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Thread: Marlin Model ‘92 in 32 Colt.

  1. #1

    Marlin Model ‘92 in 32 Colt.

    I had been looking for one of these for the last couple of years and although there are plenty of them on the internet for sale (Guns International and Gunbroker) I could never find one at a price I could wanted to pay.

    Well, while staggering through a local Gunshow this weekend, I came across this one:



    The guy who had it for sale was surprised I knew what it was (especially when I asked him what firing pin was in it or whether it came with both) and after a good bit of talking (general conversation about how long he had it and whether or not he had fired it) we got to haggling and I walked out with it for $475.00.

    During our rather lengthy back and forth talking about the rifle it appears he had bought it/traded for it up in Denver a few months ago and he had never looked at it that close.

    The seller stated that the guy who sold it to him said it had the rimfire firing pin installed and based on that bit of information we started working down from $650 and settled in the aforementioned price of $475.

    Condition wise (for its age) it’s in pretty good shape.

    The bore is shiney throughout it’s length, the muzzle face is square and free of dings, (sadly) the sights are not original (a not insignificant haggling point) and the metal finish is a smooth full brown patina with very little pitting/corrosion and the stock and forearm (while lightly dinged/scratched) are free of cracks/splits.

    The action is tight, lever and bolt function smooth as glass.

    The magazine tube is straight and moves freely in and out of its outer tube and locks into the barrel as it should.

    Even though the seller said it had the rimfire firing pin I knew I could find one with little difficulty so we closed the deal.

    Here are few more pics:










    Once I got the rifle home I removed the side plate and inspected the insides to ensure there were no hidden mechanical issues and while disassembling the bolt I noticed it had the centerfire pin in it (not the rimfire as the seller had told me) so that saved me about 40 dollars right there.

    Then I looked at the bore again with a stronger bore-light and I was amazed at its condition.

    It having the centerfire pin and the condition of the bore being so good it got me to thinking “could it have been rechambered to 32 S&W Long”?

    Could I be that lucky?

    32 Long/Short Colt ammo and reloading does are scarce as hens teeth and you’ll go bow legged and blind looking for both/either.

    Well, I rooted around in one of my junk Ammo bins and came across a single round of 32 S&W Long and tried it in the chamber and sadly it didn’t fit.

    So, now I have a Marlin Model 92 in 32 Long with a centerfire pin in it and I gotta find ammo because I’m itching to shoot it.

    I spent all Saturday night at work scouring the internet for anything 32 Long/Short Colt related and came across a significant amount of info in the Marlin Owners Forum but dies and components were gonna be a bit of a chore to compile.

    Well, I had to go back to the Gunshow on Sunday to pick up some custom target frames I was having built by a local vendor and figured I’d look at every table and see what I could find reference loaded ammo/components for the 32 Colt.

    Now, if you don’t know, anything in the way of 32 Colt ammo is going to be expensive (Buffalo Arms has their converted 32 short Colt in stock for a hundred bucks a box of 50) so I wasn’t expecting to find anything and if I did I figured it would be expensive.

    After hitting every table and digging through every cigar box and junk ammo bin at the show I came across these:



    Guy had the marked at $25.00 a box but when I opened the boxes the Bullets were corroded rather badly.



    I started to point out the corrosion and the seller knew I was gonna start beating him down on the price and he said “if you want them you can have them for $10.00 a box”.

    I said “Sold!” And reached fo my money so fast I almost wrenched my back.

    Now, some may be thinking, “that’s not corrosion, it’s just the lube on the Bullet that has hardened and crusted up over time” (and that was my hope as well) but when I got them home that junk had to be removed with a wire wheel (the detritus was hard and coarse as beach sand) and dumping them in my vibratory tumbler for 6 hours didn’t even phase that crust.

    As previously stated I eventually had to use a wire wheel to clean them up and once
    got all the crust off the Bullets and coated the with Alox and let them sit overnight in anticipation of firing them this morning.

    To be continued....

  2. #2
    Boolit Master corbinace's Avatar
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    You are a very lucky man today, congratulations on the finds.

  3. #3
    So, fast forward to this morning, I run out to my local shooting area at around 0600 and get set up to check this little Marlin out

    Now remember I’m shooting a hundred year old rifle with what is probably 50 year old ammo (that I had to wire wheel all the corrosion off of) so I’m not expecting too much so I set up my target at 25 yards and let fly with the little 80 grain pills.

    I was astonished at how quiet this rifle is firing the 32 Short Colt.

    Velocity of the rounds (over my Magneto Speed Chrono) showed those little Bullets were cruising along at a rather sedate 865 FPS.

    Accuracy (by my measure) was extremely good:

    The first 5 rounds went into about an inch at 25 yards:

    Point of aim was the bottom point on the diamond:


    I was surprised (and relieved) that the rifle shot to the sights as they are not adjustable for elevation (without filing the front post) and have to be drifted in the dovetail for windage (whoever has been shooting it in the distant past had sighted it in with factory 32 Short Colt ammo).

    Next I set up a steel target at 65 yards and wanted to get a feel for how far it was gonna drop at that range and used the center of the orange dot as my aiming point:

    About 3 inches low (and still centered) at 65 yards:


    Wanting to stretch it’s legs even farther I swung over to my hundred yard target and fired a few rounds at that distance to get the “range”.

    After a few rounds I calculated that if I hold the root (very bottom) of the front sight centered in the rear notch (placing the bead on the center or age dot) I could ring the gong every time:



    I fired the rest of my Ammo (save 3 rounds) plinking at the steel and I have to share this that this thing is a hoot to shoot.

    Accurate and nearly silent (and I hunt and shoot with suppressor’s all the time) its the most fun shooting I have had in a long time.

    When I finished shooting I packed up and headed home and on the way back to the house I figured I’d walk the brushy areas along the canal I ride past on the way out to see if I could scare up a rabbit or two.

    Well as luck would have it about 5 minutes into my walkabout I had this cottontail rear up on its hind legs to snack on some leaves on a bush at about 45 yards and I sent an 80 grain ball through his shoulders.

    It kicked and squawled a bit and raised his head (looking away) and I gave him the Ole Abraham Lincoln between the ears at about 30 yards nailing the coffin shut for good.


    This is a very cool old rifle that even at 110 years old (and using funky corroded Ammo) is still quite capable of taking small game at reasonable ranges.

    In its day it was probably a devil of a squirrel rifle and I can picture nighttime hunts with dogs and treed coons in its past (or maybe a trapline rifle) as it is the perfect carrying size, lightweight and extremely handy/easy to swing and bring on target and noise wise is practically suppressed without the suppressor (which would make it great for hunting in somewhat urban areas).

  4. #4
    Boolit Master am44mag's Avatar
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    I bet that gun could tell some great stories. I wish you could get a new rifle like that nowadays for that great a price. You don't see many chambered in lighter cartridges. The 357/38 leverguns are as close as your gonna get without putting down some big bucks. I'd love one in 32 S&W Long or 32 H&R. Perfect for small game.
    ______________________________________________
    Aaron

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    I was trying to snatch one of those up about five years ago. Finally scored a new rproduction japchester in 32-20. Enjoy!

  6. #6
    These old Marlin 1891’s and 92’s are (IMHO) the perfect sized small game levergun.

    The problem with them is that the action is fairly weak and on these models there’s nothing holding the bolt closed but the lever (ain’t no locking lugs on these rifles).

    In olden times when black powder ruled the roost this wasn’t an issue; you couldn’t put enough black powder in a case to cause an issue/over stress the gun.

    When smokeless powder came on the scene, small framed leverguns like this (in centerfire chamberings) were doomed and a great many were worn out and shot to pieces by over zealous/ignorant hand loaders wishing to take advantage of smokeless powders ballistic superiority to that of black.

    I hate to say it, but if one of today’s manufacturers were to offer a small framed levergun like this in a centerfire cartridge (even in the lowly 32 S&W short) handloaders would quickly try and “magnumize” most probably damaging the rifle (and possibly themselves).

    Now, if someone would offer up a small framed lever gun like the 1891’s and 92’s in a modern 32 rimfire cartridge pushing an 80 -100 grain pill at 1000-1050 FPS (and sold the ammo for 5-6 bucks a box) they’d have something special.
    Last edited by ATCDoktor; 06-04-2019 at 02:18 AM.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    I also have a fascination with those little rifles, after I bought mine for $5!!! Bought it at a farm sale about 30 years ago, just a barrelled action, bent barrel and lever and very rusty, but not pitted. It did have the beautiful original sights, which I put on a 45-70 rolling block Numerich Arms conversion kit rifle, then traded away. Eventually I made a stock and buttplate, and bought a brand new barrel for it from Gun Parts Corp, and then buried it in the back of the project pile ! Maybe a next winter project.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy hockeynick39's Avatar
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    Nice find!!!!!!!! The ammo box, Winchester-Olin is from the 1980s. I have a box of Remington (Kleen-bore) 32 Short Colt that is from the 1950s. Not selling it as I shoot them from my .32 WCF SAA Clone. I'm looking for dies too, might have to look at CH4D, they have all kinds of obsolete cartridge dies.

    https://www.buffaloarms.com/32-s-w-s...d-4d32s-wshort

  9. #9
    I'm looking for dies too, might have to look at CH4D,
    I called CH4D yesterday asking about 32 Colt dies and the gentleman I spoke with said they were out of stock and won’t be doing another run till this time next year.

    I called Redding as well and the young woman I spoke with there stated that they don’t have them in stock and (because they are considered “custom” dies) it would take 16 weeks to fill the order.

    I asked what they cost and she shared that they don’t deal direct to the public and that I would have to order through a distributor and (most probably) pay for them in advance and wait till they completed another run of 32 Colt dies.

    The lady at Redding did tell me that the “good” thing was that they had a single order for 32 Colt dies (couldn’t tell me what distributor had ordered them) so another run is coming up but she could not tell me when.

    With regards to reloading for the 32 Colt, I have a couple of irons in the fire reference dies and hopefully (within a month) I’ll be set up to make my own ammo for my ‘92.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master Guesser's Avatar
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    You probably don't need to size your fired cases in 32 Short Colt; I don't. I reprime, flare just enough to seat the 95 gr. heel style bullet and then charge with Trail Boss, set the bullet in case and run into a Lee 32 Auto seating/crimping die and adjust as needed to firmly hold the bullet.
    NOE or Accurate lists 32 caliber Heeled bullet molds.
    Also I have seen a couple of these Marlins rechambered to 32 S&W Long. They worked very well.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have a Ballard in long colt I load for , and I have a proper heeled bullet mold from Bernie at old west just for these
    I have to size for neck tension , out of my rifle they are just to loose to hold the bullet reliably .

    If you want a few bullets to try let me know .

  12. #12
    You probably don't need to size your fired cases in 32 Short Colt; I don't. I reprime, flare just enough to seat the 95 gr. heel style bullet and then charge with Trail Boss, set the bullet in case and run into a Lee 32 Auto seating/crimping die and adjust as needed to firmly hold the bullet.
    I will certainly give this a try.

    I ordered a few bullets from tenmile (Jack Harrison) off gun-broker and I’ll try a 32 acp seat die.

    It for sure will beat paying for custom made dies.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Kev18's Avatar
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    i like Winchester rifles but always liked the look of closed bolt marlin's! If I see one at a decent price il pick it up... one day.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master

    Wayne Smith's Avatar
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    Bernie at Old West modifies Lee dies to crimp heeled boolits. I have one for my .41 Colt.
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  15. #15
    Boolit Master pietro's Avatar
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    .

    An excellent grab, for sure !

    BTW, after I converted my Remington #4 rolling block from .32RF to .32CF, I found out that the chamber would accept the .32 Short Colt.

    It so happens that Winchester makes a couple of runs of that ammo each year, so I bought several boxes (50ea) for $32 each at the Kittery Trading Post (Maine).

    .
    Experience is a wonderful thing - It lets you recognize a mistake, when you make it again.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    You were very fortunate indeed to find one with a good bore. After Aguila made a run of the (formerly) extinct 5mm Remington rimfire cartridge, I contacted them to beg for a run of a few million rounds of .32 long rimfire. I got what seemed like a personalized response instead of the usual "thank you for your interest" canned response, so if you would like to see .32 RF available please email Aguila.

    Wouldn't it be nice if somebody like Starline would run a few million .32 Long Colt cases and either sell direct to customers, or sell them to Graf or Midway if they needed some up front money.

  17. #17
    Boolit Man
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    Very nice rifle! I love those old Marlins. I just bought an 1892 in .22 to go with my model 39. Just great rifles and fun to shoot.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    I also have a 1892 in 32. I had acceptable accuracy with a box of Remington 32 long Colt at 25 yards however by 50 yards it was horrible. I am now using bullets from ten mile and starting my load development. I would buy another 200-250 cases of star line offered them.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by ATCDoktor View Post

    Now, if someone would offer up a small framed lever gun like the 1891’s and 92’s in a modern 32 rimfire cartridge pushing an 80 -100 grain pill at 1000-1050 FPS (and sold the ammo for 5-6 bucks a box) they’d have something special.
    I'd say the closest thing you may ever see would be a lever gun in 9mm parabellum if you want $6 a box ammo with those specs( even then it's pushing 7-9 a box at the cheapest). I only see the absolute cheapest of the cheap .22lr going for much under $4-5 per 50 now. I don't think you could make 32 rimfire for less than the cost of 9mm, probably would end up more around 15-20 a box due to the tiny market and lack of production scale.
    Last edited by FerricOxide; 06-05-2019 at 10:57 PM.

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    Nice rifle. I have only seen one (for sale) in person and yours is way better than that one. Plus you got a heck of a good buy on it.

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