Monday, November 25, 2019

Bang for the Buck

There is a fair amount of interest in .32 handguns. Some of the interest is based in personal or family history. Some is because of their inherent shootability  and easy of carry.

If .32s are so appealing, why aren't there more of them out there?

One reason is that they are on the wrong side of the Bang-for-the-Buck line.

Kinetic Energy from Hodgdon Reloading site. Titegroup powder for most applications. Prices rectally extracted after looking at auction sites.
If you plot out the Bang-for-the-Buck, you will see that the 9mm Parabellum offers the most bang-per-dollar. You aren't just buying the bullet. First you have to buy the platform that launches the bullet. It should come as no surprise that the 9mm is a very, very popular choice.

The .38 Special also offers significant Bang-for-the-Buck. A new Rock Island M-200 goes for about...wait for it...$200 on sale.

The .380 ACP in a Hi-Point handgun is cliche but it always goes bang, has as much energy as the .32 H&R and the ammo can be found everywhere.

The .38 S&W was eclipsed by the .38 Special and handguns in the chambering are historical legacies.

So what is the appeal of .32s?
Less BANG!
H&R 732 Revolver. Ugly enough to be cute. Tough enough to pound tent stakes into caliche.

No, really. If the firearm is a family heirloom then the cost to the shooter is ZERO. And the .32 S&W Short and .32 S&W Long are very pleasant to shoot.

For example, the .32 Long gives up about 35% in energy to the .380 ACP but the combination of less powder and a longer barrel means less muzzle blast.

Some people believe that the shape of a revolver "finds their hand" more quickly than the shape of a semiautomatic. That could be an great reason if you carry your firearm in a purse, for instance.

The pedestrian velocities of the .32s means that the bullets will not expand, but they will certainly have plenty of penetration.

When the .32s evolved, the metallurgy and designs did not support high pressure rounds. Conversely, medical science did not recognize bacteria nor were their antibiotics. Getting shot in the torso usually meant you were going to die. Maybe not in the next fifteen seconds, but within the next fifteen days. Only a total loony-tune took those kinds of odds.

Even today, most rational people don't want to get shot. Crime is a job or a business venture for most thugs. The cost-benefit ratio takes a major hit when the intended victim starts putting holes in the businessman.
A typical example of the break-open, .32 caliber revolvers that were popular in 1900.

Granted, there are some drugged up lunatics out there. But if your choice is grampa's .32 Hopkins and Allen or taking selfies with the bad-guy, I think the .32 revolver is the better choice.


  1. A gun is better than no gun. Period. End of statement.

    1. May I respectfully disagree.

      A gun that gives the bearer unwarranted confidence and gulls him into going places where angels fear to tread is not better than "no gun" if "no gun" keeps the fool close to his fireside.

      Some fools think a gun is a substitute for situational awareness. The problem is not the gun but the fool.

      Otherwise, I agree.

    2. The thing about the smaller calibers is that your technique in a self defens situation has to change a bit. With something larger/more powerful, absolute accuracy isn't as important as it is with smaller calibers. You also have to be ready to shoot more to get the desired effect.

      I carry a .380 most days, but I'm around the house where the threat level is less. I'll also carry it in less permissive environments. But most of the time, when I go out I go up to a 9.

      It may be slightly different than Old NFO's take, but the gun you have on you is better than the one left at home. I'd rather have a .380, or even a .22, than just harsh language.


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