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32 Winchester Special Ammo

Initially designed to be used in the Winchester Model 94 Rifle, the .32 Winchester Special is most likely the only cartridge that was marketed to handloaders.  It is similar in performance to the .30-30 Winchester, making it ideal for medium sized game.

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  1. Hornady 32 Win Special Ammo - 20 Rounds of 165 Grain FTX Ammunition

    Image For 20 Rounds Of 165 Grain FTX Boxer Brass 32 Win Special Hornady Ammunition

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    $25.75 Price As low as $25.00 in bulk
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    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady
    • American-made Range
    • $1.25 to $1.29 Cost Per Round
    • Hornady SKU 82732
    • UPC 090255827323
  2. Federal 32 Win Special Ammo - 20 Rounds of 170 Grain SP Ammunition

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    $28.00 Price
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    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • American-made Discount Hunting
    • $1.40 Cost Per Round
    • Federal SKU 32A
    • UPC 029465084851
  3. Remington 32 Win Special Ammo - 20 Rounds of 170 Grain SP Ammunition

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    $30.75 Price
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    • New Condition
    • 20 Rounds
    • Made by Remington
    • American-made Discount Hunting
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History of .32 Winchester Special Ammunition

Winchester designed the .32 Winchester Special rifle cartridge in 1901. Winchester explained their rationale for developing this cartridge in their 1916 catalog:

"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 and yet not so powerful as the .30 Army."

(".30 Winchester" is the original name for the cartridge which is now known as the .30-30, and ".30 Army" is the original name for the cartridge which is now known as.30-40 Krag.)

What Winchester failed to mention is that the .32 Special only improved muzzle velocity by about ten percent over the .30 Winchester. It is worth noting, however, that the .32 Special shoots flatter at distances greater than 200 yards, and retains slightly more energy.

The .32 Winchester Special case uses a necked up .30-30 Winchester. Bullet diameter is 0.321" and the bullets commonly weigh between 165 and 170 grains. Muzzle velocities range between 2,280 and 2,400 feet per second.  Muzzle energies range between 1,900 and more than 2,100 foot pounds. The bullets are manufactured in the most volume in various soft point configurations, including Remington’s Core-Lokt bullets and Federal’s Power-Shok bullets. The two rifles most commonly found which fire the .32 Special are the Winchester Model 94 and the Marlin 1892, both well known lever action rifles.

A primary difference between the .32 Special and the .30-30 has to do with the ratio of rifle twist in the barrels of the respective guns. The ratio of rifle twist in the .30-30 is 1:12, and the ratio of rifle twist in the .32 Special is 1:16. Winchester used this rifle twist ratio in their marketing efforts, explaining that this would reduce powder fouling for those who desired to reload their own ammunition. Many firearms historians are perplexed by this, however. “Why would Winchester build a cartridge to specifically encourage reloading?”

While the answer to questions like these may be lost to time, it is fascinating to speculate just how these developments came about. The .32 Special has a loyal group of supporters still, sufficient that at least three major manufacturers produce the still produce the cartridge. It seems that for all the similarities with the .30-30 Winchester, the .32 Winchester Special will still be around for many years to come.

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