A few months back I wandered into the local Cabelas and in the “Gun Library” was a very nice looking Marlin Model 92 lever action rifle at a very agreeable price.
It had been refinished which in the hobby of collectable firearms is a No-No. Strange, a reconditioned automobile will increase its value, but refinish a firearm and you ruin the value.
Once I got the rifle home I did some research. This rifle was chambered for the 32 Colt Long and Short…IN BOTH RIMFIRE AND CENTERFIRE!
The rifle came with two firing pins, for both RF and CF. Easily swapped out with very little effort.
My rifle came in the centerfire configuration.
Now it was time to buy some 32 COLT brass and bullets and see how this thing shoots!
Not so fast!
Finding 32 COLT components is nearly impossible. Research led me to the solution of converting it to 32 S&W Long and Short. This might be a workable
solution as I already load for the 32 S&W for a number of antique handguns.
Simply run a chamber reamer in and open up the slot in the magazine tube as the 32 S&W is just a tiny bit larger than the 32 COLT………
But I really wanted to try it as a 32 COLT…..
The 32 COLT is an outside lubed bullet…Called ‘Heel Base” …similar to a 22 RimFire.
The 32 S&W is an “Inside” lubed bullet. Like all conventional modern rifle and pistol ammo.
So let’s see if we can find reloading components…
A Google Search led me to Gunbroker.com and a fellow that goes by the name “Tenmile”
( I spoke to TenMile (Jack) and you can email him at email@example.com or do a search on Gunbroker.com)
Jack reforms 32 S&W LONG to 32 COLT dimensions and also casts and sells a vary nice heel base bullet. He’s very active in the Cast Bullet Association and simply enjoys helping folks get these old guns shooting again! Thanks Jack!
He also offered a modified resizing die where he bores out the base of an old die and inserts a carbide bushing to the proper dimensions for sizing and reforming brass.
I ordered 100 cases, 100 bullets and a modified sizing die.
I also ordered 100 round nose bullets from “Western Bullet Co” out of Missoula MT just to try something different.
Both bullets weigh about 87g.
On the left is the Tenmile bullet and the right is Western Bullet Co. I might suggest if you are going to shoot black powder, the Western Bullet looks like it might hold more lube. But I’ll never know because smokeless is the way I’m going to go.
I tumble lubed the bullets with Rooster Red Jacket liquid lube. You can also use LEE Alox.
The resized cases showed up with instructions saying they would need to be shortened to 0.82″ from their untrimmed length of 0.94″
This was easily accomplished with the Lyman case trimming center and my milling machine
If you have a drill press, these set up is easily the fastest way to trim brass that needs lots of trimming.
Once the brass was trimmed to the proper length, and deburred inside and out, it was time to load.
Seems I needed a set of dies…..You can buy a set of 32 COLT dies from Redding for nearly $200 or have a set custom made with LEE or RCBS for even more $$….
Or you can assemble an inexpensive set from LEE 32 S&W dies.
For depriming you can use a “Universal Depriming Die:
Or the 32 S&W dies that comes in the 3 die LEE set
To flair the mouth of the cartridge gets a bit more involved. I ended up using the “Powder Through Die” from LEE, but I had to made a proper mouth flaring insert on my lathe.
You might be able to use the flair insert for the 32 S&W, but you might need to put it in an electric drill and file the diameter smaller or turn it down in a lathe
For bullet seating, you can use a 32ACP die or the 32 S&W die
The 32 ACP die lightly crimped the brass to the bullet. But the cartridge would not feed in my Marlin 92 chamber.
So on the lathe I fabricated a die to size down the loaded round by .002″. Then they fit and fed perfectly into my rifle
The die was turned from 6061 aluminum with a hardened bushing inserted. You could use the full length sizing die available from Tenmile, but in my case it sized the bullet and case down just a bit too much and affected accuracy as the bullet was now a bit looser than I like in the bore.
Here is a comparison of 32 S&W Long and Short on the left and the reformed 32 COLT Long and 32 Colt Short with factory brass I found on Ebay
So with brass loaded with 2.7g and 3.0g of Unique I was off to the range!
To say the rifle shot great would be an understatement!
Round Nose bullets on the left and flat points on the right.
The Long Colt shot great. The Short Colt wasn’t too bad either.
Quite the project to say the least! My 15 year old grand-daughter will be using this rifle in Cowboy Action Shooting this summer. I’m sure she’ll give it a good run for its money!
Doing some forum talk, I was made aware of a fellow selling a modified LEE factory crimp die. Old West Bullet Molds. I ordered one an it showed up today.
I’ll report back when I put it to use. Maybe I won’t have to full resize the loaded rounds any longer. We’ll see!
A few more pictures of the rifle for your viewing pleasure!