John Moses Browning designed the .32 ACP cartridge, which was chambered for the Fabrique Nationale 1900 – his first automatic pistol to enjoy commercial success. Known in Europe as the 7.65 mm Browning, this cartridge was used by European police and military personnel 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, Colt, Fabrique Nationale, Kel-Tec, Smith & Wesson, and others.
The .32 ACP commonly contains an FMJ or hollow point bullet weighing 60 to 73 grains, with muzzle velocities ranging between 600 and 1,000 feet per second. While the cartridge is not renowned for hard hitting, Gavrilo Princip used it to assasinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, pushing 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, low noise, and easy concealment for handguns that fire this round. 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.