32-20 Revolvers, anything I should know?


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content
July 15, 2011, 04:29 PM
Hello friends and neighbors,

I'm looking for a revolver in 32-20, most likely a Colt or S&W, to go with an1885 DOM, Winchester model1873.

Is there anything I should know about these that differs from say a S&W M&P .38 special when checking them out.

The tapered cartridge has me wondering about checking out the cylinder.
The number of nickle ones for sale makes me wonder if they are potentially hard used Police/Military turn ins?

Also is there a "best" decade of manufacture to look for in hopes of finding a good shooter.

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W.E.G.
July 15, 2011, 04:48 PM
Nothing special about the 32-20.

Many of them are quite old.

Common problems on old revolvers are pitting and mis-timing.

Ala Dan
July 15, 2011, 04:57 PM
Not many stores, gun shops, etc. carry ammo for the .32-20; without them
jumping thru extra hoops too find factory fresh cartridges. We try to keep
an adequate supply on hand; but they are a bit more expensive than say a
box of .38 Special's~! :uhoh: ;)

rcmodel
July 15, 2011, 04:58 PM
A very common problem with those old 32-20 revolvers is a ringed or bulged barrel.
You will probably see lots of them if you look at enough of them.

It stemmed from folks shooting 32-20 WCF Hi-Speed rifle ammo in them many years ago when it was still being sold.

The slow burning rifle powder would sometimes not burn cleanly in a revolver and pressure would fizzle out the barrel/cylinder gap.
That left the jacketed bullet stuck in the barrel.
The next shot ringed the barrel.

I have not seen any cylinder problems, but have certainly seen a lot of them with ringed barrels.

All current 32-20 WCF ammo is suitable for use in rifles & handguns.

rc

Dr_B
July 15, 2011, 05:45 PM
You should know that Robert Johnson had a song about the 32-20.

MMCSRET
July 15, 2011, 05:50 PM
One of the most commonly seen and very good 32-20 revolvers is the Colt Army Special. It is a double action built from 1908 to 1926 or so. They are very well designed and built and are not horribly priced. I have two of them and cast, load, and shoot them regularly.
The Italian copies of the Colt SAA also come in 32-20 in a wide range of prices.

Radagast
July 15, 2011, 10:29 PM
S&Ws .32-20 Hand Ejector Model of 1905 4th Change with a serial number greater than 81287 will have a heat treated cylinder, so less chance of it bulging or cracking with a poor load. RCModels advice about barrels still applies. Treat these guns as five shooters, as they lack a positive internal hammer block safety and could potentially fire if dropped. The S&W .32-20 was discontinued in 1940, so all guns in this caliber are old and spare parts will be from a second hand gun/ gun wrecker. On the plus side the S&W lockwork is more durable than the Colt, so you will have less chance of requiring spares or a gunsmith who knoqws what he is doing. If you load hot for your rifle then mark those cases so they don't end up in your revolver.

W.E.G.
July 15, 2011, 10:45 PM
You should know that Robert Johnson had a song about the 32-20.

That would be the one where he extolls the superior effectiveness of the 32-20 by comparison to the .38 Special. Mr. Johnson is certainly a blues legend. Clearly, he didn't know much about firearms though.

Old 32-20 innards.
http://i227.photobucket.com/albums/dd7/rkba2da/pistol%20pics/32-20/hammer-trigger-searsmall.jpg

JellyJar
July 15, 2011, 11:26 PM
USFA makes 32-20 handguns. Pricey but good guns!

LightningMan
July 16, 2011, 12:30 AM
Here's a good site for loads on 32-20 aka .32WCF. Depends on how old & what type of rifle or pistol you have will determine what type of loads they can handle. LM
http://www.leverguns.com/articles/paco/3220wcf.htm

Owen Sparks
July 16, 2011, 01:13 AM
If you plan on reloading tapered cartridges are a real pain to deal with. The new .327 Magnum will out preform it with a straight walled case but ammo will be nearly as hard to find as the .32-20. There is a reason they quit making it. The modern .357 Magnum will out do anything the best of the .32's will do in the same sized revolver and ammo can be found anywhere. Try finding .32-20 at WallMart.

content
July 16, 2011, 08:06 AM
Thanks for the great tips all and for the much respected knowledge here.
The only reliable info I had found was concerning heat treating the cylinders about 1920 in the serial number range provided by Radagast.

Ala Dan-I grabbed some .32-20 ammo from $37.00 to $47.00 locally so I probably have all I need for a bit.

rcmodel- I have seen one with a barrel buldge and now know to check for a blue ring-- outstanding.

Dr B- I believe R.J. mentions a "gatlin gun" in .32-20 blues as well as the incorrect comparison to .38 special being "mos to light." as W.E.G> pointed out.

MMCRSRET - You have the mindset I need "cast, load,shoot". I do like the Colts and have been looking at them and the Smiths. Best revolver at the best price all else equal between the two.

Radagast- I'll look for a S&W as close to the 1940 cut off as possible and definately after 1920.

W.E.G.,-Nice pic, it does look like a sturdy set up.
I probably won't shoot the revolver or the Winchester 1873 too much but when the mood strikes I like to be ready.

JellyJar - USFA is new to me I'll check them out tonight.

Lightning Man - I may be dusting off the old Lee loader all to soon.
Time is a factor but shooting .44mag , .30 carbine and now.32-20... price might soon override time.

Owen Sparks -- Are you saying .327 mag will work in a .32-20 revolver?
This is new to me but interesting, I'll check into it.

Bad form to start a thread and disappear but I had an offer from a lady I could not refuse last night and am loading up several rifles,shotguns and handguns I have not shot yet to function test today.

"Should" be an outstanding 86 degree shooting day for all here in upstate S.C. (103 a few days ago)

Thanks again to all of you for the great info, if I stick around long enough I may even learn something.:D

Jim Watson
July 16, 2011, 09:43 AM
Owen Sparks -- Are you saying .327 mag will work in a .32-20 revolver?

I'm not Owen, but it won't.
The .327 is an interesting niche round but it is not what you need if you want a companion revolver to a .32 WCF rifle. There have been some combo revolvers with .327 and .32-20 cylinders but they are mostly expensive custom propositions.

You will occasionally see S&W Military & Police and Colt Army Special, Official Police, or Police Positive DA revolvers in .32-20 for sale. But of course they considerably post-date your 1873 Winchester. Original Colt SAA .32s are going to be expensive. For occasional use on what a friend calls Ceremonial Occasions, an Italian repro would be one way to go.
Buffalo Arms has Ubertis. The only version in stock is a 7 1/2" with "black powder" frame. That is going to be a heavy gun but they do not have any 4 3/4" or 5 1/2" guns on hand. You could ask or get on backorder.
http://www.buffaloarms.com/Detail.aspx?PROD=161468&CAT=3925

Owen Sparks
July 16, 2011, 01:02 PM
Owen Sparks -- Are you saying .327 mag will work in a .32-20 revolver?
This is new to me but interesting, I'll check into it.

No it will not. My point is that the new .327 Magnum will out preform the .32-20 and is much easier to reload because the case does not taper. My choice would be to forget the .32's all together and get something chambered in .357 magnum that you can afford to shoot.

BTW I have a .32-20 Smith & Wesson revolver and it will not do anything that a .38 special will do.

rcmodel
July 16, 2011, 01:07 PM
There is nothing hard about reloading 32-20 WCF tapered case.
I have loaded it for close to 20 years for use in a 92 Winchester and a Colt SAA.

The only problem you might run into when loading for two different guns is, there has been a long-standing disagreement on chamber dimensions for all three WCF cartridges. The 32-20, 38-40, and 44-40.

Winchester used one chamber design, and Colt used a different one.
I'm not sure what S&W did.

Modern reloading dies do not return the case shoulder to it's original position, instead bowing to Winchesters design, and reloads may or may not fit the other brand gun in question. Factory loads have the shoulder far enough back to fit anything.

The solution is to grind about 1/8" off the bottom of the sizing die, and then adjust the die to return the shoulder to its factory location.

rc

Claude Clay
July 16, 2011, 01:13 PM
RC--A very common problem with those old 32-20 revolvers is a ringed or bulged barrel.
You will probably see lots of them if you look at enough of them.

It stemmed from folks shooting 32-20 WCF Hi-Speed rifle ammo in them many years ago when it was still being sold.

i have 2, a S&W and a Colt. one has that 'ring' -- very slight bulge
as it was his dad's gun and he had no explaination for it. as its accuracy is unaffected, i bought it.
thanks for that bit of possibe info.

I'm3rd
July 16, 2011, 02:25 PM
If you plan on reloading tapered cartridges are a real pain to deal with. The new .327 Magnum will out preform it with a straight walled case but ammo will be nearly as hard to find as the .32-20. There is a reason they quit making it. The modern .357 Magnum will out do anything the best of the .32's will do in the same sized revolver and ammo can be found anywhere. Try finding .32-20 at WallMart.


.327 magnum ammo is available at several sources in my area (north GA) but it is definitely on the pricey side. That may change as .327 guns become more common and ammo makers produce more of it. IMHO if anybody wants a .32 caliber revolver today the only practical choice is a .327 mag which will handle any .32 handgun cartridge except the semi-rimmed .32acp and the tapered-case .32-20. I think it's highly probable that production of .32 H&R magnum guns will soon be discontinued. However, there are probably more than enough .32 H&R mag guns in service now to keep the ammo in production for a long time to come.

Justin Holder
July 16, 2011, 04:58 PM
Just out of curiosity, what kind of price would an old shooter quality S&W 32-20 bring?

I ask because at the last gun show I attended a guy had one for sale, it was a 4" model in fairly decent condition considering its age. He wanted $400 and I passed. Would it have been worth that much from a non collector's standpoint?

waidmann
July 16, 2011, 06:09 PM
An S&W 1905 Chg 4 of the standard mentioned by Radagast with correct grips and a 4 inch barrel, not the more common 5 inch, might just bring $400 in nice shape.
Of the most common variants, Police Positive, 1905 M&P, and Army Special/Official Police, the latter on a .41 frame is likely the most robust.
Given the ringed barrel observations a number of old timers elected to magnumize with rifle ammo. I wonder if the Army Special tolerated it?

Jim K
July 16, 2011, 11:40 PM
Just FWIW, John Wayne's personal 4 3/4" SA Colt that he used in several movies, is in .32-20.

Jim

content
July 17, 2011, 04:11 PM
Just got back from a day and a half shooting, sighting in my 1968 Remington 760 .30-06 and checking out a few others. Every day should be this good.
145742145741145743 proof:D

Back to the .32-20
Thanks for the added info all.


Jim Watson - I like the Umberti idea if nothing else pops up. As you say a real Colt SAA 73 would be pricey just to fill a fun gap.

Owen Sparks -thanks for the clairification. I just want a .32-20 revolver to shoot/woods carry with the Winchester 1873 as I do with my .357/38 revolver/rifle combo.

rcmodel- If I take factory brass to my reloader should I inform him of your post #15? Or should I just let him inspect the rifle and revolver himself? Both I think. LOL

I'm3rd - I'm looking for an older revolver manuf. between the mid 1920s and the 1940s, at the right price a Colt 73 would be great.

waidmann /(to answerJustin Holder)- thanks for the pricing that seems consistant with prices here in S.C. and for the ones on GB with active bids a little higher.

I like the added info as welland will consider it.

Jim Keenan - D0 you know if John Wayne used a rifle in the same .32-20 caliber?

rcmodel
July 17, 2011, 05:25 PM
Or should I just let him inspect the rifle and revolver himself?Just make sure he checks your resized brass and see if it will chamber in both your guns before he loads up a bunch of it.

rc

content
July 17, 2011, 05:33 PM
^Got It and Will Do-- thanks for the tip^

Derry 1946
July 17, 2011, 05:36 PM
A very fun revolver to shoot. Ammo is available on the Internet for not too much. Enjoy!

Derry

Justin Holder
July 17, 2011, 07:13 PM
I know Cimarron Firearms makes several models in 32-20

Vern Humphrey
July 17, 2011, 07:28 PM
There's a Colt Police Positive in .32-20 for sale on www.Gunsamerica.com

http://www.gunsamerica.com/940642269/Guns/Pistols/Colt-Double-Action-Revolvers-Pre-1945/Colt_Police_Positive_32_20_WCF.htm#

Colt Police Positive 32-20 WCF 940642269

Colt PP in 32 WCF. Has 6 inch barrel. Serial 253xxx, which puts it made in the 1920's. Finish is a very even patina. Left side grip has small chip, see picture. (read more)
Seller: Jordan Johnston $325.00

Trad Archer
July 17, 2011, 08:18 PM
I myself would love to have a Colt SAA in 32-20.

content
July 17, 2011, 10:44 PM
Derry 1946 -- I agree , it should also appeal to the recoil sensitive folks I sometimes shoot with.

Justin Holder -- yes the Colt SAA they sell is looking nicer al the time.I might pick one up until I find the "right " vintage .32-20.

content
July 17, 2011, 11:09 PM
Vern Humphrey -- I agree that is a more than fair price for a Colt Police Positive and am leaning more and more that way just because they come up for sale more frequently than most.

I'm thinking the CPP was either the sturdiest of the bunch or were carried a lot and shot little.

I have an Offical Police in .38 spec. and a S&W model of 1905 4th change also in .38sp.
So a Police Positive in .32-20 works, I keep hoping for a reasonably priced Colt SAA or Bisley SAA will show up first.



Trad Archer --^^ me too but I like bottom shelf shooters and might try the Umberti repro if none turn up.

waidmann
July 18, 2011, 10:09 PM
Compared to the 1905 HE and Army Special I would rate the Police Positive the least sturdy and SAA the strongest.

Vern Humphrey
July 19, 2011, 10:04 AM
The Police Positive was designed as a light-weight, "carry a lot, shoot very little" revolver. Despite that, it's quite sturdy. I sometimes carry a Detective Special, which is the Police Positive with a short barrel, and I shoot it quite a bit.

The next larger Colt was the Official Police, which is the same gun as the Python, without the cosmetics.

CraigC
July 19, 2011, 10:16 AM
The .32-20 is a wonderful cartridge. Depending on the gun in question, it can be loaded from mild blackpowder levels to 1600fps in strong sixguns. It is an excellent small game and varmint cartridge. Light recoil, relatively flat trajectory. It is easy to load for. Rather than using a roll-on or spray-on lube, you can simply wipe it with an oil-damp rag or patch before resizing. They are thin and resize easily. You have to be careful not to bell the case mouth too much and pay attention when you're adjusting your dies and seating bullets but it's not the nightmare many would have you believe. Starline makes the best cases for this cartridge.


...except the semi-rimmed .32acp...
The .32ACP can typically be utilized in any .32H&R or .327Federal revolver.

content
July 19, 2011, 06:02 PM
waidman-I understand the differences you mean, between the three.

Vern Humphrey -I shoot a 1957 DS .38spc ,a 1943 BPD O.P. .38spc , and a 1961 Python .357/.38 with out worry.
I think the Police Positive I found last week in .32-20 should do fine, just need to check DOM and verify the grips are correct.

CraigC--Thanks for the tips, I like exploring a new caliber and will someday have the time/energy to reload again.
Poor excuse for a guy with all the equipment to reload .357/38. All I need are dies and bullets to load several more calibers.
If I have extra time away from family, right now I shoot.



By the time I find a Colt SAA at the right price I may be too old to shoot it.

Vern Humphrey
July 19, 2011, 07:00 PM
I think the Police Positive I found last week in .32-20 should do fine, just need to check DOM and verify the grips are correct.
As long as it's in good shape and you don't abuse it, it should see you out.

content
July 21, 2011, 10:23 PM
Hello friends and neighbors // Just a nod to post#7 by Radagast

Great sum up in a quick stroke.

lizziedog1
July 22, 2011, 09:15 AM
Lucky you, your range has a swimming pool. We don't even have a water fountian at ours.:D

content
July 22, 2011, 08:28 PM
Yep, lucky to have good friends is all, that is where I hunt with four others.

Not my house, but we have made shooting/hunting fun there.
I can only bow to my friends.
Thanks for the kind words.

content
July 23, 2011, 12:07 PM
I'm looking at a 1914 serial numbered Colt Police Positive, so it is a 1st generation(1907-1927) in great shape.
I believe the first generation had the "Positive Lock Safety" so you could safely carry six rounds.

Question:
Is the heavier frame and serrated top strap worth waiting on a 2nd. gen.(1928-1947)?

Are there other equally important modifications to the 2nd gen.?

Vern Humphrey
July 23, 2011, 12:25 PM
Question:
Is the heavier frame and serrated top strap worth waiting on a 2nd. gen.(1928-1947)?
The earlier revolver is safe to shoot, so if you want a shooter, I'd buy what's available now, and perhaps later pick up a 2nd generation.

" Would someone PLEASE start producing .32RF"

Contact Hammond Game Getter http://www3.telus.net/gamegetter/

The Hammond Game Getter is a cartridge case with an off-center "primer pocket." The "primer pocket" is really a chamber for a .22 RF nail setting blank. The projectile is a sized buckshot.

While Hammond Game Getters are mostly used to shoot low-powered loads in centerfire rifles, the concept would work for the .32 RF.

content
July 23, 2011, 12:39 PM
Vern Humphrey- Nice on both accounts, thanks for the quick reply.

Exactly the info I was looking for.I'll hit the buy now on GB for the Colt P.P.

I've seen the game getter for shotguns and will check them out today.

TonyT
July 23, 2011, 12:58 PM
I had a Colt Army Special in 32-20. I also wanted to use it along with my Winchester Model 1873 in 32-20. In my limited trials I could never get any real accuracy from that Colt AS and finally sold it.

Dr.Rob
July 24, 2011, 12:38 AM
You should know they are addictive. ;)

content
August 2, 2011, 04:26 PM
Hello friends and neighbors // Pulled a couple of photos of the .32-20 , it arrives tomorrow.
Just hope I make it to the store before it closes.

146693 with vintage holster 146694

1914 Colt Police Positive Special, .32-20

Thanks for the tips all.

content
August 5, 2011, 12:33 AM
Colt Police Positive Special
.32-20
1914
4"
Made it to town today.
146831

In the words of my Gun Smith " that's a nice little gun " and I could not agree more.
The bore is crisper than most of my 1970s revolvers, pristine in fact.
If this one has been fired it was not much,other than holster wear, it looks as close to new as I have seen.
I'm eager to try it out.

vanfunk
August 8, 2011, 08:22 AM
Nice gun!

I had my eye on that for a while myself. Glad to see that it went to a good home. Enjoy!

vanfunk

content
August 8, 2011, 12:51 PM
Thanks, vanfunk
Once I saw free shipping with a buy now purchase it was in range.

The gentleman was kind enough to include a nice case with ammo and cleaning kit pockets.
in case
147039
LS
147040
RS
147042

Not too shabby for a revolver that turns 100 in 3 years.
I doubt I'll need another, .32-20 to go with the Winchester 1873 manuf in 1885 after all.

Thanks for the advice all,, completely satisfied. (content)

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