Anyone using the .32 S&W conversion cylinder?


April 28, 2009, 07:35 AM
Has anybody tried the Kirst or R&D .32 S&W cylinder in their 1849 colt? Did they just drop in or did you have to do some fitting?

Not much info out there about the .32 S&W cartridge. Looks pretty anemic, remington and winchester list a 85 gr. bullet around 680fps and 90 ft lbs.

Im wondering if the .31 round ball and blackpowder would actually have a power advantage? In your opinion would the .32 S&W make an ok "last ditch" home defense gun, or should that not even be considered?


If you enjoyed reading about "Anyone using the .32 S&W conversion cylinder?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
April 28, 2009, 07:55 AM
In your opinion would the .32 S&W make an ok "last ditch" home defense gun, or should that not even be considered?

I have a .32S&W. It is not a man stopper by any means, but it is better than a club or a call to 911. If that is all you have, then use it. Practice, practice, practice, shot placement is key. Now I'm sure there well be many nay Sayers, but I well bet you a dollar that not one of them well volunteer to take a .32S&W to the chest from across the room.

Fingers McGee
April 28, 2009, 10:49 AM
I've got an R&D cylinder for my Uberti '49 Pocket. It dropped right in and functioned fine once I figured the right wedge seating depth.

April 28, 2009, 10:54 AM
Colt Uberti 1849 Pocket .31 with the four inch barrel will knock somebody's ass a flopping, and they'll need a lot of help to get back up again. I don't care how big and mean they think they are....ADD ON.. I'm talking about regular cap and ball. I don't know anything about any conversion cylinder....

Old Fuff
April 28, 2009, 11:29 AM
I'm seriously thinking about making a cartridge conversion out of a Uberti '49 pocket model, but there is an issue most people don't take into consideration:

The bore is oversized for the .32 S&W cartridge, and this could have a negative affect on accuracy and muzzle velocity.

While each individual revolver may be a law onto itself, the book specifications say that the barrel's groove diameter is .332" where the .32 S&W Long bullet is .312". This results in the bore being .020" oversized - too much so for my liking. This could be resolved by drilling out the barrel and installing a liner with a .312" groove diameter, something I would consider doing, but most people wouldn't.

As for the cartridge itself; while a lot of Interned keyboard commando types quickly reject it in favor of their ideal - a .44 Magnum in a Smith & Wesson J-frame package - the truth is that that little .32 round has caused more men to be planted into the ground then all of the Magnums put together. While this statement may set off a firestorm I can easily prove it because of the wider distribution of .32's over Magnums. My point is that if the shooter places his bullet in the right place the bad guy's lights will go out. Of course bigger is better, within reasonable limits, but bigger doesn't always determine the outcome.

But again, if self-defense is an important part of your considerations I wouldn't necessarily reject the .32 cartridge, but I would choose to use it in a later style revolver then the old '49 Pocket Model. These are met to be used for having fun rather then defending oneís homestead.

April 28, 2009, 11:42 AM
Old Fuff, you are a very smart man....
I disagree with one viewpoint though. Well, not disagree, just don't look at it the same way. The .31 is for having fun but it is also a workhorse. Hunting (ie squirrels, rabbits, 'coon, etc) dropping a wolf, coyote if need be, just whatever. I think it is a fine home defense weapon and self defense weapon. It's got plenty of stopping power. Just have to learn how to shoot it. I ain't exactly a Mr. Annie Oakley but if someone is breaking in on you then you should be able to shoot both his damn eyes out in the blink of an eye so to speak. If a person dosen't know how to shoot and is not seriously trying to learn how, then as far as I'm concerned that person dosen't belong within 40 feet of any kind of damn gun, not around me anyway....

Old Fuff
April 28, 2009, 01:09 PM
Old Fuff, you are a very smart man....

Well at least we agree about something... :what: :D

Now to say the least, you are a bit unusual... :scrutiny:

And really, I’m delighted that everyone wasn’t dropped out of the same mold.

And I have no doubt that if some unfortunate victim of out oppressive society was to break into your digs with less then honorable intentions, he might meet up with a .457 ball launched by your Walker – and that would be a… well… shall we say, a “meaningful experience.”

And yes, one launched from a .31 caliber ’49 Pocket Model might well do the same thing.

But for those with little or no experience with cap & ball revolvers I can see some problems. One is that once loaded there isn’t any easy way to unload them, other then shooting them off, and in some neighborhoods that might cause a stir.

Of course you can load them and then leave them loaded, but I remember Wild Bill’s wise procedure of shooting his ’51 Navy’s dry and then cleaning and reloading them each day. He was worried about condensed moisture getting to the black powder, and told a friend, “When I pull I must be sure.” I suppose that this isn’t always likely, but Bill wasn’t one to take unnecessary chances.

A cap fragment getting down between the frame and hammer could ruin your day real quick during a serious situation.

Now I have a long time fondness for the old ’49. My first cap & ball revolver was one of these, bought when I was a teen, and made by Colt his self, not one of those Johnny-come-lately Italian companies. I had a great time shooting it until the cylinder pin developed a bad crack at the front of the wedge slot and I had to retire it.

I think the vintage 5-shooter will do everything you said it does, but I don’t believe it’s the answer for everyone.

Some of the above mentioned problems could be eliminated by going to a cartridge conversion, but then you run into problems with the substantially oversized bore – which may or may not be an issue depending on the individual gun. But in a worst case situation you could get a big drop in velocity and “punch” when you needed it, combined with poor accuracy. If someone is looking to use a metallic cartridge revolver there are better choices.

April 28, 2009, 01:42 PM
Old Fuff,

Would a .32-20 liner work? .305 bore, .312 groove, 1-16 twist.

Old Fuff
April 28, 2009, 02:07 PM
If you converted the revolver to a .32 S&W Long and kept it that way it would work fine, but returning it to a cap & ball could cause problems. In theory at least the chambers swage a .221" ball down to .219", making them .007" oversized for the now .312" barrel.

April 28, 2009, 02:12 PM
Old Fuff, I just read your last post here very carefully. Read it three times. I agree with everything you said here. I reiterate my former statement. You are indeed a very smart man. Every potential problem you mentioned has to be given the utmost consideration. And practice practice practice, and then when you are sure you'vd got it down then practice some more.
I was considering the possibility that your saying that I was a bit 'unusual' was a polite way of telling me I was a damned idiot, but then I reconsidered! I figure that since I'm agreeing with you on this matter so wholeheartedly that there's no way you would consider me that much of an idiot!
Yeah, I really like the '49 a lot Old Fuff. I think I'vd told you that before....

Old Fuff
April 28, 2009, 03:13 PM
I was considering the possibility that your saying that I was a bit 'unusual' was a polite way of telling me I was a damned idiot

No, you are not an idiot, but you are "different," and the two are not the same thing, and "different" is not necessarily a negative trait.

I suspect that many of our members donít know that from when they were first made during the mid-1800ís until now, there has never been a time when caplock revolvers were completely and totally abandoned as shooters. Of course with the introduction and increased popularity of metallic cartridges during the late 1860ís on, the use of cap & ball firearms declined, but in those isolated regions of the country that were more sparsely populated and cash money wasnít always easy to come by, older revolvers and rifles were much less expensive to buy, and a keg of black powder, some pigs of lead, and a couple tins of percussion caps cost far less then store-bought cartridges - yet they still got the job done; the ďjobĒ being to put meat on the table, and occasionally to protect oneís neck and property.

During the mid-1940ís on, target shooting with vintage firearms gave a boost to shooting old-timers of all kinds, but by the late 1950ís an increasing number of wealthy collectors drove the price of shooter-grade revolvers up to where many shooters couldnít afford them. It was at this point that a fine gentleman named Val Forgett Sr. got an idea that the answer was to make brand-new replicas of Civil War era revolvers that would serve the shooterís needs, and unlike the originals, be affordable.

He was unable to find any manufacturers in the United States who were both interested and capable of building guns the ďold way,Ē and thus went to Italy where both Uberti and Pietta (as well as others) had companies making hand-built double barreled shotguns, and did have employees that were skilled at doing the kind of work Val needed. The rest is history.

April 28, 2009, 03:35 PM
Yeah, thank God for Mr. Uberti and Mr. Pietta....

Old Fuff
April 28, 2009, 03:40 PM
Actually, thank God for Val Forgett Sr. If it wasn't for him the Italian makers would still be building shotguns. None of the gunmakers in Europe knew zip about American caplock revolvers until he came along. :scrutiny:

April 28, 2009, 05:31 PM
Old Fuff, yeah I guess that's so. I'm not a shotgun man but they do build some nice ones though....

April 28, 2009, 06:29 PM
I like my little Wells Fargo the way it is, no conversion. I would have liked a longer barrel on it, but it only came in 4" when I got it.

Would not have been a bad one to try on squirrels with a 6 inch barrel (longer sight radius - more of a chance of hitting).

The Doc is out now. :cool:

PS, I'm beginning to picture GotC and Fuff as a Hatfield and McCoy pair, complete with long beards and those pointed tall hats. :evil:

April 28, 2009, 07:24 PM
Dr. Law, having one of the 6 inch barrels would have been real nice but they just don't make them like that. BUT.. That 4 inch barrel will carry on up to them. I'vd brought some bushy tails down out of some mighty tall timber. I'm not lying. It's my favorite squirrel gun of all time. Easy to carry, cheap to shoot, just an all around good little piece. Evidentally you and I and Mr. Fuff were not the only ones to think it's nice. They say that when Mr. Colt made the '49 he sold more of them than any other blackpowder revolver he ever made and the 4 inch barrel was the favorite. (probably so people could just shove it in their pocket and out of the way. AND out of sight)

April 28, 2009, 07:34 PM
Ifn yer lookin fer a pistol to carry fer pertiction. Ifn y'all put one of them thar Walkers in a sholder rig aint no fool gonna be messin with ya.

April 28, 2009, 07:42 PM
Bigbadgun, yeah Walkers are fine but right now we're squirrel hunting!
If you'vd got a '49 you can go with us.
Your website is very good Big Gun. It'll work out fine....

April 28, 2009, 08:39 PM
Im sorry i still like my WALKER. however i do like to read about the smaller guns. Just stuck on .44

April 28, 2009, 08:51 PM
scrat, good evening.. Yeah, I guess it's pretty plain that I like my Walker to! Like my '58's and my carbines to. However, the '47 is not the best squirrel gun one could reach for.
You have someone else over there wanting to join the club. Mr. Fingers McGee I think his name is.

April 28, 2009, 09:26 PM
It's the forest for the trees for me again.

I'm sitting here wondering how I could really sharpen my skill with the Wells Fargo for squirrels. Then, boom, it hits me.

At the local club, we superglue strings to eggs and have them swing in the wind at up to 100 yards and then try to nail them with a .22.

No reason I cannot lay out some eggs on wood and try them with the Wells Fargo. Eggs are about the same size as squirrel heads. :D

The Doc is out now. :cool:

PS, I agree with the poster that was talking about the size of the bullet with the .32 S&W. I happen to have a .32 S&W and some older ammo for it. The bullet just falls pretty much through the barrel of the Wells Fargo I have. I imagine that it is pretty much the same for the '49 or the Baby Dragoon.

April 28, 2009, 09:56 PM
the truth is that that little .32 round has caused more men to be planted into the ground then all of the Magnums put together.

This is certainly true. And .22LRs have killed more still.

Problem from the shooter's perspective's almost always due to exsanguination, and that takes a while. Plenty of time for them to do bad things before they expire.

Shot placement is definitely the key. Unless you hit vitals, five .32s are only gonna slow the bad guy down a little, and then only maybe.

Police departments used to call the old 200 grain .38SPL load "the widowmaker", for the same reason.

This is one reason I returned the Remington Pocket I got from Cabela's last month (the other is that it was a total and complete POS). I went with an 1862 Police in 4.5". I'll trade the conceal factor for...'bigger balls'.

April 28, 2009, 10:15 PM
Hey all.

First time here and its in a thread with the same questions as I was going to ask, all but the defense stuff. Btw for "last ditch" its plenty good. obviously being a last ditch weapon something happend to your primary, at that point anything is better than nothing, and a .32 will hurt em.

My 49 is going to be here tomorrow, cant wait, watching that ups tracking page is like Christmas, and watching santa with a GPS tracker, way too much excitement.

Im guessing that its quite a bit of work to set it up for the Kirst with the loading gate, cutting back the frame etc. as for the R&D if I have to take it apart to reload I may just as well put a new cap/ball cyl in or is it easier than that?

Whether I do a conversion or not, it was my intention to use this as a small game getter, not sure if Im Squirrel ready but the rabbits best be on their toes.

Great forum, lots of good info. Im hooked :D

April 29, 2009, 07:25 AM
Dr. Law
What we do back home is use golf balls at about 50 to 75 paces.
There are other uses for golf balls than hitting them with sticks.
GoC thanks for the kind words about the new site.

April 29, 2009, 07:53 AM
Hmmm, Shooting golf? An idea forms. We try to see who has the straightest and longest drives!

The reason we use eggs is that they splat so nicely when you hit them. It really is a draw for the kids, too. Twice a year we have an open .22 silhouette and "Rotten Egg" shoot, and then have one or two for the members on meeting nights. However, we do have a golf course nearby, and one of the high school golf coaches is a member of the club.... soooooooo...

Thanks for the idea BBG! :D

The Doc is out now. :cool:

April 29, 2009, 08:01 AM
Not a problem Doc we call it cowboy golf it really is a lot of fun. Plus when you hit them they dont sit still thats for sure.
Shoot one with a .44 and you are gonna be lucky to find it lol

April 29, 2009, 02:09 PM
BigBadGun, yeah, I like your website. I really think you can make it work. Like I said, I'll have some business for you pretty soon. I'll post a couple of pictures of it when I get it and all. That might help you out a little to....

April 29, 2009, 02:38 PM
AdmiralBm there is a world of difference between the Remington .31and the Colt .31....

April 29, 2009, 02:42 PM
Dr. Law, you won't have too much trouble learning to hit with it. One way to help you learn is to go rabbit hunting with it. Shoot at them on the run when you get a chance.
Matter of fact that's a good way to learn how to shoot any gun, right on up through your big game rifles. Help's you with your reflexes, timing, everything....

April 29, 2009, 05:08 PM
there is a world of difference between the Remington .31and the Colt .31....

In what respect? The Pietta was crap, I expect Uberti to be better made for sure. But it won't be significantly different ballistically.

April 29, 2009, 06:33 PM

May 1, 2009, 03:30 AM
So how is the accuracy of the .32 S&W conversion?
Can anyone give an example of how one might perform group wise?
Will it hit a pie plate at 7 yards or is its accuracy any worse than the NAA mini .22 C&B?

Gaucho Gringo
May 2, 2009, 07:47 PM
I have a similar question, only a different gun. Anyone have the .32 S&W conversion cylinder for the .31 1863 Remington Pocket?. Cabelas has the gun on sale and I am going to get one. I was just wondering how it works with the conversion cylinder Taylor's sells? From what I have read Remington had their Pocket Revolver conversions in production into the middle of the 1880's. Must have been a pretty good seller for them as Colt dropped production of theirs(1849) 10 years earlier.

Old Fuff
May 2, 2009, 08:45 PM
Colt also continued to make cartridge revolvers based on the 1849 Pocket Model platform into the early 1880's They were in the process of using up surplus parts made during the Civil War era, and when they ran out of some critical ones they quit. In case of Colt's, the popularity of these revolvers was largely based on the practice of selling them at a lower price then newer models.

As I pointed out in an earlier post, problems with accuracy can occur if the bore is oversized for the metalic cartridge bullet. Dixie Gun Works lists a groove diameter at .326", where the .32 S&W Long's bullet is .312". Individual revolvers from different makers may not be the same, but as a rule of thumb you are likely to find an oversized bore.

May 3, 2009, 10:02 AM
I'd take an accurate .22 over my .31. I can fill a quarter full of holes at 25 yards with my Ruger MkII. I can hit a pie pan most shots at 25 with my .31 CVA pocket Remington. Now, that's good enough to hit a torso, but the bullet packs .22LR energies and really needs to be a CNS hit. Fortunately, most altercations occur at close range. If all I'm left with, due to current politics, in the future is my .31 for self defense, I will surely carry it. If I can still get .22 ammo, I'll carry my Rossi M511 or if I need more concealment, my NAA. My NAA mini is almost as accurate as my .31, but not as pointable.

May 3, 2009, 10:35 AM
I wonder if anyone makes a hollow base bullet in .32 caliber?? That would solve the overbore problem.

Old Fuff
May 3, 2009, 11:17 AM
Yes and no... :uhoh:

Factory .32 S&W Long cartridges generally have a smal hollow base, but the problem is that while they may or may not seal the bore, the bullet in a substantially oversized bore is going to not take the rifling, and many even be tipped by the time it gets to the muzzle.

The Colt and Remington conversions used cartridges such as the .32 Long Colt, which at the time had a heeled bullet, much like .22 LR ammunition does today. The front part of the bullet was the same diameter as the case, and outside lubricated - that didn't work too well. So they reduced the bullet diameter to the same as case inside diameter and adjusted barrel diameter to match.

Cap & ball replicas being made today don't take that into account - unless they are made in the cartridge-converted form in the first place.

Of couse the folks that make and sell the conversions cylinders seldom explain all of this.

Serious cowboy action shooters (and others) using cartridge-converted Colt or Remington revolvers sometimes solve the issue by having the cap & ball barrel bored out and relined with a correct-bore liner. This works, and sometimes results in a substantial incerase in accuracy. The two drawbacks are that it adds to the expense of making the conversion, and you usually can't go back and use the original cylinder in cap & ball mode.

May 6, 2009, 05:30 PM
I think that if you reamed out the cylinders so they are the same diameter all the way through, then you could shoot the 32 S&W Long wadcutter cartridge which is more powerful. Anyone ever done that?

Old Fuff
May 6, 2009, 05:47 PM
NO !!!!!! :what: :what: :what:

Don't ream that chamber! I believe it's chambered in .32 S&W Long as it comes, and in any case the .32 S&W Long doesn't use a heeled bullet. If you reamed the chambers straight through the throats at the front would be way oversized for the bullets.

May 6, 2009, 07:43 PM
Old Fuff..Damn boy! You said that 'no' like it was kind of final!....

May 6, 2009, 07:45 PM
The Kirst Converter for the 1849 Colt Pocket is made to fit the .32 S&W short.

Old Fuff
May 6, 2009, 10:04 PM
The Kirst Converter for the 1849 Colt Pocket is made to fit the .32 S&W short.

Then I stand corrected... :uhoh:

And that's what should be used in it. ;)

Incidentally there is no .32 S&W Short - It's just .32 S&W. There is however a .32 Short Colt, and .32 Long Colt. Some of the original .32 Colt Pocket Models of 1849 were converted to use the .32 Long Colt cartridge. It had a heeled bullet that would likely come closer to the groove size of today's replicas, but cartridges are next to impossible to find. :(

May 6, 2009, 10:13 PM
You're right, the name of the round is just .32 S&W. The website mislabeled it too, probably to clearly distinguish them from the .32 S&W Long, also known as ".32 Colt New Police".

Old Fuff
May 6, 2009, 10:45 PM
Of course I'm right... Am I ever wrong? :uhoh:

Don't answer that. :evil: :D :D

May 7, 2009, 12:47 AM
Old Fuff,

The 32 S&W Long wadcutter cartridge is the same length as the 32 S&W cartridge. I don't understand why you say that is a big no no. Please explain why it would not work.

Old Fuff
May 7, 2009, 09:51 AM
The 32 S&W Long wadcutter cartridge is the same length as the 32 S&W cartridge. I don't understand why you say that is a big no no. Please explain why it would not work.

The cylinder length is longer then the cartridge.

The Smith & Wesson Long cartridge does not used a heeled bullet. A heeled bullet is one where the front part of the bullet is the same diameter as the cartridge case, where the back part is stepped down so that it will fit inside the case. The best example I know of today is the .22 Long Rifle round. So, in revolvers the chamber is bored straight through.

However in modern day center-fire revolvers the chamber is bored with a step toward the front, where the back part is bored to fit the case, while the front part is reduced to fit the bullet. The bullet itself is the same diameter as the inside of the case, not the outside.

In the present instance, the .32 S&W Long case diameter is .337". The bullet diameter is .312". The back of the chamber is .3395", while the throat (small size) at the front where it is stepped down is .314".

If you were to bore the chambers straight through as you suggested, the larger diameter would be .3400" (give or take) where the bullet would only be .312", a difference of .028". (Or .014" to the side.) Not good at all.

Your proposed solution would work if the cylinder length was exactly the same as the .32 S&W long wadcutter cartridge, but then you would have to reduce the length of the cylinder, and you'd have an excessive cylinder/barrel gap.

Clear as mud? :scrutiny:

May 7, 2009, 08:25 PM
Old Fuff,

Please bear with me. I'm not trying to be argumentative, I just want to know why this could not work. I think the conversion cylinder for the model 1849 Pocket is very close to the exact same length as the .32 S&W long wadcutter cartridge. I understand what you wrote about how having an oversized throat would make it inaccurate. Are you implying that this is a bad idea just because it will not be accurate? Or is it somehow not safe?

Old Fuff
May 7, 2009, 09:17 PM
Please bear with me. I'm not trying to be argumentative, ...

I understand that. No problem... :)

I just want to know why this could not work.

I don't know that there is a safety issue, but if the chamber's throat at the front of the cylinder is substantially larger then the bullet, which it would be if you bored the chamber straight through, the bullet will not be concentric to the bore. In this case you might get away with it because the bore is way oversized too. But accuracy is going to be judged in terms of pie-plate groups at point blank range. When the chamber diameter is correct for the bore's groove diameter these guns can cut cloverleaf groups at 7 yards if the shooter does his part.

Why the cylinder maker picked the .32 S&W round is something I canít explain, although Iím sure they could. I suspect that the .32 S&W Longís overall cartridge length (not case length) had something to do with it. In a cartridge revolver itís the throat that keeps the bullet aligned with the bore as the bullet passes from the chamber into the barrel. Having a throat thatís long enough and of the correct diameter is critical for good accuracy, and an inaccurate revolver isnít much good for anything.

If you enjoyed reading about "Anyone using the .32 S&W conversion cylinder?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!