Seecamp letter re:ammo READ!


August 20, 2004, 03:04 PM
Got this today:

Ammo Recommendation Change

Experiences with some recently produced Silvertip ammunition has caused us to reevalute that recommendation. Pistols that had been functioning flawlessly for years are suddenly experiencing a rash of feeding problems. 32 Silvertip ammunition has undergone a design change. Bullets are harder and shinier. They now have small expansion cuts at the nose tip. While they look prettier, without exception those we have examined slide into the case when shooting. Unlike the old Silvertips, the bullets are not crimped into the case. The new Silvertip bullets slide into the case even when they are still inside the magazine. As the gun recoils to the rear, inertia causes the bullets to collide with the front magazine wall with sufficient force to seat the bullets deeper into the case. When the bullets hit the feed ramp, an additional sliding into the case takes place that often causes jams.

The slide assembley on the LWS 32 is only 2.5 ozs. Because of its relatively small mass its forward momentum on returning to battery position is easily upset by an obstruction along its course. When bullets slide in to thier cases much of the forward inertia of the slide is lost. I shall cite one example of a recent "repair". A fairly new pistol was sent to me which had jamming problems. Prior to test firing, the gun was gone over with a fine tooth comb. The feed ramp was reworked and all parts related to smooth cycling were polished. Four magazines of Hydra Shok were shot, followed by 2 magazines of old style Silvertips without hint of failure. Then 2 magazines of new style Silvertips were shot. Both magazines had failures. The unfired rounds still in the magazine were measured. From a start length of about .912 they had all shortened. The shortest was .901--this after only 2 rounds having been fired from that magazine. The 2 rounds that jammed were also measured. One was .894 and the other .887.

To verifty that nothing had changed with the pistol, it was again extensively fired with the old style Silvertips and Hydra-Shoks without incident. It has since been brought to my attention that some recent manufacture old style Silvertips not properly crimped may also have this problem of bullets sliding into the case.

For this reason our ammo recommendation likely will be switching to Hydra-Shoks which I am becoming familiar with and seem to work flawlessly in the LWS 32. I have also heard Gold Dots work reliably and will investigate further. My rather limited experience with the Gold Dots suggest excellent performance. The new redesigned Silvertip ammo is the ammo we have been recommending for close to 20 years. The harder bullets take away any advantage there might have been with increased deformation due to softness, and what we have seen thus far with the new ammo does not make us happy. We would hope this is a temporary problem and not a sign of thing to come.

August 19, 2004

Well there it is word-for-word, the bold text was bold in the letter also.

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August 20, 2004, 03:34 PM
Is this letter from Larry Seecamp???

August 20, 2004, 03:47 PM
I received it today with my LWS-32.

He didn't sign it, but I'm sure its from him.

August 20, 2004, 05:26 PM

August 20, 2004, 06:11 PM

Did you get through Charlie OK? I saw you weren't taking orders for a little while, everything OK now? Would like to order a Seecamp LWS .32 backpocket holster from you.


August 20, 2004, 06:31 PM
I was out of power for 5 days, but all is well now. Site is now open, and I will thank you in advance..

August 20, 2004, 07:31 PM
I bot my Seecamp (CA edition) a few months ago - love it...I apparently have "older" W/W silvertips. Have shot about 250 rds - only 1 stovepipe and that was the very first clip.

This is discouraging since Hydra-Shoks & Gold Dots were NOT to be used in this pistol, but now are OK? The pistol was specifically designed around the W/W Silvertip ammo.

Because of limited choices in Mass compliance list, this was really the only choice for a pocket auto - a $600 pistol using $22/box ammo.

Maybe I'll stock up on ammo and cut back range use until this is resolved.

Barry in IN
August 20, 2004, 07:31 PM
Thanks for the heads up.

I don't have one, but my best pal does. I'll pass it on.

August 20, 2004, 08:37 PM

partial quote of test with subcompact:

.32 ACP
All expanding JHP bullets in this caliber demonstrate inadequate penetration performance. Test results for the Gold Dot JHP substantiate our claim that the 71 grain FMJ bullet is the best choice for personal defense.

We feel a truncated cone-shaped FMJ bullet would provide the best combination of adequate penetration and wounding efficiency for both .32 ACP and .25 ACP. The truncated cone-shape is more efficient in crushing a larger diameter permanent cavity than a semi-pointed round nose-shape. Sadly FMJ-TC bullets are not available in these two calibers.

An informal test of a modified .32 ACP 60 grain Gold Dot JHP demonstrated ideal penetration results in ordnance gelatin. The bullet was modified to inhibit expansion by plugging the hollow cavity, effectively turning the bullet into an FMJ-TC.

August 20, 2004, 09:04 PM
I know that this is my first post to this forum (so many forums, so little time), but I was forwarded this thread from a friend. The LWS that Larry refers to is mine. I had a long conversation with him on the phone about this after I had sent my gun in for repair as I had several FTFs in one shooting session.

It was less my particular gun than the batch of "new" Silvertip that Larry got that caused him to stop recommending Silvertips. My gun was the proverbial "canary in a coal mine". I got a nice handwritten letter from Larry basically stating what you received.

In subsequent phone calls, I told him that under NO circumstances would I carry Silvertips again, given their miserable performance. I guess he thought the same thing.

Also, I had a batch of "old" Silvertips that were also causing the problem. Although they were not the new bullet style, it appeared that there was no crimping on the cartridge at all, and a simple racking of the slide set back the bullet in the cartridge 0.01". Enough to give me heebie jeebies about excess pressure.

Anyway, Larry is a really standup guy and talked to me continuously thoughout this process. I LOVE my LWS and wouldn't trade it for the world. Well, maybe the world.

BTW, I am now carrying HydraShoks and they are a LOT jumpier than the 'Tips. The gun actually hurts to shoot. But, reliability is the name of the game, right?

August 20, 2004, 09:33 PM
I've also spoken with Larry on the phone twice when my LWS-32 went in for a repair, hes a great guy.

I have tried Cor Bon (a few and ouch, never again), Hornady, Gold Dots, Silvertips, and Hydra-shoks. I didn't have feeding problems with any though. And I'm gonna stick with Hornady, and the reason is because if you look at the bullet the hollow point cavity is very small, and shallow. Its the smallest and shallowest of any of the bullets I just listed. And I'm sure this is why on Golden Loki's site where he tested with the P32, it penetrated the deepest, second only to Miwall for Hollowpoints if I remember correctly. The Hornday didn't expand at all either, and I can't find any Miwall's to try so I'm sticking with it since you can't shoot ball stuff (too long).

If I'm not mistaken the Silvertip was used because it was the smallest round at the time, and better than others at that time (20 years ago). With trying to keep the gun compact, and using a spacer in the magazine to reduce/eliminate risk of rimlock, they needed a small round. But now fast forward 20 years later and there are many manufacturers making 32 cal bullets that size (but in HP obviously). I asked Larry about shooting other ammo before this letter came out and he said it was OK as long as it was close in size to the Silvertip. Because I read all the time about how people are "afraid" to fire anything else (understandably so, manual says ONLY SILVERTIP all over the place) like the gun is gonna blow up or something. But as I understand it, it was the length of the bullet that was the main concern, and please if someone else has better facts than me please let us know, thanks.

August 20, 2004, 09:33 PM
Thanks for posting aboout this - hope you stay around this thread for awhile till this is resolved. This worries me about the "old" silvertips being a problem also. I've got 3-4 boxes in the safe, I'll try to examine them this week end,

(BTW, on a local note, I've forwarded this thread to Four Seasons in Woburn to see what they can find out also)

RELIABILITY IS MY CONCERN. I carry my LWS always for a reason.

Devil's advocate question: Why if other ammo could not be recommended, can it suddenly be OK NOW to use Hydra Shok?

August 20, 2004, 09:36 PM
WE posted at the same exact time - thanks for the info.

2 older threads discussing Seecamp ammo

August 21, 2004, 09:04 AM

Well, I've always liked the 65gr HydraShok over the 60gr Silvertip.

Test from my P32 a few months back, with the HydraShok far left.
From left to right:

65gr Fed. HydraShok
71gr MagTech JHP
60gr Win. Silvertip
60gr Hornady XTP
60gr Corbon JHP

(Edited by GH Hill to make things a bit easier)

August 21, 2004, 09:12 AM
Is that the Gold Dot on the far right?

August 21, 2004, 09:13 AM
Is it possible to tell if a batch of silvertip ammo is properly crimped by visual examination?


August 21, 2004, 10:35 AM
First, let me say that Larry kicks butt.
Second, I have some old Silvertips that have worked fine in my gun.
I have not tried any other brands yet in actual firing, but they hand-cycle ok.

August 21, 2004, 10:44 AM
Boy, that's kind of a scary. Imagine shooting your absolutely must work, last ditch, defensive weapon for years without a flaw then the ammunition manufacturer changes how they manufacture your carry ammo. All of sudden the weapon you literally bet your life on becomes an unreliable POS through no fault of you (or the weapon). It sure makes a S&W 442 look good.

August 21, 2004, 10:49 AM

But with a loose crimp on the .38 ammo, even the 442 could fail..

August 21, 2004, 11:17 AM
How is that gonna make a wheelgun jam?

August 21, 2004, 11:47 AM
Recoil pulls the bullets from their case, extending their OAL so much that they protrude from the cylinder, inhibiting its ability to rotate.

Instant jam.


August 21, 2004, 11:55 AM
Rhedley, from left to right:

65gr Fed. HydraShok
71gr MagTech JHP
60gr Win. Silvertip
60gr Hornady XTP
60gr Corbon JHP

All after one layer of denim into play dough from a KT P32.

August 21, 2004, 12:15 PM
Lucky for me....:)

The stash is full!


August 21, 2004, 12:16 PM
"Recoil pulls the bullets from their case, extending their OAL so much that they protrude from the cylinder, inhibiting its ability to rotate."

That seems a bit far fetched for a crimp that is just slightly loose. I would think if they were that loose, you would notice while handling the rounds. Am I wrong here?

In the auto, the cartridge slams into the feed ramp while cycling. That makes a lot more sense to me as far as causing significant bullet movement.

How much recoil is needed to effectively pull a bullet out of the case and cause a cylinder jam? How loose do the crimps need to be for this to happen?

August 21, 2004, 12:27 PM
Concerning .38specials inching out of their cases, I've had that exact thing happen to me while using my Taurus M85CH with AA 158gr LRN.

I noticed the cylinder locked up tight after a couple shots... after an inspection, the culprit was a slug that crept out enough to cause problems.
I was told later this was a common problem with certain lead slugs and snubs (especially the lighter variety).

In retrospect, I'm not even certain American Ammunition bothers to crimp their ammunition in the first place.

So "yup", it certainly happens.

August 21, 2004, 12:43 PM
But with a loose crimp on the .38 ammo, even the 442 could fail..
I cary 148-grain wadcutters--I'm not really worried about it!

Snowdog -
In retrospect, I'm not even certain American Ammunition bothers to crimp their ammunition in the first place.
I highlighted your problem (and trust THAT wasn't your carry load)--it makes a difference.

August 21, 2004, 01:50 PM
Wow, I did not know that bullets could get pulled out that easily just from recoil. Ineresting.

(BTW, American is prolly the worst ammo I've ever had experience with.)

August 21, 2004, 02:09 PM
Is it possible to tell if a batch of silvertip ammo is properly crimped by visual examination?


August 21, 2004, 02:41 PM
(this is 3 yr old letter from Larry to this dealer saying to avoid Hydra Shock)

Reccomended Ammunition for Seecamp 32 Pistols

I still recommend Winchester Silvertip for best reliability!
Per Fax received from L.W. Seecamp Company on 11/02/01 :
The LWS 32 was designed to use Winchester Silvertip ammo only but many other rounds have since been designed for use in the gun.
We continue to recommend Winchester Silvertip Ammo !

However, Gold Dots, Fiocchi and Glasser Safety Slugs should be safe to use in the guns with serial numbers higher than 031000.

NOTE : Avoid hardball and Hydra Shock which will not fit in the magazine and are NOT recommended!

Now, from most recent letter in the first post:

<For this reason our ammo recommendation likely will be switching to Hydra-Shoks which I am becoming familiar with and seem to work flawlessly in the LWS 32. I have also heard Gold Dots work reliably and will investigate further.>

At the risk of being argumentative, unless there was a change in the Hydra-Shock cartridge, or the pistol magazine itself in the last 3 years, then how can one reconcile these 2 statements?

August 21, 2004, 02:49 PM
I fired 50 rounds of Hornady 60gr HP's and not a single failure of any kind.

I did fire 2 mags of Silvertip and had one failure. The next round to be chambered during fire was half in the mag still (back half) and the front of the bullet was flipped up above the barrel. This obviously caused the slide to jam.

I'm done with ST ammo, Hornady for me!

August 21, 2004, 03:01 PM
Jc2, I appreciate the effort, but I'm well aware of just how crappy AA ammunition is… several of the AA horror stories here and on TFL are from me (I believe the very instance I wrote about on this thread was what tipped me off a couple years back). That's why I pointed out I doubt they'd make the effort to improve their product by crimping.

BTW, if you ever find me carrying the dreaded "widow maker" 158gr LRN for defensive purposes, remind me to adjust my med dosage. :D

You'd think after realizing how lousy of a reputation they have, they'd make some push to improve the quality of their product. :(

August 21, 2004, 04:31 PM
There are enough people out there still buying the stuff that they don't feel the need.

August 22, 2004, 12:19 AM
I figured you knew better, Snowdog! (Of course, I wouldn't ever admit to using it.) :)

The post was just emphasize for anybody who didn't to stay away from AA (and 158-grain LRNs). There's a few brands of ammo I just won't shoot, and it tops my list.

August 22, 2004, 10:05 AM
I did fire 2 mags of Silvertip and had one failure. The next round to be chambered during fire was half in the mag still (back half) and the front of the bullet was flipped up above the barrel. This obviously caused the slide to jam.

This is the exact FTF that I was getting and that Larry eventually noticed. Tell me, were these the "new" STs or were they the "older" type? The newer STs have scored in the bullet tip for expansion, the older style the bullet has no scoring.

August 23, 2004, 09:55 AM
That seems a bit far fetched for a crimp that is just slightly loose. I would think if they were that loose, you would notice while handling the rounds. Am I wrong here?

I've seen this malfunction first hand.
It was in a CCW class on range day and the lady shooting the ammunition was using a Smith Airweight in 38 special.

I dont remember the brand of ammo but the malfunction happened about 10 times throughout the session. I got to look at it up close because I was a range officer that day and was the first one to get to her when it happened.

The bad thing is, that when this type of jam happens, not only can you not pull the trigger because the cylinder is bound, but you also can't open the cylinder either. We had to use a wooden dowel and a hammer to drive the elongated bullet back into the case to clear the jam and be able to open the cylinder.

We inspected the ammo and you could not easily tell which round was faulty and which was good.

August 23, 2004, 01:00 PM
The newer STs have scored in the bullet tip for expansion, the older style the bullet has no scoring.

250 rds of ST fired in my Seecamp purchased in June, only 1 stovepipe and that was first mag.

My second purchase of ST ammo I have now has 8 score lines inside the hollowpoint. I don't recall whether my first ammo had the score lines or not.

I hope this thread stays alive with others posting range reports on the other brands of ammo reliability in the Seecamp.

I seem to recall the manual for my S&W 642 (5 shot airweight) suggesting when using +P loads to fire 4 rounds and then examine the remaining cartridge for loose bullet. (a basis for ammo selection). I practice w/ standard loads, then usually shoot 5 +P's just to remind myself of what I carry.

August 23, 2004, 05:13 PM
I recently shot around 10 rounds of the "new and horrible" Silvertip through my Seecamp, and the only problem I had was a stovepipe on the last round in the mag (I started with full mag + 1 in the chamber).

This doesn't concern me as I don't carry a reload for it anyway.

If I have further need for a weapon after emptying my Seecamp, I'll throw the heavy little bugger at 'im and then pull my Strider. :D

I also have some Gold Dots for my Seecamp, but didn't try them because they aren't really officially recommended.

Now that that has changed....:rolleyes:

August 24, 2004, 01:40 PM
Went to my favorite gunshop today and checked out their .32 Silvertips. They had 8 boxes of the stuff and all of them had the little expansion cuts on the nose.:eek:
Guess I'm going to have to scrounge around for some of the old-style Silvertips.:uhoh:


August 25, 2004, 09:02 PM
just noticed the site has just now put up the letter of Larry Seecamp on its website.

The letter is dated April 19, 2004. Too bad dealers weren't notified at that time. Never would have known this except via THR. I'm the one who informed my gunshop. In fact, when calling other shops to see who had what 32 ammo in stock, one dealer asked what gun is it for. Upon replyingwhy I need to change ammo, he doubted there was really a problem & said he would continue to sell ST to his Seecamp customers.

Could only locate Hydr-Shok.

August 29, 2004, 04:31 PM
While dated, it does point to Federal Hydra shok being shortened(hence fitting Seecamp) and interesting W/W ST comment.

The Resurgence Of The .32 ACP
American Handgunner, May, 2000 by Charles E. Petty

There was a time when the .32 ACP (7.65 Browning) was the primary cartridge of European law enforcement, and American manufacturers such as Colt, H&R, Savage and Remington, to name most of them, manufactured pistols chambered for the diminutive little cartridge. From the 1920s to the time of World War II, the .32 ACP was a popular choice for defense.

But the .380 ACP began to erode sales and, other than some surplus pistols that came back after the war, almost all American manufacture of .32 pistols was finished by the start of World War II.

New introductions of American guns chambered for the .32 ACP were gone from the scene until 1984 when the late Louis Seecamp began production of the tiny LWS .32 for which his name is now synonymous.

Seecamp had been making a small .25 ACP pistol, and it was a significant engineering feat to adapt it to the .32. The little pistol acquired an immediate following and probably became too successful. Demand far exceeded Seecamp's ability to produce guns, which meant that two things happened.

First, since the little guns were scarce, they achieved almost cult status and, second, prices skyrocketed as more than a few dealers took advantage of the demand.

Surprisingly, the rest of the marketplace seemed content to let Seecamp have his niche. Finally, Beretta came along with a competitor--the Tomcat--which is considerably larger.

We saw the brief appearance of the Autauga Arms. .32 and now from North American Arms comes the Guardian. It is a very close copy of the Seecamp, both mechanically and aesthetically, but there are some differences. Not insignificantly, the Guardian is slightly larger and heavier.

When Seecamp built his gun there was only one hollowpoint loading, the Winchester 60 gr. Silvertip. It was a marriage of convenience because the cartridge was about .010" shorter than conventional ball ammunition and Seecamp needed the room to make his gun so small.

By restricting the size of the magazine, he eliminated the shooter's choice of ammo, but that was okay. The Silvertip was just fine.

Actually, that wasn't always so.

Ammo Surprise

Shortly after I got my LWS .32, I had the opportunity to visit Winchester's East Alton, Ill., plant. I took the .32 along and when we had a spare minute, I asked to shoot some gelatin with the .32. Guess what? The little Silvertip expanded not at all.

Henry Halverson, the designer of the Silvertip, took a couple of rounds and left the room. He came back a few minutes later and showed me where he had cut some skiving grooves in the jacket nose. When fired into gelatin, those rounds expanded nicely.

Winchester apparently took the experience to heart, for several years later I was able to repeat the test with some new ammo and expansion was very good.

New Defense Loads

The little Seecamp created a demand for a good .32 ACP defense load. With the Seecamp acquiring cult status and other .32s coming along, the ammo companies went to work.

Federal announced they would make a 65 gr. Hydra-Shok; however, someone didn't get the word that the Seecamp magazine was shorter than standard and the first .32 Hydra-Shoks were too long. That has since been corrected.

Then along came a 60 gr. Gold Dot from Speer and, more recently, a 60 gr. XTP from Hornady. One of the reasons the Guardian is slightly larger is that it will accept standard length .32 ACP ammo, although all the new ".32 Short" loads will work in either gun.

The four different .32 hollowpoint loads were fired into calibrated 10 percent ballistic gelatin from a distance of 10 feet. Ten rounds from each were chronographed. The new North American Arms Guardian was used as the test weapon.

Three rounds were fired into each gelatin block to minimize waste, but with loads that produce relatively small wound profiles, this was not a concern. In fact, I was a little surprised at the small amount of expansion observed.

Ballistic Tests

We have to acknowledge that we are testing the ammo under just about the worst possible conditions. The Guardian's 2.2" barrel doesn't give the little bullets much room to accelerate and if we had tested the ammo in, something with just another inch of barrel, the results would have been different.

The velocities were remarkably consistent, but apparently not quite fast enough to promote the best expansion. This is more than just suspicion since the factory ballistics list a velocity of 950 fps from a 4" barrel.

Since expansion was irregular, I measured the bullet at the widest point and it is important to note that, although the Hydra-Shok did not expand beyond the nominal dimension, it was almost a perfect cylinder where the ogive area had opened up slightly.

This experience also points out a variable that is impossible to quantify. A few months prior to this test I did some preliminary shooting using my Seecamp as the test pistol. Even though it has a barrel that is 0.1" shorter, expansion was better.

This isn't a criticism of anybody's ammo or gun, it is simply a fact of life when you do this type of test. The results are not cast in stone. And I know it's not helping you decide what to put in your gun-- or is it?

There is some good news here, too. Penetration was more than adequate and that is the very first concern. If the bullet penetrates deeply enough to reach major organs, then expansion-- at least in small caliber pistols-- is a nice bonus, but not mandatory.

The other good news is that the Guardian functioned well with all the test ammo. There were no feeding or ejection failures during shooting, with one notable exception. Very frequently, the Guardian would trap the last case fired from the magazine in a "stovepipe" malfunction.

This is really one of those "no harm, no foul" things because if you've already shot all seven (6+1) rounds in the gun, a reload will clear the stoppage or, more realistically, it's time to consider another plan.

Cuss And Discuss

Now we can also cuss and discuss the wisdom of using a mousegun as a primary defensive weapon. I can't recall ever seeing that recommended by any of the authorities, but we also know that a lot of people do it every day. I know my old Seecamp falls into that role sometimes-- perhaps when I'm too lazy to put on a holster and gear up to carry something more powerful-- but at least I am following Rule One (have a gun). Having a small handgun that can go everywhere is not a bad idea.

.32 ACP Ammo Test Results
Load Velocity Penetration Expansion
Federal Hydra-Shok 65 gr. 826 fps 13.5" 0.31"
Hornady XTP 60 gr 827 fps 10.0" 0.41"
Speer Gold Dot 60 gr. 823 fps 11.5" 0.31"
WW Silvertip 60 gr. 812 fps 12.5" 0.38"
Results are the overage of 3 shots fired
at ID feet into ballistic gelatin.
The author, right, and his buddy Bob Bryant dig into the black of ballistic gelatin to recover a bullet. Note the lack of much of a temporary wound cavity (below) from the anemic .32 ACP.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Publishers' Development Corporation
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

September 12, 2004, 05:46 PM
Well, I finally made it to the range to test out some ammo. I bought Gold Dots, Hydra Shok and Hornady.

Shot 3 mags of HdraShok - all beautiful.

Then first mag of Hornady, around 3rd shot casing came 2/3 way out of chamber - sortof a stovepipe. Pulled it out. (in hindsight should have stopped there)

I refilled mag with more Hornady and then on 4th shot the casing won't come out of chamber & slide is stuck. I've tried pulling back on casing rim with screwdriver, but this thing is in there solid.

I'm not going to pretend to be knowledeable on the mechanics here and I ignored the advice of a few at the range fearing damage to the pistol. I plan on taking it back to the gun shop and possibly shipping it back to Seecamp.

Technically, I violated the "Silvertip only" warning, but that has been thrown out the window recently by Larry himself. Since recent events precluded us from having any confidence in STs as a carry load, we are left to our own devices to experiment with ammo that is in the same OAL.

Any comments? I'm here to learn.

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