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The Ultimate Reloading Manual
Wolfe Publishing Group
  • reloading manual
  • alliant reloading data
  • reloading brass
  • shotshell reloading
  • bullet reloading
The Ultimate Reloading Manual
hodgdon load data

.32 S&W Long (using Hornady bullets)

Author: Brian Pearce / Wolfe Publishing Co.
Date: Apr 16 2013

The .32 S&W Long cartridge dates back to around 1896 when Smith & Wesson introduced its first solid-frame "Hand Ejector" double-action revolver with a swing out cylinder (built on the "I" frame). Initially it was a black-powder cartridge, but was soon transitioned to smokeless powders. Factory load ballistics have varied, but usually employed a 98-grain lead bullet at between 705 to 780 fps. It was originally intended as a defense and law enforcement cartridge in small frame frame revolvers, but over time it has largely been replaced by the .38 Special.

The .32 S&W Long is interchangeable and can be fired in .32 Colt New Police revolvers.

The .32 S&W Long has a proven record of accuracy in target competition, and due to its light recoil, is pure shooting fun in a quality revolver. Loaded with 90-to 100-grain SWC-style bullets, such as the 90-grain Hornady SWC Lead, it makes an excellent field cartridge for small game.

Due to its small powder capacity, slight changes in charge weights can significantly change pressures and velocity. Be certain that the powder scale is accurate and zeroed, and that the powder has "settled" in the measure before locking it in place and throwing charges. A change of just 0.10 grain of powder often changed velocities by 30 to 40 fps or more.

As can be seen in the accompanying data, there were significant velocity differences with identical powder charges when loading the Hornady 90-grain hollow base wadcutter (HBWC) and the Hornady 90-grain SWC. Naturally, the HBWC seats deeper, reducing powder capacity, which increases velocity and pressures.

Due to rather low pressures and velocities of the .32 S&W Long (15,000 psi is current industry maximum), some of the jacketed bullet loads may potentially stick bullets in the bore when fired in rifles (such as Marlin Model 1894CB chambered in .32 H&R Magnum). Thus, they are not recommended. Rather, use either of the Hornady lead bullets listed (as they give much less resistance in the bore), and use maximum powder charges.

A light to medium crimp is suggested when loading the Hornady 90-grain HBWC, while the 90-grain SWC should receive a medium crimp. Neither of these bullets feature a crimp cannelure, so bullets should be seated to the listed cartridge overall length, then the crimp applied into the bullet.