.32-20 Revolvers

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  • Last Post 29 August 2017
Ed Harris posted this 26 July 2017

Years ago fooled with a Colt Army Special, which I sold.  

Recently won a GunBroker Auction for S&W .32-20 Hand Ejector 4th Change 6" barrel.

Some of the auction pics:

UPDATE, now that I have the gun in hand I see that the SN 759XX indicates it was manufactured in 1917 so is NOT heat treated.  So will be cautious on the loads.  Those in Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook (2010) which have been pressure tested not exceeding 16,000 cup/psi are OK.  Thinking mostly about Accurate 31-090B and 31-95T bullets and 3 grains of Bullseye, maybe 7 grs. of #2400, or 10 grs. of IMR 4227, if those will burn at the light level.

Maybe with a heavier bullet around 120 grs.? what say you all?

 

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 26 July 2017

I say you send it to me for proper testing. I just happen to have a spot open in one of my safes for it. Enuf said.

 

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
- Also deal in: Land, Banjos, Nails, Firearms, Manure, Fly Swatters, Used Cars, Whisky, Racing Forms, Rare Antiquities, Lead, Used Keyboard Keys & Dogs, Pith Helmets & Zulu Headdresses. .

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JeffinNZ posted this 26 July 2017

Green Dot works well for me in the .32-20.  4gr would be on the money.

Cheers from New Zealand

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RicinYakima posted this 26 July 2017

Maybe this will prompt David, the dealer in Pith Helmets and Zulu Headdresses, to put my 32/20 articles on the blog. Ric

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David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 26 July 2017

Give me an issue #. You ought to buy one, it would certainly improve your outwardly appearance. 

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
- Also deal in: Land, Banjos, Nails, Firearms, Manure, Fly Swatters, Used Cars, Whisky, Racing Forms, Rare Antiquities, Lead, Used Keyboard Keys & Dogs, Pith Helmets & Zulu Headdresses. .

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RicinYakima posted this 26 July 2017

I believe it was run in two parts in 202 and 203 or very close to that.

I have a nice USMC Pith Helmet from the 1930's (but sized too small). Zulu Headdresses are not very flattering to my Scot-Irish face.

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M3 Mitch posted this 26 July 2017

My limited experience with an old SAA Bisley model in 32-20, 7.5 inch barrel, is that 2400 anyway makes up into a LOUD load, and it spits some unburned powder grains out the cylinder gap.  I think I have mostly used Unique for moderate velocity plinking loads.  Bullseye should work about the same at a lower charge weight.

I think that Smith is probably well worth whatever you paid for it.

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David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 27 July 2017

There you go Ric, first part posted on the blog page. Embellished with a few photos. 

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
- Also deal in: Land, Banjos, Nails, Firearms, Manure, Fly Swatters, Used Cars, Whisky, Racing Forms, Rare Antiquities, Lead, Used Keyboard Keys & Dogs, Pith Helmets & Zulu Headdresses. .

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David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 28 July 2017

I have a few .32-20s, but this is my pride. 

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
- Also deal in: Land, Banjos, Nails, Firearms, Manure, Fly Swatters, Used Cars, Whisky, Racing Forms, Rare Antiquities, Lead, Used Keyboard Keys & Dogs, Pith Helmets & Zulu Headdresses. .

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RicinYakima posted this 28 July 2017

That is a very nice Colt!

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Ed Harris posted this 28 July 2017

Ric, I don't know how I ever missed your article on the .32-20 revolvers.  I must have been distracted by something else at the time.

VERY timely, and by far the best article I have ever read on the subject.  You could teach lessons to Keith, if he were still around.

FWIW the .32-20 HE I got on GunBroker comes from your part of the country, sure would be interesting to know which PD evidence locker it came out of, wonder who badge #85 was and what the 1974 case number refers to, sure would be interesting if the gun could talk.

And thanks for the info you emailed me, will save lots of time buggering around!

And soon it will have a Savage Model 23D to keep it company! I won another auction!

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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BigMan54 posted this 28 July 2017

 I envy you. Growing up my Dad had a pair of COLT Official Police Revolvers. A 6" in .38spl that was/is my favorite DA Rev. The other was a 5" .32-20, that only my Dad shot. He used a 120gr? Gascheck bullet that was NOT from a LYMAN/IDEAL mold. Over a charge of 2400 that blew a 6ft flame with every shot.  It roasted the big jackrabbits & burned off all the fur & fleas so the dogs didn't have to eat  them raw.

I have that .38, but I REALLY wanted that .32-20. Have fun with it.

 

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun.

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Ed Harris posted this 28 July 2017

Picked up the S&W .32-20 HE today.  Serial number 759XX indicates it was made in 1917 so is NOT heat treated. The previous owner shot it quite a bit with hot loads, so I won't have to repeat that experience to find out what doing so does...

The face of barrel extension shows significant "dishing" and heat checking like a well used .357 Magnum.  Cylinder gap has opened to pass 0.010, hold 0.011 and there is about 0.003" end-shake. Timing on a couple chambers is a bit "slow," but the cylinder stop engages as you hold the trigger back, like a Colt.  

All of this is fixable, and I trust Sandy Garrett to do a good job of it.  I got the gun inexpensively enough that putting it right will bring it up to correct market price for a nice 85% "shooter grade" that hadn't been loosened from hot loads and didn't require any gunsmithing in the first place.

I sort of expected this going in, but the gun was I felt worth the investment, because I would have paid twice as much for a tight, clean collector-grade.

I won't do much shooting of it in its present condition other than perhaps to chronograph a few mild, factory lead loads as a "before" velocity benchmark.  I will take it soon to Sandy Garrett at Northern VA Gun Works to have its barrel set back a thread, the crane stretched to correct the end shake, the timing adjusted, barrel refaced and forcing cone recut and lapped, and cylinder gap reset.

Normally this is about a $150 repair if we don't need to replace any parts, or about $200 +- if we do...  

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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RicinYakima posted this 29 July 2017

Ed, Thanks for the nice comments, it is still my favorite caliber after 50 years!

David, Can't wait to see part 2, as I haven't seen it for 16 years. Hope the data is still good. 

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38splpete posted this 30 July 2017

Ed--your gun looks a lot like mine, although it looks like a 6" bbl--mine is 5".  I spotted it at a LGS a few years ago--the asking price was $350, but the owner announced it was a 10% off day, so I couldn't resist.  The top strap just behind the barrel extension is dished, which I thought indicated use of hot loads, like your gun, but otherwise it's tight looks good.  That skinny front sight and narrow groove is tough to see with aging eyes, though.

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Dale53 posted this 30 July 2017

Ric;

I certainly agree with Ed Harris, that is an EXCELLENT article on the .32/20. I have never fooled with the .32/20, but I have certainly been an enthusiastic user of that .32 performance level on target and small game with my .32 H&R Magnums. So, we are kindred spirits even tho' I have had little experience with an actual .32/20.

Thanks for that article...

Dale53

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RicinYakima posted this 30 July 2017

Thank you Dale. I haven't re-read it for years and that first half has weathered well. The second half has the reloading and shooting data and results. Thanks again, Ric

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hanover67 posted this 31 July 2017

I have 2 .32-20 Colt Army Specials, a 5" and a 6". My load is the Lyman 3118 bullet, which drops from my mold at 120gr and 3.0gr of Bullseye. I've also used 3.5gr of Unique with a commercial copy of 3118 that weighs 111gr. I like the BE load better. I'd hoped to find a Smith & Wesson but so far nothing in my price range has caused me to bid. Living in California, the transfer cost for an out of state gun is $100, assuming you can avoid the "approved gun list." That adds a lot to a buy...

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delmarskid posted this 31 July 2017

Ed, I had one like yours quite a few years ago. It may have been in about the same shape. It shot very well. I would have liked to put it back the condition you aspire for yours but i was making 4 bucks an hour and had a wife and 2 kids. This is why I started casting bullets as you can imagine. Mine liked a Lee 120 loaded backwards to make a wadcutter over Unique. I think someone before me had fired a rifle loading in mine as it had had a screwdriver driven into the the seam where the crane meets the frame to pop the cylinder open after jamming it up. I had a lot of fun with that gun and as I said it shot very well. I got a lot of 4" groups with it at 50yds. off of bags. I sent it to my mother for a Christmas present along with about 200 rounds of loaded ammo. She's never fired it. I like 32-20's, have an 89 Marlin in one.  

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RicinYakima posted this 01 August 2017

David, thanks for posting the second part of the article.

delmarskid, usually, the ejector rod unscrews, right hand thread on the old ones, and they don't know to turn it back into the cylinder. That is why they changed to left hand thread, so as the cylinder rotates, it tightens. Ric

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Ed Harris posted this 04 August 2017

Got lucky again, this one a Colt Police Positive Special 5" .32-20 made in 1924.  A few old rust freckles, but times and locks up tight, cylinder throats .314", cylinder gap pass 0.005". hoid 0.006", bore bright and shiny.  Off to the range!

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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