.32 H&R and .32 M&H Long

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by Jim K, Dec 23, 2009.

  1. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    I posted some information earlier that turns out not to be entirely accurate. Rather than edit those posts, I will open a new thread to post new information I have found and try to clarify the points involving two (or three) old .32 cartridges, the .32 Harrington & Richardson, the .32 Merwin & Hulbert, and the .32 Merwin & Hulbert Long.

    First, there really was a .32 H & R, NOT the much later (and much more powerful) .32 H&R Magnum. With a case length of about .890", it was a longer cartridge than the .32 S&W (.32 S&W Short) but not as long as the later .32 S&W Long. It was developed around 1883 and many H&R top-break and solid frame revolvers were chambered for it. Most collectors who see the .32 H&R marking assume (as I did) that it was just another name for the .32 S&W. Note that the .32 H&R was called just that, not the .32 H&R Long.

    There were two .32 M&H cartridges. The .32 M&H (or .32 M&H Short) was effectively the same as the .32 S&W (.32 S&W Short); it was also developed around 1883. The bullet was slightly lighter than that of the .32 S&W, and had a deep groove, usually called a grease groove, but actually intended to help retain the unfired cartridges in the M&H revolver. The case length was the same as .32 S&W, about .590". It was used in a small frame revolver, and was discontinued (under the M&H name) about 1900.

    The other .32 M&H was the .32 M&H Long, dating from about 1885; this was the same as the .32 H&R (no "Long"). The .32 M&H Long was made for a larger .32 M&H revolver, with a longer cylinder and a longer extraction throw; apparently, M&H made that gun specifically to use the .32 H&R, which they then had made, calling it the .32 M&H Long. The dimensions were the same as the .32 H&R. It was discontinued under either name around 1915.

    All the cartridges mentioned are collectors items today. Many are not headstamped and the .32 H&R/.32 M&H Long is often confused with the .32 S&W Long. They are of the same diameter as the .32 S&W.

    All of which is complicated, but I think it explains the .32 H&R as a distinct cartridge, and the use of the M&H cartridge name on an H&R revolver.

    One additional point of clarification, I have never seen a topbreak revolver for the .32 S&W Long; S&W intended that higher pressure round to be used only in their Hand Ejector revolvers and lengthened it to prevent its use in top break revolvers, even their own.

    (FWIW, M&H was a development company; the M&H guns were actually made by Hopkins and Allen and are of very high quality.)

    Last edited: Dec 23, 2009
  2. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

    Dec 30, 2003
    houston, tx
    i do not know if this will help are just confuse thing a little more. i do not believe H&R ever marked thier 32 with the 32 M&H markings. by the time H&R got around to marking the caiber on the left side of the barrel in 1905 to thier way of thinking both the 32 H&R and the 32 M&H were obsolete cartridges. in 1905 when they made the change to smokeless powder they lengthen the cylinders of both the large frome auto-ejector's and the large frame american double action and the model 1904 to handle the newly introduced 32 S&W LONG even though they marked these 32 with 32 S&W CTGE. any six shot H&R with the caliber marked on the barrel as 32 S&W CTGE is actually chambered for the 32 S&W LONG. the small and medium frame five shot 32's were still chambered for the 32 S&W.

    Hopkins and allen was the big user of the M&H cartridges and their were several including a 22 rimfire, 32, 38 and a 44 caliber. and only until the post above ihave i herd any thing about a short version of these cartridges. all the sporting good catalogs i have from this era just list them as the 32 M&H, 38 M&H and 44 M&H. Merwin & Hulbert was not a develpemental company by a sporting goods distributor. but some of the people who worked there had a fair knowledge of firearms because there are several patents assigned to them. the large frame new model army revolvers being one of them. also at one point they own quite a bit of H&A stock and when they went under H&A had to reoriginaze to keep from going under themselves.


  3. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    Thanks, Bill, for some more info. There was a .32 M&H (like the .32 S&W, it was not called "short" until the "Long" came out). It has been identified by box labels and is mentioned in Chuck Suydam's U.S. Cartridges and their Handguns.

    It differs from the normal .32 S&W in that the bullet has a deep groove ahead of the case mouth; it looks to me like that groove was intended to help keep unfired rounds in the chambers when the gun was opened.

  4. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    I have in my collection, a pre-1890 box for an "improved" 1st Model Auto Ejecting revolver. This dating is confirmed by the picture of the piece on the label inside the box top, having the "scroll work" grip and not the later square bull's eye target logo. The end label of this box reads (exactly as printed, blue box with red end label):
    32 CAL. C.F., H. & R. LONG or S. & W. SHORT CARTRIDGES

    Also, attached above the end label, on the side of box top is another label which reads:
    PATENTED APRIL 14 & AUG 6, 1889.

    So, from this period evidence, I'd have to conclude that, at least at the time this revolver was produced, H&R was calling their "proprietary" cartridge, the .32 H&R LONG.
    Jim Hauff
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