Converting .32 rimfire to centerfire

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing Forum' started by GNLaFrance, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. GNLaFrance

    GNLaFrance New Member

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    Companies such as Hamilton, Remington, Stevens, and others made popular "boy's rifles" from ~1890 to 1945. Many were in .32 Short or Long rim fire. I'm wondering about converting one to center fire for the .32 S&W cartridges. Any thoughts, etc. would be appreciated.

    Guy
     
  2. sniper762

    sniper762 New Member

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    doing such a conversion would devaluate the gun. besides it would prolly be less expensive buying a 32 centerfire than the conversion
     

  3. GNLaFrance

    GNLaFrance New Member

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    Collector value is irrelevant. If you know of a company that makes a rifle that chambers the .32 S&W Long center fire cartridge, please share the name.
     
  4. GNLaFrance

    GNLaFrance New Member

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    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012
  5. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    CAN it be done? Yep. However- Houston, we have a problem.

    Not everything we CALL a .32 is really .32. Matter of fact, MOST is not really .32.

    The .32 rimfires used a heel seated bullet, much like a .22 LR. The .32 S&W and .32 S&W Long are inside seated bullets. Bigger case. Smaller bullet.

    Besides having a new breechblock made- or at least redrilling and installing a CF firing pin, it will likely need rechambering. A lead bullet MAY obturate to handle a bit of oversize barrel- or it may not.

    I know of one or two old time gunsmiths that could do it- but will take them forever. Couple of places to ask, tho- Old Town Station would be one, and Jim Supica, Director, National Firearms Museum at the NRA HQ in Fairfax VA. I know some folks that have been converting .41 Swiss RF over to CF.

    Interesting idea- the .32 Long is a VERY accurate revolver cartridge.
     
  6. GNLaFrance

    GNLaFrance New Member

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  7. BillM

    BillM Active Member Supporter

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    Couple of Midway USA videos on the subject. Not every little detail,
    but a fair overview of one way to do it.

    Potterfield does 32 rimfire to 32-20 conversion videos on a Winchester
    low wall and a Remington rolling block.

    Do a search on "32 rimfire to centerfire videos"
     
  8. hiwall

    hiwall Well-Known Member

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    you would have to ream the chamber as the s&w is larger. 32 rimfire was a pretty weak load. you would have to decide whether it was stout enough. Some models are easier the change from rim to center fire. choose wisely.
     
  9. natman

    natman Member

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  10. superc

    superc Member

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    Yup, it is the steels involved that give me pause. 32 Rimfire is a BP cartridge, .32 S&W is mostly modern smokeless. The dwell times and pressures of the two are quite different. .32 Rimfire emerged back in the 1870s (if not earlier, or whenever S&W's bored through patent ran out). Given we don't know exactly which of the makes cited is the intended recipient of the conversion and some manufacturers were still using some iron parts instead of steel, at least until the 1920s, and given that even those 'boy's rifle' manufacturers (still in business) would cringe at the thought of one of their BP weapons being changed to use smokeless ammo, I wouldn't want to try it. Not without a lot more info anyway.
     
  11. Chainfire

    Chainfire Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I recently bought a .32 rimfire revolver on the basis that it was cool and I bought it cheap. I understand why the poster is looking for an alternative. I found rounds for the pistol in the $2.00 per round price range. My little revolver will be living behind glass and not shot as long as I own it.
     
  12. superc

    superc Member

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    Yes, I agree. The 32 rimfire spur trigger revolvers were amazingly popular in the US in the period of 1880 - 1905 or so. The big reason was a new Colt could run you $12, but those spur trigger revolvers were being turned out so cheaply you could buy one for about $3 (or less).

    Similar for the new double action Bulldog type revolvers coming in from Europe.

    I would venture to haphazard (but only Winchester and Remington could tell us for sure) that .32 rimfire ammo was comparable in sales popularity to .380 ammo is today allowing for the smaller US population back then. Then there were the 'boys rifles.' 32 rimfire came in extra short, short, long and extra long sizes. Back in the 1980s a company called Western Scrounger started producing it again and there was a brief surge of seeing the old spur trigger revolvers at pistol ranges. In spite of the Colt & S&W campaign to push those lower priced threats off the market by hiring newspapers to run editorials labeling the competition's cheaper pistols as unsafe, dangerous, and Saturday Night Specials (now you know where the term came from) and attractive only to 'thugs, drunks and women of ill repute.' some are good little pocket pistols. I have one inherited from a grandparent, who also left us about 20 rounds of short and long ammo for it. I had a trigger spring fail back in 83 or so and had all new leaf springs put in (by then it had been around for 100 years). I am very sorry to say that not knowing Western Scrounger was soon closing their doors, I used up the last of my ammo for it within a week of getting it back with new springs. I am happy however to report that the last cylinder of them I fired bagged a rabbit.

    From today's world perspective the big drawbacks of them is most do not have rebounding hammers or transfer bars. (Iver Johnson addressed this in theirs with Hammer the hammer, America's first successful transfer bar safety.) Also the hammer spur sometimes snags on cloth. The lack of a trigger guard is of no concern since most are single action only weapons. Also being designed for in close shooting, the sights are very poor.
     
  13. gspot856

    gspot856 New Member

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    There was an article in hand loader magazine earlier this year about how to make 32 rim fire brass. In the article the took 32 s&w brass and filled in the primer pocket and made a new primer pocket off center. They used a 22 blank as the primer.
    You'd have to make sure the primer was property lined up in order for it to work but it can be done
     
  14. hiwall

    hiwall Well-Known Member

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    it would have to have been .32 colt ammo