot different and less useful to me. I am interested to hear your thoughts on the gun after its altered. I just hope that if you do it, you don't regret doing it.

Magnum Wheel Man
January 10, 2010, 12:23 PM
& after cleaning up & going over this gun, I'm still not sure which way to go... the bore & cylinder chambers, which looked kinda questionable originally... cleaned up to almost look unfired ( it's amaizing how cruddy a perfectly good gun ca look if filled with 30-40 years worth of lint & dust )... I'm sure the gun has been fired, but it looks like it's in "almost unfired" condition, after cleaning the bore & cylinder...

my builder still wants to do this project, I paid less than $100.00 for the gun in the 1st place, & he works "extremely reasonably" on my projects, if it's something he likes to work on, & he wants to do this project, I expect I'll have less than $100.00 into the whole gun at completion if I decide to do the project... he also wants me to do some expiriments along the lines of what I'm currently doing with the 32 S&W & the 38 S&W with the 32 Colt cartridge... with the condition of this gun, there is no reason to expect that this one won't shoot as good or better than new with 32 Colt round ball loads... if we decide to do this, you would have to be very familiar with the gun, to notice any change... well except the 32 Colt ammo, not 30 rimfire long :o

check out this other thread on my 32 S&W loadings, & you'll see how much I'm "enjoying shooting" these old guns, & if these get Mrs Magnum out in below zero weather with me, I picture that on Saturday mornings during the summer, she'll come out & drink a cup of coffee with me on the shooting range, if I let her shoot a couple of the older guns with pop gun loads... enjoyment shooting...from that standpoint alone, it's worth the conversion


BTW... as far as the BBQ gun... I think I got that covered with this one ( which cleaned up quite nicely as well... I'm currently looking for a showy vintage holster for for this one )....


January 10, 2010, 12:38 PM
I have a very similiar gun. Bore looked a bit rough but perhaps shootable. Years ago I got a box of the Navy Arms rimfire ammo to use in it, but never worked up time and the nerve to shoot it at the same time. I would keep an eye peeled for something in a centerfire chambering. Trouble is, around here the ones they bring to shows are looking all used up. Or occasionally OK and high priced.

Magnum Wheel Man
January 19, 2010, 07:38 AM
albeit unmolested... er well sorta...

... after lots of thought & carefull measurement, we have decided not to rechamber the old girl to 32 Colt ( the cylinder is just slightly too small, to where the rims would lightly cut into the cylinder ratchet & the chamber wall thickness will get too thin for factory 32 Colt )

however, we think we can make some chamber inserts for 22 rim fire that will work without altering the hammer at all... because of the exposed rim area needed to shoot the gun with the unaltered hammer, we are going to look at chambering specifically for Super Colibri 22's ( much lower pressure ammo ) both my builder & I feel that a gun should be able to handle a factory cartridge if it's chambered for that round, so we never put a heavy round in a light weight action, with the expectation that it'll be hand loaded light... if it would be unsafe for a factory round to be chambered accidentally, I won't own it...

I shoot super colibri's in my old Stevens Crack Shot side lever, so I keep a few around, this could be a "companion gun" to the Crack Shot, if we can get a chamber that will fit the super colibri's but not fit a higher velocity 22 lr round

we are thinking about using a scrap of 22 lr barrel to make the chamber inserts, so there would be 1/2" or so of rifling left in the chamber inserts, hopefully resulting in something I could still hit the broad side of a barn with...

no alterations to the gun... I think this the best option... thoughts ???

Magnum Wheel Man
January 20, 2010, 11:12 AM
1st trial insert is completed, & with no alterations to the gun, it fires the Super Colibi 22's... before he builds 4 more inserts for the gun ( each will be made for each chamber individually & are a slight press fit to the chamber to keep them positioned ), he wants me to test fire a few at a target to test for accuracy with the stubby 1/2" of rifled chamber on each insert... if I can hit the broad side of a barn, we'll go ahead with the other 4 inserts... I'm much happier doing it this way, with no alterations at all to the gun, & I can now shoot this ifI feel the urge to pull out that old Crackshot :)

January 21, 2010, 10:19 AM
I understand MWM. Its largely personal. Such as me recently buying a 1905 1st variation target just to have one because I'm a S&W fan. The example I bought is rusty and my one friend criticized the purchase, but I wanted it. Its all original, just mediocre condition at best. At first I didn't see the logic behind the alteration but if it makes you happy, go for it. If it made me happy, I guess I would. The 22 inserts sound like the best compromise tho. I imagine accuracy would be horrible without a barrel liner?