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Thread: 32-20 mould for S&W HE 4th change gun?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master FISH4BUGS's Avatar
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    32-20 mould for S&W HE 4th change gun?

    I just picked up a very (and I mean very) nice 1930 ish S&W 5" hand Ejector in 32-20. I would say a conservative 95% condition and all original.
    This gun has been carried but fired very little.
    It feels tight like a new gun and there is virtually no wear on the recoil shield at the firing pin hole nor on the front of the cylinder. Just a slight drag line on the cylinder. Some minor holster wear on the barrel and the high spots.
    I plan on shooting cast from it. I got brass and dies with the deal, too.
    Anyone with experience with this in handguns can recommend a mould?
    Not sure if I want to hot rod it so a gas check mould is not really needed.
    Thoughts?
    Collector and shooter of guns and other items that require a tax stamp, Lead and brass scrounger. Never too much brass, lead or components in inventory! Always looking to win beauty contests with my reloads.

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Ideal #3118 or modern equivalent #311008 is traditional for the .32-20.

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    The RCBS 32-98SWC and Saeco #325 or #326 are also good choices.

    Accurate 31-105T is similar in profile to original .32-20 lead factory bullets.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The following approximate factory loads and are gentle on the gun.

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

    Bullet, Little Dandy#, Pdr. Chg.____Colt Police Positive 5”______Savage Sporter 25”
    Remington .311” 100-grain JSP____930 fps, 16 Sd, 45 ES________1230 fps, 26 Sd, 79 ES
    LD#4, 4.9 grains AutoComp

    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#4, 4.9 grains AutoComp________ 943 fps, 32 Sd, 71 ES_______1315 fps, 32 Sd, 118 ES

    LD#10, 7.5 grains Alliant #2400_____991 fps, 24 Sd, 65 ES_______1348, 29 Sd, 69 ES
    DO NOT EXCEED!

    LD#13, 10.0 grains IMR4227_______985 fps, 25 Sd, 61ES________1280 fps, 53 Sd, 176 ES

    LD#17, 13 grains IMR4198________974 fps, 21 Sd, 94 ES________1326 fps, 46 Sd, 138 ES
    Unburned powder in revolver, but safe.

    Accurate 31-114D - OK to substitute this data with Ideal #3118

    LD#3, 3.0 grains Bullseye_________741 fps, 35 Sd, 92 ES________1041 fps, 26 SD, 78 ES

    LD#4, 3.2 grains Bullsye__________861 fps, 20 Sd, 54 ES________1173 fps, 18 Sd, 52 ES

    LD#13, 10.0 grains IMR4227______962 fps, 27 Sd, 62 ES_______1268 fps, 62Sd, 224ES
    Last edited by Outpost75; 06-03-2021 at 02:10 PM.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master
    rintinglen's Avatar
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    My personal favorite is the afore mentioned RCBS 32-98 SWC. My S&W has a slight preference for it over the 311-008, My Colt prefers 311-316 with gas checks, but doesn't complain if it gets the RCBS Boolit instead. Both seem to do best with Unique.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    _________________________________________________It's not that I can't spell: it is that I can't type.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master FISH4BUGS's Avatar
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    Thank you to all. I am looking forward to shooting this little beauty.
    What looks like holster wear all the way down the barrel is actually a reflection.
    The holster wear is just at the very end of the barrel.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by FISH4BUGS; 06-03-2021 at 03:41 PM.
    Collector and shooter of guns and other items that require a tax stamp, Lead and brass scrounger. Never too much brass, lead or components in inventory! Always looking to win beauty contests with my reloads.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outpost75 View Post
    Ideal #3118 or modern equivalent #311008 is traditional for the .32-20.

    Name:  Ideal#3118.jpg
Views: 205
Size:  2.7 KB

    The RCBS 32-98SWC and Saeco #325 or #326 are also good choices.

    Accurate 31-105T is similar in profile to original .32-20 lead factory bullets.

    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	283941Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	283942

    The following approximate factory loads and are gentle on the gun.

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

    Bullet, Little Dandy#, Pdr. Chg.____Colt Police Positive 5______Savage Sporter 25
    Remington .311 100-grain JSP____930 fps, 16 Sd, 45 ES________1230 fps, 26 Sd, 79 ES
    LD#4, 4.9 grains AutoComp

    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#4, 4.9 grains AutoComp________ 943 fps, 32 Sd, 71 ES_______1315 fps, 32 Sd, 118 ES

    LD#10, 7.5 grains Alliant #2400_____991 fps, 24 Sd, 65 ES_______1348, 29 Sd, 69 ES
    DO NOT EXCEED!

    LD#13, 10.0 grains IMR4227_______985 fps, 25 Sd, 61ES________1280 fps, 53 Sd, 176 ES

    LD#17, 13 grains IMR4198________974 fps, 21 Sd, 94 ES________1326 fps, 46 Sd, 138 ES
    Unburned powder in revolver, but safe.

    Accurate 31-114D - OK to substitute this data with Ideal #3118

    LD#3, 3.0 grains Bullseye_________741 fps, 35 Sd, 92 ES________1041 fps, 26 SD, 78 ES

    LD#4, 3.2 grains Bullsye__________861 fps, 20 Sd, 54 ES________1173 fps, 18 Sd, 52 ES

    LD#13, 10.0 grains IMR4227______962 fps, 27 Sd, 62 ES_______1268 fps, 62Sd, 224ES
    ^^^what he said!!! Keep it mild to begin with, trail boss is a friend when you're trying to get used to each other (pistol, mould, you).
    I've got to admit - I'm a bit jelly of your find!!! Congratulations and enjoy!!!

    Sent from my Pixel 5 using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Boolit Master FISH4BUGS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwtebay View Post
    ^^^what he said!!! Keep it mild to begin with, trail boss is a friend when you're trying to get used to each other (pistol, mould, you).
    I've got to admit - I'm a bit jelly of your find!!! Congratulations and enjoy!!!

    Sent from my Pixel 5 using Tapatalk
    Believe me, I paid a long dollar for this gun. It hurt but...........
    I also got dies and 300 brass with it.
    I am not complaining because i sold some H&G and SAECO (original Carpenteria CA) moulds here on the forum and made a nice profit on them, so I guess it would be seen as a "reallocation of assets".
    But I will shoot it, take care of it, and hand it down to my kids so no problem there.
    I am looking forward to working up a nice medium power 32-20 load.
    Collector and shooter of guns and other items that require a tax stamp, Lead and brass scrounger. Never too much brass, lead or components in inventory! Always looking to win beauty contests with my reloads.

  7. #7
    Boolit Bub
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    I have a box gun (bought as a box of parts) that turned out to be a S&W 1905 4th change 32-20. I can't remember off the top of my head if it's 1913 or 1914, but just before they went with the 5th change series. Mine has a replacement 5 inch barrel and has been reblued but still doesn't look as nice as yours. It's been my understanding that you don't want to hotrod your loadings in these 4th change revolvers as the cylinders are not heat treated.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master FISH4BUGS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by david s View Post
    I have a box gun (bought as a box of parts) that turned out to be a S&W 1905 4th change 32-20. I can't remember off the top of my head if it's 1913 or 1914, but just before they went with the 5th change series. Mine has a replacement 5 inch barrel and has been reblued but still doesn't look as nice as yours. It's been my understanding that you don't want to hotrod your loadings in these 4th change revolvers as the cylinders are not heat treated.
    According to Supica/Nahas "Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson (4th Edition)" heat treating the cylinders started at s/n 81287. I am safe.
    The problem with many of these 32-20's HE's is that many were shot a lot with rifle level loaded cartridges and black powder (32 caliber, 20 grains of black powder thus 32-20) in the early years.
    Most of the ones I have seen had bores that looked like the surface of the moon and were so loose they almost were not usable.
    I am indeed fortunate to find a somewhat later all original gun in in excellent condition.
    I am looking forward to shooting it.
    Collector and shooter of guns and other items that require a tax stamp, Lead and brass scrounger. Never too much brass, lead or components in inventory! Always looking to win beauty contests with my reloads.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Outpost 75 beat me to it. IMHO the best starting point to reload the 32-20 is the original bullet design Winchester used about 150 years ago. I have one of the old Winchester moulds and an early Ideal 3118 and it’s hard to see the difference. You may wish to move to another bullet mentioned by friend Outpost 75 that looks as if you will like better, but you’ll have a great baseline to compare with, and truth to tell, you’ll be hard pressed to do any better for a 32-20 bullet. I have at least a half dozen different mould for 32 revolvers, but I’m going to load for the old 32-20, there’s no question what my go to bullet will be.

    Froggie
    "It aint easy being green!"

  10. #10
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    Another vote for the 3118 (now 311008). No .32-20 I've ever had shot poorly with it.
    Eleutheromaniac

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Not to hijack this thread (with respect to the OP), but has anyone loaded a true "32-20" load? I tried pretty hard tonight, but trying to fit 20gr of holy black with a somewhat original bullet has been unsuccessful. I would enjoy learning my mistakes!

    Sent from my Pixel 5 using Tapatalk

  12. #12
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    The load originated in the era of balloon-head cases, which have been an unlamented memory for over 100 years.
    Eleutheromaniac

  13. #13
    Boolit Bub QuackAttack24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by david s View Post
    I have a box gun (bought as a box of parts) that turned out to be a S&W 1905 4th change 32-20. I can't remember off the top of my head if it's 1913 or 1914, but just before they went with the 5th change series. Mine has a replacement 5 inch barrel and has been reblued but still doesn't look as nice as yours. It's been my understanding that you don't want to hotrod your loadings in these 4th change revolvers as the cylinders are not heat treated.
    Quote Originally Posted by FISH4BUGS View Post
    According to Supica/Nahas "Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson (4th Edition)" heat treating the cylinders started at s/n 81287. I am safe.
    The problem with many of these 32-20's HE's is that many were shot a lot with rifle level loaded cartridges and black powder (32 caliber, 20 grains of black powder thus 32-20) in the early years.
    Most of the ones I have seen had bores that looked like the surface of the moon and were so loose they almost were not usable.
    I am indeed fortunate to find a somewhat later all original gun in in excellent condition.
    I am looking forward to shooting it.
    Congrats on a very nice revolver. While it is true that you don't want to hotrod loads for these guns, they will easily withstand any load listed in THE PISTOL section of Lyman's re-loading manual. Even the ones made before heat treated cylinders. These old 32-20 pistols are K-frame revolvers with the exact same external frame and cylinder dimensions as the 38 Sp M&P of that era, which means due to the smaller bore size, the cylinder walls are thicker and the barrel is thicker than the 38 K Frame. I have an older one made well before heat treating, and it can handle any of the listed loads in Lyman's pistol section. That being said, since you're just punching paper, no reason not to keep your loads on the lighter side. Have fun shooting that beautiful piece of history!
    What could possibly go wrong?

  14. #14
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    FWIW - The base diameter of the .32-20 is only a few thou smaller than the .38 Special, so the cylinder walls are about the same.
    Eleutheromaniac

  15. #15
    Boolit Bub QuackAttack24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uscra112 View Post
    FWIW - The base diameter of the .32-20 is only a few thou smaller than the .38 Special, so the cylinder walls are about the same.
    Point being that typical 32-20 loads cap at around 15,000 psi, but the pistol can handle 38 pressure upwards of 17,000 psi. Not saying you should push it. No reason to. Just saying anything down in the 15K or below is safe, even in these old guns, so load up and shoot away without worry.
    What could possibly go wrong?

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Lyman's 3311008 design is never a bad choice in 32/20s, long or short. I would suggest avoiding LYMAN-made moulds, though--they tend to cast no larger than .311"-.312", and in many 32/20 throats that will be too small in diameter. Accurate Molds can cut a #311008 to your specs, at only slightly more cost.

    My own 5" M&P in 32/20 (late 1920s) needs a .314" bullet to fit properly, as does my Colt Bisley from 1906. The Colt Army Special (1920) and Marlin 1894CCL can manage on a .313" bullet, but I just use a .314" H&I die and a custom .313" expander spud and call it good. My gas check design for the rifle is a Lyman #311316 that drops 92/6/2 alloy at .314"--barely.

    The late Ken Waters listed his "Pet Load" for 32/20 revolvers was 6.0 grains of SR-4756 with a small pistol primer. SR-4756 went out-of-print a couple years ago, and I have swapped in Alliant Herco in its place, charge weight reduced 5% from that given for SR-4756. I use a self-designed revolver-specific bullet of 118 grains in this caliber, and both 6.0 x 4756 and 5.7 x Herco give about 900 FPS in 5" revolver barrels.

    32/20 chambers are like Duesenberg automobiles--"No two are alike". That tiny shoulder placement differs in all 4 of my arms so chambered. W-W and R-P cases do not last long for this reason, they stretch every firing and do so unevenly. Look forward to trimming after every second firing. The brass will tweak and crumple if stared at intently. Starline brass is stronger and a lot less prone to these anomalies, but the weirdness is still there--it will need trimming every third firing.
    I don't paint bullets. I like Black Rifle Coffee. Sacred cows are always fair game. California is to the United States what Syria is to Russia and North Korea is to China/South Korea/Japan--a Hermit Kingdom detached from the real world and led by delusional maniacs, an economic and social basket case sustained by "foreign" aid so as to not lose military bases.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master



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    A modern mold with a real crimp groove might be in order..........
    JMHO-YMMV
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master JoeJames's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uscra112 View Post
    Another vote for the 3118 (now 311008). No .32-20 I've ever had shot poorly with it.
    I think I have the Lyman mold, and a few boolits a previous owner cast with it. They weigh in about 116 grains, and throws a .312 boolit. I am not set up for 32-20, and given the current situation probably will not start.
    Last edited by JoeJames; 06-08-2021 at 08:54 AM.
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  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    It will be worthwhile to check your cylinder throats with gage pins. Both of my S&W .32-20 Hand Ejectors have .314-.315 cylinder throats and .312 barrels. They lead less and are more accurate with as-cast, unsized bullets of .314+ In my experience .312 will certainly "work" and shoot quite well if soft and loaded with a fast-burning powder like Bullseye or TiteGroup, but fatter is better.
    The ENEMY is listening.
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    Keep it to yourself.

  20. #20
    I think my BP load was Lyman 311008 over ~17 gr with .125" compression. You're not going to match the old capacity with solid head brass unless you go for max case length at 1.315" and its still iffy. The cartridge excels with smokeless but I do most of my shooting with the RCBS 32-98 SWC, which is really an RNFP. W231 and 2400 are my go-to powders for sub 16 cup loads with a nod towards W231.

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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