.32 h&r magnum as self defense round


February 11, 2011, 05:43 PM
What is this load's capability as a self-defense round, particularly for CCW?

I have been gifted a S&W Airweight snubbie in .32 h&r magnum and I am rather unfamiliar with the round. Is it a viable CCW round? How does it stack up to the .38 or the .380 calibers? 9mm?

Any insight is appreciated


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February 11, 2011, 05:56 PM
No it is a horrible defense gun please send it to me for diposal. Put the rounds in the right place and it should put anyone 6' under.

February 11, 2011, 06:58 PM
that's a somewhat helpful response.

I'm looking for a serious response that will give me some frame of reference here. To me, this is a bastard round of sorts and I would like to know more before I start carrying it.

February 11, 2011, 07:07 PM
With good defensive ammo, it should be quite adequate, provided you land the rounds inside the 9-ring or better.

See http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=117808

Problem is, good defensive ammo can be hard to get your hands on.

The .32 magnum is bordering on being an obsolete round, even more-so with the recent development of the .327 Federal Magnum round - which is almost as hard to get ammo for.

Even your gun is something of a rarity. As such, it is quite desirable to collectors. If you don't want it as an heirloom or collector's item, I'm sure you could trade it even-steven for a nice .38 Special snubnose. Lot easier and cheaper to get ammo for a more common caliber.

If you HANDLOAD, the .32 magnum is a much better choice for a defensive weapon, as you can handload a boatload of practice ammo for cheap. If you can't get (or can't afford) practice ammo for an oddball caliber, its a poor choice for self defense.

Buck Snort
February 11, 2011, 07:57 PM
It beats the snot out of a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

February 11, 2011, 08:13 PM
I'd look for some Federal loads for it,..or maybe Black Hills,..they both make a good round in a JHP,....I have a Ruger Single Six in .32 H&R. I bought 500 rounds of JHP's and 500 LFN from Georgia Ammo,..shoots good. If I had that Airweight,...I wouldn't hesitate to carry it. Six .32 H&R's up close and personal....yep it could be a keeper. Hard to tell if it's a .32 or a .38 when looking down the working end of one,.......

Old Fuff
February 11, 2011, 08:26 PM
It offers some advantages in a LIGHTWEIGHT snubby, in that you have 6, rather then 5 shots, and the recoil is more manageable then say a .38 Special.

If you place your shots and put them where they should go they should
be able to get the job done. If you don't the .38 Special or .380 will offer little or no advantage.

On the negative side, ammunition is sometimes hard to find, and usually more expensive then either of the .38 caliber rounds you mentioned. Those who handload can save money, and up the performance a bit. You also have the option of shooting the less costly and more available .32 S&W Long for practice and fun.

February 11, 2011, 08:55 PM
To give you some frame of reference:

32 H+R Magnum 2" barrel
Black Hills 85gr jacketed hollowpoint 899fps
Federal 85gr jacketed hollowpoint 925fps

32acp 2.75" barrel
Winchester Silvertip 60gr hollowpoint 812fps

380acp 2.75" barrel
Federal 90gr Personal Defense hollow point 839fps

Monster Zero
February 11, 2011, 09:02 PM
Gee... I understand that bigger bullets are better and all that but just doin' the math mentally looking at this thread... Those Black Hills loads are producing energy levels about like the .380 acp.

Sgt. Murtaugh, just send that revolver to my local FFL dealer if you don't want it. I'll buy a bulk load of ammo from Georgia and some dies and be set with practice ammo for life. Two boxes of those Black Hills loads every time I go shooting - shoot one, stash the other. Sounds like a plan.

February 11, 2011, 10:07 PM
I've always viewed it as a niche cartridge, namely as an option for recoil-sensitive individuals who wanted a lightweight snub that would work for them.

With a long barrel, I suspect .32 would make a decent small game round. You could defend yourself with it if you get pounced on while out in the woods.

Beyond that, I'd pass on it as a self-defense round.

February 11, 2011, 11:24 PM
Nothing wrong with it.

Learn to shoot it well, and enjoy the fairly mild recoil. I wanted one for the longest time. Now I am tempted to pick up the .327F.

February 12, 2011, 12:53 AM
Nothing wrong with it is correct - The energy level of the 32 H&R 85 grn Federal defense load is about the same as a standard load 38 Spl ,and that is not bad.

You won't be alone if you use it for a carry gun.

February 12, 2011, 01:01 AM
Penetration and expansion test here:

February 12, 2011, 05:44 AM
I'd carry one. I'm thinking about picking up a Single Six in .32H&R. Intriguing round, and some of the guns it's chambered in are pretty neat.

February 12, 2011, 06:49 AM
I love the cartridge myself, a medium weight 32 H&R is something I would actually buy given the chance. Those who shoot it love it! I have had a SP101 for years then gave it to my brother when a shady character moved in next door. Hopefully one day he will return it.

February 12, 2011, 08:01 AM
I've had one for years, really like it.
Charter Arms, Police Undercover.
It's got .38 energy levels and six rounds in a five round .38 size/weight.
I often carry it shoulder holster when trout fishing. I did touch it off in "self defense" one time years ago, Standing in a trout stream down in Western Ma. and looked up to see a very curious coyote watching me from the far bank, maybe 30 yds. away. I really didn't feel comfortable with that situation so I slid the unit out of the holster and touched one off into the bank right below him. Well, the dog almost turned inside out and went up the bank like thrown from a slingshot. Could be that the dog didn't mean any harm but that wasn't any information that I was willing to gather.
Availability/price of ammo is a factor, I reload mine, the components are all available and it makes it a rather frugal firearm to shoot.
Realistically, I only burn a couple of hundred rounds a year through this particular gun, enough range time to keep proficient, and some for fun.
I'm a big fan of the cartridge,
Mine's has a porpose & is a Keeper.

February 12, 2011, 01:00 PM
of a GI 1911 into a bad guy, who was still standing at the conclusion...not moving well, but still there. I do carry a .45 ACP on occasion, and a .357 magnum most of the time, but the magnum is usually loaded with .38 Spl +P's, and in the warm weather I carry an old .32 ACP pistol...and I just bought a .32 S&W Long revolver that might become a carry gun, too.

Shot placement is important, as is the ability to control the weapon for followup shots, which I find harder to do with a magnum as I get older.

The .32 mag is a good penetrator and the .32 revolver cartridges are very accurate, as it the .32 ACP.
Practice with it and feel good about it.


February 12, 2011, 08:22 PM
Now just who was it that said "speed is fine, but accuracy is final"
I really like the 32 H&R, with the right load it is very accurate and like Mr. Earp said "accuracy is final". I would much rather hit em with 6 than miss them with 7.....10......18....or...
P.S. You have a very nice revolver.... and I'm very jealous ........is it for sale? gene

February 12, 2011, 08:27 PM
Can you post a picture? It won't help us answer you question but it would make us happy! :)

February 12, 2011, 08:45 PM
I bought a NEF revolver in stainless with a four inch barrel. I have the problem of getting ammo. I always check with Reed and Bufallo for PD ammo. They advertise same but I ended up with Federal 95 grain LSWC because all of the online ammo sources were backorder. I bought the gun for my wife and she then told me she preferred a semiauto, FEG 7.65. Not sure what I will do with it as it is expensive to shoot. Maybe I will leave it in a vehicle.

February 12, 2011, 10:44 PM
I think this ios a great carry option. Gunblast.com did a review a few years ago of the S&W 332 with comparisons of different rounds.

February 13, 2011, 05:52 PM
When I carry a J-frame it's a S&W 432 and I doubt seriously if anybody hit with a hot .32H&R would be any better off than someone shot with a .38spl. The .32 is much more controllable though and you get an extra shot. Shoot it, get to know it and reload for practice ammo and you're set.

February 13, 2011, 09:18 PM
S&W ought to start selling J frames with 32 cal. It would make a great beginner's gun for people with small hands and grip strength. I know a few women who find 38spl to be too hot to handle and hate shooting because of it. A 32 J frame ought fly off the shelve.

February 13, 2011, 09:31 PM
S&W ought to start selling J frames with 32 cal

They would be $700 - $800 a pop.

Many would want.
Few would buy.
S&W has priced itself out of the mass-appeal revolver market.

Look at Taurus for an affordable .32 bellygun.
Yeah, I know about Taurus issues.
You can always sell it if it turns out a lemon.

I know I don't want a .32 J-Frame bad enough to pay $700+ for one.

February 14, 2011, 01:33 AM
Why would the .32 j frame be so much? 642 revolvers aren't that much.

February 14, 2011, 03:40 AM
Georgia Arms jhp 100 gr. 1000fps good to go... right there with .38 spl... and of course SHOT PLACEMENT

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