A Marauding But Civilized Gang of .32s


I was in the safe the other day digging for a gun I needed for a photo and I stumbled onto a Walther PP .32 ACP. I’ll confess I had sorta’ forgotten I had it. “I should shoot that a bit,” I thought, and tossed it onto the carpet. Then things got weird. During my digging, I pulled out the following: A Savage 1910 .32 ACP, NAA Guardian .32 ACP, Custom Novak Colt 1903 .32 ACP, Kel-Tec P32, Charter Arms .32 H&R Magnum, Police Positive .32 Long, Iver Johnson .32 S&W, Ruger .32 H&R Magnum, a S&W .32 Hand Ejector (what an elegant little gun!) — and that Walther. Everything was in some sort of .32 caliber. See any trends there? Seeing them in a pile on my carpet made me realize I maybe had a sort of, um … affliction might be a good word … for .32s. Which made me wonder why.

So I looked at the pile on the floor and asked, “Okay then, why?” They didn’t answer.

I’ve already admitted I don’t collect guns, I simply seem to get them somehow. I remember most of them, but I honestly don’t actually remember buying this many .32s. Maybe my safe is like a reverse-black hole. Instead of things being sucked away into a black hole, weird guns tend to get sucked into my safe. Maybe Stephen Hawking should investigate my safe for a new kind of black-nano-neutrino-particle atom or something? That may explain why — and I swear this is true — I can be digging in the back of my safe and see stuff I have absolutely no recollection of buying — ever. No, really.

I’ve actually come home with a “new” gun only to find I already had one buried in the back of the safe. I think that black-nano-neutrino thingy can detect what I’m bringing home, then sort of materialize a copy in the darkness of deep “space” inside my gunsafe. It may do it to keep me guessing about my sanity. I’m just sayin’ is all.

But I don’t always complain about it. I mean, these .32s are all very cool and fun guns. No recoil, not a lotta’ noise, and just downright, dare I say it — amusing? While they might have originally been made for self-defense, seeing them on the floor, well … they just didn’t seem to be very malicious. To make sure, I took a bunch outside and shot ’em a bit. And sure enough, there wasn’t a malicious thing about any of them. They were just — fun. There’s that word again.

I’ve also learned a few things about .32s. His Immenseness, John of Browning, developed the .32 ACP and .380 ACP (and .25 ACP, for that matter) to fit some of his guns. Well, they made such good sense (not surprised, I hope?), legions of other makers decided to use the very same cartridges for their own guns. And guess what? They still do. Hence the gadzillion different guns chambered in .32 ACP. I even recall an AR-15 clone about 30 years ago chambered for .32 ACP. Always wanted one of those too, now that I think on it some. Maybe those nano-neutrino things like .32s too. That could help to explain a lot of this. I wonder if there’s something mysterious or “deep-spacey” about .32 caliber guns? Maybe it’s the “perfect” caliber so has good karma with the universe? I dunno. At least it’s fun, right, karma not-withstanding?

Over the years, I’ve discovered a few handy things about .32 calibers too. One of the coolest is the fact you can shoot .32 ACP auto cartridges in the chambers of some .32 revolvers. Yup, no fooling. And, if you have a .327 Federal, you can shoot just about anything labelled “.32” in it. If you have a .32 H&R Magnum, you can shoot everything “.32” also, except for .327 Federal (it’s .10″ longer than the .32 H&R Magnum). It’s also much higher pressure, so use your head there! Also, I’m not sure about .32 ACPs in old .32 S&W break-top revolvers, so don’t go there. But a .32 H&R Magnum or .327 Federal pretty much opens the door for you!

I sometimes shoot .32 ACP Silvertips in that Charter Arms .32 H&R Magnum and the little Ruger .327. It’s murderous squirrel medicine and feels like I’m shooting a .22. “Pop” and suddenly a bullet hole appears in the target. Mike Venturino wrote about what he likes to shoot these days (Slow And Easy, in this issue), and other than the fact Duke likes big pieces of lead, I’ll bet he’d approve of my basket of .32s. There’s also a passel of ammo available, and you can pick and choose between anything from simple ball to high-performance defensive ammo. I mean, check out that Buffalo Bore “Heavy” .32 H&R Mag, a 100-gr. JHP at 1,300 fps, or the “Heavy” .327 Federal, shooting a 100-gr. JHP at 1,400 fps. That is chasing .357 Magnum territory, ladies and gentlemen. That is, if that’s important to you, but it’s not to me though. If I want performance I’ll go to a high-performance round, like a .44 or .45 something. Why tempt fate?

When I’m dining with my extended family, my dad, a 77-year-old gentleman-shooter with good taste, will often say — while holding a good glass of wine in his hand — “This is certainly civilized.” And he’s right. I like the .32s because they are polite, fun, not intrusive and, as my dad might say — “civilized.”

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