.32 ACP - Any tips for reloading?

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I was planning to start reloading .32 ACP to feed a Beretta 81bb. It would be range ammo; probably Berry’s plated 71 grain RN. Using a Dillon 550.

Anything out of the ordinary to consider? Unfortunately, as I understand it, Lee does not make a Factory Crimp Die in taper crimp for .32 ACP, so any suggestions?

Thanks
 

gmerkt

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You want suggestions? I have one. Forget it.

Seriously, I've done it. No longer have any .32 autos. I had tons of them when I was a youngster, German guns from WW2. Later I had some others. But if I still had a .32 auto, I wouldn't load for it. Especially after having gone down that road.

First of all, how often do you shoot a .32 auto? It's not really a range gun and most aren't all that much fun to shoot. Actually, I feel the same way about .380. Every once in a while, I've bought and owned one but for some of the reasons I'm discussing here, they don't stick around long. Yes, I've loaded for .380 as well. But I never fired one all that much. So now, if I were adventuresome enough to get another .32 ACP or .380, I'd just buy a few boxes of factory ammo and call it done. Which is exactly what I did last time I bought a Walther PP in .380. Never fired it, got rid of it, sold the ammo and didn't get stuck with dies or any other reloading detritus related to .380.

As to actually reloading .32 ACP. Components are small and fiddly. If there is any one cartridge that I can state I've never seen as much variation between brands, it's .32 ACP. Case wall thickness, lots of variation. Design of case head rim, lots of variation. If you're gonna to do this, make sure your brass is all the same brand and preferably same lot.

You won't need a "factory crimp" die, you can dial in the bullet seating die to give a gentle crimp to the mouth of the case. Best to do this in two stages. Seat the bullet, then back the seating punch out and do the gentle crimp second. The gentle crimp is to smooth out any roughness on the edge of the case mouth after the bullet is in place. If I'm not mistaken, now all Lee dies made for cartridges that headspace on the mouth of the case (like all ACP designs) give a taper crimp, not a roll crimp like revolver cartridges want.

.32 revolver, that's another story. I have a Smith & Wesson Model 16-4 in .32 H&R Magnum, one of my favorite guns. I have a custom made extra cylinder for it so I can also shoot .32-20 in it.
 

thorborg

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32 ACP - Any tips for reloading?

Tiny fingers and high manual dexterity. :D
Do it for grins, but unlikely you'll continue for long.
I really doubt you'll need to worry about crimp, assuming you resize.
 

Certaindeaf

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They're hard to double charge, probably.
If I had one I'd sure load for it.
Whatever you do, don't shoot .25, .32, 9mm and .45 at the same time or you'll wind up with a bunch of Russian nesting dolls.
 
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I've loaded .32acp. I've even loaded .25acp. I've heard a lot of people complain about them being too small to handle, but I never had any trouble in that regard.

Gmerkt made some good points about sorting your brass. These tiny cases don't have a lot of room for error. The best loads tend to be in a very narrow window, as far as powder charge and velocity. Much variation in brass or seating depth can be bad. He also makes a good point in regards to the practicality of reloading them. If you're ever only going to shoot a couple boxes of ammo, you'd be better off just buying a couple boxes of ammo. Finding your empties on the ground can be problematic as well.

As for me, I do reload them. I've picked up dies and components over the years for next to nothing. I even considered casting for them, but decided it just wasn't worth it, for me at least, especially after I picked up a large quantity of jacketed bullets in .25 and .32 from an estate for stupid cheap. I enjoy it but admittedly don't shoot them very often.
 
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Unlike the .45 acp and .380 acp the rest of the acp family are semi-rimed cartridges and as such may use the rim to head-space. So for the .25 acp, .32 acp,.38 acp and the .38 super may in most cases be loaded using a roll crimp.

FWIW the factory Magtech and Winchester .32 I have on hand show a roll crimp.

For me finding a powder measure capable of minute charges was almost as hard as handling the small components.
 
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I load for my 32 ACP often. I use the Lee Factory Crimp die for the 32 H&R Mag. I load for 327 Mag so I only needed to buy the resizing die for my set up. 32 ACP shoots fine in 327 Mag revovler, you just have to use a pencil to poke the shells out of the cyclinder as they can get stuck. Accuracy is horrid as the bullet travels too far in the cyclinder before it engages the forcing cone. That is why revovler makers don't recommend you shoot it in a 32 S&W, 32 H&R, or 327. But it works, and for just trying to hit paper, it's fun to play with. But for target practice you want to shoot 32 S&W when using a revolver; recoil is the same. Out of my 32 ACP Semi-autos, I don't have any problems with leading shooting my cast bullets. They are a bit small to deal with if you are used to loading 40 S&W/10mm at first, but afer a few hundrad the pace can pick up just fine. It's a very fun round to shoot as it has zero recoil and more punch than rimfire and 25 ACP. I imagine out of an 81 BB it is even softer than the Colt 1903 and even more so than a Keltec P32. Loading for you 81 BB should be fun with that steel frame.

Rodney
 

gmerkt

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They're hard to double charge, probably.
The typical charge of recommended powders for .32 ACP in many cases is around two (2.0) grains. So it is possible to double charge them. Due to their small size, they aren't particularly easy to charge. Use the small powder drop tube. You can't do it with a Lee dipper. They don't make one small enough to do charges in the range of 2 plus gr. of something like Win. 231 powder.

I even considered casting for them, but decided it just wasn't worth it
This! I did this insanity! The bullet is small, the lube groove is greater in size by proportion than a larger bullet, you wind up with a lot of smoke. Which is only one objection, there are more.

Unlike the .45 acp and .380 acp the rest of the acp family are semi-rimed cartridges and as such may use the rim to head-space.
And this is one of the issues with inconsistency with brass. Remington for sure, maybe Winchester IIRC, have a more pronounced semi-rim than others. Consequently, they may not fit all shell holders that are nominally rated for .32 ACP.

True, the .32 ACP is semi-rimmed. But only the earliest semi-auto pistols in that cartridge used this method with a cone-shaped breech face. Example, 1900 Browning. Soon after, .32 ACP pistols were made with the step in the chamber for headspacing on the mouth of the case. Pistols such as 1910 and 1922 Browning, Model 1910 Mauser, Walther, and very many others. I believe the retention of the rim on .32 ACP was to facilitate extraction. Until Colt finally figured out how to make .38 Super barrels properly (thanks to Bar-Sto), they were still making them with the little hood on the barrel for headspacing on the semi rim. But that's been over for some time now; modern Colt 1911's in .38 Super headspace on the mouth like a .45.

FWIW the factory Magtech and Winchester .32 I have on hand show a roll crimp.
If you have such, I can't think why they'd do it on modern factory ammo. It isn't a recommended practice to use roll crimp on cartridges loaded with bullets lacking a cannelure. Too much potential for bullet deformation. I've got quite old .38 ACP cartridges loaded when Colt was still making their barrels to headspace on the rim and these don't have roll crimp.

I do keep still some .32 ACP cartridges around. For this:

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This is a chamber insert for a Swiss K31 rifle in 7.5x55mm. The insert consists of two parts. The outer shell and the inner core which houses a miniature firing pin. When the core is removed, a .32 ACP cartridge may be slipped into the shell. The result mimics the shape of the full 7.5x55 cartridge and the live .32 ACP becomes the active cartridge fired in the insert. The .32 ACP case becomes the neck of the fired unit.
 
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gmerkt

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How does it shoot?
It's been a long time since I used it and I don't recall results. But generally the accuracy isn't all that great and of course range is very limited. The one shown for use in 7.5x55 Swiss is the only one I have that uses part of the outer portion of the adapted pistol cartridge. Others are a full sleeve and the pistol cartridge sits in the back and is struck directly by the firing pin of the host weapon.

The bullet diameter of the .32 ACP is a nominal .312. The bore size of .30 rifles is .308, the 7.5 Swiss is a nominal .3086. The slightly larger diameter of the .32 ACP bullet isn't a problem because the bearing surface of it is so short.

I like the adapters/sleeves for putzing around with. I've got some for shotgun even, .32 H&R Magnum in .410 bore, 9mm Luger in 28 gauge. These would present a good head-scratcher for Perry Mason. Victim shot with a pistol bullet, yet no rifling marks engraved upon it.

Thank you for all of the different perspectives on this. My plan is to keep shooting with one factory ammo, accumulate a consistent set of brass, and then acquire dies as good deals arise.
Seems like a sensible approach. You may burn out on shooting .32 ACP before the need to reload arises. But in any case, have fun.
 

DLS

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... My plan is to keep shooting with one factory ammo, accumulate a consistent set of brass...
I'd shop the big online retailers and find a good deal on a half or full case. You might have to contact them to dicker a bit but you would save money and your brass would all be from the same lot. By the time you shot through that you would know if you wanted to load or not. If not, and you tire of the gun you could sell it with ammo included increasing its marketability. If you still want to move forward you are set.

Just an idea!
 
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I've set up a progressive press to reload .32 ACP. I use an extra RCBS seating/crimp die with the seating stem/plug removed to do the crimping.

I did it just for fun as I reload .327 Federal and had some bullets were suitable for .32 ACP. It was kind of fun to do the .32 ACP for the first 100 or so rounds then it got to be monotonous.

If you look around, you can find .32 ACP for $10.00 per box online.
 

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