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.32 H&R Magnum

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Weylan, Jan 14, 2003.

  1. Weylan

    Weylan New Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    I'm considering getting a .32 H&R for my wife (S&W model 332) because I know it would be more controllable in a lightweight snub than a .38. But I don't know much about the caliber. Do you find it readily available and what about ballistics for self-defense? Thanks for any advice.

  2. Benton

    Benton New Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    South Carolina
    I think that .32 H&R Magnum is a good cartridge for the alloy snub guns. The .38 Special always seemed mild before I shot it in a Chief's Special. Then I tried firing a lightweight Colt Cobra and found it recoiling with such force that I had to readjust my grip after each shot.

    The ballistics I've read on the .32 indicate a capability of similar performance to standard pressure loadings of the .38. For me, that is powerful enough, especially if it makes possible a lightweight snub with a full six rounds.

    The gunshops around me normally have the cartridge in stock. I haven't checked at the Wal-Mart type places.
  3. rock jock

    rock jock Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    In the moment
    I have a 331. Like it much.
  4. HukeOKC

    HukeOKC New Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    OKC, OK
    All I can say is good luck finding ammo. And when you do find ammo you probably won't get a very big selection. I liked the recoil on it though and it was for my wife. But the ammo issue made it a real hassle. Good luck on your choice.
  5. Ebbtide

    Ebbtide Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    North Coast (Cleveland, OH)
    I hope you reload, or have a good supplier. I had a .32 a few years back and sold it for the that reason (could not find ammo).

    From my limited experience I can say that the recoil was not much different than the 38 special.

    Good Luck,

  6. Kentucky Rifle

    Kentucky Rifle Member In Memoriam

    Dec 23, 2002
    Louisville, Ky.
    I like the .32 Mag~~A LOT!

    I have two. Taurus 731UL and S&W 331. Ammunition at the Louisville gun shops is easy to find. (I'm tempted to buy a 332 Centennial too.) I think the snubs I own recoil a little less than a non +P .38 Special.
    Tamara has one...so you KNOW they've got to be pretty good.

  7. Jim March

    Jim March Mentor

    Dec 24, 2002
    SF Bay Area
    Well here's some good news.

    An outfit called Texas Ammo has a new 32Mag Express that was designed for 2" barrel snub sixguns like the S&Ws and Taurii. An 85grain JHP moving at 1,000fps and tested for expansion at that speed is nothing to sneer at, and six of those are probably more useful than five good .38+P.

    See also:



    It's not on their online order system yet but call 'em, last I heard this was a shipping product and is probably the best 32Mag defensive load around.

    Georgia Arms has plinking fodder in both 32Mag and 32S&W Long, the latter is compatible and won't have much recoil. Prices aren't bad either.

    Upshot: the ammo situation is pretty bad if you want to just "walk in and buy it anywhere" but mailorder, it's not nearly so grim.
  8. JBP

    JBP Member

    Dec 24, 2002
  9. tomac14

    tomac14 New Member

    Mar 5, 2006
    What is difference between S&W model 331 and 431?

    I see several comments about the S&W model 331, which I think is now discontinued. How does the new Model 431 compare to the 331.

    And why isn't the 431 shown on the S&W website since my dealer has 2 in stock?


  10. 461

    461 Participating Member

    Mar 18, 2003
    If I wasn't a reloader then I'd probably pass on it as ammo is indeed tough to find. I'm quite glad I'm a reloader though and I really like the .32 H&R in my Ruger SP-101 3 1/4". I'll be buying a little centenial if I run accross one at a decent price. Recoil is to me just right and the accuracy so far is amazing.
  11. jc2

    jc2 member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Nothing against the .32 H&R Magnum--it's a neat and interesting little cartridge that I wish had caught on--BUT that was NOT my experience with it (versus a 442).
  12. gunfan

    gunfan Active Member

    Jan 4, 2004
    Western U.S.A
    I am sorely temped to...

    have both of our H&R Model 732 revolvers rechambered for the .32 H&R Magnum. This will provide them with the added versatility provided by the aforementioned Texas Ammunition outfit. The 85 grain, 1000 fps from a 4" barrel will come in mighty handy when someone begins arguing with me about whether or not I should "exercise the option" of keeping my own money! :)

    Besides, the 2 1/2" version with a round butt conceals quite well.

    Last edited: Mar 6, 2006
  13. Manedwolf

    Manedwolf member

    Nov 10, 2005
    New Hampshire
    Some ads have claimed that .32 H&R Mag will work just fine in an old Nagant pistol...but I'm not sure I'd trust the metallurgy of something that old.
  14. wbond

    wbond Member

    Jan 6, 2006
    My .32 Mag experiences

    My Ruger SP101 .32 Mag 3" barrel revolver is great and recoil is easy. I do feel this round is slightly better than a .380 because it should have better penetration due to smaller caliber with similar weight bullet and more speed. I think this is one case where a slightly smaller caliber is (theoretically) better, due to increased penetration. However, the .32M and .380 are very similar in one shot stopping potential, so I'm splitting hairs. The .32M and .380 are very similar ballistically, yet the .380 holds a lot more ammo. That tells me the .380 is better, unless you prefer a revolver.

    I like the .32M a lot because I'm recoil sensitive, but it's not in the same class as a .38 Spl standard pressure. The .32M is easier to shoot and has one more round. Never the less, the .38 Spl is undeniably better per shot, if you can handle the recoil.

    I love my .32M and prefer it to a .38 Spl because I'm recoil sensitive, but I'm not going to lie to you. The .38 Spl is much better, if you can handle the recoil. If you are recoil sensitive, then the .380 and .32M are both great choices, unless you're super sensitive, in which case .32 ACP or .32 Long are choices. Hey, people with arthritis or other issues can only handle whatever their condition allows. Anything is better than nothing and markmanship goes a long ways.

    I suggest you also take a close look at the Taurus .38 Spl small frame with 3" barrel. It weighs about 22 oz and is a dandy. That extra inch of barrel does wonders to improve accuracy, velocity, and it does not increase recoil. It is still easy to conceal and carry. However, I'd recommend bobbing the hammer for easiest conceal and draw. There is standard pressure, low recoil .38 Spl ammo for 2" snubs that shoots JHP bullets weighing from 92 gr to 110 gr with standard pressure. These give recoil almost as low as a .32 Mag, but with more stopping power. I personally still prefer the .32M because it's easier on my hands and has one more round.

    The Ruger SP101 .32M 3" barrel is easy to shoot accurately and fast. My only complaint was the sharp edges on the hammer thumb tab. First thing I did was file those off with a smooth diamond coated file (don't get shavings inside the gun). Note: Ruger also makes this same gun in a .38 Spl.

    As for the .32M lighter 2" snubs: What you lose dropping from a 3" to a 2" barrel really hurts the velocity and hitting power (and probably expansion). This applies to barrel lengths of .38 Spl too.

    The 2" snubs from S&W are so light that recoil will be harsh, even in .32M. Don't let the cartridge fool you. It can kick up a storm in a 13.5 oz gun. I'd avoid the S&W unless you have a high recoil tolerance. If you want a small, light gun, the Taurus .32 Mag 2" barrel weighs 17 oz. If the hammer is bobbed, it should make a dandy pocket gun with moderate recoil.

    However, if you want low recoil, look at a Ruger SP101 3" barrel revolver at 28 oz. Very low recoil. The Ruger requires a holster to carry it, or a fanny pack, in my experience. It'll fit in my coat pocket, but the weight sags my coat badly. When I put it in my waist band, it wants to pants me in public. However, if I put on a belt, I can easily carry it in my waistband. An inside the waistband holster would work dandy.

    On the other hand, my Firestorm auto weighs 23 oz and carries easily by any method, including in my coat pocket. It even works in some pants pockets. I therefore also highly recommend a Firestorm .380 auto.

    That said, a 17 oz Taurus should carry easily.

    Bottom Line: In order from lowest recoil to highest based on my experiences as a recoil sensitive person:

    1) .32 ACP Firestorm auto - great gun, low recoil, accurate, low stopping potential, weighs 23 oz, easy to carry in almost any manner, including coat pocket (7+1 shots)

    2) .32M Ruger SP101 3" barrel medium size revolver - great gun, low recoil with ammo appropriate for barrel length, medium stopping potential, weighs 28 oz, not as easy to carry, will require a holster or fanny pack (6 shots)

    3) .380 ACP Firestorm auto - great gun, medium recoil, accurate, almost medium stopping potential, weighs 23 oz, easy to carry in almost any manner, including coat pocket (9+1 shots)

    4) .38 Spl Taurus 3" barrel small size revolver, great gun, medium recoil, accurate, medium or better stopping potential, weighs 23 oz, easy to carry in almost any manner, including coat pocket

    5) .32M Taurus 2" barrel small size revolver, great gun, medium recoil, accurate, almost medium stopping potential, weighs 17 oz, easy to carry in any manner, including coat pocket, pants pocket, or whatever

    6) Both the Taurus and S&W could be used to shoot .32 Longs, which would be the same or a tad more potent than a .32 ACP. This alternative should not be dismissed for very recoil sensitive people wanting a pocket gun. The Ruger can also shoot .32 Longs, but I see no reason to do this since the Ruger has little recoil with the .32M.

    Note: the only guns I have not shot that are on the list are the Firestorm .380 and the Taurus .32M. I have shot the Taurus .38 and I own the Ruger SP101 .32M and the Firestorm .32 ACP.

    Note: because any of the above (except Ruger SP101) can be carried in a pocket, the hammer should be bobbed if going to carry in a pocket. This does not apply to the Ruger SP101 since it can't carry in a pocket.

    Note: Any reference to stopping potential means one shot stopping potential. Since you can shoot more than once, the one shot stop potential may not be that important as long as 2 to 3 shots can be put on target. The least powerful gun mentioned is the .32 ACP and I think it can get it done if you are a decent shot and get 3 good hits. That's my opinion based on what I read about South American security forces who use .32 ACP with a triple tap policy.

    Any of the other guns mentioned are much more potent than the .32 ACP, so I personally don't think power is an issue with the others since you can shoot more than once.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2006
  15. wbond

    wbond Member

    Jan 6, 2006
    .32M Ammo

    Ammo is easy to find online and sometimes a good bargain too. As for finding it locally, my local gun store offered to start carrying whatever brand I like. I told them to hold off until I find out what I like best. For now, I'm ordering online to try different brands and loads.

    I like the .32 Mag, but let's don't fool ourselves. It's no magnum, except in name only. It should have been named the .32 Special because that's what it really is.

    I think the .32M has more penetration, velocity, and stopping potential than a .380 ACP, but gives similar recoil. This is one reason I find the .32M attractive.

    The .32M is defineately less powerful than a .38 Spl standard pressure with regard to stopping potential and recoil. However, I like the .32M better than the .38 Spl because of less recoil and one more round.

    With regard to stopping potential, I think the .32M is most similar to the 9x18, but that's only a best guess since no one has ever done a scientific comparison of the two and neither has been used in any real world shootings in the free world (that I know of). I suppose the Soviets had lots of data on the 9x18 from tests and real world shootings, but I've never seen it.

    As for .32M ammo, I've tried:

    Federal 85 gr JHP - great ammo. cheap (online), clean, powerful, kicks like heck.

    Black Hills - same as Federal

    Georgia Arms 85 gr JHP: cheap, very dirty, powerful, kills like heck.

    Georgia Arms also makes a 100 gr JHP. Why bother with the 100 gr? It would kick like a .38 Spl, but have less stopping power. In fact, I think it might have less stopping potential than the .32M 85 gr JHP due to over penetration and lack of velocity. Slow and heavy only works for fat calibers. I don't think that's going to work for a skinny caliber. Skinny needs speed and expansion. Therefore the 85 gr JHP should be best for .32M.

    The problem with all the ammo above is they are made for 5 to 6 inch barrel guns. Very inappropriate for a 2" or 3" barrel gun.

    However, "Stars and Stripes" makes ammo for the 2" barrel guns. I just ordered some. It should be excellent in my 3" Ruger. Also should be good in the 2" Taurus .32M. However, the Taurus is very light at 17 oz and will kick noticeably with any .32M ammo. If you really want to reduce recoil, the Taurus might kick to hard. I have arthritis. The Ruger is at the very top end of my recoil tolerance when shooting the Federal, or any of the other long barrel ammos. I think the Ruger will be sweet shooting with the snubby ammo. However, I'm certain the Taurus .32M would kick to much for me with any .32M ammo.

    I could shoot .32 Longs in the Taurus, but that's equally as anemic as .32 ACP, but without the ammo capacity. That would be scary with regard to stopping potential.

    I already read the post from the other fella about .32M snubby ammo at that Texas place. I'm glad to hear that others make .32M loads for 2" barrels. I'm looking forward to trying that brand too.

    Anyone know of other brands of snubby ammo for .32M and .38 Spl?
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2006
  16. notbubba

    notbubba Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Jackson Michigan

    "Ammo is easy to find online"


    Last time I looked (a year ago) I couldn't find any.
  17. Red Tornado

    Red Tornado Participating Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    NE Arkansas
  18. Fireatwill

    Fireatwill New Member

    Sep 8, 2003
    The great unarmed state of Ohio
    .32 Mag

    I have owned a few 32 longs over the years and one .32 mag. I like the old Colts and S&Ws in .32 long. A competent gunsmith can ream the chamber to fire .32 mags. I have done this on a limited basis with no harm to the guns. I would not do this with any other brands or non-solid frame guns. Have the gun checked out by a competent gunsmith before firing.

    The .32 longs and the .32 mag will also fire the .32 auto cartridge. They are easy shooting with little recoil. The only problem is that sometimes the shells don't want to eject easily.

    The .32 autos are cheaper than the .32 mags and easier to find.
  19. wbond

    wbond Member

    Jan 6, 2006
    .32 Mag ammo sources online

    To NotBubba:

    You gotta work your Google.

    Never bought from them, but they've got it.

    Cheap, powerful, but dirty

    Bought some, but haven't tried it yet.
    Note that Black Hills makes it. It can be purchased from several retailer places online for good prices, including Midway.

    Federal Ammo is good and can be purchased cheap online from several places

    Bought some, but haven't received it yet. They make two loads. One for 6" barrel and one for 2" barrel. I'm buying the 2" since I have a 3" barrel.

    http://www.midwayusa.com sells two kinds of Black Hills and two kinds of Federal

    http://store.bernies-sports.com has Federal

    Has Federal, MagSafe, and Master brands of .32 Mag. I never heard of "Master" before, but I'm open minded.

    http://www.texas-ammo.com/ allegedly has .32 Mag for short 2" barrel revolvers (based on other fellas' post). If so, this would be great.

    This list is not complete. This is just what I could whip together in 15 minutes at Google. I'm sure there are more sellers of .32 Mag. Probably more brands as well. However, I'm only interested in snubby ammo.


    I know the Federal is great stuff, but it's made for a 5" barrel. It's not appropriate for my 3"

    The Georgia Arms has been dirty for me, it's also made for a 6" barrel, which is not appropriate for my 3".

    The Black Hills is reputed to be very good and is affordable, but I haven't yet tried it. However, I know it's made for a 6" barrel and will not be appropriate for my 3".

    The Stars and Stipes is more expensive, but is made for 2" barrels and I expect it will be great. I'm really looking forward to trying it. They also have ammo for 6" barrels.

    The Texas Ammo for 2" barrel sounds really promising for my 3" barrel.

    My advice is use the Stars and Stripes or Texas Ammo short barrel ammo (made for 2" barrel) in guns with 3" barrels and shorter. For 4" barrels and longer, use the Federal (made for 5")

    Ammo and gun work best when ammo made for the barrel length of the gun or when ammo made for 1" shorter. When ammo made for a barrel longer than the gun has, the recoil and muzzle flash are high with very little benefit to velocity.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2006
  20. wbond

    wbond Member

    Jan 6, 2006
    Note about .32 Mag recoil:

    Some have said that they did not find the .32M had less recoil than a .38 Spl.

    You can really only compare them when using same size and weight guns.

    With same size-weight gun, the .32M is much nicer to shoot than .38 Spl for recoil sensitive people.

    However, all 2" .32M revolvers are super light weights that are so light that they will kick a lot, especially if you are using inappropriate ammo. i.e. - you need snubby ammo for snubby guns.

    The S&W .32M snubby revolvers are so light at 13.5 oz that they kick a lot.

    The Taurus .32M revolver is light at 17 oz and will kick comparable or more than a 21 oz steel or stainless steel .38 Spl snubby. However, a 17 oz Taurus snubby .32M will kick less than the same weight .38 Spl.

    The .32M offers low recoil in the 28 ounce .32M Ruger SP101 3" barrel.

    The .32M offers moderate recoil in the 17 ounce .32M Taurus 2" barrel.

    The .32M offers high recoil in the 13.5 ounce .32M S&W 2" barrel.

    In fact, the S&W .32M recoil is reputedly so high that a reviewer was concerned about the recoil moving the bullet seating position in the cases of unfired rounds. That much recoil is going to hurt, unless you have a tough hand and a high tolerance.

    On the other hand, the Ruger SP101 .32M is a pussy cat to shoot.

    The Taurus .32M is in between.

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