Ammo for H&R "The American"

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by Hardcase, Nov 11, 2009.

  1. Hardcase

    Hardcase New Member

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    On impulse, I bought a first model, second variation H&R "The American" in .32 S&W for forty bucks. Conveniently, my digital camera has gone on the fritz, but at least I know what I've got.

    I also know that this revolver was made for black powder. It's in good condition for 110 years old, so I don't have any qualms about shooting it...with black powder. What about smokeless? I ask because for the number of times that I'll ever shoot this gun, buying the dies to load .32 S&W makes me really want to just buy a box of .32 S&W shorts instead. I see that the ballistics are about the same between black and smokeless powders, but I know that the pressure curves are quite different. Too different? Too dangerous?
  2. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    the caliber of your american double action is 32 S&W or the long obsolete 32 H&R (aka 32 M&H).

    i believe by now everyone knows my stand on shooting firearms manufactured during the black powder era. don't do it!
    bill
  3. Hardcase

    Hardcase New Member

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    .32 H&R? Oh dear...

    Well, I guess I can bite the bullet, so to speak and load my own with black powder, but .32 H&R is so obsolete that I've never heard of it. .32 H&R magnum, yes, but I know that's not the same thing.

    I'm almost afraid to ask now, but what's the difference between S&W and H&R?
  4. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Probably similar to this. This is 32 ACP, made by and for Savage pistols, so they called it 32 Savage. All same/same.

    Attached Files:

  5. Hardcase

    Hardcase New Member

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    I unbusted the camera.

    [​IMG]
  6. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    you have a very nice lookin first model second variation don't ruin it by shooting it with the wrong ammo.

    the 32 H&R (32 M&H) has a case a little longer than the 32 S&W and uses the same weight of bullet. even though longer it is not as long as the 32 S&W LONG.

    in all the H&R catalogs this revolver was always advertized as being chambered for the 32 S&W. in some early catalogs issued by wholesalers the 32 H&R (32 M&H) was listed as being a alternate cartridge for this revolver.

    for more information on the 32 H&R you will have to wait on my H&R book to be published.
    bill
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2009
  7. Hardcase

    Hardcase New Member

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    Thanks, Bill, I appreciate you taking the time to keep me in line :)

    I'll put it up on the shelf until I have time to get some .32 S&W dies and all the other bits. I've got plenty of other projects to keep me busy.
  8. pistolero57

    pistolero57 New Member

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    I own three of these myself, two in .32 S&W and one in .38 S&W. I just bought five boxes of .38 S&W Fiocchi from Ammunition To Go for $23.95/box. I also bought a box of .32 S&W Magtech for $19.95. So, these cartridges are still readily available. All of the ammunition manufacturers who make them load them down to approximate the black powder ballistics. I have tested the .32 S&W Magtech in a Harrington & Richardson "The American" model (second variation) with no ill effects to either the gun or myself. But - be sure the cylinder is locking into place and that it is aligned with the barrel's bore. Use a pocket flashlight to look down the bore and be sure these line up every time you cock the hammer all the way back. Try wiggling the cylinder while you're looking. See if it will rotate out of alignment and stay that way. If it does you'll be shaving lead. Look at the forcing cone too. Be sure it isn't cracked, deformed, or missing.
  9. pistolero57

    pistolero57 New Member

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    >>>See my reply down below. Nobody in his right mind is going to recommend that you shoot modern ammo out of an antique firearm. But, we all can do as we will. If you're nervous use a welding mask and a leather glove. What's the worst than can happen? You'll blow off a finger or two.
  10. pistolero57

    pistolero57 New Member

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    One other thing... do you think that every person who owned a 1885-1899 vintage revolver just threw it in a drawer in 1900 because the cartridges switched over the smokeless powder? Or do you think, as I do, that nearly everybody went right on shooting the new cartridges in 1900, 1905, 1910, 1915, and so on? How many smokeless powder-loaded .32 S&W or .38 S&W cartridges have already been run through your antique revolver?
  11. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I have often been accused of not being in my right mind (usually by my wife) but I have fired dozens, maybe hundreds, of those old revolvers with modern ammunition, and have never blown one up yet (yes, I know - YET). The factories load .32 S&W with smokeless powder to the same pressure level as with black powder.

    That being said, I will add that the gun should be checked first. Some guns are so badly rusted or otherwise in such poor shape that they would be dangerous firing any cartridge. But in reasonable shape, I don't see a problem in firing modern ammunition, even in the old cast iron guns.

    One additional caveat. .32 ACP is loaded to a much higher pressure level than .32 S&W or .32 S&W Long, 20,500 psi vs 13,000 and 15,000 respectively for the revolver cartridges. That puts the .32 ACP in the same pressure range as the .32 H&R Magnum, and clearly could be dangerous in old guns chambered for the .32 S&W or .32 S&WL.

    The .32 H&R name was just a case of H&R applying its name to the .32 S&W, the same as Colt did with the .32 S&W Long/.32 Colt New Police.

    But the .32 M&H is another matter. The Merwin & Hulbert revolver employs a system whereby extraction is achieved when the cartridges are held back while the barrel and cylinder are pulled forward. M&H claimed the advantage that fired cases would drop free while unfired rounds would be retained by the bullet in the cylinder. For that to work, the cartridge case has to be exactly the right length, and M&H had cartridges made to work that way. The .32 S&W is too short to work in a M&H. It will fire all right, but when the cylinder is opened, all the rounds, fired or not, will drop clear.

    Jim
  12. pistolero57

    pistolero57 New Member

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    Bill,

    When do you expect to have your Harrington & Richardson book out?

    I have a question concerning a H&R. It's a seven-shot .22 Victor revolver. How can I tell when it was made?

    Mark
  13. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    i was hoping it would be out by now, but it is still at the publishers awaiting to be formated into printable form.

    if you victor is one of the double action model it would be safe with modern ammo as all of the double action victors were made after H&R made the change over to smokeless powder. there was an earlier single action spur trigger victor manufactured befoe 1899.

    VICTOR (BRAND NAME VERSION OF AMERICAN DOUBLE ACTION AND YOUNG AMERICA DOUBLE ACTION SERIES)--------1913-1936
    Marked “VICTOR DOUBLE ACTION” and have a round barrel and unfluted cylinder, pull pin cylinder release, may have company name and Address marked on frame or bottom of the butt (not listed in any H&R catalogs)
    LARGE SOLID FRAME .32 S&W Long 6 shot &.38 S&W 5 shot, 2½ inch or 4½ inch barrel lengths
    MEDIUM SOLID FRAME DOUBLE ACTION .32 S&W 5 shot, 2 or 4 inch barrel lengths
    SMALL SOLID FRAME DOUBLE ACTION.22RIMFIRE 7 shot 2 or 4 inch barrel lengths
    VALUE: 100%=$195 60%=$50

    H&R SPUR TRIGGER SINGLE ACTION SAW HANDLE GRIP SHAPE, ------------1878-1883
    pull pin cylinder release, nickel finish only Most will be marked with patent date May 23, 1876 and company name and address on left side of barrel this revolver sometime called ‘New Design of 1878” The above model as well as modified Wesson & Harrington Models can be found marked with the following Brand Names: AETNA, VICTOR, BANGUP, CROWN, EAGLE, ELY & WRAY, GREAT WESTERN, PANTHER, SMOKY CITY and maybe more names
    MODEL 1 ½ .medium frame 32 rimfire caliber 5 shot 2½ inch octagon barrel (actual barrel length may vary slightly)
    MODEL 2 ½ large frame 32 rimfire caliber 7 shot 3¼ inch octagon barrel (actual barrel length may vary slightly)
    MODEL 3 ½ large frame 38 rimfire caliber 5 shot 3½ inch octagon barrel (actual barrel length may vary slightly)
    MODEL 4 ½ large frame 41 rimfire caliber 5 shot 3½ inch octagon barrel (actual barrel length may vary slightly)
    Models 1 ½ thru 3 ½ 100%=$400 60%=$200
    Model 4 ½ rarely seen: 100%=$700 60%=$285
    Subtract 50% for the Brand Name models
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2009
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