Monday, October 01, 2007

Boomsticks: I miss the thirty-two.

Actually, to say "I miss the .32" would be a little inaccurate, as back in the dying days of the .32 S&W Long cartridge I was all absorbed with whizbang super-tactical 9mm semiautomatic pistols. Revolvers, if they were acknowledged at all by me, needed to be in at least .38 caliber and weigh nothing.

As I've gotten old and cranky matured, guns no longer need to fill some "tactical niche" and can be owned and shot merely for the joy of owning and shooting, and I find that the .32 S&W Long in an all-steel I- or J-frame is an immensely pleasurable cartridge. You get just enough sturm und drang to let you know you're not shooting a .22 rimfire, enough recoil to let you know the gun went off but not enough to raise objections in even the most gun-shy novice, and the holes are enough larger than a .22 (especially when shooting wadcutters) that there's no need to pull targets every thirty seconds to see where you're hitting. Also, the round is freaky accurate, which is why it lingers on in (of all things) semiauto target pistols.

Unfortunately, once the .38 Special became available in J-frames, the .32 S&W Long entered its death spiral. Fewer guns were sold, which meant fewer rounds were loaded, which meant higher ammunition prices, as the production costs had to be amortized over fewer case lots. With the ammunition being more expensive, it didn't make sense as a centerfire plinker, and the now-cheaper-to-shoot .38 Spl took the job by default. By the early '80s, .32 S&W Long was largely relegated to cheaper revolvers from H&R or outright junk guns like the Clerke, and S&W finally dropped all its offerings in the caliber in the early '90s.

My .32 J-frame has served as an introductory centerfire revolver for more than one new shooter, and its small size combined with its four inch barrel make it easy for a novice to get comfortable and make good shots. I've never fired a .32 S&W Long K-frame, but I'll own one someday, I'm sure. It'll have to be an older one, though, and not just because I like older Smiths. In this case, they really don't make 'em like that anymore.

(Incidentally, shooting the .32ACP Colts, I've discovered I miss a whole different kind of .32, as well, but that's for a different post...)


Anonymous said...

I also have a .32 Long J that I'm awfully fond of. It's just a whole lot of fun to shoot (unlike, on the other end of the scale, my scandium 340PD). Also: lots of know-it-all people have told me over the years that snubbies are inherently inaccurate, and with that little gun in particular, you can demonstrate that it's the singer, not the song.

Oddly, as I've gotten more, ahem, mature, I've kind of gone the other way with my gun philosophy; I feel like everything I own needs to have a purpose, and I've sold off a bunch of stuff that was cool but sort-of pointless for me. The .32 J is one of my holdouts; it's too much fun to let go of even though I probably wouldn't ever carry it. LOL, I guess I can justify it by calling it "training wheels" for the 340.

Now I just need to think of a way to justify a .45-70 Guide Gun...

Anonymous said...

Got a nice 1st model Det. Spl. in .32long. Haven't tried it out yet, just haven't had the time.

Reno Sepulveda said...

There's a book by John Nichols called When Mountains Die. John describes fly fishing on the Rio Grande with his friend Charlie. Charlie was an expert angler but due to the thick vegitation along the river he often hooked an overhanging Cottonwood on his backcast.

Fortunately Charlie was also a crack shot with his little .32 Smith (4" just like yours) and whenever he got snagged, he merely drew his revolver and shot the fly free!

Carteach said...

Momma has a quite nice satin nickel .32 Taurus revolver.

Pleasent little beast to shoot, and dirt easy to reload for.

I was thinking of reboring the cylinder to a .32 magnum, but really no good reason for it.

Just thinking.

Unknown said...

Also, the round is freaky accurate, which is why it lingers on in (of all things) semiauto target pistols.

Quite true. This is the caliber of choice for people competing in International 25-Meter Centerfire Pistol matches.

There are also some competitors who use them for the centerfire portion of NRA-style Bullseye matches. Howsomeever, even though the round is surgically accurate within 25 yards, evidently it will keyhole and group poorly at 50 yards, which is standard distance for the slow fire portion of an NRA outdoor bullseye match.

Anonymous said...

You need a .30 Blackhawk, Tam. :)

Tam said...

Is Smith making those now?

Less said...

I eat revolvers for breakfast.
Really. I have the touch that
seems to break them...
Srsly, 686, mod. 19, astra/fn's,
my old k-22 outdoorsman, etc...

My two k-frame pre-model 10's are
still with me, even though I shoot
the crap outta them...

The .32 is different, though...
She will never be handled by me or
see the light of day... I've locked
her up Rumpelstiltskin-style in
the bottom of the safe along
with a chastity belt for good
measure! I got it from my autie who
found it in the sock drawer of a
neighbor who passed away.
She had the bad fortune of living
in Evanston, IL which has a "no
handguns for law abiding folks -
but ok for the thugs" policy.

I guess I should feel bad for her,
right? But then I think of the
irony that I'll never shoot the
little snubbie...