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 Giving up on 32 H&R

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ligonierbill Posted - Jul 03 2017 : 06:02:58
Oh, I like the little round, but I'm on a "buy one - sell one" agreement, and I had to pick something, in this case a birdshead Single Six. But I don't feel too bad, because I got my Colt Official Police 32-20 going.

Data for 32-20 is a little different in that rifle and handgun really diverge. Quickload shows a MAP of 2,100 bar (CIP >30 ksi), which is pretty stiff for a pistol, even my tough old Colt. Works fine for strong rifles, but I try to keep my pistol loads at <20 ksi predicted.

So I was happy with HP-38 and a little over 900 with 115 cast and about the same for 90 Sierra JHC. But the Sierra would do nearly 1,100 out of the little Ruger, so that was going to be my "light" woods gun. Now, I'm like the last guy on the planet to discover Unique, but better late than never. This powder yields me 1,100 with 115s out of the Colt. Haven't run my jacketed Sierra or Hornady yet, but I will soon. So the rampant pony displaces the Ruger.

I don't think I would run these in, say a Smith Hand Ejector of that era, but this Colt is pretty beefy. As I recall, Colt claimed in the day that these revolvers would handle the "38/44" loads. Probably a stretch, but it does fine with my moderate 32 loads.
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41magnum Posted - Jul 23 2017 : 21:47:19
Don't forget to ask on the Ruger Owners Forum for advice either....Google is your friend.
Kosh75287 Posted - Jul 07 2017 : 00:31:33
My question is the result of complete mental spit-balling, so I won't be surprised if someone with real gunsmithing experience poo-poos the idea. I'D consider running the idea past Onandaga & if he says it's at all possible, find a local revolver Wizard & let him put the measuring tools to it. I'm not sure a vernier caliper is exact enough to give much info, unless the dimensional differences are quite large.

Additionally, I don't want you to shoot your revolver loose, but you could also try pushing pressures as high as you are comfortable with, using jacketed projectiles. If accuracy steadily improves with higher pressures, a putative mechanism might be that the higher pressures more completely obturate the gilding metal jacket, more completely sealing the bore, and (probably) reducing non-uniformity effects from one cylinder to another.
ligonierbill Posted - Jul 06 2017 : 16:54:39
That's possible. This revolver dates from 1923. Cast 115s are consistent with both Unique and HP-38, but I guess they would be more forgiving of dimensional irregularities.
Kosh75287 Posted - Jul 06 2017 : 15:40:44
Either of those powders should give you fairly consistent results. Is it possible that the fronts of the chambers are different diameters, or out of round?
ligonierbill Posted - Jul 06 2017 : 07:16:53
Yep, my .45 Blackhawk likes 255 Missouri Cast over 8.6 gr Unique. However, it struck out with my 32-20 JHP. Plenty of velocity, but lots of variation. Looking at my records, HP-38 showed a lot of variation also. Maybe this Colt just doesn't like jacketed bullets. Power Pistol has done well for me in other revolvers, so I'll give that a try. Any suggestions are welcome.
Kosh75287 Posted - Jul 06 2017 : 01:34:09
I haven't reloaded for any of the "hot .30s" except 7.62x25, but Unique worked amazingly well in it. Other powders worked better, but Unique worked well enough by any standard. I've probably burned more Unique than I have all other powders combined. It is not my favorite powder for .32 nor .380 ACP rounds, but again, it works adequately. When I was first learning to reload (.45 ACP), the 9x19 fans swore by 6.0/Unique/115JHP for everything. 7.2-7.5/Unique/158SWC gave near max performance in .357 Magnum. To get more out of the round required the use of 2400 or H110, neither of which burns completely in a 6" barrel. Parenthetically, for magnum-level revolver loads, Herco gives slightly better performance, while sacrificing little in the way of versatility. This also applies to "warmer" .45 Colt loads.

Either Elmer Keith or Skeeter Skelton (or both) made 7.5/Unique/245SWC famous in .44 Special, which still works well today, if the revolver is up to it.

My two favorite .45 ACP loads are 6.0-6.6/Unique/230 or 6.5-7.2/Unique/200LSWC, and no other powder I've found has offered noticeable improvement. If I'm doing MY part, such reloads shoot as well or better than the match-level loads using Bullseye or Red Dot. If lower recoil is desired, decrease the starting weights for either load I mentioned by 8 to 10%. SOMEtimes, it seems to me that that the lighter loads burn less cleanly, but I am not convinced that it is noticeable to anyone but me.

I don't think Unique is at its best in .38 Special, unless loaded to +P (or higher) pressures but it'll do in a pinch. This cartridge is where I prefer Bullseye, RedDot, 700-X, W231, and the like.

In .45 Colt, 7.2-9.0/Unique/200-250 RNFP shoots well in every firearm in which I've tried it. In replica an older firearms, staying in the bottom 1/3 of that charge range is strongly advised. Again, HERCO gives better velocities without straining things, especially in longer barrels.

What other propellant does all those things?
ethmoid1999 Posted - Jul 03 2017 : 08:49:47
Haven't loaded the 32-20 but it sounds like you have a neat work in progress. Unigue seems to have fallen from favor with lots of people. It's a little dirty and messy but my accuracy loads in 45 Colt and 44-40 have been with Unique. I am working on an eight pound keg and it has given me lots of good shooting. I've used it in 45 ACP, and 9mm. Not ideal but it worked. A very versatile powder.

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