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Old May 27, 2016, 10:06 PM   #1
Rumblefrost
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Belgium Bulldog

Hello,
I'm new to TFL and I was wondering if anyone could help me out. I recently acquired a Belgium bulldog its chambered for .32 short colt. I went to a gun store today to look for .32 short colt. I'll pause for laughter here... So I have a question. Can I re-chamber it for 32 Smith & Wesson short? Is there any other ammo I can use in it? I know you're probably thinking why bother? I have the means to acquire nearly any edc gun I would like but I really want to carry this one. For many years these .32's were considered to be perfectly fine carry guns and I don't think I need much more firepower. Has anyone re chambered an old .32 revolver and can you share your story? Thanks.
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Old May 28, 2016, 12:36 AM   #2
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Not to nitpick, but there is no such thing as 32 S&W Short, just 32 S&W and 32 S&W Long. There is also a 32 Colt (New Police) which is the same as 32 S&W Long, but as far as I can tell never a 32 Colt Short. But it would not surprise me if Colt chambered a revolver for 32 S&W and called it 32 Colt Short, they never wanted their competitor's name on their product in any way. Anyway, if you have a Colt Pocket Positive, Police Positive or other revolver chambered for 32 Colt, that is sold as 32 S&W Long. And if that does not fit, then 32 S&W.

And since we are in the vein, there is also no 45 Long Colt, just 45 Colt, the shorter version was called the 45 Government, but people have been calling it 45 Long Colt for so long that it has become its own reference.

And yes, 32s were considered all you needed back in the day. Back before antibiotics, anesthetics, and trauma surgeons. But there are so many more better-suited cartridges that there is no need to goo looking for $75/box antique cartridges.
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Old May 28, 2016, 04:33 AM   #3
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According to Cartridges of The World, there are .32 Short Colt and .32 Long Colt cartridges, introduced in 1875. They are smaller in diameter than the .32 S&W and .32 S&W Long. Bullet diameters are about the same, .312-.313, so rechambering to .32 S&W would probably not cause any problems.

Note that .32 Short and Long Colt are NOT the same as the .32 Colt New Police cartridges, which are identical with the .32 S&W Long rounds.
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Old May 28, 2016, 05:29 AM   #4
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Bulldog


Two of those are Belgian Bulldogs.....antique guns. None of them are designed for modern smokeless powder propellants. They get fed BP loads only.
.32 S&W and .38 S&W.
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Old May 28, 2016, 08:37 AM   #5
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According to Starline's article the 32 colt cartridges used a 30 cal bullet instead of the 311. So simple rechambering seems out of the question. If you really want to fire that thing, slug the barrel and find out if you could use a 32 bullet. But considering that you'd have to handload blackpowder for that gun and the die is going to cost more than that thing is worth I'd look for another antique to play with in a more readily available chambering.
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Old May 28, 2016, 08:43 AM   #6
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Rumblefrost, here's a guy who sells .32 Short Colt ammo - about a year ago he sold me some loaded with Pyrodex -

http://www.gadcustomcartridges.com/

EDIT - note that the .32 Short Colt uses a heeled bullet.

Last edited by ofitg; May 28, 2016 at 08:52 AM.
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Old May 28, 2016, 12:31 PM   #7
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I contacted the gentleman you sent a posted a link for and he told me to check back in four months. He currently doesn't have any. I am beginning to see what you guys are talking about in regards to the expense of getting the proper reloading equipment. No small investment there. I have a bid going on a popular site right now for some ammo. Fingers crossed. Thanks for posting the pictures nice to see others share the passion for these older guns. I tried to post a picture of mine but I'm on a tablet and when I click above it takes me of the website.
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Old May 28, 2016, 12:50 PM   #8
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I live in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and our Second Amendment Rights have been taken away under the disguise of consumer protection. I'm a transplant from Washington State and can't believe what I see happening here. If it's not on the extremely short approved gun list than you can't have it. What that does is jack up the price of the guns you can have. I guess finding a way to carry this has become sort of a personal protest for me. I crossed the border into NH and was amazed at the prices and availability, of course with my MA license it didn't do much good because the money I saved on the Blackhawk I purchased was cancelled out by having to send it to an FFL in Ma so I could take possession of it.
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Old May 28, 2016, 02:05 PM   #9
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"...a 32 Colt (New Police) which is the same as 32 S&W Long..." Um, no. Just about every measurement is different.
http://stevespages.com/jpg/cd32longcolt.jpg
http://stevespages.com/jpg/cd32smithandwessonlong.jpg
There is a .32 Short Colt. Might be makeable out of .32 S&W Long. Really don't think it's worth the expense though.
http://www.saami.org/pubresources/cc...ort%20Colt.pdf
What there isn't is a factory load. Winchester does it when they feel like it in 'Limited Production', according to Midway.
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Old May 28, 2016, 04:03 PM   #10
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I have an H&R 04 that I use for self defense sometimes. In perfect condition, I shoot 32 S&W long in it. The longs are cheaper and more readily available. Here is a picture of one(not mine). Think I paid around $125.00 for it.
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Old May 28, 2016, 07:20 PM   #11
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If it turns out that your pistol is chambered for .32 s&w Buffalo arms sells 50 rnd of black powder loads for $40.69 + shipping. I bought a box to shoot and then reload. A Lee loader cost me $$$,but I only have to buy it once.
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Old May 28, 2016, 11:54 PM   #12
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There really are (or were) .32 Short Colt and .32 Long Colt cartridges, though they had different origins. Case diameter is about .318. There is/was also a .32 Colt New Police, which was identical to the .32 S&W Long. The case diameter is about .327. The .32 Long Colt was simply the CF version of the .32 rimfire. The .32 Short Colt was just the European/British .320 Revolver, renamed. It was used in many British and Belgian revolvers and later in some Colt revolvers.

To add to the confusion there were two versions of the .32 Long Colt. The earlier was outside lubricated with a bullet diameter of .312-.320". The latter was inside lubricated and had a bullet diameter of c. .287-.298" with a deep base cavity so it would expand into the rifling when fired. Either can be used in guns chambered for the .32 Long Colt.

Note that .32 S&W, .32 S&W Long, and .32 Colt New Police WILL NOT fit in guns chambered for .32 Short Colt, .32 Long Colt, or .320 Revolver.

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Old May 29, 2016, 04:23 PM   #13
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It's chambered for .320 but people usually substitute.32 short colt for the obsolete round from what I can tell. I was just wondering if I purchased a chambering ream could I ream the cylinder in my drill press out to the larger more commonly available .32 s&w. Would anything need to be done in regards to the barrel throat area? I've looked to see if anyone has done this and I can't find anyone who has. The cylinder length is 1.019". Cylinder hole is .324 where the rounds go in and the other side of the cylinder measures .312. Cylinder wall thickness is 1/16. Cylinder to cylinder is 3/32. So it seems there's room to ream up providing I stick with BP rounds. Thoughts?

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Old May 29, 2016, 04:38 PM   #14
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The S&W long wadcutters measure .920 overall length and after you subtract the .055 for rim thickness it seems I have more than I need for the length. Ream it out to .337 and it seems like I'm good to go. On paper at least.

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Old May 29, 2016, 09:12 PM   #15
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The bullet diameters are close enough that the bore should be no concern. I think you could go to .32 S&W Long BUT that cylinder is probably cast iron and a 1/16" cylinder wall is pretty thin (and will be thinner after reaming). Plus, after that trouble, you will have an obsolete revolver with poor handling characteristics and dubious safety, chambered for a weak cartridge, prone to parts breakage with no spares available and no gunsmith service, but legally no different from a 10mm Glock in regards to carry.

I think I would go for something better even if it is not anything exotic.

Jim
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Old May 29, 2016, 11:53 PM   #16
Rumblefrost
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Jim,
What you've said is wise. I'll just have to keep trying to find some .32 short colts to put in it. Oh well maybe in another couple of years they'll do another run of Winchester rounds.
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Old May 30, 2016, 12:34 AM   #17
Rumblefrost
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I remember all those gun magazines I read growing up and for a long time the little Seecamps were considered to be the best pocket pistol around. If my memory is correct they fired the .32 as well.
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Old May 30, 2016, 08:04 AM   #18
Mike Irwin
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Winchester still occasionally rolls out a batch of .32 Short Colt.

Right now, with all of the issues of supply over the past few years, it's not been a high production priority.




T O'Heir,

Scorch is correct. The .32 Colt New Police, which Colt generally referred to only as the .32 Police in markings on its guns, is nothing more than Colt's version of the .32 S&W Long.

In the ongoing battle for market supremacy between Colt & S&W over the years, Smith truly won the war with its smaller .32 and .38 cartridges. The .32 S&W, the .32 Long, the .38 S&W, and the .38 S&W Special became de facto American standards.

So much so, in fact, that Colt's versions, the .32 Short and Long Colts and the .38 Short and Long Colts became insignificant sellers to the point that Colt had to start chambering the S&W rounds.

But, company pride and all, they simply couldn't slap their main competitor's name on their revolvers.

So, the .32 S&W Long became the .32 Colt Police cartridge.

The .38 S&W became the .38 Colt Police (also known as the .38 Colt New Police, and in some variations, the .38 Colt Super Police).

And, the .38 S&W Special became the .38 Colt Special.
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Old May 30, 2016, 10:57 AM   #19
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Quote:
I'll just have to keep trying to find some .32 short colts to put in it. Oh well maybe in another couple of years they'll do another run of Winchester rounds.
Be advised, several years ago I found a vintage box of .32 Short Colt ammo at a gunshow. When I took it home and pulled one of the bullets, I found it was loaded with smokeless powder.

If Gad Custom Cartridges doesn't sell .32 Short Colt blackpowder/pyrodex rounds anymore, you might have have to take the plunge and invest in reloading equipment.
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Old May 30, 2016, 09:28 PM   #20
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I don't know where folks got the idea that the old BP cartridges were loaded with BP after smokeless came into common use. One young person informed me that cartridges like the .32 S&W Long are loaded with black powder today "to keep from blowing up the old guns." Nonsense. With few exceptions, factory ammo has been loaded with smokeless powder since the 1920's. And tens of millions of rounds have been fired in millions of old guns with very few disasters.

Some of the old guns were weak or have become weak, and should never be fired at all. But the ammo companies keep the pressure of the old rounds to the BP level and a limited amount of firing with smokeless powder will do no harm. Of course, handloaders who insist that the manual's maximum load is a starting point will blow up guns; not just old guns, but any gun they get hold of; that is what they do.

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Old May 30, 2016, 09:45 PM   #21
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Jim, it's possible that we're being overly cautious. I've read that a German company named Rickert continued manufacturing "bulldog-type" revolvers into the 1930's, and I wouldn't be surprised if Belgian manufacturers had done the same.

My Belgian .32 has a proof (crown over R) on the frame which was introduced in 1894, according to this website -

http://damascus-barrels.com/Belgian_All_Proofmarks.html

Unfortunately, I don't really know when it was manufactured or whether the engineers designed it for smokeless powder. It does not bear a "lion" nitro proof. Would you recommend shooting factory smokeless loads in it?
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Old May 30, 2016, 10:00 PM   #22
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Don't forget the BULLET!

True, the Colt series of ammo including .32 and .38 Colt New Police/Police Positive, and .38 Colt Special, shared case dimensions with the Smith & Wesson cartridges.
But they had the Colt flatpointed bullet.
So deadly that it was assigned a full 10% extra effectiveness in the Hatcher Stopping Power formula.
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Old May 31, 2016, 06:30 AM   #23
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"I don't know where folks got the idea that the old BP cartridges were loaded with BP after smokeless came into common use."

Because some still were right up through the last of the great cartridge purges in the 1930s.

I'm not 100% sure, but I think that the .44 Henry Flat was one of the last cartridges available in black powder, possibly along with the .56-56 Spencer, both of which were finally dropped in the early 1930s.

The .38 and .44 Specials, both of which had been developed with black powder (yes, the .44 Special, in 1907, the very last black powder cartridge ever developed commercially) and were available loaded with black at least until World War I.

The older cartridges that stuck around after the great purges, like the .32 Short Colt, were loaded with bulk replacement smokeless powders for many years.
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Old May 31, 2016, 03:42 PM   #24
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I admit I don't know about the .44 Henry Flat, and I have heard that the .41 RF (the "Derringer" round) was loaded with BP quite late, perhaps until it was discontinued, but I fired .32 and .38 S&W cartridges loaded in the 1930's and since I didn't have coughing fits, assume they were loaded with smokeless.

I also repaired dozens of those old revolvers and test fired them with smokeless powder loads; none blew up in a mushroom cloud. I don't recommend firing the old guns (including Belgian guns) extensively with smokeless loads, but then I don't recommend firing them extensively with ANY loads. Will they blow up? Very unlikely unless they are obviously dangerous. Should you buy a case of modern ammo for practice and use an antique as your EDC? No.

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Old June 1, 2016, 06:43 AM   #25
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You have to remember, too, that companies had different protocols for loading old rounds. Some may have switched to smokeless powders early on for some rounds, or stuck with black for a long, long time.

Some companies might not have wanted to go to the expense of updating their manufacturing processes to load smokeless in cartridges that were rapidly approaching obsolescence.

There's no definitive listing that I know of that has ever compiled this data on who was doing what when with any particular round.


"I also repaired dozens of those old revolvers and test fired them with smokeless powder loads; none blew up in a mushroom cloud."

No, I don't know of any that blew up, either. But I do know of quite a few black powder era breaktops with ductile iron frames that got looser and looser as they were shot more and more with smokeless powder.
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