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Old December 3, 2019, 10:43 PM   #2
44 AMP
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 22,408
You need to find someone expert in the H&R top break.

According to my books the .32 S&W was introduced in 1878, in a top break revolver. The .32 S&W Long was introduced in 1903 in a solid frame revolver.

H&R made guns in both calibers. Dimensionally both the "short" and Long cases are the same except for length, with the long case being approx. .32" longer than the short one. Factory loads used a 95gr bullet for the Long and an 86gr for the .32 S&W.

If your gun was made before 1903 it can't be a .32 S&W Long. If it was made after that, it could be either, though at a guess if it was made for the Long ctg, it would say .32 S&W Long ctg on it.

I do not know if H&R put the "ledge" in the chamber of their .32S&Ws. Not an expert on .32s but I believe S&W did put a ledge/step at the front of the chamber in their guns. Many other revolver makers did not.

IF your gun doesn't have that step at the front of the short chamber it could chamber the Long cartridge. This is considered a less than good idea. Unlikely the Long will blow up the gun, but top breaks are not very strong actions and the metallurgy used in budget guns of that era wasn't that good either. Fortunately neither round is a high pressure powerhouse, so disaster is unlikely, however if the gun is made for the short case, shooting the long one's slightly more powerful load could result in accelerated wear.

If the gun is made for the longer case, shooting the shorter one is not a concern, other than the eventual crud build up if you go too many rounds without cleaning.

I believe both rounds were loaded with black powder until at least the 1920s, possibly longer until the start of WWII ended ammo production for the duration of the war.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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