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Colt Police Positive .32-20

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by usmcpmi, Jul 16, 2008.

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  1. usmcpmi

    usmcpmi Member

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    I have a chance to buy a Police positive in .32-20. It is in good to fair shape. And I say fair because it appears to have been re-blued at some point, and has after market wood grips. The bore looks good and the cylinder locks up correctly. It would just another one to go in the gun cabinet, but I hate to pass up a good deal. Now the $100 question.... what should it be worth... a real value, Not the pawn shop "I'll give ya $50 for it"...or the extreme collector who wants it to complete his $1,000,000 collection. Is it worth buying to use as a trade in the future, or just something that will never ammount to much? I understand that without pictures an exact value is not possable, but for some reason, my computer has a problem posting pics. and I havn't been able to figure it out as of yet. Thanks in advance for your thoughts. MG
     
  2. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    So far as collectors are concerned, they are only interested in this model if it is in original condition and in excellent or better condition. From a shooter's perspective the ammunition is sometimes hard to find, and expensive when you do. The most likely buyer would be someone who just wanted a gun to keep around the house for protection, didn't want to pay much, and didn't intend to shoot it much - if at all.

    They are good revolvers, especially in .38 Special. A "good deal" depends on what you have to pay for it, and what you would do with it after you got it (if you did). Don't expect the value to go up much over $175 to $200 at best. Of course lightning could strike, but don't expect it to.
     
  3. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Before you buy this gun, check for a slightly bulged barrel. That is a common affliction in .32-20 revolvers.
     
  4. usmcpmi

    usmcpmi Member

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    Vern, Where would the "bulge" be located? Just forward of the cylinder? The barrel seems to be OK. Would this be from squib loads? Thanks, MG
     
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Stuck bullets in the old 32-20 revolvers were common because in those days, the 32-20 WCF was first and foremost a rifle cartridge.

    As such, the slower rifle powder of the day used in the High-Speed jacketed bullet loading lost most of the pressure out the cylinder gap in the revolver and sometimes didn't get a complete burn.

    The Jacketed bullet would then stick in the bore, followed by another one that did get a complete burn.

    The result was a ringed barrel.

    If everyone had used standard velocity lead bullet loads in 32-20 revolvers, there never would have been a problem.

    rcmodel
     
  6. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    "Stuck bullets in the old 32-20 revolvers were common because in those days, the 32-20 WCF was first and foremost a rifle cartridge.

    As such, the slower rifle powder of the day used in the High-Speed jacketed bullet loading lost most of the pressure out the cylinder gap in the revolver and sometimes didn't get a complete burn.

    The Jacketed bullet would then stick in the bore, followed by another one that did get a complete burn.

    The result was a ringed barrel.

    If everyone had used standard velocity lead bullet loads in 32-20 revolvers, there never would have been a problem."

    I'm sorry, I can't believe a word of this nonsense.
     
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Suit yourself.

    But you might read page 276 of "Sixguns" by Elmer Keith sometime.
    Or was he full of nonsense too?

    rcmodel
     
  8. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    There are a lot of .32-20 revolvers kicking around in the Ozarks. I've probably examined 40 or 50, and about half have bulged barrels.

    As to the location, most bulges are about midway down the barrel, but I have seen at least one with the bulge an inch from the muzzle.
     
  9. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Ditton the rings, though IIRC it was the shed jackets for overpressure handloads not the bullets themselves getting stuck. Also check timing carefully on all old Colts as some have been abused. I carefully dry cycle (easing hammer down) through each chamber making sure lockup is good for six shots in both DA and SA.

    If the PPS is sound, I'd pay $300 to $400 for it as a shooter depending on condition. The .32-20's aren't as common in these parts as the .38 Specials or the PP's in old .38 S&W.

    Also your computer would not post pics. You post them via photobucket or directly as an attachment, but as long as you have an internet and a jpeg you should be able to post.
     
  10. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    But, most of those old guns got ringed barrels many years ago, with factory loads.

    There simply couldn't have been that many handloaders back then.

    Or handloaders bulging only 32-20 WCF barrels, without a similar number of old guns in other calibers with ringed barrels showing up now.

    And there aren't!

    rcmodel
     
  11. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    I agree. Many, many years ago, an old timer back in the Ozarks told me, "They're bad for getting bullets stuck in the barrel" -- and had one with a ringed barrel to prove it. And I know for a fact that he wasn't a handloader.
     
  12. usmcpmi

    usmcpmi Member

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    Wow, I didn't mean to stir up the bullets stuck in the barrel argument. But thanks for the information. I will check the barrel again. So I guess soild lead bullets would be the best way to avoid the lost jacket problem. I have a chance to shoot it this week. I'll do that first then decide. Thanks again. MG
     
  13. usmcpmi

    usmcpmi Member

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    Oh, as far as the picture posting... I have used photobucket, but when I tried to down load it to my post, it never would load. One night I waited over 2 hours waiting for it to load. That after reloading the picture at least 10 different times. MG
     
  14. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    I recommend handloading (I always recommend handloading).

    You'll probably find the .32-20 in two different sections in your reloading manual -- rifle and handgun. Use the powders and loads suggested in the handloading section, and you'll be fine.

    Note also, the .32-20 will outshoot the .32 H&R Magnum by a wide margin, and is about equivallent to the new .327 Mag.
     
  15. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    In Photobucket, you will find four windows with file names in them, named:
    Email & IM
    Direct Link
    HTML Code
    IMG Code

    If you cut & past the bottom window, (or the line next to IMG Code) into a THR post, there should be a picture in your post.

    None of the other three work for me without jumping through hoops.

    rcmodel
     
  16. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    Keith was a good shooter, but he was hardly an engineer. I believe he had no more than a 6th grade education and I have noted that when he had no explanation for events he made up a story to cover it.

    The notion that bullets would stick in a revolver barrel due to losing all the velocity because of the barrel/cylinder gap is preposterous. The effect of the gap on bullet performance is absolutely minuscule.

    I am not aware of revolvers in 32-20 caliber being more prone to bulged barrels than other calibers. I have never head such an assertion until you made it. But I am confident that any gun with a bulged barrel did not get that was because the bullet stopped in the barrel from the B/C gap.

    I still laugh every time I go back and read that.
     
  17. LightningMan

    LightningMan Member

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  18. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    I looked at Sixguns and can't find any reference to a problem with PPS's or any reference to stuck bullets. But I have heard the stuff about barrel bulges before. Given the variations between rifle strength and handgun strength 32-20 loads there was a potential for trouble, it's just that I think a stuck bullet absent a squib is pretty much impossible. Also, there was most certainly handloading before WW2 and the .32-20 was just the sort of round folks liked to work on. It will cut you half in two, after all -)

    Paco has an old Ideal .32-20 tool here:

    http://www.gunblast.com/Paco_OldTools.htm
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2008
  19. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    I have seen several .32-20s with bulged or ringed barrels -- far more than I have seen, say .38 Specials.
     
  20. Seafarer12

    Seafarer12 Member

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    I saw one at a shop here in town a while back for 275. I passd on it because of the small grip. If I could find a S&W in 32-20 I would snatch it up. I really like the 32-20. I just hope Cimmiron offers their 92 model in 32-20 one of these days.
     
  21. MMCSRET

    MMCSRET Member

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    I own, load for and shoot 2 32-20's. 1- Bisley colt 7 1/2, 2- Colt army special 6". Have never heard of the propensity to hang a bullet in the bore. I have done it but not in 32-20. Try Trail Boss powder, It works better than any other powder I've used in 52 yrs. of loading 32-20.
     
  22. Kosh75287

    Kosh75287 Member

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    If memory serves, Elmer Keith's schooling went from 6th grade to some form of "business school" as mentioned in Hell, I was THERE!. At the time I read it, it sounded like roughly the equivalent of an associate's degree from a community college.
    Mr. Keith might not have been a graduate-level engineer, but he was well ahead of the "6th grade graduate" level of instruction, suggestive of "Jethro Bodine" from "The Beverly Hillbillies".
    It should also be noted that he worked in the company of actual engineers, and not a few years in one munitions factory or another during the second world war. While it is difficult to convert experiential learning into classroom learning, I'm more than willing to bet Mr. Keith knew more often than not what he was talking about, whether or not he could explain it in scientific/engineering terms.
     
  23. bigjohnson

    bigjohnson Member

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    I just bought a Colt PPS from a dealer on G**Bro**r for $300 plus $20 for shipping. It is the early skinny-grip model, was made in 1921, has about 75% original finish, and the bore is perfect. I've been shooting it with my handloads (110 LRN on top of 4gr of Unique), and the accuracy is outstanding.
    Based on your description of the gun you are looking at, I would be hesitant to spend more than $150 - $175 for it. The fact that it has been reblued really hurts the value of the gun. Keep your eye on the auction sites, and also the "for sale" boards on this and other shooters' websites, and you may come up with a better gun at a more reasonable price.
     
  24. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Well, I can't vouch for the accuracy of the explanation, but I definitely can vouch for the results. My experience has been that at least 25% of the .32-30 Police Positives I've seen had ringed barrels. Elmer pointed it out, Dave Scovill of Rifle and Handloader pointed it out, Handgunner's Mike Venturino pointed it out... It's not exactly a secret, so caveat emptor.
     
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