32 s&w long question


February 19, 2009, 05:55 PM
My wife likes to shoot my S&W 31-1. What are your opinions on the Georgia Arms 85grain Gold Dot ammunition? They claim 850fps out of a four inch barrel which is what I have. I have shot the ammo and it seems to have more pep than the Mag Tech 98grain hollow points. Since the 32 is the only gun that I can get her to practice with do you think she would be alright using the 32 for home defense? I tried to get her to shoot my Model 10, but she claims it is two heavy and hurts her hands. She loves the little 32 though. So I figure the 32 is better than nothing I just can not decide on what ammo to leave in the gun for her. And yes I know everyone feels that the 32 long is to puny but at lest its a start in getting her into shooting. I also have a Single Six does anyone think the .22 mag is a better option for her? My only delima with it is the single action platform in a pressure situation plus she claims it is to heavy also. Any thoughts?:banghead:

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Old Fuff
February 19, 2009, 06:59 PM
So far as defensive loads in a .32 S&W Long are concerned you may be asking the wrong guy, because I don't get excited over high performance loads going at 850FPS, but I have occasionally carried a little .32 loaded with a full-wadcutter lead bullet going about 100 fps less. This little round is loaded for match shooters on the International circuit who shoot it in, of all things, semi-automatic pistols.

My mild wadcutters cut a wicked hole at conversational distances, and recovery from recoil is quick. The name of the game, regardless of what bullet/caliber you use is shot placement, not shot power. People that place their shots have been bringing other people to a halt with .32's going back to when Colt made his little cap & ball 1849 pocket models - which incidentally proved to be the most popular revolver in his line, bar none! As for the mentioned hollow points, I think if your wife has to hit anybody they won't know the difference. The .22 WRM penetrates, but it doesn't make a big hole. But again, if you place your shots it can be deadly. Bill Jordan, the Border Patrol's ace shooter recommended the .22 WRM in ultra-light snubbies, but he was a very precise shooter, even when under pressure. For defensive purposes I wouldn't choose it in a single action revolver of any kind.

February 21, 2009, 01:15 AM
Let her stick with what she likes to shoot ,and in that .32 S&W Long chambering the differeces between ammo is not going to spell out as one large leap above the other.

As said, shot placement plays a more significant roll . While not a powerhouse the .32 S&W Long can get the job done and was in wide use back in the days before magnum stuff came along. I carry a .32 H&R Mag which is a step up from the S&W but not a giant leap. If you realy want more than the .32 S&W long you might look for a airweight in the .32 Mag and she can shoot the .32 S&W or .32 S&W longs in the gun for practice , and then carry with the magnums (that's what I do) S&W J frames in .32 Mag are still available on the aftermarket , and Taurus still makes the M731 .

February 21, 2009, 09:07 AM
....in that .32 S&W Long chambering the differeces between ammo is not going to spell out as one large leap above the other.

That simply isn't true. In this caliber, I've seen power figures ranging from 100 ft lbs all the way to 132 ft lbs, which is a full 1/3 more powerful than the first figure. Your Georgia Arms ammo (850 FPS) is moving too slowly to make proper use of a hollowpoint bullet. If a bullet flattens out but doesn't have enough power behind it to penetrate sufficiently, one ends up with a shallow wound. First, a bullet has to penetrate. If there's enough power to do that and expand, wonderful. But, .32 Long doesn't have the necessary oomph to develop the velocities needed for hollowpoints to be effective. 850 FPS isn't fast enough for reliable hollowpoint expansion anyway so why pay for the expensive bullets?

Federal makes the 98 gr wadcutter ammo that's advertised at 132 ft lbs. After a bunch of researching, that was the strongest store-bought .32 Long ammo I could find. In 2nd place was Fiocchi's wadcutters at 120 ft lbs. The rest were all 100-110 ft lbs.

Whereas round nosed bullets separate & slip through muscle tissue which then tends to close right up, a wadcutter punches a plug out just like a paper punch. Since the tissue is actually removed and pushed elsewhere, the body has a much tougher time in trying to deal with the wound. It would love to close up that wound but there's a piece of body now missing. Thus, way more blood flows.

I know this .32 Long stuff because my girlfriend likes .32 Long also. If your wife is comfortable, confident & proficient with a .32, then she's way better off than folks who own guns and don't really know how to use them (there are many) and all the folks who don't have a gun at all. I know that my girlfriend can tear targets up with that .32; I wouldn't want her aiming at me.

Check out the Federal wadcutter stuff. Federal calls it "Loading C32LA."

February 21, 2009, 03:23 PM
+1 on the wadcutter in .32. Last month I put an H&R 732 on lay away. I have yet to rescue it since, an Ishapore .308 has stolen my free $$$ flow for now;) I did pick up a few flavors (fiocchi, S&B and magtech) of .32 wc's to test in it once I get it.

If you want to get her an .32 H&R mag, keep your eyes open for a NEF Lady Ultra or NEF R73. Both are solid no nonsense pistols that can be had for less than $200 in a very under-rated SD cal.

February 21, 2009, 10:48 PM
I agree with the above on wadcutters. They have worked well as defense loads for years in 32 and 38 loads. The semi wadcutter was developed to punch the same kind of hole and deliver more power to the target. I would not feel under armed with a 32 or 38 wadcutter. In addition to the punching a full size hole, if the soft lead hits bone it is likely to deform and slide off in a different direction causing further damage. And you can deliver the shots in rapid accurate succession due to low recoil/flash.

February 22, 2009, 07:42 AM
If you believe Speer, then the Gold Dot was devoloped for the short barrel, sub-1000 fps range to give max expansion. I don't know but I do know it tears up wet phone books pretty good.

Personally I load the JSP or lead RN for the 32 S&W long in my wife's gun. She likes them and 1 or 2 rounds to the belly will get their attention.

As a back up she has a Smith M65 3" with +Ps.

February 22, 2009, 10:21 AM
With factory ammo I find .32 ACP is better than .32 Long in my revolvers. You should look around for a good .32 ACP hollowpoint load. Recoil is mild and extraction is easy.

Old Fuff
February 22, 2009, 11:17 AM
The .32 ACP cartridge is intended to be used in pistols, not revolvers. The diameter of the rim can be critically important so that a revolver's star extractor can extract fired cases, and rim thickness can affect headspace. The rim dimensions are:

.32 S&W Long. .378" Diameter x .055" thick.
.32 Automatic .358" Diameter x .045" thick.

Using incorrect ammunition is not advisable under any circumstances, even if it will work, but to do so in a defensive weapon is foolish at best, and at the worst can get you killed if the revolver doesnít function during an emergency.

February 22, 2009, 03:25 PM
It seems the decision as to what gun she is going to carry has been made. As to the hotter loads, I would let her shoot them and see what she thinks. If she is good with it, go ahead. We should all carry the most gun that we can hit with.

I have an old S&W hand ejector that shoots 32 long S&W. It is old and doesn't have much blue left but I can point that gun better than virtually any I have ever held. Retail value is probably $12.99 but I like it alot.

Would I feel undergunned carrying it...probably...but I would hit what I shot at. And hitting the target is job-1.

February 23, 2009, 07:59 AM
I've been looking for some SD type ammo to load in my Colt Cobra .32 NP. i was thinking hollow points, but after reading this stuff maybe LWC's are the better choice.

February 23, 2009, 04:37 PM

Don't just go out and buy any wadcutter ammo. Wadcutters were originally developed for target use and were usually loaded very weakly. The two I mentioned above are stouter loadings; most of the rest are weak.

February 23, 2009, 09:46 PM
I think that considering a M31 in 32 S&W Long as a self defense weapon is in the category of "it is better than nothing".

I have shot thousands of 98 grain bullets through mine. While the piece is exceptionally accurate, easy to shoot, it barely hits my gong target hard enough to hear the hit with muffs.

And it certainly does not move it.


Instead, how about a nice 38 Spl?


February 24, 2009, 01:33 PM
Just buy the cheapest 98 gr, LRN you can find in as much quantity as you can , and let her become an 'Anne Oakley " with it .
If she ' loves ' it , then it is the revolver for her , especially since she has stated that she does not care for the K frame .
I would not be concerned with lighter weight Jacketed Hollow Points . Either a full wadcutter or a semi-wadcutter at 98 gr. , and hope for an accurate hit .
If she has confidence in it , that will be more important , than any ' magic bullet ' .
So please , no talk around her , about it being a ' weak caliber ' .

February 24, 2009, 05:23 PM
Thanks to all for the great advice. This is why I love the High Road. I am going to stoke it with the wad-cutters and just be happy I have gotten her into shooting. I am going to take her out this week and let her shoot it some more so she can build her confidence. Once again thanks!

March 4, 2009, 09:38 AM
On a similar note, what's the bullet length of the .32 long?

Old Fuff
March 4, 2009, 09:56 AM
Do you mean the length of the bullet, or the overall length of the cartridge?

March 4, 2009, 10:04 AM
Length of the bullet. Wikipedia, oddly enough, gives you the overall cartridge length.

March 4, 2009, 10:16 AM
To all in this thread:

I know that a fiocchi or magtech 100gr or 98gr full wadcutter round fired from a ISSF style competition semi auto will penetrate about 4 newsweek magazines taped together. This can be accomplished even though the gun is fired from 15 meters away.

Thus, if a bullet can penetrate about 164 sheets of thin magazine paper, can it be counted on to penetrate a skull? I ask this because the .32 S&W Long is a relatively weak round BUT has EXCELLENT accuracy. Thus, headshots can be made reliably if ones practices often for SD scenarios.

March 4, 2009, 10:26 AM
.32 anything is considered the lower end of your defensive ammo, but shot placement is key, of course. It is accurate, but I don't think it'd reliably have the power you'd want.

I'd go with .32 H&R Magnum for defense, but there aren't a lot of choices there.

March 4, 2009, 10:28 AM
850 FPS isn't fast enough for reliable hollowpoint expansion anyway so why pay for the expensive bullets?

So a .45 JHP going that fast isn't worth either, right? So why does everyone go for them?

March 4, 2009, 10:37 AM
A 700 gr .50 cal isn't enough gun if you hit em in the foot. Shot placement is essential with anything. If she is comfortable with the .32, promote it. My wife uses a .38 S&W lemon squeezer (old one, it's like a .38 short) for protection, it is considered puny, but I sure as crap wouldn't want to be shot with it.

Old Fuff
March 4, 2009, 10:49 AM
The skull can be a formidable barrier to cartridges more powerful then the .32 S&W Long, but the flat wadcutter bullet is less likely to be deflected then a similar round nose slug of similar weight going at about the same velocity. They are also more likely to fracture the skull at the point of impact and drive bone fragments back into the brain.

Those that reload the cartridge can purchase copper-plated wadcutter bullets, and drive them faster then the factory load. Ammunition manufacturers hold the pressure down because of the large number of questionable quality top-break revolvers that are still in circulation, going back to the 19th century. In more modern hand-ejector revolvers made by Colt and S&W handloading can safely increase the performance to equal that of factory specification .32 H&R Magnum.

We donít live in a perfect world, and the choice of a personal defensive handgun is often decided on the basis of many factors. However it should be noted that the .32 S&W Long cartridge was originally developed and marketed as a police service round. From about 1896 to the middle 1950ís it was often employed it that capacity, although as time passed more powerful and larger bore cartridges generally superceded it. During the same time period it was, and remained popular with others outside of law enforcement in a defensive context. While it wasnít the best choice it was clearly capable of doing the job, and skulls of that day werenít any thinner then those today.

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