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Thread: Casting 32-20 for Vintage Winchester 92

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold smokinggun94's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Casting 32-20 for Vintage Winchester 92

    Howdy y'all! Although this is my first post on this forum, I've been browsing info from you all for years and have found it very helpful in all of my casting adventures . So, I owe a hearty thank you to all of you!

    Recently I began reloading for my vintage (1905) Winchester 92 chambered in 32 WCF (32-20). To get started I first browsed the interwebz to see what those with more experience with this round had to say about it. There is, of course, quite a wealth of information for this cartridge out there. That being said, I thought I would add my .02 cents, as well as, see what thoughts some of you had on casting and loading for this caliber.

    Being an avid black powder shooter, I have quite a bit of Stick-On wheel weights lying around that provide the soft lead that I need to keep the smoke poles fed. Pure lead, however, is too soft for slinging with smokeless powder out of a rifle like the '92. So, I did a bit of digging to see what I could do to harden it up a bit and make it work for casting out of the Lyman 311316 GC mold I picked up specifically for this project. I have none of the "clip on" variety of wheel weights lying around (and we are all in county mandated self-quarantine due to COVID-19) so obtaining some from the local tire shop was out of the question at the moment. I did, however, have some 50/50 solder lying around that I could add in to make myself a 20:1 (pure lead/tin) alloy. I figured I had nowhere else to be so why not give it a try! I have to say the results were very surprising to me!

    Here is the load I settled on: (Disclaimer: THIS IS MY LOAD! USE AT YOUR OWN RISK! PLEASE CONSULT A PROPER RELOADING MANUAL FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY!)

    Lyman 311316 GC bullet sized to .314 for my rifle. Pan lubed with a paraffin, beeswax, sheep tallow mix (I can't remember the wax and tallow ratios at the moment as I made it a few years ago.) Gas checked with .017 copper .30 cal checks.
    Starline Brass
    Small pistol primers
    4.0 gn of Unique
    C.O.L 1.560
    Roll Crimped in a separate step with the LEE Bullet Seating Die

    Now, my rifle has a slightly pitted bore but fairly strong rifling overall. At 70 yds this load grouped within 1" to 1.5"
    I do not have a chronograph, so I have no idea what kind of velocity I am getting in the end. I fired 20 back-to-back rounds and experienced ZERO signs of leading! No signs of lead showed up on the patches with a thorough cleaning. I must say that I am very pleased with this load!

    Has anyone else tried a similar 20:1 alloy with this caliber out of a rifle? After reading countless articles online and many different forum posts, I had assumed that I was going to experience major leading pushing such a soft alloy out of a rifle. Perhaps the gas check is the key? I know proper sizing plays a large roll...Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by smokinggun94; 04-02-2020 at 04:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Slight pitting is not an issue if the bullets "fit" and are properly lubricated. Your 1:20 alloy is appropriate for the .32-20 and your 4 grains of Unique approximates factory 1200 fps velocity and is correct. It sounds like you are doing it all right. Your soft BP lube is good. There is no need to change anything. Your load would also be safe in a pre-1900 Colt revolver or Winchester 1873. At this velocity no GC is needed if the bullet fits correctly. If .314 chambers without resistance it is fine. I shoot similar loads in a rifle and several old revolvers.
    The ENEMY is listening.
    HE wants to know what YOU know.
    Keep it to yourself.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master murf205's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=smokinggun94;4866681]Howdy y'all! Although this is my first post on this forum, I've been browsing info from you all for years and have found it very helpful in all of my casting adventures . So, I owe a hearty thank you to all of you!

    Recently I began reloading for my vintage (1905) Winchester 92 chambered in 32 WCF (32-20). To get started I first browsed the interwebz to see what those with more experience with this round had to say about it. There is, of course, quite a wealth of information for this cartridge out there. That being said, I thought I would add my .02 cents, as well as, see what thoughts some of you had on casting and loading for this caliber.

    Being an avid black powder shooter, I have quite a bit of Stick-On wheel weights lying around that provide the soft lead that I need to keep the smoke poles fed. Pure lead, however, is too soft for slinging with smokeless powder out of a rifle like the '92. So, I did a bit of digging to see what I could do to harden it up a bit and make it work for casting out of the Lyman 311316 GC mold I picked up specifically for this project. I have none of the "clip on" variety of wheel weights lying around (and we are all in county mandated self-quarantine due to COVID-19) so obtaining some from the local tire shop was out of the question at the moment. I did, however, have some 50/50 solder lying around that I could add in to make myself a 20:1 (pure lead/tin) alloy. I figured I had nowhere else to be so why not give it a try! I have to say the results were very surprising to me!

    Here is the load I settled on: (Disclaimer: THIS IS MY LOAD! USE AT YOUR OWN RISK! PLEASE CONSULT A PROPER RELOADING MANUAL FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY!)

    Lyman 311316 GC bullet sized to .314 for my rifle. Pan lubed with a paraffin, beeswax, sheep tallow mix (I can't remember the wax and tallow ratios at the moment as I made it a few years ago.) Gas checked with .017 copper .30 cal checks.
    Starline Brass
    Small pistol primers
    4.0 gn of Unique
    C.O.L 1.560
    Roll Crimped in a separate step with the LEE Bullet Seating Die

    Now, my rifle has a slightly pitted bore but fairly strong rifling overall. At 70 yds this load grouped within 1" to 1.5"
    I do not have a chronograph, so I have no idea what kind of velocity I am getting in the end. I fired 20 back-to-back rounds and experienced ZERO signs of leading! No signs of lead showed up on the patches with a thorough cleaning. I must say that I am very pleased with this load!

    Has anyone else tried a similar 20:1 alloy with this caliber out of a rifle? After reading countless articles online and many different forum posts, I had assumed that I was going to experience major leading pushing such a soft alloy out of a rifle. Perhaps the gas check is the key? I know proper sizing plays a large roll...Click image for larger version. 

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    First off, welcome and it looks like you are doing everything just right. 1" to 1.5" at 70 yds! Don't change anything! That is some fine looking ordinance in the pic. I am using Green Dot with some Magnus boolits that were gifted to me and I find that the old 32 WCF is a pretty forgiving round as long as people don't try to make it something it's not. My S&W Hand ejector in 32/20 has a few pits as well but doesn't hurt the accuracy and it sure doesn't look like it hurts yours either. You have made us envious with that old Winchester.
    IT AINT what ya shoot--its how ya shoot it. NONE of us are as smart as ALL of us!

  4. #4
    Boolit Mold smokinggun94's Avatar
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    Thank you both for your responses! It’s a relief to hear that I am on the money with this load. This is the first smokeless rifle that I have attempted to cast for. I must say that I am now in love with this caliber!! Now I need to add a 32-20 revolver to the collection

  5. #5
    Boolit Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by smokinggun94 View Post
    Thank you both for your responses! It’s a relief to hear that I am on the money with this load. This is the first smokeless rifle that I have attempted to cast for. I must say that I am now in love with this caliber!! Now I need to add a 32-20 revolver to the collection
    I must confess I have a sweet spot for it to. I was all mahh.. when a friend of mine brought out a 92 in 32-20 but I was surprised at what a capable little fella it is.
    I now have a Revolver, Pump and lever in the calibre and love it to death. Got enough grunt for most of what I do and cost just north of nothing to load for. What more could you want?

  6. #6
    Boolit Bub
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    This cartridge has held a spot in my heart for quite a while. I own an original T/C Contender chambered for it, a Savage mod. 23 and a Colt double action Army revolver. All shoot exceptionally. I have found the bullet you spec (I love that slug) really likes AA1680 powder in charges of 12 grains (work your way up as usual). Both my Contender and the Savage will cloverleaf at 50 yards. The smaller slug (311419) is a tad smaller, so faster given the same charge. I like it with 13.5 grains of AA1680, again YMMV.

    Chris

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I've been loading a lot of .32-20 lately. I use the classic Lyman/Ideal 311008 115gr PB mold. I shoot them in a #2 Remington rolling block and really haven't found a bad load. But two of my favorites are 3.0gr of Titegroup and 12.5gr of Reloader 7. The latter gives me about 1200 fps.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master



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    I agree sounds like your doing very well

    Enjoyment is the true target!! Hit that and everything else doesn’t seem to matter as much.

    Love the lil 32/20. I have a couple molds I like and since powder coating I’m moving away from gas checked. Simply not needed for my lower vel loads and it’s a savings in time and expense.

    CW
    NRA Life member REMEMBER, FREEDOM IS NOT FREE its being paid for in BLOOD.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master murf205's Avatar
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    When it comes to the 32/20, I am reminded of one of my grandfather's sayings: "it don't beller like an ox or kick like a mule".
    IT AINT what ya shoot--its how ya shoot it. NONE of us are as smart as ALL of us!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by murf205 View Post
    When it comes to the 32/20, I am reminded of one of my grandfather's sayings: "it don't beller like an ox or kick like a mule".
    Lol! Well said. I also like its bigger cousin the .32-40. It has many of the same, pleasant attributes.

  11. #11
    Boolit Mold smokinggun94's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris S View Post
    This cartridge has held a spot in my heart for quite a while. I own an original T/C Contender chambered for it, a Savage mod. 23 and a Colt double action Army revolver. All shoot exceptionally. I have found the bullet you spec (I love that slug) really likes AA1680 powder in charges of 12 grains (work your way up as usual). Both my Contender and the Savage will cloverleaf at 50 yards. The smaller slug (311419) is a tad smaller, so faster given the same charge. I like it with 13.5 grains of AA1680, again YMMV.

    Chris
    I think I have seen a few cans of AA1680 at my local gun shop. I may have to pick some up and give it a try! Thank you for the recommendations!

  12. #12
    Boolit Mold smokinggun94's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LawrenceA View Post
    I must confess I have a sweet spot for it to. I was all mahh.. when a friend of mine brought out a 92 in 32-20 but I was surprised at what a capable little fella it is.
    I now have a Revolver, Pump and lever in the calibre and love it to death. Got enough grunt for most of what I do and cost just north of nothing to load for. What more could you want?
    I would say its like finding a new flavor of potato chip! Once you take a bite, you can't stop with only one!

  13. #13
    Boolit Bub
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    Yup. It's just one of those little gems that tend to get forgotten in lieu of the newer stuff. But when all the hype over the new stuff clears, tada! Turns out we had that all along. 32 FM, 32 H&R and others could probably have been avoided all together. Just my opinion. And what's even neater still is that there is a family of gems surrounding that cartridge, the 25-20 and 218 Bee. I have a couple examples of the 25 cal and love them almost as much as my 32-20 guns.

    Chris

  14. #14
    Boolit Mold
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    4198 is a nice powder for a 32-20 rifle. Always a few unburned kernels. 12 grains makes about 1200 fps with a jacketed 100 grainer, but it makes more speed than that with cast bullets of 115 or 120 grains. 13 grains barely fits with imr4198...hodgdon is denser and you could fit more.
    For fast powders, my Marlin likes Titegroup, shooters world ultimate, or American select. I'm not crazy about ball powders but the targets tell the story.
    Anything in that burn speed range can work well, it seems like 4.5 gr of unique is a classic load. 8-10 gr of 2400 is another. Have fun!

  15. #15
    Boolit Bub
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    AA1680 can push a 311419 with a gas check to up around 1700 fps, maybe a tad more with a 24" barrel. I've shot the little Hornady projectile in the 32-20, but can just not see the need. The accuracy is not a lot (if any) better and the cartridge cannot produce more speed than a lead bullet can take. Actually, when you think about it, the 32-20 is the perfect lead bullet cartridge.

    Chris

  16. #16
    Boolit Master




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    I have two Marlin 1889's, 24" & 28". Both love 112 gr version of 311008 over 8.5 AA9 for 1250-1300 fps. Great accuracy. The 311419 also works fine, does 1650 from the Marlin 28" with 12 gr IMR4227.
    God Bless America
    US Army, NRA Patron, TSRA Life
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    I’ve had an on again/off again relationship going with the 32-20 for over 40 years now, starting with an old S&W 32-20 M&P. Right now I have a SAA (Uberti) and another old S&W in the caliber. I’m wishing I had kept the original high wall Winchester in 32-20 and the Ruger Blackhawk 32 combo (Buckeye Spl) that passed through my hands over the years.

    To the OP’s questions, IIRC, the 311316 is pretty much a gas checked version of the even older 3118, which has been around in one form or another since about the late 1870s. To quote modern medical experts, “the evidence is anecdotal,” but over the years shooters of the 32-20 keep coming back to it, so it must work! I’ve got a 2 cav ‘316 mould lost in my flotsam and jetsam somewhere, but I remember that when I was using it, I got good performance from it. I just picked up an old 4 cav Ideal 3118, so since I usually don’t like the extra cost and effort of seating GCs, the hunt for the ‘316 is not real vigorous.

    OP, it sounds like you are definitely on the right track, but be cautious, those 32-20s seem to attract friends, and you’ll probably find yours wants a revolver to ride along with it. Just remember, most 32-20 revolvers were made before WW II, so their steel strength is not up to the hottest loads recommended for rifles.

    Regards,
    Froggie
    "It aint easy being green!"

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    If that fool who kept waving greenbacks at me when he saw my low wall in 32-20 wasn't so persistent I'd still have it. So mow another low wall that used to be a 25-20 single shot will become a 32-20. To getting a cadet martini relined from 310 cadet to 32-20 barrel isn't original to the action but screws on and will get it blued and some kinds mount for a scope. Action is in the white,barrel has some exterior pitting but the wood has been refinished so would be a cool little walking around rifle.About the only alteration may be the extractor if needed. Out to about a 100yds it's all one needs. Been putting this off for too many years. Frank

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check