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.32-20 Winchester
Type Rifle / Handgun
Place of origin  United States
Production history
Designer Winchester Repeating Arms Company
Designed 1882
Case type Rimmed, bottleneck
Bullet diameter .3125 in (7.94 mm)
Neck diameter .327 in (8.3 mm)
Shoulder diameter .342 in (8.7 mm)
Base diameter .354 in (9.0 mm)
Rim diameter .408 in (10.4 mm)
Rim thickness .065 in (1.7 mm)
Case length 1.315 in (33.4 mm)
Overall length 1.592 in (40.4 mm)
Rifling twist 20"
Primer type Small rifle
Maximum CUP 9000 CUP
Ballistic performance
Bullet weight/type Velocity Energy
85 gr (5.5 g) SP 2,300 ft/s (700 m/s) 999 ft·lbf (1,354 J)
110 gr (7.1 g) SP 2,100 ft/s (640 m/s) 1,077 ft·lbf (1,460 J)
Source: "Cartridges of the World"[1]

The .32-20 Winchester, also known as the .32 WCF, was the first small-game lever-action cartridge that Winchester produced.[2] It was initially introduced as a blackpowder cartridge in 1882 for small-game, varmint hunting, and deer.[3][4] Colt produced a single-action pistol chambered for this cartridge a few years later.[5] Currently, Black Hills Ammunition sells a 115 FPL cartridge of this bullet.

.32-20 indicating a .32 bullet diameter (hundredths of an inch) and the 20 indicating a standard black powder charge in grains. [6]



Although the .32-20 cartridge was occasionally used for deer hunting in the past, it is really too light and low-powered a round for deer, being much better suited to small game such as woodchuck, rabbit and the like. It has a good reputation for accuracy in both rifles and the few handguns that have been chambered for it.[3][4][7] Because of its low power, it destroys very little meat, making it a good hunting round for appropriately sized game out to about 100 yards (90 m).[7] The cartridge is now approaching obsolescence, as shooters turn to other similar, but more powerful and flexible, loads.

Although it is an inexpensive cartridge to reload,[1] care must be taken by the reloader because of the extremely thin walls of the cartridge case. Energy and pressure levels for handloading are determined based on the strength of the firearm action to be used. Because most firearms chambered for this cartridge are older (e.g. early model Winchester model 73 and 92 rifles as well as older Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers) factory ammunition usually has reduced pressures from what can be achieved through handloading. Most factory ammunition exhibits ballistics of about 1,200 ft/s (370 m/s) and 325 ft·lbf (441 J) of energy at the muzzle with a 100-grain (6.5 g) bullet from an eighteen- to twenty-inch rifle barrel. The performance characteristics of the cartridge listed in the sidebar should be considered maximum performance parameters obtainable, and even then only with a modern weapon designed for higher pressure loads. Factory-type loads - and reloads mimicking factory type loads - are the safe maximum loads for use in older weapons chambered for this cartridge, as most of the weapons the cartridge is chambered for are. Few if any concerns still manufacture hunting weapons in this caliber.

Child cartridges

The .25-20 Winchester cartridge is simply a necked-down version of the .32-20.[2] In addition, the .218 Bee was created using the .32-20 as its parent cartridge.

See also


  1. ^ a b Barnes, Frank C. (1997) [1965]. McPherson, M.L.. ed. Cartridges of the World (8th Edition ed.). DBI Books. pp. 64,91. ISBN -87349-178-5.  
  2. ^ a b "Levergun loads: the .25-20 Winchester" by John Taffin, Guns Magazine, April 2004
  3. ^ a b ".32-20 Winchester (HV-92)" from Accurate Powder
  4. ^ a b "The .32-20 Winchester" by Chuck Hawks
  5. ^ "32-20 WINCHESTER CENTERFIRE 1882" by Paco Kelly at
  6. ^ Cartridge Naming Conventions
  7. ^ a b ".32-20 Winchester" at The Reload Bench

Redirecting to .32-20 Winchester


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