Reloading The .32-20 Winchester

Posted on: Wednesday January 6, 2021
32-20--32ACP
MD Smith

MD Smith


SWC= Semi-WadCutter, FMC= Full Metal Case, FMJ= Full Metal Jacket, JHP= Jacketed Hollow Point and if GC indicated, means Gas Check at bottom of lead bullet.Loads for .32-20 Winchester:
This necked cartridge has been around since the 1880’s and was originally black powder only. If you have an old gun, use very mild loads, something that produces speeds around 550 fps for starters in pistols. The newer Ruger is stronger for the normal loads and T/C guns can handle much higher pressures and speeds in the vicinity of 1500 fps.
The OLDER guns were chambered for bullets of .312″ for jacketed and .313″ for lead. The newer guns have been chambered to work with .308″ jacketed bullets. You must determine what the bore of your guns is and choose the correct bullet. If you used the older guns, you could use the smaller diameter bullets with some loss of accuracy. Do NOT use .312″ or .313″ bullets in the newer and smaller bore guns. However, one of the Ruger Blackhawk guns I came accross, had a .312″ grove diameter.
Do not use anything but light loads and lead bullets in these older revolvers.
The Thompson Contender (T/C) has the smaller .308″ grove. Don’t use larger bullets for the T/C.

(Note: Most ARE MAXIMUM loads (except where noted), you may want to use 10% less to start.)
(See note on Powders below or read all about various Powders.)
Due to different barrel lengths, type of bullet, seating depth, primer type and other factors, you may not get near the FPS charted. It is just a guide and the reason you should start under these charges and work up.

Most are MAXIMUM LOADS: Start at 10% less and work up! Some very old 32-20 guns as well as some imported copies are very weak and may blow up with even the mildest of loads. If you load for originals, use lead, slug bore first, and be VERY careful to work up the loads.

85 Grain JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point) .312″ dia
HP38 3.3 gr. 780 (starting load)
HP38 4.5 gr. 1,050 (MAX)
HS6 6.5 gr. 1,071
HS6 7.0 gr. 1,182 MAX
H110 15.5 gr. 1,617 MAX (Strong Guns Only)
231 3.2 gr. 745 (mild load)
231 4.7 gr. 1,022 MAX
Unique 4.1 gr. 742 (mild load)
Unique 4.8 gr. 967 MAX
AA No. 5 4.2 gr. 554 (mild load)
AA No. 5 5.7 gr. 948 MAX
90 Grain JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point) .312″ dia
HP38 3.3 gr. 811 (starting load)
HP38 4.3 gr. 1,023 (MAX)
HS6 6.2 gr. 1,011
HS6 6.8 gr. 1,081 MAX
H110 15.1 gr. 1,482 MAX, Strong guns only
2400 11.0 gr. 1,270 MAX, Strong guns only
231 3.4 gr. 679 (mild load)
231 4.5 gr. 937 MAX
Unique 3.6 gr. 639 (mild load)
Unique 4.8 gr. 864 MAX
AA No. 5 4.7 gr. 697 (mild load)
AA No. 5 5.4 gr. 875 MAX
100 Grain Lead SWC Lyman #313631 .313″ + Gas Check
231 3.2 gr. 793
231 4.1 gr. 990 MAX
Unique 3.5 gr. 689
Unique 4.3 gr. 888 MAX
AA No. 5 4.2 gr. 650
AA No. 5 5.0 gr. 891 MAX
AA No. 7 5.8 gr. 869
AA No. 7 6.1 gr. 924 MAX
AA No. 9 6.7 gr. 869
AA No. 9 7.0 gr. 924 MAX
AA 5744 8.4 gr. start load
AA 5744 9.3 gr. 900 MAX
100 Grain Speer Jacketed “Plinker” .308″ dia.
HS6 3.3 gr. 811 (starting load)
HS6 5.6 gr. 849
HS6 6.6 gr. 992 MAX
HP38 3.7 gr. 838
HP38 4.1 gr 922 MAX
CONTENDER ONLY BELOW
HS6 10.1 gr. 1713 MAXIMUM and T/C ONLY
2400 13.0 gr. 1793 MAXIMUM and T/C ONLY
AA No. 9 14.0 gr. 1833 MAXIMUM and T/C ONLY
110 Grain JSP or JHP .308″ dia
HS6 5.4 gr. 803
HS6 6.5 gr 900 MAX
HP38 3.6 gr. 770
HP38 4.0 gr. 869 MAX
CONTENDER ONLY BELOW
HS6 9.1 gr. 1539 MAXIMUM and T/C ONLY
2400 12.0 gr. 1594 MAXIMUM and T/C ONLY
AA No. 9 13.5 gr. 1739 MAXIMUM and T/C ONLY
115 grain LEAD RN/FP (Lyman #311008 .313″ dia)
(Bull-X makes a 115gr. RN/FP bullet )
231 3.1 gr. 782
231 3.8 gr. 905 MAX
Unique 3.2 gr. 684
Unique 4.0 gr. 835
AA No. 5 3.8 gr. 649
AA No. 5 4.5 gr. 825

These are ALL MAXIMUM LOADS unless noted or a lower amount
is shown. Start at 10% less than max. and work up!

Discussion: Again, there are TWO different bore sizes in use: The .308″ used in the Thompson Contender and perhaps some other modern guns. But the original bore size was .312″ so you need to make sure which size you are loading for. The RIFLE loads are closer to the T/C loads, than are these milder pistol loads.

A bullet with a copper gas check or copper plating is best for INDOOR ranges to keep lead vapors out of the air.

*
Power Pistol, Bullseye, Unique and 2400 are products of Alliant (formerly Hercules) Powders.
Clays, Universal, HP38, HS6 and H4895 are products of Hodgdon Powders.
IMR 3031 and IMR 4895 are products of IMR (formerly DuPont) Powder Company.
N100, No. 2, No. 5, No. 7, No. 9, #2230, and #2460 are products of Accurate Arms Company
WAP (Winchester Action Pistol), WMR, WSF, WSL, 760, 748, 231 and 540 are products of Winchester, Components Div.

References: Accurate Arms Co. 1996 Reloading booklet – – Alliant Powder Co. Reloaders’ Guide (1995) – – Hodgdon’s Basic Reloaders Manual (1996) – – Speer Reloading Manual, #12 – – Winchester Reloading Components Manual, 14th edition – – Lyman Piston & Revolver Reloading Handbook, 2nd edition. – – VihtaVuori Oy Company,reloading booklet (1995) – – Numerous magazine articles on reloading special calibers and personal loads where noted.