.32 vs .22LR for Self-Defense


March 20, 2004, 09:18 PM
Was in my favorite gunshop today and saw an interesting firearm: a Kel-Tec in
.32 cal, 6 shots, seven ounces and SMALL - slightly larger than a cigarette pkg.

I'm not one for mouse guns - .38spl in my SP 101 when I go small and more often 9mm in my G19 (or a full size 1911 or .357 during the winter).

But on the RARE occasions when it HAD to be deep concealment in a light thin package I'd go with my 87 Beretta Cheetah in .22LR, stuffed with Velocitors (8 rds worth).

The Kel-Tec however did look intriguing, but I'm wondering (particularly in its 2" bbl) what serious advantages the .32 rd has over premium .22s like Stingers or Velocitors - if any.I've fired enough of CCI's premium .22 rounds not to have any qualms over ignition (unlike the junky Remington bulk pack)

Certainly, I figure there's no point in carrying backup mag - if I needed a backup mag, I probably should carry a bigger gun in the first place :D

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M2 Carbine
March 20, 2004, 09:36 PM
The Kel Tec 32 has been out for quite a while and now there's also a KT 380.
I have them both.
I used a 22 Beretta for a pocket gun before the Kel Tec.

Just my opinion, but a Stinger from a 4 or 5 inch barrel would be more effective than a 32 from a 2 inch barrel.

If both are fired from a 2 inch barrel I'de give the edge to the 32.

In any case now the .380 is my pocket gun all the time.

You know Texas in the summer, it's hard to hide a gun of any size but the Kel Tec 380 is always in my front pocket. :)

March 20, 2004, 10:04 PM
Centerfire rounds are less likely to misfire than .22s.
That's a point in favor of my PP .32, over my Beretta 21A in .22.

March 20, 2004, 10:09 PM
.32 round for defense is as low as I would go. I carry a P32. Th estopping power of the .32 is not impressive, IMHO, the .22LR is even less so.

March 20, 2004, 10:43 PM
Well, personally, I'd think that due to the combination of considerations of ammunition reliability, and semiauto pistol functionality ... I'd opt fo the.32 ACP, but only in a quality semiauto, and using quality ammunition.

My reasons?

After having watched a LOT of folks over the years on our range ... both in our agency and among the CCW licensees ... I've seen far more failures to function when someone is using a diminutive .22LR than when they're usign a .32 ACP ...

I finally saw someone use a Beretta M21 recently who was able to complete the 36-round course of fire without any malfunctions. That was the second small .22 semiauto I'd seen do that ... the first being a Llama, believe it or not. It wasn't the first M21 that came through the course, though ...

Sure, I've seen some "full size" Colts, Rugers and High Standard's complete the course without malfucntion issues, but hardly any of the smaller pistols do so. Maybe it's just a combination of the way the folks maintain their firearms, and the type of ammunition they're using ... except that's how they intended to use the firearms when carried for defensive purposes, it seems ... Oh well.

While we've seen our fair share of PPK/S-type .32's, as well as other pistols, that exhibited malfunctions. Although, for the most part, the .32's seem to offer a much better level of functional reliability than .22's & even .25 ACP's ... with the FMJ ammunition most folks buy to use for the course, anyway.

It sometimes appears that some folks simply think that if one type of ammunition/bullet style functions in their pistol, then other types of ammunition/bullets will function, too. I've seen more than one puzzled expression when I suggested they at least visit a local range and TRY their defensive ammunition choice, if it's other than the FMJ they shot for the qualification course.

Hey, their lives ... their choice.

Professionally? Well, my choice would be limited, because my agency has restricted its folks from carrying any personally owned off duty weapon which is chambered in any caliber less than .32 ACP. The reasoning behind that was due to concerns of officer safety, should the weapon actually have to be USED.

I can think of one fellow that took a .25 ACP to an unexpected gunfight in which the bad guy brought a 9mm ... and after the good guy survived ... nobody was hit by any rounds fired from either side ... he started carrying a weapon chambered in a "more effective" caliber ... ;)

I'm only responsible for myself, however, and won't try to influence anyone else in making an informed decision regarding this sort of thing ...

March 21, 2004, 01:01 AM
I would choose a .32 ACP semi-auto over a .22 LR semi-auto. If my only choice for self defense was between the 2 guns you mention, then my choice would be neither. If my choice was only between calibers, then I'd go with a lightweight .22 LR snubnose revolver that held more than 6 rounds. Don't know for sure if .22 magnum is a better manstopper than LR but that's what I'd get.

The smallest guns I've ever carried were lightweight .380's and .38 specials. I don't want to go smaller in caliber because I feel these two are minumum.

March 21, 2004, 01:03 AM
In actual shootings, the 32 has proven to be 3 times greater stopper than the 22 compared under the same circumstances. The 32 is statistically equal to the 380 and 38 in a snubnose. I can fire the 32 faster. I feel the 32 is the best choice of calibers that will go into almost any pocket.

The 32 is much much better than a 22 in both stopping effect and reliability for a pocket gun.

Do beware of the rim lock problem with the P32. I persoanlly carry a NAA G32. Either the NAA or the Seecamp would be more reliable on average than the P32.

Roll Tide

Oleg Volk
March 21, 2004, 09:30 AM
Do your own tests for penetration. Jacketed ball in .32 worked much better than unjacketed .22 in my experience. Ignition reliability is also a concern, though seems similar with premium .22s.

March 21, 2004, 10:11 AM
"I can think of one fellow that took a .25 ACP to an unexpected gunfight in which the bad guy brought a 9mm ... and after the good guy survived ... nobody was hit by any rounds fired from either side ... he started carrying a weapon chambered in a "more effective" caliber ... :) "

A "more effective" caliber that would actually enable him to hit a bad guy? :)

March 21, 2004, 10:21 AM
hey, you never know, maybe the .25's ran out of power and fell out of the air ;)

March 21, 2004, 04:35 PM
A "more effective" caliber that would actually enable him to hit a bad guy?

Don't think that this wasn't mentioned to him afterward.;)

I just think that he suddenly felt he was at a "disadvantage" when it came to the caliber and amount of "bullet weight" he was "facing" coming in his direction, if you will, versus what he was potentially able to "return" ... Also, the distances involved were farther than "across the street", if I remember the incident right ...

Like the old saying goes ... Incoming rounds always have the right of way ... so move.

March 22, 2004, 04:32 AM
nobody was hit by any rounds fired from either side ... he started carrying a weapon chambered in a "more effective" caliber ...
Sounds like it he needs to adjust the fire control system. I can't see where the caliber did anything wrong.

March 22, 2004, 12:51 PM
Just my $0.02: The reason that I switched from a Beretta M21 in .22LR to a Keltec P32 was primarily because I couldn't find any brand of ammo that would function with 100% reliability in 100 rnds of testing.

The levels varied quite a bit, but none of them were close enough for me to trust with the safety of my Personal Favorite Behind. YMMV, but anything less than 100% isn't what I had in mind in an "always" piece.

My P32 has funtioned 100% with everything from generic ball to Federal and Speer HPs through nearly 1K rnds. It takes about 300 rnds without cleaning for it to begin to show any sign of malfs.

It's also much easier to conceal than the M21A, as it's much thinner, but that's just gravy.

The bottom line is that it works better, IME. It may be a toss-up in terms of "paper energy" between the cartridges, but at least the Gold Dots show some expansion in clay or water when fired from my pistol. The .22s generally didn't.

March 22, 2004, 02:43 PM
I've had very positive experience with the P32s... If I had to choose between a P32 and a Beretta or Taurus 22 LR, I'd take the P32 every time. For one thing, I've yet to see a 22 pistol that carries as easily as the P32... It is very thin and very light weight.

With the advent of the P3AT in 380, I see very few reasons to carry anything smaller than it.

Comparing the 22LR to the 22 Magnum, 22 magnum bullets often have a thicker and more solid copper coating... I'd imagine FMJ 22 magnums would have a better shot (pardon the pun) of penetrating a skull than would most 22LR bullets. I wouldn't rely on either 22 LR or 22 Magnum for stopping someone in shorter order when fired into their COM.

As M2 said, if both have a 2" barrel, I'd rather have a 380 or a 32 than a 22 LR... ;)

March 23, 2004, 01:00 AM
Setting the ballistics aside, the centerfire has a better record for ignition over the rimfire. Give me the .32 for the better chance that it will fire when I want it to.

Comparing the 22LR to the 22 Magnum, 22 magnum bullets often have a thicker and more solid copper coating...
A lot of .22mag bullets are also jacketed too.

March 23, 2004, 02:53 AM
In a similar platform, and similar barrel length, 32 wins.

However, if i had a choice between a p32 and a ruger mkII 22 to grab for SD...id grab the ruger. 22s can be pretty impressive given a bit if barrel length to work with...aside from having 10 shots in the ruger.

March 23, 2004, 09:29 AM
They make a 10-shot mag for the P32 last time I checked. :)

March 23, 2004, 10:24 AM
A lot of .22mag bullets are also jacketed too.

That's what I mean... most 22 Mags are jackated while most 22 LRs with any copper are just thin coated.

March 23, 2004, 12:18 PM
Murphy, touche.

March 25, 2004, 07:06 PM
22vs 32??I would go for the P-32

I own both the P-32 and P3AT and I carry both...

Instead of the P-32 how about the P3at?? I seem to be selling alot of holsters for it lately...plus you dont have to worry about rim-lock with the .380....

In size comparson the P3AT is only .02 th. thicker than a P-32

My .02 cents

March 25, 2004, 07:29 PM
Just my opinion, but a Stinger from a 4 or 5 inch barrel would be more effective than a 32 from a 2 inch barrel.

I disagree. I had a Kel-Tec P-32 and have Bersa 23 (.22lr). I did some tests just to see how the .32 compared to the .22lr. I have heard the rumors that the .32 is only a little better than the .22lr and wanted to see for myself.

My tests were not scientific but the results were drastic enough for me to rule that the .32 is MUCH more powerful than the .22lr. It is not even really close. I was shooting into wood (a known poor test medium) but the pentration was roughly 2-2 1/2 times as deep with the .32acp and it was firing a larger cal round that weighs about twice as much. Twice the pentration, twice the weight and ~50% larger diameter bullet equels much more potent round IMO.

The Bersa has a 3 1/2" bbl (I think) and I was using Stingers and other ammo. The Kel-Tec has a shorter bbl and I was using FMJ RWS ammo. That was my carry ammo at the time and I recomend using FMJ in the .32acp instead of JHP.

I would still carry a reliable .22lr over a Kel-Tec. I had bad experiences with their products and would not trust them.

March 26, 2004, 08:55 AM
Reliability is far more important than caliber. Would go w/ a reliable 32 over 22LR. 380 is much better than either.

Keeping the Walther TPH 22LR.


March 29, 2004, 11:42 AM
Hmmm....I donĀ“t have any data to back this up (if someone has..would you be so kind to post it??) but I guess that a Hiper maximum speed .22 from a 5" or 6" barrel would be maybe as effective as a .32 from a super short barrel....also, 5 or 6" .22s have 10 round mags (most of them..so it is a 4 round advantage!)

Please correct me if I am wrong

P.S: I use Aguila .22 Super maximum.....http://www.armaq.com/301-A-22LRHH.htm

March 29, 2004, 05:00 PM
If you are going to use a .22lr with a 5" to 6" barrel you might as well go to a much larger caliber. You are talking service pistol size handguns now.

March 29, 2004, 05:41 PM
I find it hard to believe that there is any actual difference in the terminal performance of mouse gun rounds. They are all going to require a hit to the central nervous system to guarantee effectiveness.

Which gives a slight edge to .22 rimfire, because it is cheap, and makes for lots of practice. On the other hand, the centerfire is more reliable. You pays your money and takes your choice.

August 19, 2009, 11:46 PM
i would choose a .32 acp with 71 gr fmj over a .22lr in any bullet any day , i would even choose the .32 acp over the .22WMR i think the .32 acp is a better manstopper and penetrates deeper then either caliber at close range.

August 20, 2009, 12:03 PM
I agree. When fired from a rifle, I'd have to give the edge to the .22 rimfire in terms of KE. When fired from a short barrelled handgun, you are lucky to get 90 foot-pounds. The .32 automatic has a larger, heavier bullet, and 130 foot pounds to play with.

August 20, 2009, 12:49 PM
I never liked .32 and as the P3AT is the same size as the P32 and .380 is almost a good caliber, I can't see the need in .32 at all. I'm actually thinkin' getting a 4" NAA mini master in .22/.22mag next jumping over the P3AT which would fill a niche. I carry a P11 or a Taurus .38 ultralite mostly, but the mini master would fill a niche for me and be close to .32 (perhaps better) in performance with the mag cylinder. It's longer, though, with the long barrel, but I have several reasons to want it beyond a CCW option.

And, winter carry in Richmond? I don't remember wearing a coat last year except in the deer stand and on a couple of motorcycle trips. :D

August 20, 2009, 01:01 PM
However, if i had a choice between a p32 and a ruger mkII 22 to grab for SD...id grab the ruger. 22s can be pretty impressive given a bit if barrel length to work with...aside from having 10 shots in the ruger.

Kind of apples and oranges as I wouldn't wanna have to carry my Ruger concealed even with the scope off of it. Accuracy, alone, makes it a better choice in an actual shoot out due to it's squirrel head 50 yard accuracy. I could put every shot in an eye socket with it at home defense ranges. :D

August 20, 2009, 08:36 PM
32 easily.

September 20, 2009, 05:15 PM
I watched my friend shoot his AMT 22 Mag auto with a 6" barrel at the shooting range the other day...8" of flame out the end...the cartridges are made for rifles and it was as loud as any big cal hand gun at the range. I'll stick to the PP in 32 cal. 'cus my Browning with the 7 1/4" barrel woun't fit in my pocket.

September 20, 2009, 06:17 PM
Why is this thread back from 5 years ago? That's some impressive thread necromancy there, BushyGuy!

If we must keep on topic ...
I want a KT P32 because I have an odd affinity for miniatures, and the occasional desire for a tiny pocket gun. If there was a conversion or identical pistol in .22, I would have one already, I've been resisting the call of the P32 by telling myself that the ammo is pricey, and that I can conceal a 9x19 pistol easily, so why get another mousegun?
I have a NAA revolver in .22mag/.22lr, and keep the nastiest little rimfire rounds I can find on hand for it ... but in the end it is more of a toy than a defensive pistol, even if it does make a great "get off me" gun. I wouldn't pack a semi-auto .22 unless I was severely limited somehow - the small ones aren't reliable enough, and the large reliable ones offer no concealment advantage, and still have the rimfire's reliability working against them.

September 20, 2009, 09:14 PM
I own a .32 and sometimes carry it as a backup. It's here on the desk as I write this. It's filled w/Gold Dots.

September 20, 2009, 10:58 PM
.32 keltecs... have had two 32 keltecs... both of them rimlocked fairly often... hollow points and ball the same...
I have a 1903 that has never misfired/malfunctioned...
So a .32 can work, i just never had one work that was a keltec...
I have a bobcat that eats everything though... go fig.

September 21, 2009, 08:42 AM
I prefer .32 acp over .22LR in a carry gun. I love mouse guns....own dozens of them.
I've a couple Kel-Tec P32's (1st & 2nd generation designs) and a 2nd gen P3AT also. I also have a Beretta 21A .22LR and it's Taurus PT-22 .22LR clone....As well as pretty much everything else mentioned in the thread already.
Point is, I've dozens of .22, .25, .32 and .380 pocket guns to choose from. But I normally carry a 2nd gen Kel-Tec P32.
Rimlock has never been an issue on either of my Kel-Tec P-32's, nor any of my other .32acp pistols. My 2nd gen K-T P32 has never had so much as a sniffle nor a hiccup....not a single malfunction of any kind over a couple thousand rounds now. But then, my Beretta 21A has also been 100% reliable (with CCI Mini-Mags), it is simply a bit bulkier then the P32 to carry.

September 21, 2009, 10:59 AM
I prefer .380 as a minimum SD round. The problem with both the .32 and .22lr is penetration an expansion. Most .22lr and .32acp HP rounds do not expand, and the ones that do, like .22lr Stingers and .32acp corbons, do not penetrate well at all. Below is a bunch of gel test links. Pretty much a CCI Velocitor will penetrate as well as most .32ACP FMJ. If I was going to use a .22lr for self defense, I would use Velocitors. Would I pick a .22lr loaded with Velocitors over a .32acp? No.

I can put a .22lr bullet into the cavity of a .32acp hollowpoint. When your dealing with FMJ and the penetration is same .32 trumps .22 just like .45 trumps a 9mm



September 22, 2009, 01:08 PM
I'm gonna have to be unoriginal and say get the Kel-tec. They are very nice pistols, and very easy to conceal. In my opinion, it's one of the best self-defense guns you can get, because of it's size. .32 might look small, and people talk about it's stopping power... but you put some Gold Dots in that .32, and 1 shot should end any fight.
However, that being said, I do have a lot of respect for the .22. It's also a great round. like the .32, 1 shot sould stop any fight. If they want to fight after you shoot them, it's no problem to pop another into them. Often, just having the gun is enough to stop the fight. There are very few muggers, rapists, or murderers who would mess with someone once they see that gun, no matter how big or small it is.
Another great thing about using smaller calibers for self defense, is that you don't have to worry so much about the bullet flying through the assailant and hitting a bystander. Things like 9mm and .45's can fly through a person and still go through the wall of a house, especially if you are using hot NATO rounds. Even a good hollow point can still fly completely through a person.
Better safe than sorry, I says.

September 22, 2009, 02:50 PM
If you have a need for a nostril-stuffer, go for the Kel-Tec in either .32 or .380.

September 23, 2009, 06:42 AM
I know the original poster hasn't probably looked at this thread in YEARS...but

Anyone who thinks that the 22lr (or even the 22 mag) will outperform the .32ACP from similar size pistol platforms has seriously neglected to do their research. From a 2.5" barrel a .32ACP bullet can still send a 60grn bullet at over 1000fps, and a 73 grn FMJ will do up to 900 fps. Even from a 22lr rifle, I have to say that the energy delivered from a p32 will be very even with the .22, and this does not include the extra diameter difference. Now factor in that .22 bullets are basically designed for killing tiny targets like squirrels and birds, and you will find that what results in shooting a large mamal will likely be a nasty flesh wound without adequate penetration to hit the CNS. On the other hand, the .32 round has long been used as a service pistol caliber, and has been loaded with a projectile much better suited to good penetration and tracking through meat and bone than an all-lead squirrel bullet. Of course, people have been killed with pellet guns, so any caliber CAN do the job, but I will personally take the round that is:
1.More reliable than a rimfire...and still less susceptable to rim-lock than any fully-rimmed case
2.Has a larger caliber
3.Has a higher velocity (from a pocket gun barrel)
4.Has a heavier projectile with a jacket that is designed for tougher targets
5.Because of the above factors delivers considerably more kinetic energy and penetration. The .32 trumps the .22 in every test of penetration, tissue damage, and Knock Down power that are usually used to determine the effectiveness of a defense round. Then again...it's all about shot placement.

Lets face it, bullet design is very important, but the general reason that a 10mm auto is more effective than a .380 auto is that it fires a larger diameter, heavier bullet, faster, which produces more energy, better penetration, and a larger wound cavity. If none of these points help you decide on why a .32acp is better than .22lr for self-defense, then I don't know what to tell you.

September 23, 2009, 11:51 AM
.38 SPL > .380 > .22 WMR revolver 40gr solid > .32 > .22LR revolver 40gr solid> rimfire anything semi-auto.

my $0.02.

Ike Arumba
September 23, 2009, 08:47 PM
Wikipedia says the .22 WMR is capable of producing 1500 ft/sec for a 30-grain bullet out of a hand gun. That equates to 149.9 ft-lbs. of energy. The S&B 73-grain .32 auto is rated at 1043 ft/sec out of a hand gun, which equates to 176.3 ft-lbs. So it looks to me like the .32 auto is a bit more powerful. Momentum swings more the .32's way.

September 24, 2009, 10:00 AM
I went to the NAA website to see what they show for their .22 Magnum guns:
Black Widow with 2" barrel: CCI Maxi-Mag 40gr JHP avg = 988 fps for 86.7 fpe.
Mini-Master with 4" barrel: CCI Maxi-Mag 40gr JHP avg = 972 fps for 83.9 fpe (yes, less).
Mini-Rev with 1 5/8" barrel: CCI Maxi-Mag 40gr JHP avg = 848 fps for 63.8 fpe.
Mini-Rev with 1 1/8" barrel: CCI Maxi-Mag 40gr JHP avg = 788 fps for 51.2 fpe.
If you just love the noise and flash, get a .22 Magnum mini-revolver.
But .22 Magnum isn't giving any more energy out of a pocket gun than .25acp. :o

And look at NAA's spec's for .22 LR :
Mini-Master with 4" barrel: CCI Mini-Mag 40gr solid avg = 903 fps for 72.4 fpe
Mini-Master with 4" barrel: CCI Stinger 32gr HP avg = 1060 fps for 79.8 fpe
Mini-Rev with 1 1/8" barrel: CCI Mini-Mag 40gr avg = 708 fps for a WHOPPING 44.5 fpe! WOW!
NOTE: Yes, I own an NAA 1 1/8" Mini...it's fun to play with.

NAA's website gives these specs for the .32acp Guardian (2 1/8" barrel):
Fed HydraShok 65gr JHP = 798fps for 91.9fpe.
Win Silvertip 60gr JHP = 805fps for 86.35fpe.
Speer Gold Dot 60gr JHP = 808fps for 87.0fpe.
Sellier & Bellot 73gr FMJ = 841fps for 114.6fpe

Sellier & Bellot's website has 73gr FMJ .32acp at 176fpe (muzzle velocity). But S&B doesn't say what barrel length.

There are some good "REAL" .32acp tests from a Kel-Tec P32 at Golden Loki.
S&B 73gr FMJ is rated there at 912fps for 135fpe (quite different than 176.3fpe).
Buffalo Bore cast lead = 914fps for 139fpe (BB's website's exaggerated figures are from a Beretta with a 4" barrel).
Corbon JHP = 1008fps for 135fpe
Fed HydraShok JHP = 824fps for 98fpe.
The old Geco FMJ rated highest at 947fps for 145fpe (if you can still find any for sale).
S&B and Fiocchi are my choices for .32acp.

Ike Arumba
September 24, 2009, 01:04 PM
Thanks for the leg work, Jack.

I gather that S&B's figures are for a 4 inch barrel, which I have read is the standard length for rating pistol ammo. The P32 used by GoldenLoki has a 68mm = 2.67 inch barrel. Subtracting the 17mm case length from the two yields 51mm acceleration length for the P32 vs. 84.6mm acceleration length for the standard barrel. I.e., the P32 has slightly over 60% of the acceleration length of the standard barrel. That probably accounts for the difference between stated vs. measured energy.

I would hazard a guess that there aren't a lot of .32 ACP pistols with 4 inch barrels. .22LR pistols with barrels longer than that are common.

September 24, 2009, 02:30 PM
I would go with a .32ACP any day. .22lrs tend to misfire and jam a lot more and they are a lighter bullet.

September 24, 2009, 03:33 PM
A .22 is better imo. I have more confidence in a .22 than any other round.

September 24, 2009, 05:41 PM
Penetration Tests

.22 Mag from a 2" Taurus (8 shots)


.32 from a KelTec (7+1)


September 24, 2009, 09:42 PM
I'm not knocking the .32, but I cannot remember the last time I saw an entry And exit wound made by that particular round on a deer skull

anyone have ballistics on Cci stingers... Velocitors.... Aguilla supermaxi

September 25, 2009, 07:52 AM
I would hazard a guess that there aren't a lot of .32 ACP pistols with 4 inch barrels.
There are a plethora of .32acp's with 3.5"-4.5" barrels; Colt 1908, Beretta, Bersa, Walther, Star, etc. Smith & Wesson even built a Model 952 target pistol for the .32acp. It has been used as a police and military sidearm cartridge in many countries since it's introduction in 1899. Loads of guns larger than pocket pistols were, and still are, made for the cartridge.
I have a few; Walther PP, Beretta M1935, FEG AP7, M74 (Carpati M94), Jennings M38 (the .32acp version), Davis P32. And IIRC, the "wow" .32acp Buffalo Bore specs were originally created using a Beretta Puma .32acp (4")....although that text is now missing from their site.

anyone have ballistics on Cci stingers... Velocitors.... Aguilla supermaxium highvelocity
NAA has "hyper-velocity" .22 specs for their gun's also. Although the Aquila Supermax isn't among the ones they tested (a fun round though). Steve's Pages has loads of good .22 and .32 tests using various barrel lengths. KTOG has good links for Kel-Tec size pistols. There are many many websites with test info on .22LR, .22Mag, and .32 to make some basic comparisons. Google is your friend.

September 25, 2009, 08:58 AM
anyone have ballistics on Cci stingers... Velocitors.... Aguilla supermax....

A while back, I took these three and a couple of others and did some informal 2X4 testing. I had 3 revolvers, with 3", 4" and 6" barrels. I shot all ammo from all 3 guns at 12" range (muzzle to wood distance.)

The Aguila Supermaximums penetrated most, slightly more than the Velocitors, and all of the rest, Stingers included, weren't even close. The longer the barrel, the more the Velocitors gained ground on the Aguilas. Still, with the 6" barrel, the Aguilas went 3/64" (approx) deeper. The results were very consistent, too.

Velocitors were best at longer distances with a rifle as the Aguilas lost more oomph downrange.

So, after all of that, when I want some .22LR power, I go with Aguila Supermaximums in my revolvers and Velocitors in my rifles. Oh yeah, for self defense, use solid points whenever possible. Gotta get in there, you know?

September 28, 2009, 07:47 PM
Wow, thread resucitation alert!

An old post mentioned 32 vs 380 in tiny pocket guns, specifically the Keltec P32 and P3AT and why one would choose the 32 over the 380.

#1 Ammo availability. 32 is still fairly easy to come by in my area. 380 is almost non existant.

#2 Controllability. I've got pretty big hands, and find the snappy recoil of the tiny P3AT very difficult to hang onto. I'm always afraid it's gonna jump out of my hands and hit me face. Or worse, result in an ND in not-so-safe direction. I don't recall ever having fired a 32 ACP of any type, but assume controllability would be noticeably better.

As for the original question, I'd go 32 given the better reliability (typically) by itself.

Ed Harris
October 1, 2009, 03:55 PM
A respected mentor of mine was a career clandestine services officer who served during from the post-WWII cold war period through the Vietnam era, having survived many missions, retiring to die peacefully at home in his bed. He taught me that a concealed handgun's purpose is to neutralize an immediate threat from contact range to ten feet to facilitate escape. Harry carried whatever handgun was common among criminal elements in the country where the mission took him. This often meant a .32 ACP or 7.65mm Browning, because an M1911 variant or S&W revolver made it plainly obvious that he wasn't a local.

While a .32 ACP is not your first choice for defense, the first rule of gun fighting is to HAVE A GUN. In that worst-case scenario any gun is better than no gun at all. A .32 auto pistol is easier to control to produce rapid, accurate double or triple taps, when compared to a .380 pistol of similar size, which usually carries one less round.

When using a marginal caliber shot placement and penetration are most important. Light hollow point bullets which do expand often fail to penetrate bones upon entry, or to defeat winter clothing or intermediate cover needed to reach vital organs. Comparing European CIP specification hardball in the .32 ACP to typical .380 FMJ fired from similarly short barrels any difference in performance not important.

Typical American .32 ACP FMJ ammo features a 71-grain bullet and claims an advertised “catalog velocity” of 905 f.p.s. based upon an industrial test barrel. In my chronograph testing of US ammo RWS, Geco, Fiocchi, Privi Partisan or Sellier & Bellot 73-gr. hardball in .32 ACP produce about 900 f.p.s. from pocket pistols such as the Beretta Tomcat, and 950+ f.p.s. from the Walther PP and approaches 1000 f.p.s. in the 1922 Browning. Typical .380 FMJs fired from a gun of barrel length less than 3 inches slightly exceed 800 f.p.s. European militaries and police organizations carried .32 ACPs for decades and felt they were quite adequate. German police not replace their .32s until after the 1972 Munich Olympics terrorist attacks.

Improved performance claimed for popular .32 ACP hollowpoints is mostly advertising hype. My own experience testing various .32 pocket guns is that none of the JHP loads available today expand in either water jugs or gelatin when fired from a barrel shorter than 3 inches. While some people believe that the .32 ACP has benefited from improvements in factory ammunition, US loads are more anemic than their European counterparts and much less reliable in function.

Most WWII-era pistols steadfastly refuse to function with American ammo. The popular 60-gr. JHPs, are not reliable for carry in many guns and in my epxerience are a sure recipe for a “Jam-O-Matic.” Only the Fiocchi 60-gr. JHP at 1200 f.p.s. actually chronograhs over 1100 f.op.s. and has enough recoil impulse (when loaded as the first round "up the spout") to positively eject and reliably chamber a hardball load following in the magazine. But its exposed lead nose doesn’t permit rat-tat-tat-tat feeding any more than anemic 900 f.p.s. American 60-gr. JHPs. While it expands in a 10cm barrel, such as from the Walther PP, it does not from the 2.4 inch Beretta Tomcat.

The best pistols for pocket carry should enable safe carry with the chamber loaded, and should be cable of immediate firing by stroking the trigger without having to manipulate an external safety. In the event of a misfire, the trigger mechanism should enable an immediate repeat strike upon the primer by repeating the trigger stroke. Pocket pistols which meet these basic criteria are the Walther PP and PPK. Mauser HSc and Beretta Tomcat.

Ruger's LCP is not available in .32 ACP at this time, and may never be. The simple fact is that it doesn't have one-handed repeat-strike capability, so if you get a misfire it takes two hands to clear, recock and "tap-rack-bang~!" I'll stick to my PP, HSc or Tomcat.

Let’s be clear that the .32 ACP is not my choice as a defense gun against either two-legged or 4-legged predators. However, there are those times when “any gun is better than no gun,” so it is better to take the .32 along than to go unarmed and take your chances. When the cylinder bulge of my usual .38 Special is too obvious, a .32 automatic drops nicely into a pocket holster. I like the fact that it makes a bigger hole than a 22 and presents a low profile.

Stick to hardball. AND don't stop shooting after the first shot. We aren't looking for any "one-shot stops" here, but to quickly and accurately put double or triple taps on target. Multiple hits increase stopping power. Think of a .32 ACP as a 00 buckshot pattern which arrives sequentially rather than concurrently. Do you want to stand in front of it?

October 1, 2009, 05:04 PM
a concealed handgun's purpose is to neutralize an immediate threat from contact range to ten feet to facilitate escape.Good way to put that.
Neither a .22 or a .32 is appropriate for wading INTO a gunfight with, but either will assist is getting OUT of one.
.32 edges out anything in rimfire for reliability, which is why I'm in the market for a little .32 mousegun as BUG, GFWICHAG, and just because I want a mousegun autoloader in a caliber other than 9mm.

October 2, 2009, 06:27 AM
I have read previously that European 7.65 is loaded hotter than American. I have not, however, seen any chronograph figures backing this up.

Ed, would you happen to have any documentation on that? How big is the difference?

October 2, 2009, 07:41 AM
I have read previously that European 7.65 is loaded hotter than American. I have not, however, seen any chronograph figures backing this up.
Did you read post #42 of this thread (page 2) ??? I'll repeat the .32 stuff for you.
North American Arms has such figures from their Guardian (2 1/8" barrel). http://www.naaminis.com/naaveloc.html
Here are a few examples from that site:
Sellier & Bellot 73gr FMJ = 841fps for 114.6fpe
Fed HydraShok 65gr JHP = 798fps for 91.9fpe.
Win Silvertip 60gr JHP = 805fps for 86.35fpe.
Speer Gold Dot 60gr JHP = 808fps for 87.0fpe.
American Eagle 65gr FMJ = 818fps for 96.6fpe
Winchester 71gr FMJ = 761fps for 91.3fpe

Sellier & Bellot's website has 73gr FMJ .32acp at 176fpe (muzzle velocity). But S&B doesn't say what barrel length.

There are some good "REAL" .32acp tests from a Kel-Tec P32 at Golden Loki.
S&B 73gr FMJ is rated there at 912fps for 135fpe
CCI Blazer 71gr FMJ = 751fps for 89fpe
Remington 71gr FMJ = 764fps for 92fpe
Winchester 71gr FMJ = 786fps for 97fpe
Buffalo Bore cast lead = 914fps for 139fpe (BB's website's exaggerated figures are from a Beretta with a 4" barrel).
Fed HydraShok JHP = 824fps for 98fpe.
Geco 73gr FMJ rated highest at 947fps for 145fpe (if you can still find any for sale).

Steve's Pages also have some great "real" .32acp testing.

October 2, 2009, 07:55 AM
Look at Fiocchi Shooting Dynamics 32 ACP 60 gr JHP. For example, it's rated at 1200 fps/205 ft lb with the Saami test barrel, compared with Blazer's 900 fps and 128 ft lb.

Fiocchi tends to load stuff like it was originally loaded; a bit hotter than what others make or sell here. Maybe we're so litigious in the USA that it's all watered down a bit to avoid lawsuits about exploding old guns.

For all of my less-than-monster handguns, from 9X18 down, I use Fiocchi for carry. Fiocchi is affordably priced, too, pretty much the same as the others.

Ed Harris
October 2, 2009, 07:56 AM
The chronograph results speak for themselves. You don't have to rely on mine alone, there are numerous Internet sources, Golden Loki, Steve's Pages, etc.

October 2, 2009, 09:41 AM
Thanks for the replies. However, these tests are performed on the American ammo. Even if the ammo is made in Europe it still conforms to the American standards.
I guess what I'd like to know is what was the original European military loading for 7.65. Or for .380 for that matter.

Ed Harris
October 2, 2009, 11:16 AM
batjka said ]"However, these tests are performed on the American ammo. Even if the ammo is made in Europe it still conforms to the American standards."

Negative, Negative, Negative. Ammunition loaded in the EU conforms to CIP, which is NOT the same as ANSI or SAAMI.


In the USA the equivalent of C.I.P. is the SAAMI although SAAMI is a manufacturer's association. In contrast to C.I.P.’s decisions the recommendations of SAAMI have not the force of law.

These two main ammunition standards organisations are cooperating in an effort to unify their rules, though there are still hard at work to solve differences between their rules. These differences consist of varying chamber dimensions and maximum allowed chamber pressures. There are also numerous technical variations in the way chamber pressures are measured giving entirely different results.

Ammunitions approval differences C.I.P. almost exclusively uses one type of Piezoelectric sensor (named "channel sensor") made by the Swiss company Kistler[1][2] that requires drilling of the cartridge case before firing the proofing cartridge in a specially made test barrel. SAAMI uses another type of Piezoelectric sensor (named "conformal sensor") mostly made by the US company PCB Piezotronics that does not require prior drilling of the cartridge case but the sensors are more expensive to use, since each cartridge calibre needs its special transducer. For shotshell ammunition, the technical variations are easier to solve since only one type of Piezoelectric sensor (called "tangential sensor") is available from the PCB Piezotronics and Kistler International companies to be used without drilling without variations amongst SAAMI and C.I.P. rules.

Proof test differences. Under C.I.P. proof test standards a drilled case is used and the piezo measuring device (transducer) will be positioned at a distance of 25 mm from the breech face when the length of the cartridge case permits that, including limits. When the length of the cartridge case is too short, pressure measurement will take place at a cartridge specific defined shorter distance from the breech face depending on the dimensions of the case.

Under SAAMI proof test procedures, for bottlenecked cases the centre of the transducer is located 0.175 in behind the shoulder of the case for large diameter (0.250 in) transducers and 0.150 in for small diameter (0.194 in) transducers. For straight cases the centre of the transducer is located one-half of the transducer diameter plus 0.005 in behind the base of the seated bullet. Small transducers are used when the case diameter at the point of measurement is less than 0.35 in. The difference in the location of the pressure measurement gives different results than the SAAMI standard.

Unsafe combinations and possible chamber and ammunition dimensional conflicts
Finally, some cartridges with possible chamber and ammunition dimensional conflicts, similar to the unsafe combinations,are listed in the references Delta L problem article in the Wikipedia.

October 2, 2009, 11:58 AM
However, these tests are performed on the American ammo. Even if the ammo is made in Europe it still conforms to the American standards.

October 2, 2009, 12:29 PM
I don't want to go OT too much but I really have to bring this up..

With the current offering of comfortably pocketable and reasonably priced 380 and even 9 mm handguns in the market what is the real need of a a small 32 or 22??? Not too mention ammo cost (for the 32) being actually higher then 380 and significantly higher than 9 mm.

What are such stringent concealment requirements that "force" you to buy such diminuitive pistol???

I'm a normal guy (5',7", 195) and I have to dress business casual and sometimes business formal for work, I wear mostly jeans in my free time and shorts and T-shirt in summer......I never had any concealment problems whatsoever with my Kel-Tec P-11 (double stack 12 rounds 9 mm) in my pocket..I do not even feel it anymore....and you can go thinner with a single stack PF-9 or a Kahr.

What is the need for a pocket 22 or 32?? Do you go around wearing a speedo??? :D

If you make the decision to go around armed, just do it with the proper tools...

October 2, 2009, 06:25 PM
saturno_v, you're right about the 9mm options on the market, but down in the real mousegun size class, personally, I'd rather go .32 than .380 for a number of reasons
1-generally you get at least +1 capacity in equivalent .32/.380 pistols.
2-I already do CC a 9mm, so why bother adding an easily confused round?
3-I already do CC a 9mm, so why bother with a slower variant in the same bore size?
4-the current .380 shortage is getting silly, and when I stockpile, I can cram more .32 into a drawer.
5-I'll pack whatever the hell I want, and you can just like it.
6-we're talking about a deep cover gun and BUG here ... NOT a primary pistol.
7-I just want a .32 for some reason, so there!

Ed Harris
October 5, 2009, 09:46 AM
More on .32 ACP


October 11, 2009, 08:24 PM
Ive heard a lot of .22 versus [insert other mild caliber here]. For me, choosing a pocket gun, it came down to size, reliabilty and durability.

I chose the Black Widow from North American Arms, in .22 magnum. Shes been flawless thru 250+ rounds of CCI Maxi-Mags (they come outta that teenty barrel at around 980 fps), so shes been reliable. Size wise, shes the same size as a Kel-Tec .32, and durability wise, the edge went to the Black Widow, because its stainless steel, not polymer and steel.

Factoring in that it came cheaper (around $300 for the gun, a pocket holster and 200 rounds of Maxi-Mags, with tax), and its become my edc gun. While I'll carry something larger when I can, the little NAA carrys well in the pocket and I can put all 5 .22 magnum fmj's into COM of a man-sized target from 4 yards. In a little under 3 seconds.

I call it the noisy cricket :D

October 11, 2009, 11:05 PM
Having owned and shot a Kel-Tec P-32 and P3AT back-to-back, I'll say this much without equivocation:

1. The .32 is a pop gun compared to the .380.
2. The .380 is not a powerhouse by any means.

Take 1 and 2, and deduce 3 for yourself...

If you need some help, I'll do my best to summarize.
I will never, ever, ever (did I mention "ever"?) trust my life to a .32.
I do not carry a .380, but would not argue with someone who wanted to.

And before some G-D fool asks the question, I'll answer it: Do I want to volunteer to be shot with a .32?

Hell yes. If I'm ever in a gunfight (and I hope I never am) I hope like Hell my opponent is armed with a .22/.25.32, because I will be returning fire with a .45. And I really like my odds in that match-up.

October 12, 2009, 01:40 PM

I have 2 KT p32's and I love em. They are what they are... not a serous duty gun, but a perfect back up or light CC gun. Mine are both totally reliable. As for the .32 compared to the 22lr, the 32 has about a 50% energy increase and almost 50% bullet diameter increase over a 22. I also trust a centerfire more than a rimfire for self defense. I don't pay too much attention to the .32 haters. Not a thing wrong with the round as long as you are aware of its limitations. As long as you make clean, direct hits (no intermediate barriers like car doors/walls/etc) the caliber will be "good enough" for most self defense situations out in public.

Love the P32... highly recommended.

Dirty Bob
October 13, 2009, 07:56 PM
I've heard more people say that their P-32s are reliable than P-3AT owners. The P-32 is the original design of the two, and the .32 ACP seems better suited to a pistol of that size/weight than .380.

The P-32 has a few pluses over the P-3AT:
o Lower recoil
o One more round in the mag
o Locks back on empty

I carry a 9mm, and if I carried a backup, I wouldn't want to confuse ammo.

Finally, the .32 can be used in your .30-30 or .30-06, etc. with an adapter.

Mr. Harris: thank you for that article. Loved it!

Dirty Bob

October 13, 2009, 10:17 PM
I agree with the people who say one should carry the largest gun in the largest calibre they can competently handle.

That said, I attended training in south central OK some year back, where the range owner, a retired sheriff, was training a very heavy woman who was confined to a wheel chair. Due to her many health problems she could not get out of the chair or manage anything the rest of us might have called a "real gun."

She was being trained with a small .22 semi-auto. I knew the sheriff well and asked about it. He said something like "Watch this, Bubba!" He set the lady in front of a prop door. Without warning he yanked it open by a rope. In a flash the lady pulled that gun out from the folds of her skirt and dumped all rounds into the forehead of the target, making a group I could cover with my palm. I 'spect that woulda killed 'im!
Backpacker 33

October 13, 2009, 11:17 PM
My snubby 5 shot .357 is pretty small and compact ... just saying.

October 14, 2009, 12:54 AM
When I saw this thread I almost choked - but it was kinda interesting seeing my questions of 5 years ago. To answer my old original post, .38spl now is as low as I go. With the additional experience in CHL work, its a very rare day I can't dress around my 642 or M85 and have to yank my P32 (yes, I did buy it) out of the safe.

The fact that .32acp ammo is kinda pricey doesn't help. I run about 50 rds thru it every 3-4 mos just to remember that I hate the trigger - but have no qualms about its concealability/reliability if I really had to carry it.

Shadow 7D
October 14, 2009, 01:08 AM
Well I don't know revolvers, and other than .32, you have the option of .22, .25, .380 in about the same side of gun. I have shot the P40 and P11, if that is comparable to the difference between a .32 and a .380, I'll take my one more round and put it on target along with the rest of them.

October 16, 2009, 08:08 PM
I carry a P32. So easy to conceal and operate plus it's amazingly accurate for such crappy sights.

If the .32 is good enough for James Bond it's good enough for me.

Yes I know, he also carried a .25 acp. That's pushing it.

October 17, 2009, 08:42 AM
The p32 doesn't hurt when I shoot it, it is accurate at 15 yds. My son has a p3at. I knew after the first shot it wasn't for me, but I continued through the magazine. I haven't shot it since. I shoot a .44mag 4 inch barrel Redhawk with no problems.

October 17, 2009, 09:34 AM
Shot placement is far more important than bullet size. That said, it is better to carry something small concealable and comfortable than to have a large gun left at home or in the glove compartment. More people are carrying these smaller guns for that reason. Also, at close distances, say 3-6 feet encounters, the little 32 is easy to hit head shots with too and with much less recoil.

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