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32-40 Winchester

32-40

Introduced in 1884, the 32-40 WCF uses the same case as the 38-55, tapered to use a bullet of 0.321-inch diameter, compared to the 0.378-inch bullets used in the 38-55.

As the name suggests, original loads used 40-grains of blackpowder to launch a 165-grain bullet at about 1120 fps. As such, the 32-40 was considered, in its day, to be perfectly adequate for whitetail deer hunting. Obviously, trajectory limitations were significant but shots inside 100 yards were perfectly reasonable.

The 32-40 WCF was always intended as a target-rifle chambering. It was the basis for barrel-maker Harry M. Pope’s personal favorite target round, the 33-40. Popes version used a one-caliber larger bullet. This allowed him to re-bore and re-rifle 32-40 barrels.

 


 

With his personal 33-40, he set a 200-yard, 10-shot accuracy record that stood for half a century. Had he not been pestered incessantly by a bystander as he was firing a much-smaller group several years later, likely he would have set a record that never would have been broken!

As it was, the incessant pestering culminated in him being so aggravated and distracted that he shot his cleaning rod downrange on his tenth shot, so he could not complete the group. Oh, what might have been!

As with all cartridges used in guns with a tubular magazine, a properly applied crimp can smooth and ease chambering and a crimp is critical to lock the case mouth into the cannelure and thereby prevent recoil and chambering forces from driving the bullet into the case. In some instances, a roll crimp might be the best option but the Lee Factory Crimp Die usually does a better job and the crimp it applies will not damage a cast bullet as chamber pressure drives that from the case.

Heritage of this case began with the, circa 1879, 38-50 Ballard case.


The text associated with the cartridge description reflects opinions and conclusions of the author, M.L. (Mic) McPherson. Lee Precision and its employees do not necessarily either agree or disagree with any of his comments. We present these with due deference to his recognized expertise in the firearms field. His acumen extends to handloading and all aspects of ballistics - internal, external, and terminal.
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