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32 Winchester SPL


In 1902, Winchester introduced the 32 Winchester Special for chambering in its famous 1894.  If ever a more storied chambering existed, I haven’t heard of it.  As Winchester clearly stated in its catalogue, paraphrased only slightly: the 32 Winchester Special offers more energy than the 30 WCF but it is not so powerful as the 30 U. S. Army.  The catalogues went on to mention how the 32 WS could also be loaded with blackpowder more successfully than the 30 WCF could.

This latter was true, the slightly narrower case shoulder meant the cases were easier to clean, necessary with blackpowder, and the much slower rifling twist meant the bore fouled less and was easier to clean.  Nevertheless, the catalogue only mentioned the blackpowder handloading advantage in passing; the focus of the discussion was the fact that the 32 WS offered significantly more energy than the 30 WCF did.

This claim was true, muzzle energy of the 32 WS fell about midway between the 30 WCF and the 30 U. S. Army.

Regardless, campfire legend grew that the only reason the 32 WS existed was so folks could handload the 1894 with blackpowder.  Of course, this was ridiculous because for two-thirds the cost of an 1894 chambered in 32 WS, anyone interested in blackpowder handloading could buy the same rifle chambered in 32-40 and have cases that were much easier to clean with a bore and rifling-twist rate that were precisely the same as the 32 WS.

Regardless of these unassailable facts, there are those today who still argue about this.  A cynic might note how Mark Twain offered an observation that was entirely applicable: Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.  But heaven forbid I should be so cynical: everyone is entitled to an opinion, even when that opinion flies in the face of all logic and facts to the contrary.  There exist folks who will end any significant discussion with a statement equivalent to the following: Don’t bother me with facts, my mind’s made up.  If you haven’t met such a person, just wait….

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 dates to 1879 with the introduction of the 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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