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.32 Self-Defense Round? #5260394 11/07/19 12:32 AM
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rrretiree7 Offline OP
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I have a Harrington and Richardson .32 S and W. I bought a box of 98 Grain Lead Round Nose ammo. The man in the gun store
recommended .32 Wadcutters for self defense. I know nothing about these rounds. Please let me know just what these
rounds can do. Thank you

Re: .32 Self-Defense Round? [Re: rrretiree7] #5260398 11/07/19 12:39 AM
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Marco620 Offline
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Well its better than nothing. 32 SW is way different than 32ACP. I think you should find a field and try different loads on fruits and vegetables at 3,5,7 and 10 meters to see what works best for defense or target shootin.


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Re: .32 Self-Defense Round? [Re: rrretiree7] #5260409 11/07/19 02:19 AM
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billt460 Online Content
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Originally Posted by rrretiree7
I have a Harrington and Richardson .32 S and W. I bought a box of 98 Grain Lead Round Nose ammo. The man in the gun store
recommended .32 Wadcutters for self defense. I know nothing about these rounds. Please let me know just what these
rounds can do. Thank you

As Marco said, they're better than nothing. But there are far better choices for self defense. And lead round nose ammunition is just about the worst choice for self defense. The .32 is not a round the ammunition makers have put much into the last few decades, because it's not a big seller.

So you won't find much if any of the modern open nose, expanding bullets being offered for it. Even the .25 ACP has better choices available. A 98 to 100 grain RN lead bullet at 730 FPS or so is about all that is available. If you reload you could try loading the .32 S&W revolver with a proven .32 ACP hollowpoint. Even that becomes questionable, because it's doubtful you could drive it fast enough for reliable expansion.

Given what's out there for this cartridge, I would definitely look for something in a good used 9 MM. For what it's going to cost, your life is worth it. Otherwise I have to agree with what the gun shop guy told you. The wadcutters are a better choice than the lead round nose bullets....... But not by much in that caliber.

Re: .32 Self-Defense Round? [Re: rrretiree7] #5260411 11/07/19 03:12 AM
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Neely97 Offline
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Antique gun best used as a wall ornament, you need to upgrade to something better.


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Re: .32 Self-Defense Round? [Re: rrretiree7] #5260425 11/07/19 05:00 AM
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hatt Offline
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Wadcutter isn't a bad choice for this round. Cuts a clean hole and should penetrate decent. Hollow points probably aren't going to open up with such a weak round.


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Re: .32 Self-Defense Round? [Re: rrretiree7] #5260451 11/07/19 06:06 AM
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tc1446 Offline
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If its for in-house use, it can be a useful defense gun. I wouldn't want to get shot with one.


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Re: .32 Self-Defense Round? [Re: rrretiree7] #5260458 11/07/19 06:21 AM
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Astro14 Offline
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I love this description from Wikipedia: "It was originally designed as a black powder cartridge. The .32 S&W was offered to the public as a light defense cartridge for "card table" distances."

Light defense.

Card table distance.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.32_S%26W

Look, it's a black powder round. Small caliber. So, low pressure, small bullet at low velocity. Not much energy. Roughly 85 grain bullet, subsonic, perhaps 85 ftlbs ME. So, just a bit BELOW a .22 LR. Not even close to a .22 Magnum.

At that velocity, with that diameter, bullet design really isn't going to matter. You're not going to get expansion, you're just hoping for penetration. Hoping...

Notably, this is the round that was used to shoot President Mckinley. Shot twice, he succumbed to sepsis 8 days after the shooting.

Not exactly a man-stopper. It's lethal, eventually...maybe...though, with modern medicine, which McKinley didn't have, it may not even be lethal unless you get very lucky.

So, Lead Round Nose, or Wadcutter, either one is as good as it's going to get.

What you've got is a cool old gun. You should enjoy owning it and shooting it.

If you honestly want a decent defensive gun, you should really consider something different. It could still be cool and old... but even a .38 SPL is a huge step up in power and effectiveness...and anything in .45 Colt (Long Colt, like the Single Action Army) will have the power (velocity, bullet weight, bullet diameter) to be effective in a defensive scenario.

Last edited by Astro14; 11/07/19 06:34 AM.

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Re: .32 Self-Defense Round? [Re: rrretiree7] #5260466 11/07/19 06:34 AM
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Mackelroy Offline
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wad cutters are for paper target, on a 32 cal, imo you want maximum penetration, so ball ammo would be the choice for self defence .

If it was a 9mm they can over penetrate , so hollow points slow that down, and best for defense imo.

My biggest complaint with .32, ammo expense

Last edited by Mackelroy; 11/07/19 06:36 AM.
Re: .32 Self-Defense Round? [Re: Astro14] #5260467 11/07/19 06:38 AM
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hatt Offline
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Originally Posted by Astro14
I love this description from Wikipedia: "It was originally designed as a black powder cartridge. The .32 S&W was offered to the public as a light defense cartridge for "card table" distances."

Light defense.

Card table distance.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.32_S%26W

Look, it's a black powder round. Small caliber. So, low pressure, small bullet at low velocity. Not much energy. Roughly 85 grain bullet, subsonic, perhaps 85 ftlbs ME. So, just a bit BELOW a .22 LR. Not even close to a .22 Magnum.

At that velocity, with that diameter, bullet design really isn't going to matter. You're not going to get expansion, you're just hoping for penetration. Hoping...

Notably, this is the round that was used to shoot President Mckinley. Shot twice, he succumbed to sepsis 8 days after the shooting.

Not exactly a man-stopper. It's lethal, eventually...maybe...though, with modern medicine, which McKinley didn't have, it may not even be lethal unless you get very lucky.

So, Lead Round Nose, or Wadcutter, either one is as good as it's going to get.

What you've got is a cool old gun. You should enjoy owning it and shooting it.

If you honestly want a decent defensive gun, you should really consider something different. It could still be cool and old... but even a .38 SPL is a huge step up in power and effectiveness...and anything in .45 Colt (Long Colt, like the Single Action Army) will have the power (velocity, bullet weight, bullet diameter) to be effective in a defensive scenario.

Since OP bought 98 grain ammo I think he has the long version. Not that it's much more powerful.


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Re: .32 Self-Defense Round? [Re: rrretiree7] #5260475 11/07/19 06:57 AM
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nwjones18 Offline
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Like everyone else has said its better than nothing. I'd rather have a .32 long than a .22 or a .25 acp.. I'd say the LRN you have is about as good as its going to get for self defense with that caliber. Even if someone did offer expanding bullets I doubt its running them fast enough to expand much. A 38 special would be a pretty dramatic step up. Any model # on your H&R? They made top break 32's for a very long time..


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Re: .32 Self-Defense Round? [Re: Mackelroy] #5260487 11/07/19 07:07 AM
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bubbatime Offline
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Originally Posted by Mackelroy
wad cutters are for paper target, on a 32 cal, imo you want maximum penetration, so ball ammo would be the choice for self defence .


Wad cutters are actually pretty good for defensive use, IF they are loaded hot. Most wad cutters are sold for target use, so they are loaded light, 20-30% lighter than normal rounds. In this case I would buy a European manufactured round, from Fiocchi or S&B. They seem to be loaded at least 10% hotter than American brands.

Honestly, you can get a Taurus 38 special revolver under $200 now after rebate. Thats a huge step up in performance, with a huge selection in ammo. I'd go that route.


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Re: .32 Self-Defense Round? [Re: rrretiree7] #5260502 11/07/19 07:31 AM
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Re: .32 Self-Defense Round? [Re: rrretiree7] #5260520 11/07/19 07:53 AM
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Get a 12 gauge shotgun .


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Re: .32 Self-Defense Round? [Re: hatt] #5260526 11/07/19 07:59 AM
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bunnspecial Offline
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Originally Posted by hatt

Since OP bought 98 grain ammo I think he has the long version. Not that it's much more powerful.


I agree-both the bullet weight bought and the fact that the shop recommended wadcutters sounds like they sold the OP 32 S&W long. I'm not sure if a typical HBWC would even fit flush in a 32 S&W case.

I think that's also a problem for the OP as all of the H&R top breaks I've encountered are chambered in 32 S&W, not 32 S&W Long.

In any case, if I had to use the gun, I'd lean toward the penetration from a round nose vs. the nicer "hole" of a wadcutter. At then end of the day, though, if wanted to carry a 32 caliber for self defense(I have on occasion/do carry one) I'd want at a minimum a .32 H&R "wants to be a magnum but isn't really" or preferably a .327 Magnum. A hot loaded 32-20 might be passable, but there are other considerations with that. I've carried all three, but would rather step up a 38 special at the minimum if not a 9mm, 357 Magnum, or 38 Super.


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Re: .32 Self-Defense Round? [Re: rrretiree7] #5260583 11/07/19 08:56 AM
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Yeah, I thought the OP's revolver was chambered in .32 S&W, not S&W Long.

Since he was asking about .32 ACP earlier, it appears that the gun store, as well as the OP, may not be clear on what can go into his old H&R, which is labeled ".32 S&W"

https://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/5257058/32-s-w-or-32-acp#Post5257058

I had thought that he had a top break revolver, but I'm not clear, either.

Only H&R I own is a 1954 Garand...they made a great gun in that case...quality company "back in the day" but I wish I knew more about what he actually has...that would help clear up the confusion...


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