Colt DS .38 vs .32

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Shoot66, Mar 26, 2017.

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  1. Shoot66

    Shoot66 Member

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    Dear friends and fellow addicts,

    A couple of days ago I learnt about two mint Colt Detective Specials which are for sale for a very reasonable price. The older of the brothers is a 1966 .38 Special, the younger one is a 1969 .32 Colt NP. I can assure you I don´t need any. ;)

    However... I do not own a snub nose revolver yet... I already have a 6´´ and a 4´´ .357 Magnums. I handload for them i.e. already own the necessary dies and moulds from a 105 gr SWC to a 180 gr FP. On the other hand, I do not posses any smaller calibre handgun, except two .22 LR semi-autos. So I am thinking I might buy the .32 NP. I suspect, I just want to have a justification for buying a couple of new moulds and dies. :D
    The gun will not be carried; I have other guns for that purpose. It should serve just as a pure pleasure instrument. .32 ammo is practically unavailable over here, but as I said, that is not a decisive factor as I can/will roll my own after I have ordered cases.

    One more thought, I do like accurate guns, but I am not sure that with this barrel length there would be a discernable difference, or?

    So dear friends, what´s your take on this?
     
  2. burrhead

    burrhead Member

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    All things being equal, I'd be all over the 32 for a fun gun. I don't know where "over here" is but the 38 is certainly more common in the States and another will come along some day; the 32 not so much. As to accuracy you'll have to shoot and see. I have a 2" S&W M12-1 that will shoot light wad cutters into nearly one-hole groups from a rest at 10 yards. Barrel length has little to do with mechanical accuracy though practical accuracy is a different matter altogether.

    Buy the 32, you know that's the one you want.
     
  3. cal44mag

    cal44mag Member

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    I'm a fan of 32 caliber guns, so I would buy that one.

    If I were planning to carry it, though, I would buy the 38 because 6 shot small 38's are hard to come by.

    But for fun, the 32 wins. Here in the US, in most states, you can mail order 32 S&W Long ammo and it's not too expensive.

    Not sure where you live, but I believe 32 caliber wadcutters are used in international competition including the Olympics.
     
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  4. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    You will need to define a role for it, or it will sit in the safe, tying up gun money
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
  5. joed

    joed Member

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    I'm a .38 Spl fan. Never owned a .32 or had the ambition to. The .38 is common, if need be you can get it anywhere, not so .32. I look at it as I would a .41 mag, nice cartridge but it's not popular, and try and find ammo or components.
     
  6. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    The 32 is appropriate for the size of the gun, and you get 6 rounds. The 38 snubs can get pretty snappy.
     
  7. hannstv

    hannstv Member

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    I believe the correct answer is to buy both, it is almost impossible to lose money on clean Colt revolvers if you can purchase them a a "reasonable" price.
     
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  8. Stephanie B

    Stephanie B Member

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    I don't understand the first part. Colt DS .38s hold six rounds.
     
  9. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    Has enough mass to handle the round, otherwise punishing the shooter. Ultralight 38 owners probably know what I mean.

    Yes, I did miss that the Colt 38 is 6 rounds, unlike a Smith J-frame.
     
  10. joed

    joed Member

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    The sad part is you had me questioning my sanity. I was sitting here wondering how I didn't catch that it was a S&W. Never owned a S&W J so sometimes I forget they shoot 5. The DS isn't bad with .38 Spl, I had a Cobra at one time, that was punishing.
     
  11. Poohgyrr

    Poohgyrr Member

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    The suggestion I like most is to buy both. :)

    Both should be fun and be equally mechanically accurate . Anyone who trains enough to be aaccurate with a snub revolver is a good shot and may be proud of their skill.

    The 38 may be more practical, because the ammunition will work in your 357s. And the 38 is more powerful than the 32.

    But the 32 is also fun and uses less powder & lead to handload. The 32 recoils less and has other good qualities.

    I do not know the laws where you live.

    I have always decided for a 38 or 357; but did finally choose a S&W 32. It has been wonderful and a lot of fun.
     
  12. Poohgyrr

    Poohgyrr Member

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    Also, for what it is worth, while the Colt, and my S&W, both hold six 32 rounds, the Charter Arms holds five 32's. I do not know how many 32's will load into the small Rugers.
     
  13. Shoot66

    Shoot66 Member

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    Gentlemen, thank you all for your input.

    I live in Europe, precisely in Slovakia. Even though the things are in the process of getting real nasty with regard to „bad assault semi-auto rifles“ (sever EU restrictions are a matter of weeks), the situation with handguns is still OK - I can own as many as I wish (at least it still works like that in this part of the EU). Just have to register them. Only finances and availibility are the limit.

    I expected more than two suggestions to buy them both. :D I might indeed. Unlike in the US there is not a high demand for classic revolvers in the EU. I would guess 99 per cent of those end up in collections. I like them nice, but like to shoot them.

    I am aware of the „mechanical accuracy" or sight distance factor. My plinking takes place at 50 - 100 yards, mostly at steel. The shortest one I use for that is a P938, but that one has real rear sights, right? :D

    I will get the .32 for sure. Might add the .38 too. :)

    Thanks.
     
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  14. lincen

    lincen Member

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    I have both the 32 and 38 in Colt Detective Special and shoot the 32 the most. Cool thing about the 32 is that it will safely fire the 32acp. Since the 32acp has a rim it chambers and extracts like the 32S&W. Some folks here have reamed the cylinder chambers a little deeper and shoot the 32 H&R magnums as well.

    I spent 3 weeks in Stara Tura a couple years ago. Slovakia is a beautiful place and has an abundance of deer and pheasant. Deer stands in almost every field.
     
  15. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    As others have already opined, the correct answer is to buy both! If not both, then I would opt for the .32; definitely not as common as a .38 Special and more fun to play with. Please let us know which one you get.
     
  16. Dframe

    Dframe Member

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    I agree, both. You'll find the minimal recoil and report of the 32 makes it a lot of fun to shoot. I own and shoot both since I love snub nosed revolvers and especially Colts
     
  17. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    My SP101 in 32 H&R holds 6 rounds. It is a great marriage of gun and cartridge.
     
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  18. Shoot66

    Shoot66 Member

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    I will get the .32 for sure. The advice I have got here just confirmed my thinking. Thank you. On the .38 I will decide upon getting my hands on it.

    lincen: Thank you for the tip, I did not realise that .32 ACP ammo can be fired from the revolver too. My lack of experience with the .32s shows.
    Thanks for your kind words too. I visited the US several time, mostly for business, but never made it to your great state. May be one day.:)

    bannockburn: Thank you, I will.
     
  19. lincen

    lincen Member

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    Forgot to mention that some revolvers are a little picky about firing the 32acp. The rim thickness is a little less than the 32S&W long and can even vary a little between manufacturers.

    All of mine do just fine and I use mainly European made ammo. I don't use it often but it is a neat option to have.
     
  20. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    FWIW, Prvi makes 32 long and it's reasonably priced here. Lapua does also but not as reasonably priced.
     
  21. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Member

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    The smaller Ruger LCR chambered in .327 Federal Magnum also holds six rounds.
     
  22. Jim NE

    Jim NE Member

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    I also like the .32, but every gun I own has to be able to perform it's intended function whether I shoot it or not or whether it's a collector's piece or not. OTOH, could be the more obscure cartridge will be more desirable when you sell (?) Since is hasn't been mentioned, that gun will shoot the standard .32 S&W cartridge as well as the .32 S&W long. It's unlikely that the standard cartridge will be any more available to you than the long, but you never know.
     
  23. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    That would be my choice too.:)
     
  24. Monac

    Monac Member

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    My two cents: I like 32 Long a LOT. It is my favorite centerfire cartridge for target shooting. But that's just it: I think of it as a target cartridge, and while fixed sights do not rule that out, having a two-inch barrel might, for me at least. And the 38 Special model is in a more popular and useful cartridge; it is always going to be easier to resell. Collectors may pay higher prices for a 32 DS, but regular shooters will not, and regular shooters are much easier to find, I think. So in your best interest, I would suggest the 38. I think I would pass up the 32 in favor of something with a 3-4 inch barrel in the same caliber.

    However, because of the quality and popularity of these guns, I don't think you can go far wrong either way. So unless money is very tight, try to decide which one you would enjoy owning more in the long run.
     
  25. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    I have and sometimes carry a Detective Special. Snub-nosed revolvers are difficult to shoot accurately -- the short sight radius is the reason, plus the relatively light weight of the gun.

    Advantages of the .38: You already have everything you need. You can shoot the same bullets, and use the same dies to reload .38 Special. If you want different bullets, .38 cal bullets and moulds are widely available.

    Advantage of the .32: It's different and way cool.
     
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