The .32 S&W Long

By Chuck Hawks

The .32 S&W Long is a 100 year old revolver cartridge that would be obsolete except for its excellent accuracy and the fact that it can serve as an understudy to both the .32 H&R Magnum and the .327 Magnum. In the early 20th Century, the .32 Long (along with the .38 S&W) was a reasonably popular police service cartridge; eventually it was replaced for police use by the much more effective .38 Special.

Factory loads are available from Federal, Remington, and Winchester. They are all similar. Winchester figures show a 98 grain lead round nose bullet at a muzzle velocity (MV) of 705 fps from a 4 inch revolver barrel. This relatively feeble load delivers 115 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy (ME). Of course, at this velocity there is ordinarily no bullet expansion. That load has a 2.3 inch mid-range trajectory over 50 yards. This is the general purpose load.

Anyone who chooses to can reload .32 Long cartridges. It is a straight forward process, just like any other standard revolver caliber. One can use either .32 S&W Long dies or .32 H&R Magnum dies, since the rim size and body diameter of the cases are identical. (The .32 Magnum case is merely longer.) There are not a lot of modern .312 inch bullets, but there are some. Speer offers both a 98 grain hollow base wadcutter for target shooting and a 100 grain JHP (developed for the .32 Magnum).

The target loads shown for the 98 grain wadcutter bullet in the Speer Reloading Manual No. 13 delivered a MV of 674 fps on top of 1.6 grains of Bullseye powder, and 1.8 grains of Bullseye gave a MV of 777 fps. These loads used Remington brass and CCI 500 primers, and were chronographed in a 4" barrel. Such loads would be my choice for general purpose use if I owned a good .32 S&W Long revolver. At 750+ fps the 98 grain wadcutter bullet ought to make a pretty good small game cartridge out to about 50 yards.

Note: A complete article about the .32 Long can be found on the Handgun Cartridge Page.

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Copyright 2004, 2016 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.