Quantcast

Early 32-20 S&W pistol ammo reloading with black powder

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by heloderm, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. heloderm

    heloderm Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    17
    Is it possible to load the 32-20 pistol ammo using the 20 grains of BP. I have a vintage 32-20 S&W pistol dated at or before the 1900's. Is it possible using new brass with pistol primers with between a 80 to 100 grain lead bullet. Is there any difference between BP in that day compared to BP used today. The 32-20 rifles of that day also used the same ammo I gather. Is the reloading rifle ammo versus pistol ammo the same or different. When reloading the BP CTG's does the bullet compress the BP in the casing similar to reloading shotgun shells or traditional BP rifles when loading from the business end.
     
    damoc likes this.
  2. damoc

    damoc Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    510
    Location:
    NV
    Its pretty easy just fill the case so you have just a small amount of compression but not too much or you can damage the case during crimping. Here I am reloading some .32 SW with blackpowder.
     
    TheOutlawKid likes this.
  3. heloderm

    heloderm Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    17
    Thanks for the video. From what I have read, reloaders like yourself complain that the 32-20 is very difficult to load. The brass has a shoulder and is very thin causing casing to rupture or foul while reloading. Also stated, only solid lead flat nose bullets only not conical or pointed can be used. Some shooters on the blogs have stated they have used 32cal.Sp. in these guns which I understand risks damaging the chambers because there is a shoulder in the 32-20 chamber. Maybe it is the shoulder that makes the brass so thin at the neck. Thanks again your video was stunning!
     
    damoc likes this.
  4. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2016
    Messages:
    2,123
    What bullet is that with the semi wadcutter profile?

    As for .32 ACP, if you have or ever come across a supply of brass you can trim it down to fit the cylinder and load that with black powder.
     
    damoc likes this.
  5. damoc

    damoc Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    510
    Location:
    NV
    Its a bullet made from this mold https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1010195352?pid=115225
     
    Gordon likes this.
  6. Flintshooter

    Flintshooter Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2019
    Messages:
    261
    At one time I reloaded a lot of 32/20 for a Browning 53 Winchester copy and a 1940 S&W Hand Ejector. The rifle rounds were hotter and I kept the two easily identifiable by always loading flat nose 115 grain bullets in the rifle rounds and eighty something grain round nose in the revolver rounds. I don’t recall having any trouble reloading with either of the two bullets.
    I have read multiple sources claim that Starline brass is a little stronger than some other brass, and as I prepare to start loading the round again, this time for a Uberti Cattleman revolver, Starline is where I bought my brass.
    Starting out I will be using the same bullet I used in the S&W, a Lyman 313249
     
    Gordon likes this.
  7. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    27,265
    Is it possible to load the 32-20 pistol ammo using the 20 grains of BP?

    You probably can't get 20 grains of powder in modern drawn brass. The actual load is determined by whatever it takes to fill the case with no airspace and with a bit of compression.

    I have a vintage 32-20 S&W pistol dated at or before the 1900's. Is it possible using new brass with pistol primers with between a 80 to 100 grain lead bullet.

    Sure, done regularly. And, as we pointed out in your other thread, your S&W IS "rated for smokeless powder."

    Is there any difference between BP in that day compared to BP used today.

    Yes, but not the way you think. The old stuff was better. You have to go to a premium brand like Swiss or Olde Eynsford to get close. Not that it matters in plinking loads for a revolver.

    The 32-20 rifles of that day also used the same ammo I gather. Is the reloading rifle ammo versus pistol ammo the same or different. When reloading the BP CTG's does the bullet compress the BP in the casing similar to reloading shotgun shells or traditional BP rifles when loading from the business end.

    Yes, same, yes. You just have to avoid compressing so much as to deform the lead bullet. BPCR loading usually has a separate compression die. Not something pistol and carbine shooters bother with.

    From what I have read, reloaders like yourself complain that the 32-20 is very difficult to load. The brass has a shoulder and is very thin causing casing to rupture or foul while reloading.

    Only if you don't use a little more care. I have loaded a lot of similarly thin .44-40 and the only cautions are to guide the case into the die so as to not crumple the mouth and to get the crimp adjusted right.

    Also stated, only solid lead flat nose bullets only not conical or pointed can be used.

    Does not apply to revolvers; the flat nose bullet requirement is for tubular magazine rifles.

    Some shooters on the blogs have stated they have used 32cal.Sp. in these guns which I understand risks damaging the chambers because there is a shoulder in the 32-20 chamber.

    I am not sure what you mean by "32cal.Sp" although some of the old timers called .32 S&W Long ".32 Special." It is not interchangeable in .32-20.
     
    Gordon, DocRock, damoc and 1 other person like this.
  8. heloderm

    heloderm Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    17
    Thanks for the replies. Wonderful and impressive. One other issue is when reloading pistol ammo is a specific pistol primer used and with the rifle is a specific rifle primer used. Also has there been any data on comparing BP loads vs smokeless loads. The problem I understand is that there is so many different smokeless powders and each has its own qualities. The early S&W pistol and rifles before 1914 did not use smokeless powder. Hardened steel frames or chambers were not needed I believe for the BP loads. The newer 32-20 loads all have smokeless powder and the different smokeless powders all have different burn rates and performance rating. But all the smokeless powers are all much more powerful than BP that has a maximum pressure whereas smokeless powder is far more wide range. High velocity bullets for example in the 32-20 caliber, how much more powerful are they than standard loads. Smokeless is a propellant not an explosive like BP but everywhere reference is made to BP as a propellant. http://www.sixguns.com/tests/tt3220.htm
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2020
  9. heloderm

    heloderm Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    17
    How did you make the rifle rounds hotter. I read somewhere that only flat nose bullets should be used in 32-20 BP pistol ammo. http://www.chuckhawks.com/muzzleloading_pressure.htm Good luck with your Uberti Cattleman revolver.
     
  10. heloderm

    heloderm Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    17
    https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog...-32-20-wcf-the-first-magnum-pistol-cartridge/ If the orginal load for the 32-20 was interchangable between rifle and gun then the flat nose solid lead bullet would be the best choice for the cowboy. http://smith-wessonforum.com/ammo/99705-32-20-ammo-colt-revolver.html
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2020
  11. Flintshooter

    Flintshooter Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2019
    Messages:
    261
    I was using smokeless, and at the time all the reloading manuals I had or could find gave loads that were too hot for revolvers. The trick was finding a milder load for the hand ejector. It’s been so long that I couldn’t even hazard a guess what kind of powder I using for the rifle let alone the charge. The pistol was the eighty something grain round nose ahead of four grains of Unique.
    I think someone else has already mentioned it, but I’ll repeat it. The shape of the bullet in a revolver doesn’t make any difference. Either flat nose or round nose is okay. Where the shape DOES make a difference is when you are using the cartridges in a tubular magazine rifle like a lever action. In that case it is flat nose only because of the possibility of a round nose bullet firing the cartridge in front of it.
     
    damoc likes this.
  12. heloderm

    heloderm Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    17
    What is meant by a tubular magazine rifle using a round nose or a flat nose. A pistol is rifled along with a rifle rifling. Is it the length of the barrel or just something our daddys' told us we all came to believe was correct. My gut says the flat nose is better for accuracy since it has more contact with the rifling, more surface area. A cannon ball is round and is used in a long barrel with sufficent pressure to move a house behind it. Why wouldn't a flat nose be better for a shorter barrel. I hope you can open the historical review I found.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Flintshooter

    Flintshooter Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2019
    Messages:
    261
    Okay, let’s start with your gut feeling about the flat nose being more accurate because of more contact with the rifling. Your gut is lying to you. Google ballistic coefficient. In addition to the shape in general, the bearing surface of the bullet to the barrel might not be all that important. I have in my tool box an experimental bullet given to me by Louis Palmisano, co-developer of the .22 and 6mm PPC cartridge. He called it a VLD for very low drag. For the caliber it is a very long bullet, but only about 1/4 of that length contacts the rifling. And that bullet was designed with one thought in mind. Putting them all in the same hole at the longest distance possible
    Artillery isn’t in my area of knowledge, but I think most, if not all, cannons using round balls as projectiles are smoothbore. Rifling doesn’t enter the picture. And not all of those cannons had long barrels. Actually, if you compare bore size to barrel length, most cannon barrels would be comparable to a hand gun, with howitzers being the snub noses.
    Here’s the bottom line.
    There is a lot written about accuracy and how to obtain it. Some of the info is good, some of the info is drivel. And except for rifles shooting off a rest with a good piece of glass, about 98% of the good advice is acedemic because the biggest factor in accuracy is the person pulling the trigger. In a handgun, for most shooters, any advantages in accuracy one bullet design has over another is going to be cancelled out by the person pulling the trigger.
    If you are using the gun to hunt with there will be some advantage to using a heavier bullet. But for plinking the 84 grain round nose will punch holes in paper and pop cans just as well as the 115 flat nose. In my case the accuracy would be identical.
    Guys and gals at Friendship have been shooting tight groups with pistols firing round balls since the early 1940s. You can’t get any more round nosed than a round ball.
     
    woodnbow and The Old Redneck like this.
  14. heloderm

    heloderm Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    17
    Hope you enjoyed the historical black powder science paper. I'll switch to the Lyman you recommended.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2020
  15. Cowhide Cliff

    Cowhide Cliff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    558
    I shoot 32-20 in cowboy action. 17 grains of 3f Olde Eynsford powder under a 311008 lyman bullet. You can get the molds or buffalo arms sells just the bullets.
     
    Gordon likes this.
  16. heloderm

    heloderm Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    17
    Is there a specific pistol primer that you use. I searched Redding 32-20 reloading dies and found ones that are called Deluxe Die Set for Bottle Neck Cases. It is a three piece set. I believe the expert eariler mentioned -compression die- I assume he was referencing the
    • Full Length Sizer Die (with decapping unit)
    • Expander Die for Pistol Sets and Neck Sizing Die for Rifle Sets
    • Profile or Taper Crimp Seater Die (with built in crimping ring and seater plug) Does anyone have a comment on these type of dies.
     
  17. Cowhide Cliff

    Cowhide Cliff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    558
    I'm sure those are fine but I've always had best luck and preferred RCBS Cowboy dies for the WCF cartridges. 32-20 44-40 etc.
    I do not crimp with the die, I use Lee factory crimp die. I've heard a lot of nightmares of people having trouble with crushing cases on these then bottlenecked cases. The Lee factory crimp die is your friend. I've never crushed a case that I recall but was aware of the issue so avoided it from the start .

    I havent found any need to use a compression die with these pistol caliber black powder loads I just let the bullet compress the powder. Only time I've used compression die is with the 44-40 on some long range loads but even then I can't really say it makes a difference.

    I use standard Federal and Winchester pistol primers. One for black powder and one for smokeless. Only reason is because the color of the primer lets me tell if they are smokeless or black powder loads since I shoot black powder and my wife shoots smokeless in cowboy action and our gear get mixed together at times. Either primer works fine.

    Your mileage may vary but this is how I do it. I've loaded and my wife and I have shot thousands of 32 and 44 wcf cartridges.
     
    Gordon likes this.
  18. heloderm

    heloderm Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    17
    What are you using to measure powder before you pour it into the shell casing. Also do you lube your casing to put the primer or bullet in. Also how do you tell how much pressure you are putting when loadng the bullett.
     
  19. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2016
    Messages:
    2,358
    I feel the need to say something. (Forgive me if someone beat me to it and I missed as I read through.)

    Vintage 32-20 ammo is different between Rifle and Pistol. Rifles of the day had stronger chambers than revolvers of the day and thus they handled more powerful ammo. DO NOT use "rifle" marked ammo in a revolver, even one that is rated for smokeless powder. Winchester boxes are marked Rifle Ammunition (for rifles only) and, IIRC, Centerfire Ammunition for handgun (and, by default, rifle as well)

    Also, the reason for flat pointed projectiles in rifles, and I'm surprised no one has stated this yet, is that the predominant rifle model of the day, chambered in 32-20, was the Winchester Model 92 lever gun. There is a long standing (century and a half) known issue that you never put pointed ammo in a tube fed gun because the projectile of one cartridge might possibly set off the primer of the bullet in front of it causing the tube magazine to rupture.
     
    Cowhide Cliff and woodnbow like this.
  20. Flintshooter

    Flintshooter Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2019
    Messages:
    261
    It’s been mentioned twice
     
  21. Flintshooter

    Flintshooter Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2019
    Messages:
    261
    Most if not all reloading manuals will cover these questions, and if you are just starting out you really should have at least one.
    The dies come with directions that cover some of it as well.
     
  22. Flintshooter

    Flintshooter Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2019
    Messages:
    261
    Okay, that that I’ve had two cups of coffee.....
    I used to load some 45/70 with black powder. The measure I used was a Belding and Mull which is a little slower to use than most measures but noted for consistency. I used a twenty inch drop tube to fill the cases but I don’t really think that would be necessary with a case as small as 32/20.
    Get on eBay and find a used Belding and Mull or Lyman/Ideal 55 powder measure. Some will argue that the 55 is not for black powder but a lot of folks have been using them for black for many years with no problems.
    When you decide which bullet you are going to use, figure where the base will be when it is seated to the crimping groove. Then adjust whatever measure you have so it throws the amount of powder that will fill the case to just a tad more than the spot where the base of the bullet will be. It’s pretty hard to screw up with black powder, a fact proven regularly by all the shooters using ridiculously high charges trying to get /06 performance from a muzzleloader.
    If you get a B&M measure try to get one with a factory charge tube. I’m guessing that most of the adjustable tube measures for muzzleloaders would work but I don’t know for sure.
     
    woodnbow likes this.
  23. heloderm

    heloderm Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    17
    Thanks, My dad had an old Belding and Mull we used when we were kids and all together. Thanks for bringing back that memory.
     
  24. Cowhide Cliff

    Cowhide Cliff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    558
    Another interesting thing probably worth pointing out. When saying vintage if you consider "the day" being close to 20 some odd years after the cartridge was invented. Actually when the cartridge was invented no there was no difference because they were all black powder until close to the turn of the century.

    The "rifle" marked ammo came along after the turn of the century and as you say intended for use in the model 92 rifles and such because they would have been marked for smokeless. I'm not sure if any original 1873 rifles were ever marked for smokeless powder as I've never owned one that new. Think of the "rifle" marked vintage ammo being like +P ammo today.

    The 32wcf "Winchester central fire" or later known as 32-20, started out as a small game black powder rifle cartridge chambering for the 73 Winchester and soon picked up by Colt and lived into the 20th century in many firearms and was fairly popular chambering in revolvers into the smokeless era.

    People have to remember when dealing with very old cartridges like this is that a lot of things changed in the late 19th century shortly after cartridges like the 32-20, 45 colt, 44-40, etc were designed and those cartridges lived through those changes. Changes in the types of propellants, the projectiles used, to the designs and metallurgy in firearms to withstand those changes. Back then when common sense prevailed they could box ammo for specific applications and life went on. Any commercial 32-20 ammo I've shot was pretty weak and I'm sure because ammo manufactures today no longer assume common sense prevails.

    It's definitely best to stay on the side of caution when loading ammo in cartridges like this and if in doubt have your gun looked at by a qualified gunsmith and get their opinion.
     
    D.B. Cooper likes this.
  25. Cowhide Cliff

    Cowhide Cliff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    558
    You don't really need any of that for loading black powder pistol cartridges. That said I have one of the Lyman 55 black powder throwers but don't even use it for pistol cartridges. Just find the lee dipper that fills the case within about an 1/8 inch from the top and let the bullet compress it. I actually load on a Dillion 550B without the hopper for my BP loads and with the funnel setup on the expander. When I pull the handle down and dip with my other hand and when the cartridge is up dump in by hand. Just as fast as working the handle on the thrower and I don't have a big hopper of black powder in my face.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice