Reloading .32-20 Winchester

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by jski, Aug 28, 2021.

  1. jski

    jski Member

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    I have a Colt Police Positive Special I recently inherited with a 6” barrel. The pistol itself is in mint condition. Mechanically, it’s a Swiss clock. So I’ve decided to reload for it. And it is chambered in .32-20 Winchester.

    One question I’d like to ask right off is: Are there an issues with the thicknesses of the case wall? I plan to use Starline brass and there is no mention of this being an issue. Usually Starline will mention this in their little blurb that goes along with the brass.
    upload_2021-8-28_3-38-46.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2021
  2. GBExpat

    GBExpat Member

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    Congrats on the fine-looking pistol!

    I have been reloading .32-20 for several years (6 .32-20 revolvers + 1 rifle). All that I use is (excellent!) Starline brass. No Issues.

    Keep in mind that since the cases are necked, the resizing die will be all-steel (no carbide ring) and, therefore, you will need to lube the cases. ;)

    I developed 2 mild loads (800fps+) with Trailboss for 100gr & 115gr lead bullets. They are very accurate, don't overstress that old revolvers and also shoot well in the rifle (~1922 Marlin 27S pump).

    I also developed 2 higher-pressure rifle-only loads (1400fps±) with IMR4227 for 85gr & 100gr Hornady XPS.

    Two of my pistols are Colt Police Positive Specials (5") and the "tucked-under/bent-forward" grips are very uncomfortable for me. The rear of the trigger guard abuses the top of my driving finger. Thank goodness the recoil on these great little .32WCF revolvers is so mild or I would probably not be able to shoot them more than a few rounds at a time.

    And for those about to suggest it ... no, Tyler T-Grips provide zero relief for me ... but, perhaps, they would help others. ;)
     
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  3. MEHavey

    MEHavey Member

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    Zero issues/problems,
    Despite "Internet Lore," the 32-20 reloads like any other case.
     
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  4. jski

    jski Member

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    I have 4 lbs of Hodgdon’s Universal Clays that should have been here yesterday. In addition, I have Titegroup and H110. So, I figure I have things covered. I’ve seen recipes for at 3 powders in Handloader magazine for the .32-20. So any suggestions?

    BTW, I just happened to be talking to a Brownell’s rep when she said: I see you’re interested in Clays. We just got some in stock. It was gone within an hour.
     
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  5. blue32

    blue32 Member

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    I went up to (the following data exceeds published maximum loads in pistols for this cartridge) 11.5 gr of H110 under the rcbs 98-swc SWC in my SAA repro. 1,352 fps from a 5.5" barrel but the spread was 100 fps. Lighter charges produced greater spreads. I wouldn't recommend it for your Colt. Never used Universal Clays or Titegroup, but any fast pistol powder will work well and try 2400 if you can find some. If that was my gun I'd try to get a 100 - 115 gr lead bullet going right around 825 fps.

    Hopefully this will get you started:
    100.JPG
    115.JPG
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2021
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  6. jski

    jski Member

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    The thing that raised concern for me was this in the little blurb on their 44-40 brass:
    I thought: Does this apply to other “WCF” cartridges? In particular, the 32WCF?
     
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  7. GBExpat

    GBExpat Member

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    Actually, when I first inspected some of the ancient fired cases (possibly fired by my maternal grandfather 60+ years ago) I was concerned by how thin the brass looked compared to the brass of the many different cartridge types that I have reloaded for decades.

    I was happy to find that the Starline brass cases appeared to be of what my eye considered a normal thickness. I left those old fired cases in the box with the old unfired cartridges. ;)

    I have reloaded my Starline .32-20 (and .44spc) brass for at least 6 years now and experienced zero issues with its quality or construction.

    Enjoy!
     
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  8. Average Joe

    Average Joe Member

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    Starline brass, no issues here, works great.
     
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  9. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    This exactly ^^^^

    I prefer 3.5gr of Unique under the Hunter’s cast 115gr and use data from a 1955 Ideal manual with a variety of lead and jacketed projectiles. My advice is to slug the bore and throats before deciding on bullets. All of mine are .312” now but I had a S&W second model hand ejector (a round butt!) that was .314”. There was some variety of changes to the .32-20 during the black powder to smokeless transition and the Special came long after but double check to make sure just in case.
     
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  10. GBExpat

    GBExpat Member

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    <nodding>

    My Marlin rifle is .311, my S&W 1905 H/Es .312 and my Colts .313.

    Lovely ... just one additional factor to consider & test when trying to develop a load to use across all three. ;)
     
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  11. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    Yup. I have passed on some real nice old .32’s because I decided to settle on one set of projectiles. Funny thing is, before I made the decision to sell off all my .32-20’s with larger throats (bigger than .313”) I hardly ever saw a .32-20 revolver for sale. Since the plandemic started I been offered a couple out of the blue and both were .314” throats. Not sure if I should call it resisting temptation or missing an opportunity. :scrutiny:
     
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  12. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    Old school data. Hope it helps.
    image.jpg
     
  13. JT-AR-MG42

    JT-AR-MG42 Member

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    I load for my 32-20's for Colt (3rd gen.) Single Actions.
    112 gr. .314 sized bullets.
    All my smokeless loading is done on a 550, so I made a switch from
    the standard bell insert that is included with the shellplate kit (on the right).

    The insert pictured on the left is Dillon's solution for case expanding (the various .32 calibers)
    when seating the longer bullets, especially the lead HBWC.
    I find it handy for use in 32-20 to save an occasional case neck.
    32-4.jpg

    JT
     
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  14. jski

    jski Member

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    This is an excellent episode by a guy who uses the classic Hollywood Senior reloading presses.
     
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  15. Archie

    Archie Member

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    The only concession I make to the potentially 'thin brass' problem is to be very careful and bell cases to fit the bullet.
    And don't try to over crimp or the neck of the case can buckle.
    You'll figure out by going slow.
     
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  16. jski

    jski Member

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    I think I’ll call Starline tomorrow and ask them about this. It would be an easy thing to do to simply add a few thousandths of an inch to the case mouth.
     
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  17. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Sweet little six shooter, enjoy.

    I have not had any issues with .32-20 brass, been using Starline. I lightly taper crimp WC's, and lightly roll crimp jacketed and coated lead with crimp grooves.

    My .32-20 is a Model 1905. I load them light. Lots of fun.
     
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  18. Archie

    Archie Member

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    I'm not sure I've ever used Starline in .32-20. I think most of mine is WW or Rem, so it's mainly for the 'older' sort. I don't think it will seriously hurt anything to try a few and see.
     
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  19. jag22

    jag22 Member

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    A couple of thoughts on this. First, they are out of 32-20 and my guess would be at least a year before they make it again. Could be longer but these days who knows. The way you worded your last post it reads like you want them to make some longer for you. Is that right? I don’t see that happening.
    It’s a great caliber, I load for several pistols and rifles and just got some coated bullets from Missouri Bullets that I’m anxious to try out.
     
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  20. jski

    jski Member

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    I called Starline today and spoke with their ballistician. I asked about the case mouth thickness and he indeed informed me that they are thin. As a matter of fact, he said all Big-3 WCF cartridges (44-40, 38-40, and 32-20) have thin case mouths. But he claimed that Starline’s are “much” stronger than the “others” and shouldn’t be a problem.
     
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  21. jski

    jski Member

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    I almost forgot. What about crimping this brass? In particular, I am curious about Redding’s Profile Crimp dies. These seem to be quite popular for the WCF cartridges.
    upload_2021-9-1_4-6-48.jpeg
     
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  22. jski

    jski Member

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    From Starline Brass:

    Our .32-20 brass isn't really any thinner than any other brand. That is just the way the caliber was designed. I haven't messed with any of the other brands of 32-20 in quite some time, but I think our brass is a little bit stiffer than most.
     
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  23. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    I use the Redding seater to lightly roll crimp jacketed or lead/coated lead with a crimp groove.

    I use a Lee .32 Long taper crimp die for plated and coated lead WCs
     
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  24. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Like everyone else, I've had no problems loading 32-20 ammunition. When I got my first 32-20 gun, I bought a couple of boxes of ammunition from a small reloading company. I forget the name or the head stamp on the cases but they reload fine. I've bought a large quantity of Starline 32-20 cases since to keep me supplied. they also reload without issue or damaged cases.

    Just do not get ham fisted and try to power through a reloading step and your cases will last for a long time.

    I shoot cast in my 32-20's and put a light crimp in the bullet's crimp groove.

    I also load them light and shoot them in a 1920 vintage S&W K-frame and a 1890 vintage Winchester 1873. Lots of fun.

    If I want more power in a 32 caliber gun, I have a 327 Fed Mag handgun and rifle. The 32-20's are for fun range plinking.

    As a side note, I like the Winchester 1873 so much, I bought a 357 Mag Winchester/Miroku 1873.
     
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  25. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    This thread inspired me to get off my but and load my .32-20 cases. When I bought my M-1905 in .32-20 some years back the only brass I could find was some Starline nickle cases, bought 200 of them. I opened one box of 100 and have been using those for testing and playing. I hadn't owned a .32-20 since my early 20's. I didn't keep it long.

    I have had a lot of neck splits with these nickle cases, sometimes when sizing, but often times, like today, when expanding them. Oh, and lube dents in the shoulders if I put on too much lube. I have 53 cases left after the two neck splits today. In their defense, they have a lot of loadings on them. I used Load # 43 today, which of course has already been tested. I still have the other box of 100 new Starline nickle cases, but intend to buy some brass cases.
     

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