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Reloading The .32-20 Winchester


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          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.

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This page created 10/2/96 by M.D. Smith and last modified on August 1, 1997 ©