.32-20 Winchester (.32 WCF) Rifle (using Hornady bullets)
Date: May 30 2013
The .32 WCF, more commonly known today as the .32-20 Winchester, was introduced around 1882 in the Winchester Model 1873 lever-action rifle as a black powder cartridge. When smokeless powders and stronger rifles such as the Winchester Model 1892 and Marlin Model 1894 became available, ammunition companies began increasing .32-20 pressures and velocities. Some loads pushed an 80-grain JHP to over 2,100 fps. The problem was, many of these high-velocity loads found their way into rifles and revolvers intended for black powder or lower pressures, which was dangerous. In an effort to avoid the above scenario, today the industry has standardized on 16,000 cup as maximum average pressure, which is reflected in current factory loads from Winchester and Remington.
Hornady .32-20 Winchester data as outlined in the Handbook of Cartridge Reloading 9th Edition is intended for strong guns capable of handling pressures up to 40,000 CUP. This is the same pressure limit to which the .218 Bee is loaded (which is essentially a necked down .32-20 case). It is strongly suggested to use this data only in guns intended to handle this level of pressure. Examples include late model Winchester Model 92 and Marlin 1894, the modern Marlin Model 1894CL, Browning Model 53 and guns with similar strength.
The .32-20 Winchester case is rather thin, so a certain degree of finesse should be exercised when sizing, expanding the case mouth, seating bullets and applying the crimp. Most seating dies feature a roll crimp. Since cases usually vary in length from one make (or even lot) to another, trimming them to the same length is suggested to obtain uniformity. An excellent option includes using the Lee Factory Crimp die as a separate step, which yields a reasonably uniform crimp on cases of varying lengths. Starline cases were used to develop the accompanying data. This resulted in a firm bullet-to-case fit and a heavier bullet pull than can normally be applied, which helped lower extreme spreads and obtain uniform velocities and accuracy.
Hodgdon H-110, Winchester 296, Accurate No. 9 and Alliant 2400 gave excellent accuracy and top velocities.