32 S&W Ammunition
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History of .32 Smith and Wesson Ammunition
Introduced in 1878, the .32 Smith and Wesson is a self defense cartridge intended for use in small pistols at close range. The cartridge was first chambered in the S&W Model 1 ½ break top revolver. A small "vest pocket" handgun, the Model 1 ½ was very popular in the late 1800's and early 1900's. The .32 Smith and Wesson was originally loaded with black powder which was eventually switched to smokeless powder.
Although not a powerful round by any stretch of the imagination, the .32 Smith & Wesson was used in the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. Leon Czolgouz shot McKinley twice in the abdomen. One shot was deflected by a shirt button, and another actually did penetrate the President's stomach. Unfortunately, the bullet was not able to be removed and gangrene set in. Nine days later, President McKinley died from infection caused by his bullet wound.
The .32 Smith and Wesson was seen as the smallest acceptable caliber for self defense use of its time. Eventually surpassed by the .32 ACP, the .32 S&W is no longer considered a valid choice for self defense. The most common loads for the .32 S&W are 85 or 98 grain bullets, both of which are loaded to achieve a velocity of 705 feet per second at the muzzle. This gives 93 and 115 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle respectively.
Today .32 S&W firearms are becoming less common on the market as they went out of production years ago. .32 S&W ammo is still available from major manufacturers such as Remington. Interestingly, the ammo can be used in revolvers chambered for the .32S&W Long, .32 H&R Magnum and the .327 Federal Magnum. Though not poised to make a comeback, the .32 S&W will likely remain in production as the old Smith and Wesson 1 ½ and Iver Johnson revolvers chambered for this caliber will be shooting for years to come.
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