If you have never heard of a 32 gauge shotgun, you’re not alone. Most shooters, especially in the U.S., either have no need for or no knowledge of this elusive ammunition. Made by American manufacturers until the 1930s, 32 gauge quickly became obsolete due to its similarities with 20 gauge, 28 gauge and the .410. This is why the very rare 32 gauge is sought after mostly by collectors and those looking to shoot something out of the norm.
While over the years 32 gauge guns have been made by American Arms, Iver Johnson, Winchester, Remington and others – 32 gauge remains common throughout Europe to this day, with ammo still available from Fiocchi. In fact, rumor has it that quite a few 32 gauge shotguns made their way back to the States at the end of WWII. Since GIs were allowed to send a foot locker home (packed with just about anything due to poor inspections), many were able to return with guns from Nazi stockpiles that were confiscated from German citizens. These guns, known to be fine-crafted and some chambered for the 32, can be of great value if in good condition.
Beyond its lack of availability and the historical value, what draws shooters to the 32 gauge? Efficiency seems to be the biggest benefit, with novelty shooters raving about efficient shot columns and stellar wad designs. But being barely smaller than a 28 gauge, the 32 never differentiated itself enough to stay relevant in the world of firearms.
If you’re looking for a shotgun that doubles as a conversation piece, the 32 gauge will get fellow shooters talking. This rare find is a collector’s dream, and also a comparable shot to the 28 gauge or .410.