Heeled Bullets in 32 Long

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GBertolet posted this 02 November 2018

 This is a new question on a several year old post. I have a Forehand arms 32 long  breaktop revolver. It was likely made during the smokeless powder transition era. I had been firing 32 long reloads with 77 gr .314 bullets, with light charges of 231 powder, due to the age and design of this revolver. Leading was severe. The bore is somewhat pitted, but slugs at .315. My cylinder throats are straight through at .335, which seems that it was designed for a heeled bullet. It seems that many revolvers made during that era, were made or converted to many different configurations.

I see Accurate molds has a heeled bullet mold @ 102gr, that they actually call a 33 caliber, that is close to these dimensions, and Old West bullet molds has a 75gr heeled bullet around .330 that could possibly work also. Old West has a 32 cal heeled bullet crimper also.

My concern is can a bullet that large, .330+, be safely swaged down upon firing to .315 .I guess so, being guns were made to these dimensions. It just seems that an awful lot of bullet metal is being swaged.

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David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 03 November 2018

Yes it can, but keep in mind that the original ammo probably used a bullet  close to or actually pure lead. 

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
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onondaga posted this 03 November 2018

Bullet swaging as you say  is no problem with cast bullets, jacketed bullets yes. Your cast bullet being sized from full sliding chamber FIT size to barrel size will only need less than a 10 ft. pound energy. That is just a smidgen of what you have, even with the 32 Long.

Alloy selection is based on load level and the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook #4 has 3 different metals they recommend for the 32 long based on the load level on pages 238 and 239. Consult the book and rely on Lyman research, they do a good job at this. They recommend Pure Lead,  10:1,  and #2 alloy,  depending on load level. There is no reason to guess with good reference like this.

Your 231 powder is recommended for all weights listed, 75, 85, 90, 93 and 100 gr  cast bullets in the caliber, but the load level is what selects the alloy and Lyman provides appropriate selections.

Gary

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Ed Harris posted this 03 November 2018

Typical heeled revolver bullets have only a narrow driving band or stop ring above the heel so there is little swaging to be done. 

The bore-riding forepart ahead of the stop ring is also short and its tangent portion behind the nose radius is close to groove diameter. A heeled bullet similar to the .310 Cadet Greener, but with the round nose truncated to a flat point, reducing the weight to about 90 grains would be appropriate.  Accurate has a suitable bullet with 32-115H, which could be shortened to .53" long with a .25 meplat with the diameter of the stop ring enlarged to fit the throat.

 

 

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

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GBertolet posted this 03 November 2018

Thanks for the good info. I was looking at the Accurate 33-102C also..

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M3 Mitch posted this 4 weeks ago

Cylinder bored straight through like a .22 rim-fire is a dead giveaway that this is a .32 Long Colt, not a .32 S&W Long.  As such, yeah, it needs a heeled bullet, outside lubricated or a hollow-base bullet.

So long as you are using appropriate powder loads, the swaging down of a heeled-type bullet cast out of a softer alloy, and given that the full-diameter part of such bullets is only a small fraction of the length, should not be a problem.

Unlike the .32 S&W Long, which is generally a tack-driver, I have not heard about too much really excellent accuracy with the older .32 Long Colt.  I guess this depends on your expectations for this little wheelgun.

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Ed Harris posted this 4 weeks ago

If you need a heeled bullet for the .32 Long Colt, Tom at Accurate has a couple of those too.  You'll want to slug your chambers to determine correct diameter, but if you have a .32 Long Colt one of these will be a better fit than the bullet design I posted earlier, which is for the .310 Cadet.

 

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

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GBertolet posted this 4 weeks ago

My cylinder throats are .335, and barrel is .314. Wouldn't I need a bullet that is closer to .335, to prevent leading? A heel of .312 to .314 would be about right. Shooting a standard 32 cal .315 bullet leads like crazy. That's why I was looking at the Accurate 33-102C mold.

http://www.accuratemolds.com/bullet_detail.php?bullet=33-102C-D.png

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M3 Mitch posted this 3 weeks ago

As Ed said, you need to slug or measure your cylinder throats, and then Accurate can make up a mold to your specification.  You need to pick an alloy, perhaps a simple binary lead-tin, mostly lead, is what you want - I don't have specific experience with a revolver in this caliber.  But my general experience with all sorts of revolvers is that if the cast bullet is not at or a little bigger than cylinder throat diameter, they will not shoot accurately at all and will lead the barrel.  If you have already measured and .335 is where you are at, you only need to decide on an alloy and order your mold.

I'm thinking your old Forehand will not rival the accuracy of a Python regardless of what you do.  But you can come up with a better shooting load that should not lead the barrel.

From what I have read on here, some people are using cylinder to barrel differences as large as yours and are getting at least OK field accuracy. 

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GBertolet posted this 3 weeks ago

Thank you.

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GBertolet posted this 2 weeks ago

I ordered a mold from Accurate on Sunday. I can't believe I received it already today. It's the 33-090B. It's a new cataloged mold. Tom said he added it just for me. It is supposed to have two thin .335 driving bands, with a .314 heel, and weigh approx 90 grains. I can't wait to try it, and see what comes out.

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M3 Mitch posted this 2 weeks ago

Great, I think you will like that mold and it will get your gat shooting about as well as it can shoot.

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GBertolet posted this 4 days ago

I had the chance to cast some bullets, and load some and shoot a little, in the Forehand Arms revolver. The bullets drop at 95 grains, when cast of pure lead with a little solder added. The driving bands run .334 to .3345, which is pretty good. I lubed with LLA. I deceided to try some smokeless powder loads to start in some 32 long cases. I am sort of in uncharted territory here, so I went light with some Bullseye powder. 1.5 gr to start. A recommended starting load. I shot into some phone books in the basement, and the bullets just bounced off. I upped the charge .1 gr at a time, until I got to 2 gr, before the bullets stuck.

I went outside the next day with 6 rounds of 2.1 gr. 2.2 gr, and 2.3 gr. All fired ok with no abnormalities. Cases were all smoky from blowback, extraction was easy. The 2.2 gr load chronographed @ 450 fps. The cold temperatures affected the readings after that. The fat .3345 driving bands swaged down very easy in the transition to the .314 barrel. No leading whatsoever. Shooting distance was only 10 yards, in deference to the type of revolver this is. Offhand groups were fist sized, windage was centered, elevation was about  2inches high. Not too bad considering this is a pipsqueak sized frame, horrible sights,and a heavy trigger.

The next question is how heavy can I go with Bullseye in this breaktop revolver? I think because I am using a heeled bullet, taking up only about 1/8" of the case, there is more volume left in the case, so pressures are lower. I am guessing at least 2.5 gr. is safely possible.

In this adventure, I learned a good bit along the way, communicating with people who know far more than I in this area. This revolver, although chambers 32 long, it was intended for 32 S&W short, even though it has a long cylinder. The extractor only lifts the empties 32 S&W short length. The cylinders on this make of revolver, were bored all the way through for a cost saving measure, not for any special chambering. The .3345 driving bands are a work around for this, and it seems to be a successful one. Next I want to try some black powder loads in the 32 S&W short case. I will have to aquire some 3F powder. That ought to be fun, although the cleanup afterwards won't be.

 

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M3 Mitch posted this 3 days ago

These old break-top revolvers are not very strong, I would suggest that you "declare victory" with the 2.2 grains of Bullseye load, and quit while you are ahead.  It may be chambered for the 32 Short Colt, which was loaded with a heeled bullet. 

Probably it was built during the black powder era.  Not necessarily very good steel, not heat treated.

Not sure what a load more powerful than the one you have would be useful for. 

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GBertolet posted this yesterday

I located a can of Goex 3F BP, and loaded a few rounds of BP in the 32 S&W cases. I hadn't purchased BP in many years, and there was sure a lot of red tape to buy it. The clerk said it was a new law. 5.5 gr in the case came up to the bullet base. I probably could go another grain or so with compression. Anyhow lots of sparks and smoke. It shot suprisingly accurate, with nice grouping, but still 3" high at 10 yards. Too dreary for chrono to work though, so no ballistic info yet. I loaded some S&W long cases with 9 gr, with some cardboard wads, to bring the level up to the bullet base to try next time.

I found that the typical 5/16" paper punch makes the exact size of wads needed for the .32. Cerial box cardboard works fine for wad material.

I was advised to, and I did, smear some BP lube on the bullet bands before firing. Is this really necessiary for fouling, as this is not a muzzle loader? Bullets are currently tumble lubed in LLA. Cleanup afterwards is not too bad. I dropped the cylinder in a dishpan of hot soapy water, and with the frame opened, placed the barrel horizontally in the water, and scrubbed with a bronze brush. Cleaned up nice. The air compressor made sure all the water was gone, Hoppes BP lube/solvent was applied to bore and cylinder afterwards.

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