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Old December 28, 2016, 10:31 PM   #1
TruthTellers
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.32 S&W-Safe to Shoot?

For the record, I'm talking about plain Jane, old as dirt, .32 S&W, NOT.32 S&W Long.

So, I saw a .32 S&W Hopkins and Allen at my LGS the other day that looked great and was a low price. I've been looking online for a top break .32 as I'd like a top break revolver in my collection, but the price and way many of them look have put me off.

I didn't handle it, but I will ask about it next time I go. My concern is it was probably made back during black powder days. I've read that factory ammo makers have intentionally kept the .32 S&W power and pressure low to still work in the old and weak .32 S&W chambered guns.

So my question is: Will factory .32 S&W be safe to shoot in .32 S&W guns that were made a long time ago during the black powder .32 S&W days?
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Old December 29, 2016, 10:06 AM   #2
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The best place to ask this question would probably be with the ammo manufacturers.
The only ammo I'd trust in an oldie would be very conservative black powder loads I made myself.
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Old December 29, 2016, 07:33 PM   #3
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I cannot speak to Hopkins and Allen, but I have a Smith & Wesson 4th Model, top break 32 sw (not long). I shoot it with factory Remington ammo. I maybe naive, but; it locks tight, timing is good and I never gave it a 2nd thought beyond that. I had it a long time ago and I guess the worries were a little different back in the stone ages. And, To be honest, its not much good for anything, beyond the cool factor.

You might google the gun and see what others have had to say. These guys are saying black powder only, for any H&A:

http://www.thefirearmsforum.com/thre...evolver.60072/

There maybe good reason S&W is still in business?
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Old December 29, 2016, 08:06 PM   #4
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I too have a 4th Model S&W in 32S&W. Found it in one of my dads drawers after he died. Never knew he had it, nor did we know what it was caliber wise, as they are unmarked.

It was in real good shape, and everything locked up tight. After a bit of research and deduction I figured out it was a 32S&W and a black powder era gun. From most of what I read, its best to use BP in guns of that era, even though some will tell you that the smokeless factory loadings are quite light and safe to shoot. Thats assuming you can even find any.

At the time (about 3-4 years ago) I searched near and far, and only came up with one box of loaded ammo, and they wanted something like a $1 a round for it and that didnt include shipping.

Since it was a BP era gun, and I reload, I decided to go that route.

If you reload, brass, dies and bullets are available and reasonably priced. I got 100 pieces of brass, 100 bullets, and a set of Lee dies for around $75.

Loading BP is actually pretty easy. Load the case with powder to just above where the bullet will seat, so that the bullet just slightly compresses it, and youre good to go. You want it compressed without any air gap. I used FF, as opposed to FFF, figuring it would give a slightly lighter charge due to the larger flake. Used both lead round balls and RNL bullets. Worked great. The gun does have quite the bark though, and more recoil than Id have thought, but its fun to shoot.

This is it here. One with the round ball loading, and the other with RNL. The pics dont really have anything for size reference, but in reality, its actually a tiny little gun.......



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Old December 29, 2016, 09:19 PM   #5
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32 S&W was always an anemic round. If the gun still functions and the lock up is good I wouldn't be afraid to shoot it.

I wouldn't plan on shooting it on a regular basis but a couple rounds probably won't destroy it. Of course the chance of breaking one of these is probably greater than the chance of just about any other gun you could buy.

I've got a couple 38 break tops that function OK. The 32's were much smaller and it seems to be much harder to find them in good working order.
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Old December 29, 2016, 09:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
The 32's were much smaller and it seems to be much harder to find them in good working order.
The break top .32's were vest/pocket guns back in their day, so they were carried and shot more over the larger .38's and makes sense why they're never in good condition. I can attest to that, I've been looking at top break .32's for that past 2+ months and the condition the vast majority are in is awful. Occasionally I see a good one here or there, but the price goes higher than I'm comfortable parting with.

Since the .32's were more popular back then, that's kind of the explanation for my interest in them, not to mention I can use the .32 S&W in a .32 Long revolver or .327 Magnum.
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Old December 29, 2016, 09:27 PM   #7
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From the sounds of it, sounds like it's best I pass on that H&A and stick with keeping an eye open for an H&R with the cartridge marked on the barrel, which is supposed to indicate it's proofed for smokeless.
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Old December 29, 2016, 10:06 PM   #8
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Remington still loads 32 S&W:

http://www.sportsmansguide.com/produ...unds?a=1500064

https://www.midwayusa.com/product/54...nose-box-of-50

I would never argue against using black powder. Just saying, while not bargain cheap, it is available for $30 box of 50. I would learn how to do a full strip down on any gun I fired with BP. I think 3F.

I would argue against shooting these short cases in a 32/327 magnum. Those revolvers will do a lot better with a full length case.
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Old December 30, 2016, 07:30 AM   #9
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Track of the Wolf has 32's&w in black powder.
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Old December 30, 2016, 07:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Track of the Wolf has 32's&w in black powder.
Although it does not get much easier than loading with black powder. I decided to look at the above and all I found was long brass and loaded 32-20, no 32 s&W. Can you post a link? Just asking, I am fine with the very mild and clean burning Reminton ammo.
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Old December 30, 2016, 08:10 AM   #11
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Bought an H&A 32 SW top break for $45 bucks.
It shoots well and has no problem with lock up.
I wish someone like NAA would make something like these again.
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Old December 30, 2016, 09:00 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khegglie
I wish someone like NAA would make something like these again.
Speak of the devil...

https://www.americanrifleman.org/art...mini-revolver/

I'm not sure you're aware of this—not sure precisely what you meant by "mak[ing] them again"—but NAA previously marketed a top-break in 2012, but it was discontinued almost immediately, reportedly due to QA/QC problems and resultant cost overruns.

Of course, this revolver isn't in .32 S&W. I actually think NAA would be on to something if they brought one out in .32 S&W Long or even .32 ACP.
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Old December 30, 2016, 12:17 PM   #13
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NAA showed the Ranger II at SHOT show last January and it still hasn't come out yet. I'll believe it when I see it, but if it does come out, I'm going to do a wait and see approach as NAA will probably give it a 1.5 inch barrel when it really needs a 2 inch barrel or longer to ensure expansion with .22 Mag JHP.

But yes, I would also like to see NAA make a .32 revolver (be it ACP or .32 S&W) on a larger frame. Yes, it'd be a bigger gun, but with today's technology, I'm sure they could still make it smaller than any of the top breaks from 100 years ago.

I'd also be interested to see if they could fit a .25 ACP in the Black Widow. Would really be a great ankle gun considering the size/weight of the bullet in the little gun.
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Old January 1, 2017, 10:42 PM   #14
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The belief than ammo makers keep ammo in the old calibers (.32 S&W, .38 S&W, etc.) at pressures the same as in the old days is correct. They don't want to have customers' guns coming apart at the seams, which is what would happen if they hot rodded old calibers like .32 S&W. Some few old guns may be unsafe to fire with any ammunition, but most will be fine with a reasonable amount of shooting with modern factory (smokeless powder) ammo. As always, some knowledge of guns and ammo is needed before just buying a gun and "some shells" and going off to the range, but the idea that one must establish a black powder cartridge loading operation in order to fire a few shots from "granddad's" revolver is simply not true.

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Old January 2, 2017, 05:58 AM   #15
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.32 S&W

A Baby Bulldog in .32 S&W: BP handloads
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Old January 2, 2017, 07:12 AM   #16
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I have a couple 32 S&W one from approx. 1880 and other approx. 1910 I ve shot todays 32 in both . No problem . Now I am not firing a 100 rounds That ammo little expensive . Just 5 rounds now and then . Maybe let some one experience the shooting of a 100 year old pistols
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Old January 2, 2017, 08:51 AM   #17
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Hey darkgael,

Are those the original grips for that gun? I have one that, other than the grips, which on mine are a poor homemade version, and the gun having a square butt, looks identical to yours. Thats the first Ive seen one like it too.

My dad took the one I have off somebody back in the 60's when he was in the military police. He had a drawer full of junk knives and guns of that type. Most of the guns were basically non functional, like the one like yours, yet they were being carried loaded. Kind of a scary thought, but not sure who for.

I kept that one as its was different and not typical of the other, mostly junky top breaks. It just sits around as a paperweight, and theres no way Id try and shoot it.
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Old January 2, 2017, 05:10 PM   #18
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I've had dozens of these little top breaks in 22-32-38S&W. Various makers IJ
H&R, H&A, ect. Most of them come stock with a broke spring. The 32s are the
most forgiving(32shorts), if gun is solid and chambers are not pitted I shoot
smokeless loads in them. In 22s I would not shoot modern HV 22lrs in them or
standard V if you knew it was a later gun. They aren't actually good for much
other than a collectors piece. We lump them together as suicide specials, that
where the term $3 pistol came from. Actual cost back in the day. S&Ws and
Marlin and a few other lesser know makes are not in this bracket.
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Old January 8, 2017, 07:36 AM   #19
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grips

AK103: Yes, those are the original grips. That little gun is completely functional, though I rarely shoot it. The load is a bullet swaged from buckshot over a case of FFFg BP.
For what it is, it shoots very nicely at five yards.
I have another one that needs a new hand and hand spring.
That one is the paperweight.
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Old January 8, 2017, 09:39 PM   #20
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Hi, DRM50,

That $3 revolver was expensive; a lot ran $1.50 to $2 retail, mail order.

Old guns don't usually "blow up"; they fail in other ways, mainly broken springs and wear on soft parts. With exceptions for high quality guns (Colt, S&W handguns, Winchester and Remington rifles) the metallurgy of the old days was pretty bad. The small pistols were almost always made of cast iron (not steel) and were never meant for any kind of extended firing. A homeowner or traveler would buy a cheap revolver, load it up and tuck it away either in a pocket or bureau drawer. Few were ever fired which was just as well as many were unsafe when new and didn't improve with age.

I have seen it stated that those guns had be be good since ammunition was sold 50 rounds to a box. True, but most hardware and general stores sold ammo by the round from broken boxes, so many gun owners bought "just enough bullets" to fill the cylinder before the gun went into the pocket or bureau drawer.

Jim
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Old January 10, 2017, 08:43 PM   #21
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where too buy the .32 bullets?

Want to load BP .32 have some >32 SW Long tht need to be trimmed.

Us the FFg about the 8.0 - 8.7 gr of powder, haven't confirmed actual load heard that normal load was 9. grs of powder.
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Old January 10, 2017, 08:55 PM   #22
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I got both the bullets and the .32 S&W brass from Midway.

No need to trim.

While I did use FF, I would have thought FFF would have been what was normally used. I used FF thinking it would give a lighter load.
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Old January 11, 2017, 10:55 PM   #23
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I understand that...

FFFG will burn faster [due to the finer grains of powder] whereas FFg has lerger grains to comsume.
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Old January 12, 2017, 06:33 AM   #24
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Finer grains also means more powder in the same space. Hence a heavier load.

Or at least that was my thinking.
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Old January 12, 2017, 03:17 PM   #25
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An interesting bit of physics trivia: If you fill two equall size shoe boxes with ball bearings. One box with 1 inch bearings and the other with 0.1 inch bearings. Both boxes will weigh the same. They have the same ratio of steel to air.

I cannot say if that applies to uncompressed black powder, I would think it does.
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