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32-20 info

laogailaogai Member Posts: 309 ✭✭✭
edited November 2011 in Ask the Experts
a good friend wants me to reload for his 32-20 revolver, which i'm happy to do. however it seems that some used .312 bullets and some 308, but i don't know if that is true for both rifles and revolvers. i've asked him for more info and a photo but what i have now is this description:
"This revolver was my grandfather's gun that he used in the Tulsa Police Department. It says on the gun police select positive I believe. I will check more to make sure. It is a colt six shooter revolver."
he is mid-60's himself.
not too precise i know, and i'll post more info when received, but can anyone help me in selecting the correct bullet and load? will be used for casual plinking and any coyotes he may run across, so just a standard safe basic load is fine.
thanks

Comments

  • nmyersnmyers Member Posts: 16,797 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I once looked into .32-20 reloading, & found the data confusing. My old Lyman reloading book shows it only as a rifle load, & indicates sizing to .311-.312". The book cautions that the loads shown should not be used in a handgun, but that leaves the question, "What loads ARE safe in handguns?" Never found an answer.

    His gun may be a Police Positive Special, but be sure that you see the barrel markings. There were several .32 rounds for this gun, so verify that .32-20 is correct for his.

    I have a partial box of Winchester factory rounds. I will be glad to give them to you for your friend, as brass is difficult to find.

    Spanishrevolverleft.jpg

    Neal
  • TfloggerTflogger Member Posts: 3,056 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    My 32-20 Colt Police Positive Special shoots .312 112gr. cast bullets with a moderate charge of Unique inside 2 inches.
    I don't post loads online because I can't see your weapon from here, a websearch will turn up some info. A Lyman or Lee cast bullet manual is a good thing to have even if you are using swaged bullets.
    I have shot swaged .314 semi-wadcutters, but the group opened up to 3-4 inches.
  • 45er45er Member Posts: 245 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Howdy loagai,

    Frank Barnes lists two revolver loads with 115gr. lead bullets pushed at:
    5-gr Unique @ 980 f.p.s.
    3-gr Bullseye @ 840 f.p.s.

    Can't see how .308 diam. would benefit and cannot find any info using them? Your source?

    The Colt should of course be marked the caliber as nmyers said, (and hats off for his offer), and Tflog uses the .312, but if in question can be barrel slugged easily enough.

    EDIT: As Hawk stated, "...load levels listed in a recent handbook". Right. But there's the problemo-- hard to find for this round in handgun specs, or someone here would have already given? Which as since asked for I gave F. Barnes published load, while internet forums spout stuff all day long, (not that they are incorrect necessarily). Too, before posting I'd double checked my reloading manuals and the listed loads are in tune with other strickly .32 handgun cartridges. Of course, always start out 10% lower.


    45er
  • tsr1965tsr1965 Member Posts: 8,682 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    If you slug the bore to find out the bore/rifling dimensions, and take a measurement of the leade in the front of the cylinder's diameter, we can give you a good idea of what diameter of cast bullet will shoot well in your friends revolver.

    To slug the bore, use a pure lead round ball for a 36 cal muzzle loader. Lube the bore well and drive the ball thru the barrel with a wooden dowel, from the muzzle to breech.

    The dimensions of the lands and groove will tell you what diameter bullet you need to be shooting.

    Best

    EDIT 1

    Over at the Hodgdon reloding site

    http://data.hodgdon.com/cartridge_load.asp

    They do have loads listed for the 32-20 in handguns. As I suspected, Trailboss is great for use in cast lead loads. I use it for everything from 38 special, to 41 magnum, 44 magnum, and 45-70 for cast bullet loads.

    They use 0.312" diameter for jacketed bullets, and 0.314" diameter for cast bullets.

    Best
  • Hawk CarseHawk Carse Member Posts: 4,320 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Load it with .312" bullets at levels listed in a recent handbook.

    As far as "recent handbooks" go, my Lyman 49th has .32-20 data.
    I am a little leery about Barnes' CotW loads, they don't always say where they get their numbers. My present copy (12th edition0 doesn't have any pistol powder loads for it at all.
    45r and Frank Barnes' 5 gr of Unique is heavier than Lyman or Ken Waters shows by a good deal, all they want is 4 grains with a 115 gr cast bullet. His 3 gr of Bullseye is OK by Waters but the current Lyman does not show Bull at all.

    The stuff about .308" bullets is largely for things like Contenders that use a regular .30 cal barrel. Sometimes called the .30-20 to differentiate from the traditional Winchester/Colt guns.
  • laogailaogai Member Posts: 309 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    thanks Neal for both the information and offer. I'd appreciate anything I can do for this friend. he does a lot for me, my co-worker and our non-profit--not to mention just being a fine brother.

    if you wish you can send the shells to China Harvest, 4628 w central, wichita ks 67212,
    316-942-8295

    gar
  • laogailaogai Member Posts: 309 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    many thanks to each of you, esp Neal of course, for your input. i've been reloading for 30 years but never for such an old cartridge and don't know much about such. basically I'm a hunter who likes to reload and practice, as well as save friends the cost of buying new ammo. i've never cast bullets and so will need to buy some.
    here is one site that made the point about .312 cp .308, hence my concern: http://www.reloadammo.com/3220.htm

    Thanks again
    gar
  • rufe-snowrufe-snow Member Posts: 18,649 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    That 3 grain load 45er has given is a safe load in my experience, as long as the revolver is a S & W or a Colt. You do have to watch out for the various Spanish made knock-offs though. Some are marked very confusingly to give gullible folks the idea that they are quality U.S. made revolvers.

    I have loaded for a number of foreign made military revolvers over the years. Although they are chambered for metric cartridges of approximately 30 caliber, are 32-20 brass can be used for reloading. I use 3 grains of a fast burning powder with a burning rate similar to bullseye as a starting load, with bullets weights between 90 and 115 grains depending on bore diameter.
  • v35v35 Member Posts: 13,200
    edited November -1
    Use .311-.312 lead bullets 100-115 grain ,not jacketed.
    .308 should definitely be too small.
    Don't use any loads meant for rifle or you will bulge chambers on Colt Police Positive or S&W Hand ejector K frame guns.
    Single action Colts can handle heavy loads but these can't.
  • laogailaogai Member Posts: 309 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    just for informing those who've responded so helpfully, here are some details on the gun:

    "The following is as good as I can read it.
    Police special 32-20 WCF
    Positive ( On the gun only one large P )

    Colt's PTFA 1/ 1-000 Hartford Ct. USA
    PATD AUG 5,1884 UNF6,1900 JULY4,1905
    Serial number 329418
    G"
  • TfloggerTflogger Member Posts: 3,056 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by laogai
    just for informing those who've responded so helpfully, here are some details on the gun:

    "The following is as good as I can read it.
    Police special 32-20 WCF
    Positive ( On the gun only one large P )

    Colt's PTFA 1/ 1-000 Hartford Ct. USA
    PATD AUG 5,1884 UNF6,1900 JULY4,1905
    Serial number 329418
    G"

    Mine is marked the same, except for the ser# being 325xxx.
    Mine has a 6in. barrel.
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