Smith And Wesson Forums banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,718 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Seems like every post thread about 32-20 Smiths results in a bunch of replies about HEAT TREATED. I guess that three out of four of my old guns might be unsafe. I guess the old master gun makers that worked at S&W didn't know what they were doing. It took the US army to draw up specs and check sheets, three copies, before these
guns were safe to shoot. Do you think this heat treatment program might have been caused because they hired a bunch of
day laborers and sat them down at a bench and called them pistol makers.
Any way here are a couple of pics. I have two 1905 S&Ws built before 1919 and two Colts, a Army special built in 1916 and a pol pos spec. The colt PPS was probably from the 20s.
Really I trust the pre ww1 guns as much as the ones made by the new-hires.
That said, I'd advise everyone to keep thier loads under 600fps and call me if you want to get rid of an unsafe
32-20 target.
Cliff image.jpeg image.jpeg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,968 Posts
Wowser! What a fine FOURSOME!

Hyphenated: A way of life! :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,484 Posts
I have read several articles on the older non-heat treated steel versus heat treated steel and know the older ammo was loaded hotter than modern ammo (old S&W ammo flyer has pre 70s 38 special at 1,000 fps which is around current +P). I do not want to stress any of the older guns and load mid range loads and find them to be very accurate and a lot of fun. Also when reviewing some older tests not sure the heat treating process really gave a huge advantage. JMO
Those are some excellent looking 32-20 guns and all look very capable. Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,602 Posts
Unsafe ,,,,, nah . But probably not real efficient or productive either. To have to restrict THAT cartridge to 600 fps only makes sense with that family of revolvers. That cartridge is capable of doubling that in a modern gun and in fact I can get close to 800fps with a humble 32long . If kept to 600 fps that cartridge WOULD be obsolete . In a modern gun that cartridge can challenge the 327Fed in performance and trounce a 32H&R.
Now don't take me wrong I have a couple old S&W 32-20s and appreciate them ,,,,, for what they are. But in the interest of preservation mine are 99.9% retired. If I desire to shoot a vintage fixed sight 32-20 I go to my Army Special Colt that I feel is at least strong enough to shoot a reasonably stouter load. But to really wake up that cartridge it's Ruger time.

Not saying they are un-safe but just a fun fact. Of all the barrels of used guns I have looked down fully 80 or 90 percent that I have seen barrel bulges in have been S&W 32-20s . And I have seen a few swelled cylinders but I blame that more on the High Pressure Rifle ammo then heat treating issues.

I DO understand the joy of mild mannered guns and plinking ,,,,, but I also love the potential performance offered by the whole 32 cartridge family. With 32-20 among them.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
13,111 Posts
I'm a fan of 32-20's and in the past few years have purged my stable of pre heat treated models in favor of those with one line addresses, SAA's and lever guns.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,476 Posts
I never understood how the rifle round bulged the barrel? A stuck bullet in a be barrel (squib) will bulge a barrel not a high pressure round.
Wondering about that myself. Moment of highest pressure should occur before bullet has left the chamber. By the time it's moved into the brl. (loosing pressure at the cylinder/brl gap), pressure has dropped. If the brl is bulged, the bullet must have encountered some obstruction.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,718 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Kevin, I read an old post on this that explained it, his theory. Start with a light bullet, copper jacket. To this mix you add slow burning rifle powder and a barrel to cylinder gap. These heavy jacketed bullets didn't maintain enough momentum to exit the barrel. Squib, then the next one bulged the barrel. I read somewhere that the rifle loads didn't reach top speed until they had traveled at least 12in down the barrel.
Anyway, the 600fps comment was my attempt at sarcasm in a joking way. The factory loads say they are 1000fps but they don't tell the length of the test barrel so I try to keep mine around 900fps. Fun plinkers and they do good in my old rifles.
Cliff
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,968 Posts
Hey Cliff,

Over the last several years, a lot of Depression Era .32's are turning up at the LGS's around here. They were used as "garden guns"...to add rabbits to the pot.

Have seen an "odd" recipe card, along with an old Ideal Loading Tool, "a pinch of Bullseye". LOL

Have even seen the old 8oz steel can of Bullseye. LOL

Later, Mark
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,476 Posts
Kevin, I read an old post on this that explained it, his theory. Start with a light bullet, copper jacket. To this mix you add slow burning rifle powder and a barrel to cylinder gap. These heavy jacketed bullets didn't maintain enough momentum to exit the barrel. Squib, then the next one bulged the barrel.
I don't believe it. If the powder ignited at all, it would at least shove the bullet out of a short brl.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,476 Posts
Over the last several years, a lot of Depression Era .32's are turning up at the LGS's around here. They were used as "garden guns"...to add rabbits to the pot.
Something else I don't believe. If you read TRUE accounts of shooting during the Depression, you'll find that poor folks considered the price difference between .22 Shorts & L.R.s to be significant. Early '30s price of a box of .22 Shorts was about 25 cents, LRs a dime more, .32 Shorts over $1. And with the cheapest .22 boy's rifle, you'd be a WHOLE lot more certain of getting your "garden rabbit" with one shot than with a cheap .32 revolver.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,602 Posts
Not saying they are un-safe but just a fun fact. Of all the barrels of used guns I have looked down fully 80 or 90 percent that I have seen barrel bulges in have been S&W 32-20s . And I have seen a few swelled cylinders but I blame that more on the High Pressure Rifle ammo then heat treating issues.
Well , maybe we can resolve this if we step back a step.:?:
I think perhaps there was some misinterpretation of my perhaps poorly stated observations.
That is TWO separate thoughts and sentences .
First one they get lots of bulged barrels, no reason implied . Second sentence says sometimes they get bulged cylinders ,,, maybe from hot rifle ammo.
Sorry if that muddied the water.
And Yes, I too believe bulged barrels come from obstructions. Maybe a shed jacket or a squib load from one of those "pinch of Bullseye" or some kind of lead round ball bunny buster reloads gone wrong.
Hope that clarifies.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,965 Posts
I have no 32-20's, but I'm coming around to the idea that heat treating was more to eliminate the hardened cylinder stop shims as anything else. All my S&W's going back to 1900 run fine with modern standard pressure ammo; with two exceptions: .22 Ladysmiths because the forcing cone is paper thin so they get CB caps, and the 38-44's which work best with +p or +p+ ammo.

Very nice set, BTW. :)
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top