Re-tasking my Police Positive Special .32-20

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Michael Tinker Pearce, Nov 10, 2020.

  1. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    I've often thought, for no reason I can articulate, that it would be cool to have a Detective Special in .32-20. I happened to have an early Police Positive Special in .32-20 that I procured for ballistics testing that I had been considering parting with now that I've finished the tests, and I decided to have some fun with it instead. Traditionally Linda encourages me to play on Veteran's day, and for scheduling reasons I was celebrating that today, so...


    WFAdPsu.jpg NzeGUq5.jpg
    I cut and crowned the barrel at 2", made and mounted a custom front sight with a slot cut in the back and filled with enamel. I widened the rear sight aperture as well. I reshaped the right side-front of the trigger-guard for fast access to the trigger. I'd already made stag grips and mounted a Tyler T-Grip so that was covered, and I did a basic trigger-job.

    8CPw1IA.jpg 31b9lkj.jpg

    I fired some test shots over the chronograph at 5 yards because .32-20 isn't a great candidate cartridge for a snubby, and I was curious to see what it could do. Not badly at all, as it turns out. I loaded 90gr. Reverse-HBWCs over 4.9gr. of Power Pistol, and got an average of 925 fps. for 171 ft./lbs, with an ES of 21. It was only five yards but five double-action shots produced a one large ragged hole for a group. I really like this gun; can't wait to get it to a proper range and wring it out. I've discovered it takes very little convincing to get a .327 Quickstrip to accept .32-20 cartridges; I think I need to make a holster for this one; makes a pretty nifty little carry-gun.

    No, I don't shorten the barrel of every revolver I lay hands on, you folks just don't get to see much of the 'stock' guns because they aren't nearly as interesting. :D
     
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  2. golden

    golden Member

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    Michael,

    The problem is that you came up with a solution for a problem that did not exist. I don't mean that to be sarcastic or insulting. My .38 Special revolvers are loaded with the FEDERAL 130 grain HST round. This looks exactly like a hollow base wadcutter loaded in backwards, except it has a jacket and in my testing did not suffer from the tradition problem that loading hollow base wadcutters are known for, namely key holing. This is when the bullet becomes unstable and hits the target sideway, instead of nose on as it is supposed to

    Also, the HST round uses a heavier bullet at nearly the same velocity. Since any .32-20 would be the same size as a .38 Special, I would go that route, instead of making a "FRANKENGUN". I would want at least a 6 inch barrel on a .32-20. Then a hollow point like those used for the .32 H&R or .327 magnum might make sense.

    Jim
     
  3. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Well, yeah, but I don't think "rational" was high on Mr. Pearce's list. "Rational" would probably be something like a subcompact Glock, and anyone who daydreams about one of those needs a therapist.
     
  4. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Gunwriter John Barsness wrote, decades ago, a line that resonated both then and now: "For various irrational but otherwise perfectly valid reasons..."

    That sentiment has neatly defined my interest in handguns for most of my life, and I think your little .32 is just about perfect.
     
  5. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    An interesting take on what could have been.
     
  6. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    Turned out really nice, Mike!
     
  7. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    Thanks for posting pics. You're right - result is interesting. Way cool grips, too. :thumbup:
     
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  8. the Black Spot

    the Black Spot Member

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    Well there's something to drool over...
     
  9. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    Hi Jim- No offense taken but you're addressing the wrong problem; the problem was that I had a gun I was thinking of getting rid of. The solution was to have fun turning it into something unique that appealed to me more. I use the HSTs you reference in my short .38s already, and I think they're terrific. This load resulted from testing to see what might be done in the way of a defensive load in a short-barrel .32-20. The point of both the gun and reload is that I had fun and I like the result; it's only a happy accident that I like both well enough that I would actually consider the result useful enough to carry.
     
  10. Gordon
    • Contributing Member

    Gordon Contributing Member

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    I shoot a long 7.5" SAA .32-20 in SASS and also a Win 1892 32-20 . I also have a 32-20 Colt Army Special with a 6" barrel and a Marlin 27 32-20 pump . I have shied away from Colt Police Positive 32-20 as I consider them quite borderline in strength for some quirk in my thinking .. I know if I was to drop in a Super Speed 80 grain hollow point of which I have a few boxes of, it would be a problem in a Police Positive. I have shot them in the bigger Army Special (Python frame) and the SAA and rifles with zero problems- they are not that hi pressure and the little hollow point FMJ bullets don't expand (in the pistols at least) . But I prefer the heavier 115 grain cast bullets in 32-20 , they work very well.
    Thats a purty gun you made Tinker, I would NOT go any hotter on the load tho .
     
  11. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    My Dad drove a Birmingham city bus and carried a sawn off PPS .32-20 to guard his change box. He was not an enthusiast and it was loaded with whatever the store had on hand. Usually a JSP, I hope the standard velocity. Darn his hide, he sold it cheap after he retired instead of saving it as a family heirloom for me. I do have Mom's Kit Gun and Uncle's Charter.
     
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  12. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    Nice gun!

    However, you always are under threat of attack by the "high capacity 9mm safetyless polystriker club" for even implying your firearm has any application other than range toy.
     
  13. BigBlue 94

    BigBlue 94 Member

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    Sweet PSS! Not a fan of those metal added grip things though... To each their own!

    I had a hankerin for getting a revolver to match my original 1873 in 32-20. Only thing in my price range was a ragged old Colt New Navy that doesn't lock up tight. But i got it for a song and a half, from cabelas of all places. The gun library WILL haggle a bit.

    [​IMG]

    Now i just gotta fix the darned thing!
     
  14. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    Definitely not! The same load with a 100gr. bullet is listed as max pressure for a pistol, and I'm not going to push it in a 'light-weight' 110-year old gun. My target loads are a hundred feet per second slower.
     
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  15. Boarhunter

    Boarhunter Member

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    Such a nice, nice gun...

    My recent distraction is not near so exotic, but your newest experiment is somewhat similar to my newest acquisition...a pristine snubnose Smith 30-1 in 32 S&W long. Like yours, my gun won't deliver performance like modern magnums, but it sure is fun to shoot.

    BOARHUNTER
     
  16. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    I think it looks great. I like when you rearrange a gun a little to make it something you want and most of all something you will use.

    I have the same snubby S&W model 30-1. I load a Lee 94gr SWC with 3grs of Bullseye and it gets right at 850fps. Thats fast enough and safe in a modern 32 long revolver. I have a 431pd in 32 mag if I need faster.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2020
  17. velocette

    velocette Member

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    .32-20 is a great old cartridge. I inherited an 1885 Whitney Rolling Block rifle (yes that Ely Whitney company) that had a rusted out barrel. I had it re-lined in .32-20 and have not only enjoyed it for several years, but it hangs on my wall as a reminder of days past. If I do my job, it gives me 2" groups at 100 yards. Almost no recoil or muzzle blast (muzzle pop?)
    Those old cartridges still work just fine. I hope you enjoy yours as much as I enjoy mine.

    Whitney 2nd model 2 copy.jpg
     
  18. GBExpat

    GBExpat Member

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    Interesting mod.

    I have two 5" .32-20 Police Positive Specials that are almost a dream to shoot.

    "Almost" because the grip is bent a little too far forward to be truly comfortable in my hand. Perhaps if I had tiny hands ...

    And, no, I tried a T-Grip after someone suggested it and that does not improve it.

    Thank goodness the .32-20 is a pussycat (or, at least, that is how mine are with 100gr or 115gr lead over Trailboss @ ±800fps) so that I can still enjoy shooting them even with that malformed grip. :)
     
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  19. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Michael Tinker Pearce:

    Please stay away from my 32-20 guns.


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  20. Jim NE

    Jim NE Member

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    I always like Michael Tinker Pierce's projects. They're innovative and fun to read about. It helps that he's a creative person...and that he also seems like a nice guy. In this case, however, I'd sort of go along with Jim's perspective...mostly out of respect for the originality of old quality firearms, but that's just me. There are always some people who are going to turn a Model A Ford Coupe into a street rod, and others who believe that's been done enough already. But creative people are always going to do something different than the rest of us, so that's just the way it is, and I'm pretty good about living with that. The only interesting gun project I was ever involved in was an unintentional one that happened decades ago when my Raven Saturday Night Special went full auto on me for some reason:D. Never did figure out why that happened.

    I bought a Police Positive in .38 S&W in the last couple of years, and have enjoyed shooting it. It was a gun that was put into service by the Royal Hong Kong Police, I presume from when it was new (which was 1956.) I would love to hear the stories that gun could tell if it could talk. Or maybe I wouldn't.
     
  21. Sarge7402

    Sarge7402 Member

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    Funny thing about the Colt. Their DS and BS snubbies were only in .38 or .22, but their competitor S&W did chamber their round but M&P revolvers also in .32-20 and you could get one with a 2" barrel.
     
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  22. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Tinker

    Bravo and nicely done! Always had some unexplained interest in the .32-20.
     
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  23. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    The DS at least was also available in .32 Colt New Police (.32 S&W Long.) I have a lovely example made in 1949 and it's one of my all-time favorite wheelguns.

    I have a few dozen revolvers and I've modified maybe ten of the ones I still have over the years. At least half of those were cap-and-ball cartridge conversions. There have been a few that were in dreadful condition that I've repaired and restored to function and an attractive appearance, but I leave most of them unmolested. I've parted with a lot of guns over the years because after I had the experience of owning, examining and shooting them they no longer filled a role in my life and I had to decide what to do with them. Most of these I send on their way, intact, to a new owner. It either doesn't feel right to change them or I cannot think of a change that would result in a gun I wanted to keep. Some of them, with no particular history or great value, I change to suit me.

    I'm not a wealthy man, or even well-to-do. This means for the most part I buy cheap or bargain guns; guns that even if the model is collectible the particular example isn't. Too much wear to the finish, somewhat broken, or previously modified guns. These are often purchased with the intent of modifying them, and I feel no compunctions about altering such guns to suit me. Other guns we pay more for, and these are guns I want for what they are; my Mauser C96, my Webley RIC, my Detonics, my Winchester 1906 etc. Guns I will not alter because of their history, or my history with them... or because they are 'just right' they way they are based on my arbitrary assessment of them. I might change the grips or some such, but I make no permanent alterations.

    At the end of the day they are my guns and I'll do with them as I please, but I don't do so willy-nilly or without regard for their history or relevance. The guns that I retain in original condition vastly outnumber the ones I change. Most often I don't post those guns here unless there is some specific, relevant reason to do so. You can be forgiven for assuming I change everything because that's what I usually post, but in fact I don't make any alterations to most of the guns that pass through my hands.
     
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  24. Boarhunter

    Boarhunter Member

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    Tinker,

    I am thinking Driftwood would be so happy if we cut the barrels a bit on those guns of his...anything longer than 2" is a waste.

    BOARHUNTER

    EDIT: Let me be more specific...:) A barrel longer than 2" is a waste.
     
  25. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    Don't be silly. The lever-gun needs at least 6". :D
     
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