So You Want To Shoot that 32 COLT…..Marlin Model 92

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 and a fellow that goes by the name “Tenmile”

( I spoke to TenMile (Jack) and you can email him at   or do a search on

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!



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10 comments on “So You Want To Shoot that 32 COLT…..Marlin Model 92”

  1. Mike Reply

    I want one in 32 S&W. perfectly sized for the cartridge. A bunny and squirrel rifle with punch!

  2. USCRA112 Reply

    That fat-nosed Western bullet caused me much grief when I tried it in my .32 Colt Bay State rifle. The throat was too short to accept it, and I had to take the cartridges apart and shorten the brass. Maybe the Marlin is throated longer?

  3. Brian Ross Reply

    Thank you for the photo essay. I have just bought an 1885 Winchester in 32 short Colt and have only found one box of cartridges. The sizing die and the Lee trimming center are now on my must have list. And you may have saved a nice antique from being re-chambered!

  4. mike barker Reply

    I just bought a Model 92 Marlin 32 Colt . It is in great shape and I am searching for ammo . I have both firing pins and prefer center fire ammo . Should I use smokeless or black powder ? Any suggestions? Thanks and great article .

  5. Robert Burton Reply

    That’s Great, I hope you read this I see this post is a few years old, but I’m currently working on a .32 Marlin 92 and enjoyed the read. Now if you felt very generous maybe you could send a handful of those rounds to someone who also loves this little rifle. Just a thought

  6. Chris Reply

    I went thru a similar ordeal to reload the 23 myself. I found backing the sizing die out I could crimp back the flair on the casing to secure the bullet.

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