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A thread about .32 acp

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by The Good, Sep 19, 2013.

  1. The Good

    The Good New Member

    May 24, 2006
    Hey guys, I came here with the intention of learning a little about the .32 and noticed a few threads where different .32 acp handguns were being discussed. I don't have anything to contribute about those specific guns, but I am interested in more info on them and other .32 acp guns and the cartridge itself.

    I was almost positive I was gonna get a revolver for my next gun, but then I startrd thinking about the possibility of a semi.. In the past i had a semi in .380 and while the recoil was very easy to handle, I still thought it was too much for such a small round. In other words, if i'm gonna choose a round with less power, i should make sure i get a significant decrease in felt recoil, at least to the point that i can execute accurate follow up shots at a noticeably higher rate.

    So, having no experience with the .32, my question is this: if i had two firearms that weighed the same, one chambered in .380 and one in .32, how significant would the drop in recoil be?

    Another question: i notice there aren't a ton of new .32 handguns available(at least where i live, the worst gun state in the union). Is the round itself unpopular? Are there drawbacks to it aside from it's size? Thanks in advance guys.

    Also interesting: i was talking to my Dad about the .32 on the way to the gun store and i decided I was gonna look at any .32 they might have. There ended up being a really great looking colt 1903. I didn't have nearly enough money for the thing, but i when i held it, it felt like it had been designed for my hands. I had never heard of a colt 1903 beforr.. I was really impressed.
  2. Cokeman

    Cokeman Active Member

    Feb 23, 2007
    This is a thread about .32 acp and a little bit about .380, not what other calibers are better. The first person to say that .32 or .380 are too small to use for self defense and then recommend something bigger, especially .45 acp is a gigantic jerk.
  3. rondog

    rondog Mentor

    Jun 29, 2007
    Even though I own two .32acp pistols, a 1914 Mauser and a French MAB, I really know little about the caliber. I've shot them a few times, the recoil isn't bad, I'd say less than my .380.

    I wouldn't use either for CCW, but that's mainly because I don't know the pistols well enough to trust them, and I own many others more suited for the job. Both needed some tinkering to get them running, which makes me nervous, and I don't trust striker-fired pistols anyway. Especially old ones like these.

    But the ammo that I fired in them seemed to be more powerful than I was expecting. If I were to carry one, I believe I'd stick with FMJ's, but that's JMHO.
  4. Hunter2011

    Hunter2011 Active Member

    Oct 15, 2011
    South Africa
    They only have about twice the power of a .22LR. So I can't think recoil could ever be a problem, no matter what platform you use to shoot it in.
    I would not mind to buy a Keltec P32 for deep concealment, but I don't think there is even one of them in my country, South Africa. If I could buy one I would have. If shot placement is fine the little bullet will do the job.

    Then I also would not mind to get a target revolver for this cartridge. Apparently it is a inherently accurate round. So if you can get a dedicated target handgun for it, it might be a good silhouette handgun. I would have bought that too..

    MICHAEL T Mentor

    Feb 3, 2004
    outback Kentucky
    Lots of people from Police to citizens for around 100yrs or so. Carried or kept 32 revolvers ,semi Autos for self defense . Then the. world got internet and nothing less than a 9mm 357 or 45 auto will work against. Bad guy.
    All the ladies in my family carry 32 KelTecs. I have one my self . I do like 380 KT a little better But again like the 32acp it won't stop a piss off flea :rolleyes: So I am just wasting my time with it also.

    Buy what you want can shoot and control If for carry I would say KelTec 32 is small light and very little recoil. Blow back action 32 like NAA Guardian SeeCamp, and other in blow back design have more felt recoil.

  6. critter

    critter Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    southeast AR
    I have a NAA Guardian in .32 auto and a Ruger LCP in .380. IMHO, the NAA has SIGNIFICANTLY MORE recoil than the Ruger. Go figure!

    The NAA is straight blowback and, even though it is quite heavy for size, felt recoil and muzzle flip is quite pronounced. One other reason is that there is not a lot to hold onto with it.
  7. Phantom Captain

    Phantom Captain Active Member

    Apr 24, 2007
    I think the .32 shoots nicer and felt recoil is definitely less than a .380 in a gun the same size. How do I know? Well I have a PPK/s in .380 and a PPK in .32. The .32 is definitely easier, nicer and has less recoil. Because of that it's very easy to line up second and third shots etc.

    I love both my PPK and PPK/s, some of my all time favorite pistols and I carry them both.

    Don't let anyone tell you different, .32s are FUN!!!
  8. Vodoun da Vinci

    Vodoun da Vinci Participating Member

    Sep 17, 2013
    I'm a .32 ACP aficionado in general and specifically a lover of the Colt Model M in .32 ACP. I regard the Model M as possibly the best pocket pistol ever built. I own 2 and have a third one being researched. Here is my inherited Model M built in 1918 with my Colt Officers ACP in .45 for comparison.


    I am reloading soon for the .32 ACP as I feel a lot of the current ammo is rather anemic compared to what it can be if hand loaded. There is no doubt that the .32 ACP has been neglected to some degree due to the popular opinion that it is not suitable for self defense.

    With concealed carry now allowed in all 50 states, more and more people are carrying and many of them simply cannot conceal full size or even compact pistols in 9mm, .40 .45. The advantage of the .32 ACP is lower felt recoil and conceal ability. My wife is very comfy shooting it and our Model M's are very accurate in rapid fire at 21 - 30 feet.

    The advantage of a .32 ACP is that it is in yer pocket when you need it and can unleash a rapid volley to a critical area without huge muzzle blast and recoil.

    I'm a huge fan of the .32 ACP and will carry mine when Illinois gets it all set up. I don't feel outgunned at all - I have 9mm and .45 and .357 and can shoot well with all of them. My carry will be a 95 year old .32 ACP.

    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
  9. Tomac

    Tomac Active Member

    Oct 13, 2003
    Caldwell, Idaho
    Action type makes a difference in perceived recoil as well. A locked-breech .380 (like the SIG P238 or Colt Mustang) has about the same perceived recoil to me as a blowback .32 (like the Beretta Tomcat) but the Tomcat's perceived recoil is less than a blowback .380.
  10. Storm

    Storm Senior Member

    Nov 28, 2006
    I think that many folks have come to realize that shot placement is critical regardless of the caliber. In my experience, with a small pocket sized guns, the .32 results in less recoil and muzzle flip (of course depending on recoil system as noted above by critter) quicker and more accurate follow-up shots, putting more rounds accurately onto target.

    For subcomoacts I would go with 9mm as a minimum such as my P290. For deep concealment I consider .32 to be the pick of the litter.

    BADUNAME2 Participating Member

    Apr 22, 2003
    Alger, OH
    Both .32 and .380 ACP were designed by John Browning, and first found homes in his Pocket guns, produced by both Colt and FN.

    One of the issues that crops up a lot with both of these small calibers is that a lot of the early designs of guns chambered for them are blowback operated, like a rimfire, rather than locked breech, like most larger centerfires. This has advantages and disadvantages. In tha advantage column is the the fact that, since the barrel is fixed to the frame, they often give excellent accuracy, with less necessity for the precision fitting that's necessary to accurizing a Browning-type tilting barrel design. Many European police agencies used .32 and .380 service pistols on this pattern, particularly before 9MM took the world by storm. You'll occasionally find such designs used in Bullseye matches, for the "centerfire, but not necessarily .45," segment.

    The downside is that the felt recoil is considerably sharper than seems reasonable or necessary to a shooter accustomed to larger caliber locked breech pistols. Walthers and early Colts are excellent examples of small caliber, heavy steel guns that kick, seemingly, more than they have any right to do. This can be disheartening, if one moves to a small caliber for increased shootability, only to find that they haven't gained much, or anything after all.

    The various Saturday Night Specials were mostly also blowback pistols in these small calibers, (along with their little brother, the .25 ACP) as are the baby Berettas, like the Jetfire and Tomcat.

    The recent revolution was sparked by Kel-Tec, which introduced the locked breech principle to these little cartridges, first in the P32, then the P3AT. The latter was cloned by Ruger as the LCP. These little guns are both lighter and recoil less than their older, metallic framed brethren in these calibers, which is something that doesn't usually happen in guns.
  12. JERRY

    JERRY Senior Member

    Jun 5, 2003
    I like the .32acp/7.65mm.
  13. PRM

    PRM Senior Member

    Apr 14, 2008
    OK, I like the .32 ACP.

    One of my favorite carry guns is a Manurhin (French) Walther Model PP in .32 ACP. The nine shot (8+1) in this gun is a very respectable package. Its light, easily concealed, with light recoil, fast follow up shots, and very accurate.

    The Interarms Walther PPK/s. 32 ACP is a shorter slide version of the PP in SS. Sweet!!!

    My NAA Guardian in .32 ACP is a great little gun for deep concealment. A 10 yards and in it has acceptable accuracy (3 inch +- groups). Close in design to the highly sought after Seecamp, it's an easy gun to carry.

    For small and light, I have become a recent aficionado of the NAA Black Widow. If someone is looking for a light easily concealed pocket pistol, this gun has a lot to offer. The larger .22 magnum frame, 2 inch barrel, enhanced sights, and over sized grips make this gun something really special. Mine is the .22 magnum/.22 LR convertible. It weighs in at 8.8 ounces. At 15 yards, it will print an easy 2-3 inch groups. The magnum is a pretty potent little round and the .22 LRs make for cheap plinking.

    Attached Files:

  14. riddleofsteel

    riddleofsteel Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Love my little 1908 Dryse SCMMERDA. Accurate and shoots like a dream. I actually load for the .32 ACP. Kinda neat as it only takes a couple of grains of powder. I think the primer does almost as much.
    I always think back to turn of the century Europe when hundreds of thousands of citizens carried vest pocket handguns in self defense and police in many countries were issued larger .32's as service weapons. As I remember, an Israeli security guard once used a .32 ACP to foil a hijacking with a well placed head shot.

    Attached Files:

  15. gym

    gym member

    Dec 9, 2007
    The lighter the gun the more recoil you will get in general. that should hold true with all calibers. If you get a heavy "steel framed" pistol, you will have lees recoil, but lose the concealment factor. Shooting my little seacamp in 32, was more recoil sensitive than most other guns in those calibers, "like a Walther PPK's in 380". If you stick with a Beretta or Walther in either caliber you should be ok. Personally I would not go below the 380 for self defense. Of course you can argue the point all day, but the more powerful bullet is generally the better way to go, with all things being equal.
    Don't forget these guns come from an era where there were not a heck of a lot of choices as there are now.
    I am sure James Bond would have carried a 9mm, if there was one that was the size of his PPK's, or Beretta, at the time.
  16. capttom

    capttom Member

    Apr 1, 2006
    I had an aluminum framed PPK in 7.65 that was a joy to shoot and literally disappeared in a cross draw position. I miss that gun more than my third wife.
    I currently own a Beretta 70 New Puma in the same calibre. It's a bigger gun than the PPK but shoots as well.
    I carried the M 70 in lieu of an S&W 642, at least sometimes. Are the 8+1 rounds of .32 as good as 5 rounds of .38? I don't know. The one time I needed a gun to defend myself or a loved one, I put three of the hard little .32 pills into a charging pit bull and it dropped before it could reach my wife.
    One thing I know: the SA Beretta is certainly easier to shoot well than the DAO Smith.
    What finally settled the carry question for me, though, is the excellent Smith&Wesson CS9, virtually the same size in every dimension to the Beretta, but firing the 9mm P. Easy to carry, great to shoot.
  17. TheNev

    TheNev New Member

    Aug 2, 2009
    The only two handguns I own similar enough to compare happens to be a stainless PPK/s and a CZ-70.

    The 70 is slightly longer, but they both have the same basic pattern. They're both single stack, blowback pistols.

    The PPK/s in .380 barks and recoils something fierce and the 70 has very little perceived recoil.
  18. Vodoun da Vinci

    Vodoun da Vinci Participating Member

    Sep 17, 2013
    I understand the concept of blowback vs locked breech and have shot a number of .32 ACP pistols side by side with each other during evaluation. My personal favs are the Colt 1903 and the Kel Tec P32.

    Shooting both of these pistols side by side, with S&B 73 grain hardball, it is obvious that they handle differently but the perceived recoil out of the Colt (blowback) as opposed to the Kel Tec (locked breech) is minimal for me. I'm 6'3" 185ish and my Wife is 5' 1" and about 120ish.

    Recoil even with Buffalo Bore hot loaded 75 grain flat noses is virtually zero and not an issue for either of us. Is it snappier in the Colt? Maybe...but it's still virtually nothing. Perhaps it's because the Colt is so perfect in balance and point ability and a bit heavier, all steel gun.

    For .32 ACP and self defense/CCW/pocket guns make mine the Colt 1903 Model M, hands down.

  19. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Senior Member

    Jun 14, 2008
    SouthEastern FL
    I was shopping for a deep-conceal pistol two years ago, and that, of course, led me to the mocro-.380s and the .32 caliber. I own a Grendel P10 (the great-grandfather to the Kel-Tec P3-AT), and had a PPK/S. Neither was especially comfortable to shoot, but both were about as small as I'd want to go in that caliber.

    In doing my comparisons, I weighed the pros and cons of the P3-AT and the other contenders in its price/size class, and those of the Kel-Tec P32. The last-shot slide-lock, significant reduction of "snap", and the extra round in capacity, led me to choose the latter, and I have been nothing but pleased with it since.

    That being said, the .380 is hurting the .32 in both supply and demand, as so many more easily-carried guns are available in the bigger caliber. Even the 9mm has made its way down to nearly as small as some of the .380 pistols. Most gun-makers are finding it impractical to offer nearly-identical guns, one in each caliber, in the flyweight platforms. Taurus did this with its TCP-series (732 and 738) and soon let the smaller one quietly fade away. Too bad; I would have liked the 732.

    If your state is the one I suspect it is, the smaller guns in .32 may not have made the list of "approved" guns for its subjects to be trusted with. Small guns are what moves those small calibers, so demand would simply not be there.
  20. Onward Allusion

    Onward Allusion Senior Member

    Mar 22, 2009
    IN between
    I have the P32, P3AT, NAA 32, LCP, & NAA 380

    The softest shooting is the P32. The others are listed from least recoil to most.

    - P32 - feels like a 22LR - It's my EDC. Follow-up shots are easy. I can land all shots in the 6" CoM on a B-27E from about 10 yards.

    - NAA 32 - a little snappy but still very close to the P32 in recoil.

    - LCP - snappy but manageable. Believe it or not, it's almost feels like the NAA 32 in terms of recoil.

    - P3AT - about the same as the LCP - I think the LCP is softer shooting because of the more ergonomic design. Both guns are pretty much identical

    - NAA 380 - Hurts to shoot. Thumb knuckle actually bled after a half dozen mags. Worst than a Airweight J-Frame snub.

    As for new production guns in .32 ACP: KT P32, NAA 32, Beretta Pico (WHEN it gets released), Taurus 732, & Beretta Tomcat. I'm sure there's also some bottom rung new production from a couple of other companies.

    It's sad that so many think they need a pocket 9mm and only focus on the caliber's stopping power (oxymoron). Follow-up shots are SO much easier with a 32ACP that I know I would have a better chance hitting the target in a stress situation.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2013

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