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Old August 21, 2015, 10:50 AM   #1
nanjason
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32-20 for an old Winchester 1873

Over in the Smithy forum I have described my own restoration of what was a badly rusted Winchester 1873 in 32-20. I have gotten it back together and put about 25 old Winchester factory rounds through it and I'd like to reload for it.

I use a Dillon 550B. I've only been reloading for less than a year now and only load 9mm. Done thousands of those, with no issues at all.

I don't see a set of Dillon dies for 32-20. Any recommendations on a die set? Any particulars I should be aware of for 32-20? I know it's a necked cartridge... I'm thinking they don't need lubed though, right? (assuming I get carbide dies?).

Thanks.

-Jason
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Old August 21, 2015, 11:40 AM   #2
condor bravo
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You don't need Dillon dies for the .32-20; suggest RCBS. There will not be any carbide dies. The RCBS is shown as a three die set, at a somewhat higher price than the usual two die, which probably means that the third die is a neck flaring die on the assumption that lead bullets will be used. Neck flaring is necessary when using lead bullets to keep from crushing case necks or shearing bullets (which are over sized from their jacketed counterparts). But yes I would suggest lubing the cases for use with the 550B (or even with single stage).
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Old August 21, 2015, 12:37 PM   #3
nanjason
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Thanks. Are you referring to the RCBS Cowboy Die set?

-Jason
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Old August 21, 2015, 01:27 PM   #4
condor bravo
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No, not the cowboy die set, (if there is one), just the standard set. Note however that with the Dillon caliber conversion kit to .32-20, the powder die will probably also act as a flaring die, eliminating the need to use the RCBS flaring die. The RCBS die set is included as a three die set since some will be loading on a single stage press.
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Old August 21, 2015, 02:27 PM   #5
T. O'Heir
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Dies have a standard thread of 7/8-14. Makes no difference what brand you buy. RCBS dies do come with their warrantee though.
The .32-20 runs out of rifles and revolvers. Have one of those in the form of a Colt Police Positive. Anyway, not all die sets come with the carbide sizer die so make sure it's there. Otherwise you'll have to lube.
The difference between RCBS' Cowboy and regular die set is the colour.
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Old August 22, 2015, 07:11 PM   #6
30Cal
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The cowboy dies come with a larger expander for cast bullets. With a normal expander die, you will frequently squeeze cast bullets down (basically size them) to the point where they don't fly well.

Depending on what your bore diameter is, you might have in interesting time finding bullets that shoot well. The old bores can be all over the place as far as diameter. Big time. Slug the bore first, then look into which dies you need. Really, you should poke around on castboolits or the marlinowners forum before you get dies.

You must lube them. They aren't straight walled.

The cases are very thin. You will want to flare the case mouth, even with jacketed bullets, otherwise you're going to crush 1 out of every 5.

Slug the bore before you buy bullets or dies.

Last edited by 30Cal; August 22, 2015 at 07:25 PM.
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Old August 22, 2015, 07:27 PM   #7
stubbicatt
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I used to load for 32-20. The parent case is an old black powder offering, and sort of like 44-40 or 38-40, very thin to assure proper obturation upon firing, at lower, black powder, pressures. This also makes it a little "fragile" to reload, in that if one doesn't go slowly and cautiously, one can carelessly crush a case rather easily.

I would suggest either Lyman or RCBS dies due to the proper expander die included with them. As others have said, this is a semi bottleneck case and one will have to lube cases as he FL resizes them. Another option is to get a custom die from C&H Tool and Die which will resize your cases only enough for reliability in your chamber, and size the neck down only as much as needed.

If you intend to shoot any cast bullets in your rifle, I would suggest the RCBS "Cowboy" die set if they offer it, as it tends to have an expander plug better suited for that task. Buffalo Arms offers "custom" expanders for RCBS dies so that you can get the proper neck diameter for whichever projectiles you use.

Another feature of this cartridge is that if you repeatedly full length resize, you will run into case separations and unusual stretching. At least that was my experience. I found that if I set my die so that it sized maybe ⅔ of the case neck nearest the case mouth only, not touching the "shoulder" I could get the brass to last indefinitely at the pressures it was designed for. You CAN hot rod this little cartridge assuming the action of your rifle is up to it, and I used to do that for a TC Contender I once had chambered in that number. Again, if you can, try to only neck size your cases. Feed them into your dies slowly to make sure they are centering up, as I cannot over emphasize their fragility, and you will be rewarded with collapsed cases if you are not diligent in this regard. A case expanded even .003" under bullet diameter has a pretty good chance of crushing as you seat the bullet.

If you roll crimp, be sure your cases are trimmed to a uniform length before attempting it, or if they make one, one of the collet type Lee factory crimp dies might be a good investment. I would think that if you are going to magazine feed your cartridges you should choose a good firm crimp.

Congratulations. I think you will really enjoy your rifle.

ETA: I never tried a powder thru expander die such as Dillon licenses from Lee Precision with this cartridge. I have used both Dillon and Lee powder dies and powder measures in other applications. If it were me, I would find another way to charge my cases, as I would be concerned that with the resistance of the mechanism of the powder charging setup on the upstroke of your press, you might damage or way over-flare your case mouths. I guess the only way to be sure is to try it and see what you get.

Last edited by stubbicatt; August 22, 2015 at 07:48 PM.
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Old August 22, 2015, 08:32 PM   #8
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I checked on the availability of the cowboy .32-20 die set and unfortunately Midway says out of stock, no back order, but would keep checking on that. Midway does say the dimensions are different from the standard set. Lubing required and not available as a carbide die. As Mr T said, the coloring is somewhat different.
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Old August 23, 2015, 07:22 AM   #9
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Buffalo Arms allows a backorder

Maybe this will help. Sometimes I have found good deals on Amazon.
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Old August 23, 2015, 04:49 PM   #10
Ralph Allen
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I reload 32-20 for an original Marlin 94 made in 1906. I do all of mine on a single stage press and have yet to crush a case mouth. I think you are more inclined to ruin brass on a progressive press for fragile brass than with a singles stage. You probably are not going to load more than 100 rounds at once anyway. Take some time and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Fun cartridge. I don't hotrod mine at all. Bought a box of 500 Starline brass a few years back. I know of no carbide dies, unless you could find a used set at a gun show. Enjoy.
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Old August 23, 2015, 05:31 PM   #11
condor bravo
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For lead bullets for the .32-20 go to Western Bullet Company in Montana. Two possible choices would be:
Lyman #3118 115 gr FN, non gas checked at $10 per 100 and
Lyman #311316 120 gr FN, gas checked at $18.50 per 100
Both are sized to .312 whereas .313 might be more preferable.
Minimum order with Western is $30 and payment has to be via PayPal, which seems to be no problem, but is not necessary to establish a PayPal account. Delivery time by Western has been around two weeks and they ship by USPS priority.

www.westernbullet.com
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Old August 23, 2015, 07:39 PM   #12
nanjason
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Thanks everyone!

For my 9mm reloading I've had great experience with xtremebullets.com and I noticed they have 115 gr 32-20 .312 diameter lead RNFP bullets they call "cowboy bullets" for about $42 per 500. Anyone use them before? I've had such good luck with them I'm inclined to order up a box.

http://www.xtremebullets.com/32-20-1...nfpc-b0500.htm

I'll have to do some research and look into slugging the bore first. I've never done that, any quick pointers for a newbie for what to look for etc?

-Jason
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Old August 23, 2015, 08:01 PM   #13
condor bravo
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Have not used that particular bullet but it sounds like it should do the job as well as any other .312 sized bullet. May depend considerably on bore size. Have not slugged a rifle barrel so will not try to give advice on the best approach. But of course you will have to start out with a slug that is at least .312 but preferably slightly larger of course and finding such a thing, without buying the whole box, could be a problem. For those who cast their own bullets, they would use an unsized bullet as it drops from the mold to do the slugging. If you cannot obtain an appropriate bullet size for the slugging, it would be iffy of course to buy a full box of .312s unless you were to purchase a 100 box size, as available from Western, and there would not be that much money wasted if they do not work out. But then with their $30 minimum purchase, you are still spending over $30. You may be facing somewhat of a dilemma and may just have to take a chance with the .312s without slugging.
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Last edited by condor bravo; August 24, 2015 at 12:03 AM.
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