32 Winchester Special Ammunition
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History of .32 Winchester Special Ammunition
The .32 Winchester Special is a rifle cartridge that was designed by Winchester in 1901. Although there are several explanations as to why this case was developed, Winchester offered their own reasoning in their 1916 catalogue:
The .32 Winchester Special cartridge, which we have perfected, is offered to meet the demand of many sportsmen for a smokeless powder cartridge of larger caliber than the .30 Winchester [original name for the 30-30] and yet not so powerful as the .30 Army [now known as the 30-40 Krag].
What Winchester didn’t mention was that the improvement was only about a 10 percent increase of muzzle energy as compared to the .30 Winchester. However, it is noteworthy that the .32 Special does retain slightly more energy and shoot flatter at ranges beyond 200 yards.
The .32 Winchester Special is a necked up .30-30 Winchester case. The bullets are 0.321 inches in diameter and are commonly found in 165 and 170 grain bullets. The velocity ranges from 2280 to over 2400 feet per second. The muzzle energy ranges from 1900 to over 2100 foot pounds of energy. The bullets are most commonly found in various soft point bullets such as Remington’s Core-Lokt bullets and Federal’s Power-Shok bullets. The Winchester Model 94 and the Marlin 1892 lever action rifles are the two most commonly found rifles chambered for the .32 Special.
One of the key differences between the .32 Special and the .30-30 is the rifling twist of the barrels. The .30-30 rifling has a twist of 1:12 and the .32 Special has a twist of 1:16. Winchester marketed this as a way to reduce powder fouling for people who wanted to reload their own ammunition. The question that has most firearms historians perplexed is: “Why would Winchester build a cartridge to specifically encourage reloading?”
Although the answers to these questions may have been lost to time, it is interesting to speculate as to just how these things came about. The .32 Special continues to have a loyal group of supporters, enough so that it is still produced by at least three major manufacturers. So it seems that even with the similarities to the .30-30 Winchester, the .32 Winchester Special will be around for quite some time.
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