Self defense ammo choices in .32 S&W Long???


March 26, 2008, 06:23 PM
As the title indicates, I'm looking for a good self defense round for the .32 S&W Long. While I wouldn't necessarily call the caliber a "powerhouse" round, I also don't believe it falls into the category of a "mousegun" caliber. With my mouseguns in .32 ACP and .25, I use strictly FMJ. However, I'm not sure if I need to resort to FMJ ammo for this particular caliber.

Any suggestions?

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March 26, 2008, 06:29 PM
I don't think you have much choice unless you reload.

A 98 to 100 grain RN lead bullet at 730 FPS or so is about all that is available.

Even reloading wouldn't give enough velocity to get any HP expansion, and jacketed bullets stuck in the barrel would be a very distinct possibility.


March 26, 2008, 07:08 PM
check this out

85gr JHP @850fps for 136lbs of energy;) I think shot placement is critical in any situation...but working with numbers like that it is all important!!!

Personally I would check out the .32h&r mag. It doubles the muzzle energy for not that much more recoil. Check out the 2.5" NEF is a nice little back up revolver for cheap!

Joe the Redneck
March 26, 2008, 07:11 PM
Sadly, it is right on par with the 32 acp. The only little round that is a bit better is the 38 SW. It generates about 150 fpe.

The 32, 32 long, and the 32 acp generat about 100 fpe, give or take.

Still, if you can hit, it will do the job. I like the wadcutter idea.

I'm gettin a 32 magnum at the end of the week.


March 26, 2008, 07:19 PM
My choice: I would load the .32 Long revolver with a proven .32 ACP hollowpoint - Winchester Silver Tip would be my pick.

March 26, 2008, 08:00 PM
Excuse my ignorance, as I am completely new to this caliber....

...but you can shoot .32 ACP out of a .32 S&W Long???

Doesn't the ammo casing need to have a rim?

March 26, 2008, 08:08 PM
Federal makes the most powerful round that I could find, about 130-something Ft. Lbs. You can get wadcutters slightly loaded slightly less powerfully. Sellier & Bellot sells them. And, no, .32 ACP won't work. At lower velocities, hollowpoints don't expand well or at all. A wadcutter will make the nastiest hole.

March 26, 2008, 08:55 PM
You would be better off with a wadcutter in this caliber.

March 26, 2008, 11:55 PM
Excuse my ignorance, as I am completely new to this caliber....

...but you can shoot .32 ACP out of a .32 S&W Long???

Doesn't the ammo casing need to have a rim?
He was talking about reloading the 32 long with a bullet ment for the 32 acp.
I am not sure about for a 32 but I know the light 38 gold dots are made to to expand at 800 fps.

March 27, 2008, 03:58 AM
Speer has a good 100gr .32 Cal JHP SD bullet ( you can reload in the .32 S&W Long but you might be better off with a 98gr .32 Wadcutter ( which will probably do a better job at the velocities generated by that round.

March 27, 2008, 09:06 AM
I asked my father that question once 30 or 40 years ago. He told me to load the gun with the heaviest bullets I could find. That way the gun would be more effective when I had to throw it at somebody's head.

He's just an old country boy who went to war and came back to be a State Trooper and that's his opinion to this day. He still calls 'em throwers.


March 27, 2008, 07:37 PM
Let me clarify - you CAN shoot a .32 ACP round from a .32 Long revolver. I do this all the time with my S&W Model 30. The round fires and extracts just fine.

As Seafarer12 said, you could reload .32 Long cases with a lightweight hollowpoint bullet and enough powder to get the MV to 900 fps. You'll get expansion at this speed with .32 ACP bullets.

I like the Winchester Silver Tip .32 ACP factory round for the .32 Long shooter who doesn't reload.

JohnBT - Great quote! :D

March 29, 2008, 07:38 PM
Speer has load data for the 60 gr Gold dot that gets over a thousand FPS from a 3" barrel.

Bullseye uses 2.4 gr and 2.7 gr Winchester 231 from a 32 long. That should expand.

March 30, 2008, 12:10 AM
Voodoo, for the .32 S&W Long, Midway is selling Magtech 98gr. SJHP's:

Probably the best deal out there for loaded ammo.

With the .32 auto, you'd likely be best off with the Win. Silvertip load (if it will feed reliably). With the .25, best off to throw it at 'em & run.


March 30, 2008, 10:01 AM
I seem to recall that old style ballistics testing rated rounds based on how many pine boards the bullet could penetrate.

Hence, anyone here know how many pine boards a .32 S&W long 98gr Wadcutter travelling at 730ft/s can penetrate?

March 30, 2008, 08:31 PM
I can't help you with the .32 wadcutter load, but according to WHB Smith, the 82 gr. RN load at 800 fps will penetrate three pine boads.

By comparison, Smith says the 148 gr. .38 Spl. target wadcutter at 770 fps will penetrate seven pine boards.

March 31, 2008, 07:25 PM
The Sellier & Bellot wadcutters are good for about 125 ft. lbs. and they blow right through a dense, new, soaked treated 2x4, if that helps.

March 31, 2008, 07:42 PM
I've loaded the 60 grain .32 Gold Dots meant for the .32 acp in the .32 long and checked them for expansion and accuracy. Accuracy was not good. Expansion was variable. Shooting into wet paper and oil-soaked sawdust, some would mildly expand while others would end their journey backwards with the hollow point cavity plugged. If the range was going to be short, I'd take a pure lead, hollow-based wad cutter and load it backwards. Accuracy isn't as bad as you'd expect and it does expand reliably. Problem is, if you got into a shooting, there might be legal backlash since you incorrectly loaded the bullet specifically with the idea of (potentially) shooting a human being (per Massad Ayoob).

March 31, 2008, 08:10 PM
Pat it on its head, rub it with oil, but do not count on this lowly centerfire cartridge for self-defense. It's time has passed. If you MUST get a .32, get it's buffer younger brother the .32 H&R Magnum.

April 2, 2008, 11:33 AM
Thanks, all, for the advice. While I haven't done any personal research on the ballistics numbers, from what I've read here in this thread, I'm somewhat discouraged.

I guess my S&W 31 should be relegated to that of a "dog walking gun"....

April 3, 2008, 10:30 AM
found this on youtube.

Anyone here have any historical accounts of what happenned to people who got shot by a .32 S&W long load?

April 3, 2008, 11:38 AM
Very interesting. Kinda gives me hope for this cartridge! :)

The shooter said he used a RN bullet. I wonder how it would have been if he used a WC or SWC...

Thanks for the link!

Joe the Redneck
April 3, 2008, 11:52 AM
Think of it as an automatic ice pick. The Key it to get a good high speed wadcutter and but it where it needs to go.

There are better choices, but itwill do the job.

Capt Marvel
May 3, 2009, 08:33 PM
I have had a carry permit since 1974. I have packed a 9mm Star "Starlite", .45 Light weight Commander and now carry my "American Express Card" Colt Police Positive .32 New Police. The gun has been dehorned, grip shortened and 4 inch barrel cut to 2 inches. It weighs 14 oz. and carries 6 rounds with 2 different hand loads 100 grain hollow base wad cutter (loaded upside down) and 115 grain linotype cast round nose (for .30 carbine). I load this with 2.7 grains of Bullseye (both bullets). Muzzel velocity runs about 820 to 850 fps. resulting in about 150 ft/lbs energy.
The key here is I never leave home without it. Wether I'm in shorts and T-shirt or dress clothes and sport jacket. You want a gun you can carry 24/7. The pocket cannon may be reasuring, but packing 2 to 3 lbs of iron and getting jabed in the ribs while trying to conceal it gets old real fast, resulting in going unarmed 50% of the time.
Muzzel energy ranks right in there with the .380 auto. The revolver results in mutiple ammo assuring both penetration and expansion. This is a "double tap" revover and at 7 yards I'm good for head shots.
My biggest threats come from pit bulls, but their owners get the message when I don't back down and draw down on them. Here in FL, home invasions become more and more common by the day. They try it at my house, they are in for a big suprise.

May 3, 2009, 10:08 PM
I used to load a Lyman 3118 cast 115 grain flat point SWC meant for a 32-20 into the .32 S&W long. A later S&W Model 31 or other stout gun can handle 3 grains (work up after 2.7 grains!) of Win 231 - for a while! A 4" gun is around 800 FPS with this load, it is good to slaughter medium sized animals (under 300 pounds)in my experience.

May 3, 2009, 10:14 PM
I have one from 1903, that I shoot every once in a while. I didn't know they made hollow points.

May 3, 2009, 10:36 PM
I have 2 Colt Police Positives and a Police Positive Special. I really like the little guns for carry and load much the same as mentioned before. I do not feel under gunned simply because the Colts are so easy to use effectively. I cast the Lee 93 gr. round nose from WW, they drop at 95 gr. sized .314 and lubed. The Hornady 90 gr. swaged SWC is also a very nice performer. The Lee bullet is very cheap practice.

Capt Marvel
May 3, 2009, 10:52 PM
I have a stainless Rossi M89 (unfired) in this caliber. Left over from my gunshop days (1974 to 1996). Gun magazines promote that bigger is better. A model 29 Smith in .44 mag is great for defense, but not very practical unless in an exposed hip holster in bear country.

I have been a bulleye target shooter for 50 years, so one's ability with the weapon of choice becomes critical. Multiple head shots from a .22 LR pistol will stop most attackers. I have advised untold numbers of people that should be their first pistol purchase. Even better yet a quality target air pistol, to learn the fundamentals.

I like your 32-20 115 grain cast slug. Point here is the Brits did quite well with the .38 S&W and a 200 grain projectile. I vote for the heavy projectile.

The next question is auto loader vs revolver. In pocket pistols the revolver will produce better balistics than the auto loader. Look no further than the 9mm Luger, which is little more than an autolading .38 Special. The .45 long Colt, is far superior (balisticly) than the .45 ACP. Point here is not to confuse the .32 ACP with the .32 S&W Long.

Capt Marvel
May 5, 2009, 05:22 PM
My lattest copy of "THE HANDLOADER" arrived today. On the rear inside cover is an ad by Magma Engineering Co.. They have 32-20 mold that produces a 120 grain RN-FP. If you can drive that slug at 800 FPS it will produce 170.5 ft/pds of muzzel energy. It will take a MV of 867 FPS to drive that muzzel energy up to 200.3 FT/PDS.

Capt Marvel
September 11, 2009, 09:17 PM
I just got a couple of new loads for 98 gr. lead round nose loads. VV N310 1.9gr MV 848 (start) VV N310 2.2 gr (MAX) MV 916 fps. for 182 ft/lbs energy. I would reserve this load for a solid frame and not an old top break. But will sure out preform any .380 auto.

Steve C
September 11, 2009, 10:40 PM
If you hand load and can get hold of some Speer 60gr .32 Gold Dots here is some data published by Speer that pushes tham at over 1,000 fps from a 3-1/2" revolver.

Old Fuff
September 12, 2009, 09:45 AM
Concerning factory loads:

Most are held to low levels because of the large number of cast iron/top-break revolvers made during the early 20th century that are still in circlulation. If you have a quality S&W or Colt hand ejector, or later revolvers made by Ruger, Taurus, Rossi, etc. you can safely duplicate .32 H&R Magnum performance in the .32 S&W Long case.

.32 ACP loads have to take into consideration the number of straight blow-back pistols that have nothing to keep them closed except the weight of the slide and tension of the recoil spring. In most hand-ejector revolvers chambered in .32 S&W Long, .32 ACP loads can be safey exceeded by a considerable margin.

September 20, 2009, 07:35 PM
I have a S&W 32 hand ejector that my grandfather carried when he was an army doctor in WW1. It's a spindly looking thing with a 6 inch barrel and the old style round bakelite grips. He used to carry it before he was in the army and just decided to take it along when he was "over there".

The field hospital he was in got raided by a squad of Germans trying to steal medical supplies one night in France. When three Germans came running in the Infirmary where grandad was making rounds, he drew and opened fire hitting two in the heart and one in the arm. Grandad treated the single survivor for his arm wound and congratulated him for covering his chest with his arm when the shooting started.

Some in the family think his success was owing to his command of anatomy and physiology. Perhaps, but he used to practice shooting at Necco candy wafers on a backstop from about 15 feet. Those Neccos were about the size of a button on a uniform coat.

I take this old gun out now and again and shoot it. Today I fired it at a 5 inch thick phone book using cheap Serbian lead round nose ammo. It went through a little over 850 pages with the bullets just getting a little misshapen.

September 20, 2009, 08:39 PM
My old Speer #8 manual lists several loads for the .32 S&W Long which were fired out of an S&W M31 with a 4" barrel. The accompanying text says that ". . . higher velocity loads shown should be used only in high quality handguns in good condition."

95 gr cast SWC

3.7 gr. Herco 946 ft/sec

3.5 gr. Unique 898 ft/sec

3.1 gr. SR7625 880 ft/sec

2.4 gr. Bullseye 811 ft/sec

Factory 98 grain ammo averaged 742 ft/sec.

Since none of these have been pressure tested or tried by myself, you're on your own.

I will say that few .32 S&W Long revolvers should shoot loads in the .32 H&R Mag range, let alone .327 Federal levels . . . and no matter HOW hot you load it, it's still a .32.

Old Fuff
September 21, 2009, 08:38 AM
... and no matter HOW hot you load it, it's still a .32.

Yes, but it's lethal on grasshoppers... :scrutiny: :uhoh: :rolleyes:

Ed Harris
September 30, 2009, 04:21 PM
“The sweetest shooting revolver…I have ever handled…”
Julian S. Hatcher, Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers, (1935)

(This article previously appeared in the Cast Bullet Association's Fouling Shot magazine.)

The black powder version of .32 Smith & Wesson Long was introduced in 1896 and was soon followed by a smokeless version in 1903 for the Model I, Hand Ejector revolver, adopted by the New York City Police Department. The Regulation Police, as it was also known, was the first service revolver standardized by the NYPD. Until the 1930s when law enforcement officers were faced with heavily armed criminals driving metal automobiles, the .32 S&W Long was the smallest revolver then deemed adequate for police use.

Old references give differing accounts as to its ballistics, due to use of various barrel lengths, and listed catalog velocities being obtained from solid test barrels, rather than revolvers, or vented test barrels, as are used today. Hatcher’s Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers (1935) stated the original charge as 13 grains of black powder for 790 f.p.s. from a 4-1/4 inch barrel. Hatcher said that the .32 Hand Ejector was “the sweetest shooting revolver at fifty yards I have ever handled,” and that it was the “ideal home defense gun for women.” Which … “should be used when possible with the flat-point .32 Colt New Police, which nearly doubles its stopping power.”

A Western Cartridge Company catalog table in Sixguns by Keith (1955) shows the smokeless powder 98-grain. Lubaloy roundnose at 820 from a 4” barrel, the 100 grain flatnosed .32 Colt New Police at 795 f.p.s.and a wadcutter at 770 f.p.s. from a 6” barrel. Keith said, “of the .32s only the Smith & Wesson Long and the .32-20 are worthy of mention.” Of the S&W Long Keith said, “the #313445 with 4 grains of Unique is a wonderful small game cartridge… it works nicely with solid bullets on small game, but lacks killing power on anything larger.”

The Ideal Handbook No. 34 (1943) recommended either the standard roundnosed bullet #313226 or the flat-nosed 100-grain Colt Special bullet #31357 with 2.5 grains of Bullseye for 707 f.p.s. from the 3” pocket gun. <Today I handload the 94-grain Meister flatnosed .312 cowboy bullet with this same charge of current Alliant product for almost identical ballistics.> The 1964 Gun Digest describes the .32 Long as the “most popular of .32s for revolvers… a good small game cartridge… as accurate as the .38 Special, but less versatile.”

Today’s factory ammunition for the .32 S&W Long is listed as 705 f.p.s. with a 98-gr. round-nosed lead bullet. <Chronograph tests in my S&W Hand ejector gave 661 f.p.s. for the Winchester load, 690 for the Remington and 592 for the Fiocchi wadcutter> SAAMI pressures today are kept under 12,000 cup in deference to the many old Colt Pocket Positive and S&W Eye-frame revolvers in which cylinders weren’t heat-treated, but which are still around. Stronger post-war revolvers such as the Smith & Wesson Models 30 and 31, and postwar steel Colt D frames (the same size as used for the .38 Special) can safely handle pressures approximating the .38 Special +P enabling velocities of around 900 f.p.s. with 85 grain jacketed or 100 grain lead bullets.

I reload for several .32 S&W Long revolvers, enjoy shooting them, and use them for the same purposes that “normal people” would use a .22 rim fire for. If you buy your powder and primers in quantity at discount and enjoy bullet casting and reloading for their own sake, shooting these center-fire popguns costs no more than a .22. That can of Bullseye powder which now costs $25, will load 2800 rounds at 2.5 grains per pop.

In about 30 years of playing with the .32s I feel it is a much more effective small game load than the .22 LR, especially since I now have a handy single shot rifle too. In fixed sight guns zero is affected more by bullet weight than velocity. Lighter bullets shoot low, and heavier bullets shoot high. Most fixed sight .32 Long revolvers shoot close to point of aim at practical small game ranges from 25 feet to about 25 yards with 85 to 100 grain bullets. Heavier 115 grain .32-20 slugs shoot 3” high at 25 yards, enable a 6 o’clock hold at fifty yards and shoot to point of aim with fixed sights at 100 yards.

In the pre-1957 S&W revolvers which don’t have the model number stamped in the yoke cut, don’t attempt to load over 850 f.p.s. with a 98-grain lead bullet. A charge of 2.5 grains of Bullseye is maximum with the 94-grain Meister, RCBS 32-98SWC or 32-90CM. Do not exceed 2 grains with the Saeco #325. These provide a useful, but modest improvement in performance over the factory loads, and have ample penetration for small game. Of all the cast bullets fopr the .32 S&W Long I prefer the Saeco #325 98-gr. SWC for hunting because it has the largest meplat to best let the air out of bunny wabbits.

The Meister is almost dead ringer in shape for the factory flat-nosed bullets once loaded in the .32 Colt New Police. It has a long ogival nose compared to the Saeco #325’s short SWC. When seated to the cannelure it leaves more airspace in the case, so it takes about 2.5 grains of Bullseye powder with the Meister to reach the same velocity obtained with the Saeco #325 when using 2 grains with it seated deeper in its normal crimp groove. So, for older pre-war Colts and the S&W I frames correct loads are 2 grains of Bullseye with the Saeco #325 and 2.5 grains with the Meister or RCBS.

For dual-use rifle and revolver ammo to share with the Marlin 1894CB in .32 H&R Magnum I use the heavier 115-gr. NEI #82, or Lyman #3118 or 120-gr. Saeco #322 LFN .32-20 bullets.. DO NOT use these heavier bullets in older S&W Eye frames, because deep seating them to fit into the shorter cylinder will dangerously increase chamber pressure. For use in the Ruger Single Six HRM, modern post-war .32s and in the Marlin 1894 Cowboy chambered in .32 H&R Magnum load 2.5 grains of Bullseye and seat the heavier bullets to 1.32" OAL, crimping in the top lubricating groove. This longer overall cartridge length protrudes out the front of older Eye frame cylinders, preventing you from doing something stupid~!. Velocity is about 750 f.p.s. from a 4-inch revolver and this load is nearly silent at 900 f.p.s. from the Marlin rifle, which steadfastly refuses to feed factory-length .32 S&W Longs.

Heavier field loads are useable in the Marlin rifle, the S&W Models 30 or 31, and postwar Colt D-frames. A charge of 3 grains of Bullseye with the NEI #82 LFN at 1.32" OAL, or with Hornady 100-gr. XTP crimped in its normal cannelure, provides about 900 f.p.s. from a 4-inch revolver and 1200 from the Marlin. It shoots flat to 50 yards or more and approximates factory .32-20 energy. This is my standard working load for the Ruger Single Six and the Marlin, approximating .32 H&R Magnum levels. I use it only occasionally in the S&W Modells 30 and 31, as it exceeds H&R Magnum pressure and excessive use would increase wear on the guns.

Cylinder gaps vary in old revolvers you find in shops and have a dramatic effect upon velocities obtained. As a general rule you can expect about 10 f.p.s. decrease in velocity for each 0.001 increase in cylinder gap above the maximum industry tolerance of 0.008" You can also expect an increase in velocity of about the same order of magnitude with a tighter gap. As a matter of good engineering practice it is prudent not to attempt to fit a revolver used with lead bullets with a barrel-cylinder gap tighter than 0.003", as accumulations of lead and powder fouling will cause binding of the cylinder. However a tight 4-inch gun with minimum gap willl produce velocities which compare closely to a 6-inch gun with larger gap. If your used gun has a cylinder gap greater than 0.010" it should not be fired, due to increased risk of a "bullet-in-bore" or BIB malfunction. Caution must be exercised in attempting to load jacketed bullets in the .32 S&W Long to ensure that a safe load can be assembled within normal pressure which attains an average velocity at least 700 f.p.s. to be sure that the bullet exits the barrel.

If you attempt to shoot jacketed factory loads such as the CBC 100-gr. hollowpoint in older guns with cylinder gap larger than 0.008" you can reasonably expect to "stick" a bullet in the barrel sooner or later. The safe way to remove one is to flood the barrel with Kano Kroil and tap the bullet out with many tiny taps using the Brownell's Squibb rod and a dead blow hammer.

September 30, 2009, 06:39 PM
I recently acquired a S&W in 32 Long, prior to this all mine were Colts. The S&W is a Model 31-1, I'm quite sure I can load it to the same levels I have been loading my Colt PPS from 1955. Both are very fine revolvers and I have found that I can shoot them rather well. The 31-1 is early 70's production.
32 Caliber revolvers are my favorite plinking, fun shooting, carrying guns. I have 32 Colt, 32 N.P./32 S&W long, 32 Magnum, and a 327 Federal Magnum and several Colts in 32-20. Great calibers, all.

October 1, 2009, 09:53 AM
I have one, have shot about 2000 rounds through it.

The revolver is small, about cap gun size, it is accurate and has very little recoil.

In my opinion, a 32S&W Long is too expensive for "small game". I would rather use a .22LR, in a rifle. Rimfires rounds cost less, and the hit probability goes up when you use a rifle.

It is also underpowered for a self defense round. When I shoot it against my gong targets, the round has insufficient momentum to make the gong move. I am not impressed with the "power" of this cartridge.

Ed Harris
October 1, 2009, 10:46 AM
Nice Hand ejector you have. In the pre-war guns stick with mild loads, no more than 2.5 grains of Bullseye. My 4-1/2 inch .32 Hand Ejector gave the following velocity results:

Ammunition___Vel. @ 15 ft.__S&W Hand Ejector_4-1/4" bbl
Winch. 98-gr. LRN____661,_7 Sd
Cast Bullets - Winchester cases, WSP Primers
Saeco_#325_2.0BE___715, 21 Sd
Saeco_#325_2.6BE___851, 20 Sd_ Reduce 0.1 grain
Meister_94LFN_2.0BE_635, 31 Sd
Meister_94LFN_2.4 BE_760, 14 Sd

October 1, 2009, 02:51 PM
My data goes to 3.0 grs Bullseye with a 100 grain bullet and that exceeds any reloading manual recommendation.

That load shot well, fell out of the cylinder, no leading issues. Still, I decided that 2.5 grains Bullseye was my max.

Unique worked well.

S&W No. 3 Hand Ejector 3.25" barrel

98 LRN Aguila Factory
19-Mar-06 T = 51 °F

Ave Vel = 665.9
Std Dev = 17.52
ES = 69.38
High = 697
Low = 627.6
N = 32
Horrible leading.

100 gr LBBFP .313" 2.25 grs Bullseye SS Brass WSP
19-Mar-06 T = 51 °F

Ave Vel = 693.3
Std Dev = 20.71
ES = 103.9
High = 721.8
Low = 617.9
N = 32
Elevation good, Windage left, Mild recoil

100 gr LBBFP .313" 2.5 grs Bullseye SS Brass WSP
19-Mar-06 T = 51 °F

Ave Vel = 768.2
Std Dev = 16.97
ES = 62.06
High = 807.3
Low = 745.3
N = 17
Elevation good, Windage good, Mild recoil, prefer this to 2.25 grain load

100gr LBBFP.313" 3.0 grs Bullseye WSP R-P brass
4-Feb-06 T = 44 °F

Ave Vel = 861
Std Dev = 14.83
ES = 57.83
High = 889.6
Low = 832.1
N = 31
no leading, easy extraction, rounded primers, sharp recoil

100 gr LBBFP .313" 2.9 grs Unique SS Brass WSP
19-Mar-06 T = 51 °F

Ave Vel = 717.4
Std Dev = 42.33
ES = 144
High = 789.3
Low = 645.3
N = 18
Elevation good, Windage good, Mild recoil accurate

October 1, 2009, 03:56 PM
In my opinion, a 32S&W Long is too expensive for "small game". I would rather use a .22LR, in a rifle. Rimfires rounds cost less, and the hit probability goes up when you use a rifle.

It is also underpowered for a self defense round. When I shoot it against my gong targets, the round has insufficient momentum to make the gong move. I am not impressed with the "power" of this cartridge.

The only way to go with the .32 S&W Long, and all the low production cartridges for that matter, is handloading. With home cast bullets and bulk purchases of primers and powder, .32 S&W Long becomes just about as cheap to shoot at .22LR, and IMO, a lot more fun.

As for its power level, its never going to be a power house, but again, handloading seriously increases one's options.

Old Fuff
October 1, 2009, 06:22 PM
I am not impressed with the "power" of this cartridge.

That's true of a lot of folks...

Some of whom are no longer with us. :uhoh:

October 2, 2009, 11:36 AM
I am not impressed with the "power" of this cartridge.

That's true of a lot of folks...

Some of whom are no longer with us.

I knew one schoolmate who died after his .22lr rifle discharged into his body. The bullet went through his chest, hit the spine, and bounced into his heart.

One shot, one kill.

That does not mean you can expect similar results each and every time.

Look, if you believe having a gun, any gun, is better than no gun, then .22LR's, 32 S&W's are better than nothing

But I want a little more margin, so my minimum is a 38 Spl.

Take your pick:

Old Fuff
October 2, 2009, 11:57 AM
I am well aware of both the advantages and limitations concerning sub-38 caliber defensive cartridges.

But at the same time I'm equally aware that having something that’s "bigger and better" will not unequivocally determine who will be left standing after a shooting; or that having something smaller or less powerful leaves one absolutely incapable of defending themselves.

The advantage lies with the skill and determination of the user, not the tool that’s used. Too many people either ignore or forget this, and put too much dependence on a certain cartridge, bullet design, or weapon. Somehow they see themselves as possessing an insurmountable advantage.

In the real world it doesn’t always work that way. :uhoh:

October 2, 2009, 12:25 PM
Obviously the less powerful cartridge does less damage that a more robust round.

That said accuracy is king and I can shoot my old Smith I frame (hand ejector 3rd model) quicker and more accurately than any other gun than I have ever shot.

As I write this a Colt Detective Special in 38spl is on my hip but I would be happy with the dimiuative Smith too.

October 2, 2009, 01:33 PM
Please don't shoot a 32ACP in a gun chambered for 32 S&W Long or short. The bullet diameter for the S&W cartriges is .312", and the ACP is .308-309. The rim is much thinner in the ACP and might start problems with headspace and pressure in an tight bore 32 S&W. Also, the rim diameters are different and in a defensive situation where you would have to reload, if the extractor slips over the rim of the ACP you got a problem. Most of these guns chambered for the 32S&W's were cheap hinge frame revolvers and are a risk to shoot even with the propper ammo. If you have a modern revolver chambered for the 32 S&W Long and you feel comfortable doing it then don't let me stop you.

Ed Harris
October 2, 2009, 03:15 PM
Firing .32 ACP in a .32 S&W Long revolver results in lower velocities because of gas leakage around the case, due to its loose fit in the chamber, undersized bullet, and the cylinder gap. I have seen many .32 revolvers with ringed barrels caused by people firing .32 ACP ammunition, sticking a bullet in the barrel and attempting to shoot it out.

Also excessive headspace of the semi-rimmed the .32 ACP in the .32 S&W cylinder results in the fired case slamming back against the firing pin bushing in the recoil shield of the frame. Especially in light alloy frame revolvers such as the Colt Cobra or Agent this peening can overcome the factory staking of the bushing, causing drag of the cylinder rotating in DA as the primer cups back out. Extensive misuse of this improper ammunition can increase cylinder end play which can cause misfires, overall necessitating an expensive gunsmith repair. You can feel set-back of the firing pin bushing below flush with the recoil shield with your finger. This is something to look for whenever buying a used revolver, PARTICULARLY .32s, because many people, especially in the Third World, resort to this expedient ammunition practice, either through ignorance or necessity and damage what would otherwise be pefectly good guns.

I have seen this many, many times.

October 2, 2009, 08:12 PM
I have 3 32s . One is 32 magnum made by Charter arms and I have another Charter in 32 S&W long that I reload- 98g bullet at 850ft/sec. I also have an old S&W that I like to hunt Rabbits with on my farm. In the right hands the 32 magnum is an excellent choice for CCW. The 32 S&W long is a very accurate cartridge and much more fun to shoot too. I can outshoot my 38 specials with the 32s on any given day.

October 2, 2009, 09:33 PM
and no matter HOW hot you load it, it's still a .32.

And that new 327 Federal round packs more punch than a 38 or 9mm....AND can shoot 32 S&W, 32 S&W long, and 32 H&R magnum - all in a small gun that holds 6 shots...........

I own an older H&R 32 SWL revolver - no recoil, uses about 2.5 grains of powder and the WC's are accurate enough for close range work

October 3, 2009, 09:34 AM
WHY NOT? Most people would not want such a handgun for CCW, But I believe shot placement is far more important than caliber size in an up-close confrontation. I carry my older Charter arms sometimes IWB and practice head shots up close at 3-5 yards. A shot between the chest pockets or a head shot with the little 32 will do the job. There are some very good loads out for this revolver that are wad cutters that would work well for CCW.

Old Fuff
October 3, 2009, 01:06 PM
The following might be of interest to some who are following this thread, as it clears up some of the questions relative to the effectiveness of handgun ammunition in relationship to what does or doesn’t cause an immediate secession of a lethal attack. Also consider the source, as the Federal Bureau of Investigation is generally considered to be authoritive. The quote is from another thread currently running on The High Road, which also contains a link to the full report.


Physiologically, no caliber or bullet is certain to incapacitate any individual unless the brain is hit. Psychologically, some individuals can be incapacitated by minor or small caliber wounds. Those individuals who are stimulated by fear, adrenaline, drugs, alcohol, and/or sheer will and survival determination may not be incapacitated even if mortally wounded.

The will to survive and to fight despite horrific damage to the body is commonplace on the battlefield, and on the street. Barring a hit to the brain, the only way to force incapacitation is to cause sufficient blood loss that the subject can no longer function, and that takes time. Even if the heart is instantly destroyed, there is sufficient oxygen in the brain to support full and complete voluntary action for 10-15 seconds.

Kinetic energy does not wound. Temporary cavity does not wound. The much discussed "shock" of bullet impact is a fable and "knock down" power is a myth. The critical element is penetration. The bullet must pass through the large, blood bearing organs and be of sufficient diameter to promote rapid bleeding. Penetration less than 12 inches is too little, and, in the words of two of the participants in the 1987 Wound Ballistics Workshop, "too little penetration will get you killed."

Given desirable and reliable penetration, the only way to increase bullet effectiveness is to increase the severity of the wound by increasing the size of hole made by the bullet. Any bullet which will not penetrate through vital organs from less than optimal angles is not acceptable. Of those that will penetrate, the edge is always with the bigger bullet.

August 25, 2011, 05:08 PM
If you hand load and can get hold of some Speer 60gr .32 Gold Dots here is some data published by Speer that pushes tham at over 1,000 fps from a 3-1/2" revolver.

Thanks for posting that. I had missed it.

August 25, 2011, 05:32 PM
Interesting thread.
I carry Federal LRN when I have my old Forehand out.

Deaf Smith
August 25, 2011, 07:27 PM
I was coming up HWY 69 here in Texas pawnshoping my way up and what did I find, a S&W 31 .32 Long for $250. 3 inch barrel.

Yes I wish Corbon made a DPX round for the 32.

But right now, reloading is the ONLY way for that little gun.


August 25, 2011, 10:15 PM
I hope you bought that gun Deaf Smith. I will buy all the 32s I can get for that kinda price if they are in decent shape. I really don't need another 32 but I sure like them. And you are correct. Handloading is the only way to go with them. But as much as I like the hollow point idea I like the WC load better. And I would guess the SWC load would be just as good. Even the old round nose will kill.

August 26, 2011, 12:56 AM
Wow, I paid twice as much for my model 31.

August 26, 2011, 01:39 AM
the hornady lsc's over 3.2 gr unique give over 1100 fps out of my 6"colt pp. leads like hell.

August 26, 2011, 07:54 AM
I have a 30 and 31. 31 is a snub J frame and 30 is a 3in. I frame. I run cast through them and carry them with cast. Shoot great and will shorten someone's life if need be.

Deaf Smith
August 26, 2011, 08:08 PM
Well don't tempt me guys. I'd have to drive BACK down there...

Well it IS a weekend, right?

We will see.


August 26, 2011, 10:14 PM
Deaf Smith,
Which pawn shop is it?

Deaf Smith
August 26, 2011, 10:20 PM
I was down in Jacksonville Texas.

City Pawn shop!

They also have a Ruger Service Six .357 but $450 is way to high on it.


August 26, 2011, 10:31 PM
Wish it is closer. Just don't feel like driving far this weekend.

August 27, 2011, 12:56 AM
I buy old Colt police pos 32 revolvers at gun shows.

I run 327 Federal pressures in handloads.

The forcing cone will frequently blow out.

The barrel must be unscrewed, TIG welded, and the forcing cone re cut [thicker this time] on the lathe.

The revolver can then go back to loads at the threshold of sticky brass without further problems.

I seem to do this over and over and over.

I can't resist the little revolvers.

Deaf Smith
August 27, 2011, 06:49 PM
Wish it is closer. Just don't feel like driving far this weekend.
Yea I know...

And then what did my wife do?

She bought FOUR chairs at $50 EACH (at a very high class resale place.)

She says she did it for both of us.... hahaha, yea right.

Actually she got two for the son and his new wife and kept the other two.

Still, I'm owed a gun. I buy them for both of us as an investment, right?

Well maybe next weekend. Who knows.


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