John Moses Browning designed the .32 ACP cartridge which was chambered for his first automatic pistol to enjoy commercial success, the Fabrique Nationale 1900. Known in Europe as the 7.65 mm Browning, this cartridge was used by police and military personnel in Europe until the 9mm Parabellum replaced it. Officers wore pistols in this cartridge as a badge of station more than as a fighting weapon. The cartridge was designed in 1899, and has since been chambered in a variety of small, high quality handguns. These popular pistols are manufactured by Beretta, and Colt, as well as Fabrique Nationale, Kel-Tec, and Smith & Wesson, among others.
The .32 ACP commonly contains a an FMJ or Hollow Point bullet weighing 60 to 73 grains. Muzzle velocities range between 600 and 1000 feet per second. The cartridge is not renowned for hard hitting, yet Gavrilo Princip used it to assasinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, and push the world to war. The cartridge is the benchmark for the minimum acceptable caliber for self defense, yet many firearms enthusiasts disagree, and say it lacks sufficient power in this capacity. In spite of this, the .32 ACP is still a popular caliber for backup weapons, and even as the primary self defense pistol.
Key advantages of the .32 ACP include light recoil and low noise, and handguns that fire this round which are easily concealed. The .32 ACP also remains in the self defense market due is new ammunition technology. Rapidly expanding hollow point bullets traveling at high speed are on the leading edge of ammo technology for self defense, and the .32 ACP is on the list for many manufacturers of ammunition. Hornady, for example, manufactures self defense loads for the .32 ACP using its XTP bullet, and Federal tops a cartridge with its famous Hydra-shok bullet.