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Thread: No More 32-20 for Me!

  1. #1
    Boolit Master 35 Whelen's Avatar
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    No More 32-20 for Me!

    I just officially gave up on loading the 32-20. Extreme spreads can be downright ridiculous.

    My 5 1/2" Uberti was pretty good, only occasionally giving extreme spreads in the 100-150 fps range. It's a hoss of a revolver with super thick cylinder walls and digests heavy loads with ease, but it's a heavy revolver to lug around.

    I recently bought a S&W Hand Ejector 32-20 for my young grandkids to shoot and it's the most frustrating revolver for which I have ever loaded. Even hand-weighing each and every charge I often had ES's over 200 fps. They were so bad at times that I could tell by the report and recoil of the revolver, without even looking at the chronograph, that a particular shot was much faster or slower than the others in the string. I tried around 50 different loads experimenting with different powders (IMR Target, 700-X, HP-38, Longshot, Unique, et al.), bullets and small pistol, small pistol magnum, small rifle and small rifle magnum primers. Most of the loads with acceptable ES's were light charges of fast burning powder.

    So I decided if the best I could do was a 750-850 fps with 90, 100, and 118 gr. bullets, I may as well be shooting a 32 S&W Long. So I just got a little 4 1/4" I-Frame Smith in and will soon have a 3 1/2" HE. AND I won't have to lube cases anymore!!

    35W
    "Only accurate rifles are interesting." -Col. Townsend Whelen.
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    What did you do with the Uberti ? I find I use so little case lube in my fired brass from my Uberti and it is a fun gun to shoot , but then I enjoy the mild load and the style of pistol .

  3. #3
    Boolit Master 35 Whelen's Avatar
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    I still have the Uberti and S&W, getting everything together to sell. I didn't use much case lube either, but am not crazy about having to clean that stuff off of cases.

    35W
    "Only accurate rifles are interesting." -Col. Townsend Whelen.
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    Certified Texas Hunter Education Instructor

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Nobade's Avatar
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    I had one of those old hand ejectors, the throats were huge, about .315". I just used bullets as cast, from dead soft lead, loaded over 20gr. 3f black powder. It shot beautifully with that load. Never was worth a darn with smokeless though.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master 35 Whelen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nobade View Post
    I had one of those old hand ejectors, the throats were huge, about .315". I just used bullets as cast, from dead soft lead, loaded over 20gr. 3f black powder. It shot beautifully with that load. Never was worth a darn with smokeless though.
    Yes, I forgot to mention that the throats in the S&W were large. I ordered a new mold from Arsenal which allowed me to cast/load bullets that were closer to throat size but that didn't help either.

    35W
    "Only accurate rifles are interesting." -Col. Townsend Whelen.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I to hate case lube clean up and what gets on my hands , I to like the carbide sizing die and progressive presses for that reason .

    But since I load bottle neck brass it is a fact of life , I use a case lube that is water soluble and wash and dry again after sizing .

    It makes it more tolerable , and that is for large batches .

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    There is a learning curve to .32-20. In revolvers bullets must be fit to the cylinder throats, not to barrel groove diameter. Soft bullets of 8-10 BHN which drop .314-.316" work in most. In my pre-war Colts and S&W Hand Ejectors Accurate 31-105T and either 3.2 grains of TiteGroup, 3.4 grains of Bullseye, 4.5 grains of AutoComp, or 7.5 grains of Alliant #2400 are accurate and give uniform velocities.

    Group 1 Standard Pressure .32-20 Loads for Rifle or Revolver

    Bullet, Little Dandy#, Pdr. Chg.____Colt Police Positive 5”______Savage Sporter 25”

    Accurate 31-105T

    LD#1, 3.2 grains TiteGroup_________858 fps, 22 Sd, 61 ES_______1133 fps, 30 Sd, 67 ES

    LD#4, 3.4 grains Bullseye__________861 fps, 19 Sd, 47ES_______1173 fps, 18 Sd, 54 ES

    LD#3, 4.5 grains AutoComp________912 fps, 19 Sd, 53 ES_______1260 fps, 21 Sd, 55 ES

    LD#10, 7.5 grains Alliant #2400_____991 fps, 24 Sd, 65 ES_______1348, 29 Sd, 69 ES
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Ken Waters did an article on this very topic in 32-20. His answer was case trimming.
    I’ve dabbled in 32-20 via a late M&P 5”. I’m trimming cases and using Bullseye with several boolits sized at 0.315” with good success.
    However, I’ve never seen 32-20 win a competition.
    "Time and money don't do you a bit of good until you spend them." - My Dad

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shooting on a shoestring View Post
    Ken Waters did an article on this very topic in 32-20. His answer was case trimming.
    I’ve dabbled in 32-20 via a late M&P 5”. I’m trimming cases and using Bullseye with several boolits sized at 0.315” with good success. However, I’ve never seen 32-20 win a competition.
    Agree that trimming cases is necessary for uniform crimps.

    But be aware that some of Ken Waters loads are too hot for pre-1918 S&W Hand Ejectors which are not heat-treated, or for the pre-1930 Colt Army Specials and Police Positives. The later S&W M&P .32-20s are nicely turned out. My 1940 example shoots like a rifle on groundhogs using warmer loads around 1200 fps, which are unpleasantly sharp in their report.
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  10. #10
    Boolit Master



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    Velocity spreads? What were the actual group sizes? Group size beats spread every time IMHO

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    Try using a much heavier crimp. I found that it pretty well clears up the problem.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    Trimming the cases to a uniform length and a uniform crimp will reduce the extreme spread in velocities.
    I have a T/C Contender in 32-20 it always shot good but turned into a tack-driver when I paid more attention to details.
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master Guesser's Avatar
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    I shoot a lot of 32-20 using an old Ideal single cavity mold, 3118. I fought the extreme spread/inaccuracy for years, then Trail Boss came along. 4.0 grains under 3118 and my groups closed up.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master 35 Whelen's Avatar
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    Cases, all 200+, were trimmed to uniform lengths and crimps were applied with a Lee FCD. I even went to far as to ream the flash holes, which I never do with handgun ammunition.

    Honestly, I don't usually pay much attention to extreme spreads and find ES's in the 60's and 70's make little difference in groups at 75 and even 100 yds. But when your talking 150-200 fps it makes a big difference.

    Like I said, I got some pretty decent ES's and good groups with light loads, but if I have to settle for 32 Long level loads, I may as well be shooting .32 Longs!

    35W
    "Only accurate rifles are interesting." -Col. Townsend Whelen.
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